The Chair of WCPT’s North America Caribbean Region, Stacy de Gale, has been engaging physical therapists with an international perspective on their profession. Jill Lattanzi, clinical assistant professor of physical therapy at Widener University, says her messages have resonated.
Last year Stacy de Gale met a small group of staff and students from Widener University, Philadelphia, when they went on a professional exchange trip to de Gale’s homeland of Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. The Widener faculty and students shared their expertise with their counterparts in Trinidad and vice versa.
The trip opened participants’ eyes to how differences in culture affect the profession and how policies and procedures can vary from country to country. Stacy de Gale engaged the Widener group in a discussion about variations in healthcare and the physical therapy profession around the globe.
“Stacy had a wonderful message and delivery,” says Jill Lattanzi. “I wanted all of my students to benefit from her knowledge, so I thought it would be cheaper to bring her to Widener rather than take all of my students down to her.”
Stacy de Gale visited Widener’s Institute for Physical Therapy Education in January. She worked alongside physical therapy students at their Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic, which serves underinsured and uninsured individuals in need of physical therapy, and helped operate a mobility clinic as part of a day of service in honour of Martin Luther King.
She delivered two lectures during her visit, first addressing a broad audience with a lecture on “The Benefits and Challenges of Living and Learning in a Global Community” and then narrowing her focus onto the physical therapy profession in an address on “The Global Impact of the Physical Therapy Profession.”
In both presentations and throughout her visit Stacy de Gale stressed the importance of global awareness. “Global health transcends borders,” she said, revealing that 90 percent of the world’s healthcare resources are spent on diseases that affect only 10 percent of the population. She said that resources could be distributed more fairly if healthcare providers across the globe learn to engage in two-way communication to unite in efforts to overcome healthcare challenges and economic hardships.
While de Gale provided examples specific to healthcare, she addressed all disciplines in her call to integrate international perspectives into the curriculum. This would empower both faculty and students to create global initiatives and advocate for positive change. She commended Widener’s School of Human Service Professions for its professional exchanges.
Jill Lattanzi spoke of the benefits of Widener’s cultural exchange and the opportunity to discuss global issues with speakers such as Stacy de Gale: “Our students understand our community needs because of our clinic, but they don’t often see beyond our national borders. It’s paramount that they begin to understand their profession on a global scale; even if they never go outside the country, the world will come to them.”
According to Jill Lattanzi, Stacy de Gale’s messages started resonating with Widener students immediately. Many left her lectures vowing to deviate from a strictly clinical approach. Others said that they would volunteer their time after graduation to improve the lives of others and advocate for health initiatives and basic human rights throughout the world.