Eight CSUN graduate physical therapy students are going to Vietnam, along with physical therapy professor Janna Beling, as a part of a service-learning component of the course, Physical Therapy in the International Setting (PT 690).
Earlier this year, Beling applied and won a $30,000 grant from the Borchard Foundation to take physical therapy graduate students to Vietnam next spring.
‘The grant will assist with travel expenses for the students over a three-year period,’ Beling said.
This first attempt at an international program will allow 24 graduate physical therapy students to participate in the trip over the next three years.
Beling and the group of students will be going to the Da Nang Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Center in Da Nang, located in the central region of Vietnam.
During their two-week stay at the center, the students will work as consultants providing clinical education to local physical therapists and physical therapy students inDa Nang to help improve and increase the delivery of rehabilitative care in terms of treatment planning, patient evaluations, the determination of goals and the staff’s capabilities in taking on the role of teachers and problem solving.
Beling said the center provides both in-patient and out-patient care for children and adults who suffer illnesses and injuries such as a stroke or a spinal cord injury.
‘This trip will be a truly life-enriching and memorable experience for them,’ said Peggy Roller, professor of the department of physical therapy, who will also be accompanying students on the trip.
PT 690 is a class that will cover definition and concepts of cultural competence in order to develop cross-cultural skills, and students will examine their biases and prejudices, which traditionally result in discrimination.
One of the eight students going to Vietnam, Natalia Koteva, a physical therapy major, said she is really excited about this great opportunity.
‘This is an amazing opportunity for professional as well as personal growth,’ Koteva said. ‘I feel greatly honored to have the privilege to go.’
‘I expect to learn more about’hellip;Vietnamese culture and way of living; to connect and share life experiences with my fellow students and hopefully, new future friends,’ Koteva said.
Beling said PT 690 will help students to understand their culture better and also help them to learn cross-cultural skills to develop their sensitive and effective care.
Today, according to the CSUN physical therapy department website, about 120,000 licensed physical therapists in the U.S. are practicing in various settings such as clinics, fitness centers and rehabilitation facilities.
For the eight students who will be future physical therapists, the trip to Vietnam is a once in a lifetime experience, Koteva said.
‘They (students) will be better able to develop a perception and understanding of health and illness and variety of meanings these terms carry for individuals and members of differing groups,’ Beling said.
‘We would love to continue to offer this opportunity to future groups of student physical therapists in Vietnam or in other areas of the world that are in need such as India, Nicaragua and Peru,’ Roller said.