Pro Bono Clinic

About the GVSU Pro Bono Clinic

Established in 2000, our mission is to provide pro bono PT services to those in the Grand Rapids community who cannot afford health care, and to provide learning opportunities to licensed and student physical therapists. Space for services is donated by two health clinics: Cherry Health, Heart fof the City, and Advent Physical Therapy, both in downtown Grand Rapids.  The pro bono services are coordinated by students enrolled in the DPT program under the direction of Professor Dr. Laurie Stickler. Treatment is completed by GVSU DPT students in collaboration with physical therapists from the community and the university who volunteer their time to help provide care as well as contribute to the education of the students. Patients treated are those with primarily orthopedic conditions and disabilities and all services are provided at no cost to patients and participants. The clinics serve primarily non-English speaking individuals for which interpretation services are available.

DPT Class of 2024 Coordinators

DPT Class of 2024 Coordinators 

Advent Physical Therapy Clinic

Advent Physical Therapy Clinic

Cherry Health

Cherry Health

Student Coordinator Role

  • Schedule PTs, SPTs, patients, & interpreters
  • Arrange space/supplies for treatment
  • Track logistics of delivered care
  • Orient new students/therapists
  • Facilitate transitions between classes

Student Volunteer Role

  • Volunteers may begin signing up after returning from their first clinical experience
  • 1:1 experience with a licensed PT
  • Requires about 3 hours total on a Friday
  • Will typically see 3 patients with 60 minute appointments, interpreters provided as needed
  • Opportunity to work on clinical skills and serve the community


What is the average time commitment for this opportunity?

Both clinics are open on Fridays and both DPT students and community PT’s sign up for 3 hour segments. There is no limit to how many sessions students/therapists volunteer for at the clinics.

Does this opportunity cost anything to the therapist/student volunteers?

There is no cost to students to participate, however volunteers are responsible for gas/travel costs incurred when traveling to/from the clinics.  Therapists can receive up to 6 PDR's per 2 years license renewal (1 per hour).  

Who do I contact to get involved?

Laurie Stickler

[email protected]

Quotes from GVSU PT Students on their experience(s) in the clinic:

  • “I feel like we help in more than just the usual PT way, like psychological ways as well, and helping them out with getting them maybe other services that they might need.”1
  • “In the clinic we were able to provide treatment to patients that otherwise would have never received physical therapy and to know that they were able to, hopefully, get results and you know be able to improve their quality of life”1
  • “The most rewarding part was the good feedback that we would get from patients…and how happy they were with the care that they received and that they had gotten better with it.”1
  • It made me much more culturally aware… and to have that experience working with a diverse population especially low socioeconomic status really helped me to relate when I’m in the clinic.”1
  • “I learned that I am able to build rapport with people . . . even if I can’t speak their language”2
  • “The presence of the pro-bono clinic is one of the main reasons that I came to Grand Valley”3
  • “It was beneficial … to develop our skills, practice our skills as a student, as well as … it provided us … professional growth … and allowed us to reflect on … how we want to be as clinicians … after we graduate.”3
  • “… just giving them the time of day and showing them that you are genuinely interested and care about their well being … has a huge effect on people … especially the population of patients with as much adversity as … the people … you see at the pro bono clinic.”3


1Stickler L, Hoogenboom B, Ozga K. “The Impact of DPT Student Coordination of a Physical Therapy Pro Bono Clinic: A Qualitative Investigation.” Journal of Physical Therapy Education.2020; 31(2): 131-137. DOI: 10.1097/JTE.0000000000000132

2 Taylor S, Barthel T, Stehouer J, Stickler L. “Students’ Perceptions of Training and Experiences with Interpreters in a Pro Bono Physical Therapy Setting.” Journal of Interprofessional Care. 18 May 2021. DOI: 10.1080/13561820.2021.1895094

3 Stickler L, Grapczynski C, Ritch J. “Student Perceptions of Outcomes from Participation in Physical Therapy Pro Bono Clinics: A Qualitative Study.”  Journal of Allied Health.  2013; 42(1):46-55.

Page last modified February 28, 2024