PT students' role in BRIDGE clinic featured in national magazine

The March 2010 issue of PT in Motion features University of South Florida physical therapy students in an article on how student-run pro bono clinics are benefiting patients and future physical therapists.

The article, “Free to Lead,” profiles the USF BRIDGE Healthcare Clinic as one of five student-run pro bono clinics across the country that include physical therapy students. PT in Motion is the national magazine of the American Physical Therapy Association.

Members of the USF BRIDGE Clinic’s physical therapy steering committee

The BRIDGE Clinic (Building Relationships and Initiatives Dedicated to Gaining Equality) is a multidisciplinary healthcare clinic featuring medical and social work services as well as physical therapy. Located in a Hillsborough County Health Department building, it serves uninsured patients living in an area near USF on Tuesday evenings.

The DPT students see patients in teams of two, supervised by a licensed faculty PT who volunteers as a preceptor for the evening. Musculoskeletal injuries, including neck and lower back pain, are common since many patients are day laborers, house workers, or have other physically-demanding jobs.

USF’s Amy Holtz, a DPT student who volunteers at BRIDGE Clinic, says the multidisciplinary setting is helping promote interprofessional communication between physical therapy students and medical students.

“I feel very comfortable going up to our medical students to ask how a patient is doing… We’re used to talking and asking each other questions,” she says in the article. “There’s no barrier between us. We’re setting a foundation. I’ll embark on my career expecting to have good relationships with physicians. I’ll have better knowledge of and respect for their role than I would have without this clinical experience.”

“I believe our med students will enter their careers with similar appreciation of the work of PTs.”