Photos courtesy of Gannon Marketing and Communications
Gannon University recently partnered with CHOSEN International Medical Assistance Inc., an Erie-based organization that refurbishes and ditributes top-quality medical equipment to local homes and hospitals.
Gannon’s physical therapy students had the opportunity to participate in this process, giving them more experience before they enter the medical field.
Constance Lewis, PT, DPT, assistant teaching professor of physical therapy, said this experience was for students to gain experience with medical equipment while understanding the importance of community outreach in the medical field.
“Students learn that we have a social responsibility to the larger public to respond to societal needs in the realm of health and wellness,” Lewis said. “Students are reminded that we have a duty to positively influence the health of society, and that placing the needs of others, including the devotion of time, is an important aspect in what we believe as physical therapists.”
Under normal circumstances, first- and second-year doctoral physical therapy students would be able to choose a community partner to work with, but COVID-19 restrictions have limited the number of places still open for operation. Part of the students’ curriculum includes a volunteer requirement that can only be fulfilled by working with a community partner toward a health initiative. Boyaj Buriak, a first-year doctoral physical therapy student, said this opportunity allowed him to expand upon his in-class learning in a way he might not be able to do otherwise.
“Actually categorizing, fixing and examining assistive devices provided me a perspective that course content and clinical experience could not,” Buriak said. “I believe CHOSEN should be implemented into incoming classes for not only community hours, but to allow students to be exposed to organizations that are so often utilized in clinic and community settings.”
Some of the activities the students participate in through this program include creating educational pamphlets about equipment, creating demonstration videos about how to use the equipment, charging and refurbishing mechanical wheelchairs, taking inventory at the warehouse and packaging supplies to send to other countries like Mexico and Africa.
Laura Schiltz, a first-year doctoral physical therapy student, said this experience will help her in her future career as it further educates students about the equipment used.
“It was interesting to see the list of needs from the community and the types of equipment that are really needed,” Schiltz said. “There is obviously a lot of need for assistive devices, and as a physical therapist, my goal would be to try to reduce this amount, or to lower patients to the least restrictive device possible.”
Lewis said she hopes this partnership continues for years to come. Long-term goals like opening a second site for the KnightsAbility clinic are being planned to help both the Gannon and larger Erie community.