Recent 2018 Belmont Doctorate of Physical Therapy graduate Alicia Bowden completed a unique experience while in school when she traveled to Arequipa, Peru for one of her clinicals. While there, she worked with “Work the World,” an organization that coordinates international clinical internships tailored to a variety of healthcare backgrounds. With the help of Gail Bursch, associate professor of physical therapy & director of clinical education, Bowden was placed in the physiotherapy department at Hospital Goyeneche, one of the oldest and most respected medical institutions in southern Peru, where she spent six weeks working in acute and outpatient care.
This true Spanish immersion clinical experience was fast-paced, challenging and very rewarding. “Working in the hospital was a bit of a culture shock at first,” she said, “but by the end of my placement, I truly felt that I had become part of the team.”
Bowden worked with a wide variety of patients and medical conditions including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, amputations, post-mastectomies, TMJ issues, Bell’s palsy, and other orthopedic conditions. Throughout her clinical, she learned about physical therapy treatment, and was immersed in the Spanish language while gaining an understanding of the Peruvian healthcare system.
She learned how physical therapists can make a huge impact with their patients while having access to fewer resources than that what is common in the United States. “While there are differences between PT in Peru versus in the United States, the heart of PT remains the same,” Bowden said. “I appreciate the new perspective and treatment ideas the Peruvian clinicians and local PT students shared with me, and I truly feel that my experiences in Peru (in direct patient care, dialog with other students/ healthcare providers, cultural exchange, and improved Spanish proficiency) have helped make me a better clinician. My time in Peru proved to be an incredibly challenging and enriching experience that I will never forget.”