April Gamble grew up hearing stories about China and her ancestors who lived there for many years, but never knew she would get the opportunity to retrace their footsteps.
Gamble left in mid-October for Beijing, China, to work as a physical therapist. She graduated with a doctorate of physical therapy from Grand Valley State University in 2012.
In Beijing, she will join the staff at Eliott’s Corner, an interdisciplinary pediatric clinic (offering physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology and psychology services) for children. Eliott’s Corner is one of two clinics that makes up Olivia’s Place, an organization that works to bring an international standard of therapy to China.
“The Olivia’s Place team will provide the support needed to make this happen,” Gamble, a native of Cadillac, said. “I am excited by how I can help develop the therapy profession in China and enhance the lives of many.”
Gamble will help educate health care professionals and students who are enrolled in the first master’s of physical therapy program in China. She will also help establish a network with local health service providers and develop programs for underserved populations. Michael Shoemaker, assistant professor of physical therapy, said that has always been a passion of Gamble’s.
“I think April has always sought to make a tangible difference in the world, and her upcoming position allows her to do exactly that,” he said. “The perspectives she will gain about the delivery of neurologic rehabilitation care in China will be invaluable, and we are eager to hear about her experiences.”
While she does not speak Chinese, Gamble said the skills she learned at Grand Valley prepared her for this next career phase.
“Grand Valley has prepared me to confidently provide care, rooted in evidence-based practice, and has enhanced my critical thinking and decision-making skills,” Gamble said. “My professors’ love and passion for physical therapy has fueled my desire to develop and improve the physical therapy profession on a global scale.”
During her tenure in Grand Valley’s physical therapy program, Gamble served as student coordinator for its Community Outreach Initiative, and coordinated pro-bono physical therapy services for a clinic in downtown Grand Rapids. She also visited Guatemala on a study abroad service-learning trip.
Immediately following graduation, she served for a month at an orphanage in Mexico, providing physical therapy evaluations and treatments for the community. She then served as the Lulenski-Smith Neurologic Resident at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids.