Regis DPT Global Health Pathway Immersion trip to Huancayo, Peru

This past spring, 8 students from the Regis DPT Global Health Pathway attended a 3-week global immersion trip to Huancayo, Peru, led by Regis DPT faculty member Dr. Heidi Eigsti and Regis DPT alumnus Dr. Amber Walker.

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“We were fortunate to have the expertise of Dr. Heidi Eigsti and Dr. Amber Walker. This was Dr. Eigsti’s third trip to Huancayo and it took about 5 seconds after our plane landed to realize how popular she is in Huancayo. It was quickly evident how much genuine compassion she invested into her relationships on previous trips. She developed trust, and what I realized is that when you care that deeply about others, they don’t forget. The foundation that Dr. Eigsti and past students built on previous trips allowed us to quickly build relationships with these individuals as well. As a result, we were able to hit the ground running with our purpose there in partnering with them.” -Dr. Jessica Kirkwood, Regis DPT Class of 2019

Family Nurse Practitioner and DPT students collaborated with the Catholic Medical Mission Board Community Based Rehabilitation program to provide inter-professional support and services to children who have disabilities and their families. Students had the opportunity to provide physical therapy services in a collaborative model of care at Carrion hospital outpatient physical therapy department.

“These experiences help both students and faculty more clearly define personal and professional values, acknowledge what we can learn from others, and ask us to expand our perception of how we can have a greater impact on the health outcomes of all members in our communities specifically those members who live on the margins.” -Dr. Heidi Eigsti.

 

Student Perspective on the value of the Global Pathway Immersion Trips

 “It was incredibly valuable to experience another culture in such an immersive way. We spent much of our time learning about the healthcare system in Peru while providing free health fairs and working at Carrion Hospital and CMMB, a non-profit organization that provides therapy for children with disabilities. I will never forget the people I met, the places I saw, the food I ate, and the lessons I learned during my 3 weeks in Huancayo.

I came into the trip with a very go-to attitude and I wanted to help as much as I possibly could. However, during this trip I realized that sometimes more important than doing is watching, listening, and going with the flow. This is something that I feel we’re taught in our global health pathway as a whole. However, the concept really hit home for me in Peru and I left with a humility that I had not expected to come away with. I realized that we weren’t there to “do it all”; we were there to learn and to do some good while we were at it. Sometimes our impact is big, like providing adaptive equipment to a child with cerebral palsy. Sometimes our impact is smaller, like putting a smile on someone else’s face for 0.5 seconds. I realized that sometimes the biggest impact is just showing up, learning, listening, and showing love.” -Dr. Amber Bolen, Class of 2019

 

“My experience in Huancayo, Peru was filled with endless learning. It did not take long for me to realize how often I take my resources for granted. As our trip coordinator Natalia reminded us, “You have amazing teachers, you have amazing resources, you have amazing opportunities. Take them.” This trip was a much needed reminder that I have been given endless privileges that others are not as fortunate to receive. It is my duty to consistently use these privileges to help others. Working with our community partners in Peru- Carrion Hospital, Continental University, and CMMB- taught me a lot about the differences in our healthcare system and how deeply limited resources acts as a restriction to outcomes. Navigating these relationships was also very impactful, as it taught me how to balance respect with education to work on both nurturing relationships while also promoting health in our profession. The change we made in those quick 3 weeks is really minimal in the big picture, but taking the lessons I learned and applying it to my future practice is what will make a difference. Witnessing the social injustices experienced in Huancayo firsthand has lit a fire inside of me- to open my eyes a little wider, listen a little clearer, and to act with more intention.”– Dr. Jessica Kirkwood, Class of 2019

 

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Then and now: Meet Alumna Erin McGuinn Kinsey

Erin graduated from the Regis DPT program in 2010 and is now a pediatric physical therapist for Aurora Public Schools; she also serves as a Clinical Instructor for current students. 
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Name: Erin McGuinn Kinsey, Class of 2010
Hometown: Denver (but grew up in Georgia, Alabama and Florida)
Undergrad: University of Florida (Go Gators!)

Fun Fact: I am a huge Florida Gators fan and have been to 3 National Championship games, including football and basketball (all of which they won)!

More than six years ago, I completed my PT school capstone with the theme of “balance,” which led me to my graduation from Regis University with my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2010. Every day during these past six years, I’ve held onto that philosophy of balance in both my personal and professional life. Life has definitely been a journey since then, and I am thankful for my profession, colleagues, friends, and family who have been a constant support. I always make time for my family, staying active, and traveling while dedicating myself to the children and families I serve as a physical therapist.

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My dad and me on graduation day! My parents were a huge support during my time at Regis.

As a Regis physical therapy student, I considered several areas of practice with an interest in pediatrics or orthopedics. It was when I ventured off to Ethiopia for the intercultural immersion experience that my decision was made to pursue a career in pediatrics. I have always enjoyed coaching children in gymnastics and being a nanny, but this was a new responsibility. My eyes were opened to the importance of access to timely and appropriate healthcare—especially early intervention for children. There were so many preventable and correctable impairments that would have changed the lives of these children if they had been addressed earlier in life. My passion for working with children was intensified, and I knew there was good work to be done in my future.

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Our time at Project Mercy in Ethiopia

After graduation, I decided I wanted to pursue pediatric physical therapy in Denver. I completed the Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship through JFK Partners and the University of Colorado (which is now the University of Colorado Pediatric Physical Therapy Residency Program). This opportunity gave me a variety of academic and clinical experiences, including supportive mentorship that was invaluable as a new physical therapist. I highly recommend further education after graduating, especially if you have determined an area of specialization! It is amazing how many continuing education opportunities are available now for physical therapists.  The experiences can enhance your education early on and increase your confidence in your clinical skills and decision making.

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My wedding day with my Regis girls by my side

I currently work as a pediatric physical therapist in Aurora Public Schools. My perception of the role of the physical therapist has really expanded in this setting. Access to the educational curriculum covers a broad spectrum and all aspects of a student’s school day. We are responsible for the physical access to the school environment in any scenario; this includes  getting on/off the bus, participating with peers on the playground, moving through the lunch line, evacuation plans, equipment management, gross motor skill development, and much more. I truly value providing services in the natural environment for the child.  There is something to be said for practicing the skill in the environment it is expected to be performed while directly supporting the student’s participation in his/her school life.  After spending most of my early career with the birth to three-year-old population in the home setting, the school setting has provided new challenges and learning opportunities across the school-aged lifespan. I remember in my interview with Aurora Public Schools one of my colleagues mentioned, “you will never be bored.” Now in my second year in APS, I have quickly learned this is true!

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My wonderful PT team at APS!

The beauty of being a physical therapist is that there are so many different opportunities within the profession, and you can always change your mind. People need our help whether they are young or old, active or sedentary. Get out there, find what you love, and create your balance.

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My family on vacation to Carmel Valley and Pebble Beach, CA

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein