In the final year, PT students choose between a local, national and international service learning opportunity. For two weeks, students take an active role in providing health-related services to underserved populations. Participation in one of the offered trips is mandatory for all third-year DPT students and elective for all second-year PTA students. Recent service learning experiences include:
In conjunction with several local agencies, students engage in activities examining the challenges faced by the homeless population here in the Twin Cities metro area. Students immerse themselves in what it means to be homeless and the policies influencing change. Issues of poverty and health disparities are explored through experiential learning and interacting with those who have been homeless. This local immersion experience illuminates for students what many would describe as third-world health care conditions existing in our own neighborhoods.
In collaboration with the elder leaders of the Immaculate Conception Church and Sister Manette Durand, CSJ, students engage in service learning activities within an underserved community. The setting is an ideal one in which to explore how environmental factors such as poor housing, unsafe neighborhoods, lack of healthcare services, poverty and crime impact a person’s health and well-being. Students and faculty provide a range of services that enable students to identify sustainable options to empower the community and develop personal and professional action plans for social justice.
Santiago, Dominican Republic
In partnership with the Institute for Latin American Concerns (ILAC) in Santiago, Dominican Republic, students have an opportunity to engage in service-learning activities. They examine issues such as health disparities, marginalization, poverty, and environmental conditions that limit healthful living. Students interact with Dominican physical therapy students and professionals as well as community health workers from various programs.
Bringing home what you learn
This service learning immersion experience culminates in presentations by each of the three groups to all faculty and students. Participants are asked to reflect on their role as a health care provider and consider, in the context of Catholic Social Teaching, options for incorporating social justice issues into their professional life. Lastly, students create a personal action plan for civic and community engagement in their communities back home.