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PT Clinic

National Leader in PT

In April, Widener physical therapy students traveled out west for the first time to lead a national conference on student-run pro bono clinics.

Just one month earlier, a similar conference was held back east at Widener’s Main Campus in Chester.

In total, an estimated 47 institutions came together for the two National Pro Bono Networking Conferences to cultivate a culture of collaboration, and to learn more about the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic model.

“We took pride in knowing that our efforts will help strengthen existing student-run pro bono clinics and start new ones,” wrote Melinda Berean ‘17 and Jenna Newton ’18 in Advance for PT.

Berean and Newton explained the conferences help to shed light on the fact that student-run pro bono clinics not only serve community members, but also provide students with additional hands-on learning opportunities and leadership development.

“There is ample opportunity to learn and grow in a collaborative nature that is truly dynamic,” said Jill D. Black, associate professor and pro bono services coordinator at Widener. “We are grooming and growing strong physical therapy leaders.”

In Widener’s student-run model, each doctor of physical therapy class has a student board overseeing the clinic with 13 positions, including a clinic coordinator and a conference chair.

“We are determined to perfect our model and help additional institutions adopt it,” wrote Berean and Newton, who both serve as National Pro Bono Networking Conference chairs for their respective classes.

“By working together, we can increase the number of individuals, who either have no or insufficient health care coverage, receive the PT and other medical services they need.”

Tim Golder, clinic coordinator for the class of 2018, noted that serving on the management side of the clinic has allowed him to grow as a leader.

“I’ve seen the other side of PT you don’t always see in the classroom,” he said. “From tracking patient outcomes to decreasing no shows and even increasing awareness through marketing.”

Golder remarked students have also been working to expand the operation of Widener’s PT clinic here locally by collaborating with occupational therapy students from Philadelphia University.

Similar plans are in the works to incorporate Widener’s PsyD students, and even future partnerships with Widener’s Biomedical Engineering department and the University of Delaware, which does great work with prosthetics.

The goal is to create an atmosphere of “interdisciplinary treatment” for patients.

"That can only improve the continuity of care,” said Golder. “Everyone is working together to get the patient better.”