Paula DiBiasio, associate professor in physical therapy and GLO program coordinator, and Danielle Lake, director of design thinking and associate professor, are partnering with Doctor of Physical Therapy program students and Global Learning Opportunities (GLO) program alumni to co-design the future of GLO. DiBiasio envisions a more flexible program that positively impacts healthcare disparities by promoting students’ development of skills related to engaging with difference sensitively and equitably.
This year, the Department of Physical Therapy Education Global Learning Opportunities (GLO) program is nine years old. In preparation for GLO’s 10th birthday, Paula DiBiasio, associate professor in physical therapy and GLO program coordinator, is partnering with DPT students and GLO alumni to co-design the future of GLO. DiBiasio envisions a more flexible program that positively impacts healthcare disparities by promoting students’ development of skills related to engaging with difference sensitively and equitably.
DiBiasio, in collaboration with Danielle Lake, director of design thinking and associate professor, are leading a series of design workshops with the DPT students. The first session featured a GLO alumni panel and workshop activities with the DPTE class of 2023. Alumni shared their “GLO stories”, including what they found personally, professionally, and civically valuable about their GLO now that they have graduated.
Alumni’s reflections included learning to have a more holistic perspective of their patients, and recognizing that, according to Chioma Ichoku DPT ’19, “assumptions can be one of the greatest enemies of growth”. Rebba Maylone DPT ’20 reported that spending time with people who were different from her and had different lived experiences changed her worldview and made her a patient advocate.
Maksim Birikov DPT ’14 explained that respecting and celebrating diversity has contributed to his success as a physical therapist. Patti Weber DPT ’16 described how her clinical rotation in Italy “challenged me culturally and clinically”.
Following the panel, current DPT students worked to imagine their own GLO stories, locations, and values. Students shared their desire to build relationships, meet language challenges, function in collective societies, and explore the world outside of their own corner. They recognized the need, as physical therapists, to learn in diverse spaces and challenge their comfort zone.
DiBiasio and Lake will continue this project with a second student workshop at the end of this month and a subsequent redesign of the nationally recognized GLO program. Alumni will continue to contribute to the future of GLO by adding video stories, serving as a resource for current students, and participating in a national Elon GLO professional network created by DiBiasio. DiBiasio has reconnected with more than 40 GLO alumni who are interested in connecting with each other, as well as mentoring new Elon DPTE GLO graduates.
The workshop ended with gratitude, and excitement for the future.