A dozen USC physical therapy students got a chance to put their training to work during an eight-day service-learning visit to Costa Rica.
Physical therapist Allen Mour DPT ’14, who volunteered in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama through International Service Learning before enrolling in physical therapy school, brought the opportunity to his former classmates at the USC Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.
The idea and desire to provide services abroad was always in the back of my head.
“Going through the [Doctor of Physical Therapy] program, the idea and desire to provide services abroad was always in the back of my head due to my prior experiences in Costa Rica,” said Mour, who accompanied the group on its spring visit. “As I progressed, I began to realize the huge impact that [physical therapy] can make in someone’s life even in a short amount of time.”
Patients of all ages
The students saw more than 100 patients of all ages and backgrounds, from waitresses without health insurance to mothers and children with extensive medical histories to community elders with long-standing physical impairments.
“The clinic we set up was a true test of our independence and skill development, so professionalism was a must, “ said student voluneer Ben Kwan, who took the trip to challenge his clinical experience and Spanish skills. “Each individual treated was given a thorough evaluation, treated immediately after and provided with a plan of care for staying healthy, including exercises and the like.”
“The neighborhood patients and their families were unbelievably loving and welcoming,” said Jason Manalili, president of USC’s Physical Therapy Multicultural Leadership Alliance. “The moment we explained to people who we were, they invited us into their homes and offered their warm hospitality.”
“It was a really awesome feeling to know that not only did we reach a wide breadth of the community, but also the care we provided was meaningful and impactful to them,” said student volunteer Alice Chow, the alliance’s service learning coordinator.