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Message from the Interim Director

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When it comes to diversity, it is painfully clear that the physical therapy field nationwide has a long way to go. Together, African-Americans, Hispanics and Latinos comprise more than 31 percent of the nation’s population but only about 10 percent of the country’s licensed physical therapists. With these kinds of disparities, there is no question that many communities throughout the country, especially those with a high percentage of minorities, do not have easy access to the kind of rehabilitative care that is integral to the healing process.

In this edition of Emory Physical Therapy, we take an in-depth look at our profession’s diversity problem and what the Emory Division of Physical Therapy is doing to address this challenge. Our cover story chronicles the brave efforts of a group of Emory DPT graduates who banded together to encourage current minority physical therapy students, generate awareness and promote the profession in K-12 schools with heavy minority representation.

At the Division of Physical Therapy, our faculty and staff are committed to not only continuing dialogue on this critical issue, but doing our part to ensure that every student, regardless of race or ethnicity, is a welcomed, valued member of our family.

This publication also features a comprehensive look at the division’s unique competency-based curriculum. When we receive feedback on our program from our graduates, clinical instructors and those who employ our graduates, we are so proud of the fact that nearly all echo the same sentiment: Our students are well rounded and possess all of the interpersonal, teaching and clinical skills necessary to be excellent physical therapists. We are so thankful to Dr. Pamela Catlin, a long-time visionary division director, for the origin of our curriculum’s competency-based foundation, and I am grateful for the wonderful, dedicated staff and faculty here who continually shape our division’s curriculum to meet the evolving needs of our patients and society.

And finally, this issue celebrates the accomplishments of some of our graduates who are making a difference not just locally, but worldwide. Gail “Cookie” Freidhoff, a 1982 Emory physical therapy graduate, is serving in the Republic of Georgia for a year helping that country improve physical therapy for its 3.7 million residents. Meanwhile, Lucia Rodriguez 13DPT, continues to join our students each year on annual trips to the Dominican Republic to provide physical therapy in underserved communities. I am so proud of these graduates and treasure my affiliation with a program that is improving lives across the globe.

There are so many wonderful things happening in the Emory Division of Physical Therapy. This summer, we welcomed the class of 2021, comprised of 72 students from 24 states, China and Korea and representing 51 universities and 17 undergraduate majors. We also welcomed six new faculty members, who are featured in this magazine.

I hope you enjoy this issue of Emory Physical Therapy and sincerely thank you for your continued support of the Emory Division of Physical Therapy.

Best wishes,
Marie Johanson, PT, PhD
Professor and Interim Director

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