Tom Pahnke, Carroll University faculty

Thomas Pahnke

Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Clinical Associate Professor of Athletic Training, Exercise Physiology and Physical Therapy Get Contact Info


Athletic Training Physical Therapy (DPT)


Tom Pahnke has twenty plus years of diverse healthcare experience as a clinician, program developer, faculty member and administrator in private medical clinic, nonprofit hospital system, and academic settings. His professional career began as a practicing physical therapist and athletic trainer in outpatient physical therapy clinic providing orthopedic care to the general population as well as athletic training services to multiple high schools in southeast Wisconsin. Following this experience he transitioned to Purdue University where he served as an athletic trainer and physical therapist for the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. It was also here where he began teaching in an accredited Athletic Training Education program. Following this position he returned to hospital based physical therapy and broadened his practice to work with patient’s suffering from chronic health conditions and the aging athlete. Mr. Pahnke began teaching fulltime in the Carroll physical therapy and athletic training programs in 2006 and assumed the role of Department Chair in the former Department of Rehabilitations Sciences. Currently he continues to teach in the athletic training and physical therapy programs while also serving as the Director of the MS in Exercise Physiology program and Chair of the Department of Human Movement Science.


  • Purdue University, Master's of Science-Exercise Physiology
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bachelor's of Science-Physical Therapy, Athletic Training

Areas of Specialization

Athletic and physical activity and its impact on the musculoskeletal system and overall wellness across the lifespan.

Scholarly and Professional Achievements

Primary area of professional activity is the development and implementation of health science education programs to help meet the changing needs current health systems and the patient/clients they serve.

Service to Carroll University and Profession

Mr. Pahnke has served on the Academic Steering, Faculty Executive and Tenure and Promotion committees as well as numerous other task forces and ad hoc committees at Carroll. He has served as a department Chair since 2008 and has been active in the reaccreditation of the Doctor of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training programs as well as the development of the Public Health, graduate Exercise Physiology and Occupational Therapy programs.

What is your teaching style?

I enjoy helping students make the connection from textbook, theoretical principles to application in real world practice. I believe this occurs when you blend examples from clinical practice or the students own personal experiences and relate them back to theory. I believe when student see these relationships it give them a process for independent problem solving in new novel situations.

Why do you do what you do?

I enjoy teaching and education as I feel we are always learning. Education is not static and is never anything that you complete. Working with students and being sensitive to the needs of healthcare and society has allowed me to be constantly challenged. An academic position is a privileged position where you can potentially help a student grow to meet the needs of the world we live in.

How do you make learning engaging?

Relevance. I feel if students see the relevance of a topic to their future they will be engaged. Oh, and having some fun along the way also helps.

What should students know about you?

I am happily married with one daughter. As a family we enjoy being active, outdoor fun and spending time in northern Wisconsin. Personally I enjoy cycling, running, triathlons, muskie fishing, hunting and occasionally brewing beer when I can find the time.

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