First Ever Spirit of Interprofessionalism Awards

Doctor of Physical Therapy Students Take Oath & Honor COM Professors with First Ever “Spirit of Interprofessionalism” Award

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On October 18th, the Doctor of Physical Therapy’s Class of 2010 made history. The 36 students presented the first ever “Spirit of Interprofessionalism” Awards – handpicking Dr. Duane Eichler and Dr. Orhan Arslan for “going the extra mile” to be inclusive of physical therapy students in their basic medical science courses that are part of the integrated first year MD and DPT curriculum.

“At USF Health we talk about making life better. Well, the future of healthcare is interprofessional care. It is the best care”, said Dr. William Quillen, Director of the School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, USF College of Medicine. “In the case of Doctors Eichler and Arslan, they recognize that it’s not just about being a good doctor, it’s about being a member of a team. After decades of teaching exclusively medical students, they’re now teaching our PT students as well. They’ve been great, making sure the coursework was relevant to all the students in their classes”, continued Dr. Quillen.

At Center: Dr. Duane Eichler accepts this unique award from Dr. William Quillen, Director of the School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Scienes and Laura “Dolly” Swisher, PT, PhD, Assistant Dean for Interprofessional Education, College of Medicine.

Interprofessional education is the process of developing the understanding of and respect for the unique contributions of health professions from differing disciplines. Among its key goals is to create strategies for collaborative client-centered teamwork.

Laura “Dolly” Swisher, PT, PhD, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean for Interprofessional Education in the USF College of Medicine, presented the awards during the 5th annual Commitment to Professionalism Ceremony at the USF Health Auditorium. Dr. Arslan, Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology & Cell Biology was not in town to receive his award so Dr. Santo Nicosia, Distinguished USF Professor and Chair of the Dept. of Pathology & Cell Biology, accepted on his behalf.

Dr. Eichler, Professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine was present during the ceremony, invited as a guest to the annual Commitment ceremony, but unaware of the honor students were about to bestow on him.

“He was justifiably surprised”, noted Dr. Quillen. “When the faculty created the Doctor of Physical Therapy curriculum we couldn’t have begun to imagine how important this course work would be in our students’ education. Dr. Eichler worked very hard from the beginning to be inclusive of the physical therapy students. Other faculty have followed suit and this represents a unique and noteworthy strength of USF’s DPT Curriculum. ”

The School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences and the USF College of Medicine embarked on an interprofessional educational journey in August 2005 with the enrollment of the charter Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2008. It marked the matriculation of a new cadre of students into the first year basic medical sciences coursework. Until then, only limited numbers of graduate or advanced nursing students had joined medical students in that coursework.

“It has not always been a perfect journey, but changing a culture after 30 years takes time and effort. The good news is that we are well on our way”, said Dr. Quillen to a room full of DPT students, their family and friends, and faculty leaders from across USF Health.

In keeping with a cherished tradition at the USF medical school, Dr. Gregory Nicolosi, Emeritus Professor of Physiology, was temporarily back from his retirement to lead the procession of students with his beloved bagpipes.

Unique to the USF School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences, students recited their Commitment to Professionalism Oath – one they helped to create, as a class. The Class of 2010 began: “As a physical therapist, I embrace my responsibility and accountability to the individuals I serve, the community as a whole, and my profession. In recognition of the privilege bestowed upon entering this honored profession, in the presence of my colleagues, friends, family and faculty, I solemnly and willingly dedicate myself to this oath…”

With that, students crossed the auditorium stage to don their first clinical coat, before family and friends. These 36 students in the Class of 2010 were selected from a record number of applicants – one student admitted for every 4 qualified applicants.

“We’re just the right size to do these exciting and meaningful things”, said Dr. Quillen. “It’s all good. We have a very optimistic future built around our interprofessional educational journey.”

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Click here for full listing of Class of 2010
Story by Lissette Campos/USF Health Communications
Photography by John Loffredo/USF Health Media Center