Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Physical Therapy

This weekend, the Department of Physical Therapy is celebrating the 30th Anniversary of PT at the Institute. Alumni, faculty, and friends will come together for social and educational events. PT Chair (and Interim Dean of SHRS) Leslie Portney has produced a publication that reports the history of the program. Congratulations to our PT faculty, students, and alumni!

This birthday celebration of PT, which coincides with National PT Month, is a reminder of the important contribution that our PT programs make to the life of the Institute. From an educational standpoint, our program is recognized for cutting edge curricula, and is ranked 7th in the nation and first in the northeast by US News and World Report. Faculty in PT contribute as Institute leaders, and many have high profiles in the American Physical Therapy Association. Our remarkable and talented Physical Therapy students participate in wellness projects that impact many aspects of the community and they conduct an annual dodgeball tournament that raises thousands of dollars for charity.

The impact of the PT Department extends beyond the classroom. This past year, the program opened an exciting new clinic for the community. Located on the third floor of the Shouse Building, the clinic provides physical therapy services to individuals also being seen in the Speech and Language Center, and to our Charlestown and Navy Yard neighbors. The clinic is staffed by our students two days per week and he schedule is already full.

Finally, the PT program is unique in its international master's program. This program is customized to meet the needs of internationally licensed physical therapists who wish to accomplish advanced study in the U.S. These phenomenal individuals from around the world add much to the life of the Institute.

I hope that everyone in the Institute community will take a moment to say "thanks and congratulations" to our colleagues in Physical Therapy! We are all so grateful for your leadership and service!  Happy Birthday PT!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Complicated Journey

I returned late last evening from a week long trip to Israel. This was the fourth "People to People" trip that I have led in the past three years. I was able to lead 30 Speech-Language Pathologists to Israel for professional exchange with each other via Continuing Education, with colleagues in universities, hospitals, and clinics in Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem, and also to tour important historical and religious sites. What a trip! Exhausting and exhilarating and filled with surprises and learning! The trip was not affiliated with the Institute and was not sponsored by the Institute (just in case you were wondering!). What a great way to use some of my annual vacation leave. Some thoughts that I will spend time (alone, not on here) thinking about over the coming months--

+speech-language pathologists from the US and Israel have much in common and services are similar in many ways, though not identical. Passion for people with communication disabilities, health issues, and quality of life are universal concerns. We have wonderful Israeli colleagues.

+In the higher education and clinical sites that we visited there was multicultural concern about assuring that access to services was available for people of diverse religions and languages. Regardless of the political issues that are so prevalent in that small country, there is consistent passionate concern for the rights to access services, to develop a diverse pool of SLPs, and address cultural competence. One university, Hadassah (Jerusalem) will open a new MS degree program with an emphasis on multicultural competence.

+The political, historical, and religious conflict in Israel are complex and defy resolution. Israeli and Palestinians are able to express concerns for each other, while experiencing great anxiety about compromise. Not surprising, there are diverse opinions within groups as well as between them. I am anxious to read more, learn more, and develop a better understanding of the political environment.

+Israel is prepared for violence and war. All young people enter the army for 2-3 years after high school. At first it is a bit alarming to see 20 year olds walking around, some out of uniform, carrying large weapons. Airport security is much more complex than the US (I didn't know that was possible). The largest hospital in Israel (Sheba) is equipped with a complete underground alternative hospital, that is available should there be war on the ground. It is maintained 24/7, even though it has never been used. We also saw outdoor gurneys and showers to be used if there are chemical attacks. One of our meetings at a preschool program for deaf children was held in a basement room, that is a bomb shelter. Every public building has bomb shelters. Reality is in your face everywhere in Israel; but people are happy, positive, and confident. Amazing!

+Socialized health care is working well and colleagues with whom we spoke were encouraging about our future. Some examples---all children under 6 are screened for all problems possible and covered for health, habilitative, and rehabilitative services. We saw a treatment program for 6 month old high risk infants that was beyond belief. Talk about investing in the future. They have much to teach us. Similarly, cochlear implants are universally covered for children with hearing loss, if the parents desire the implant (this is hardly true in the US). Rehabilitation hospitals have patients in treatment for PT, SLP, and OT for several months after onset of the disability. Their system is quite impressive and there is high regard across the system for interdisciplinary collaboration.

I come back to the Institute with a renewed sense of commitment to assuring that our future in the new health care system assures access for patients with ALL types of needs, that we assure that all of our students understand the importance of primary and generalist care as critical to such access, and with an appreciation for the work of our colleagues in Israel.

Stop by and I can share some pictures with you! It was a wonderful trip. Mazel Tov.