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. 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 2023 Coordinators
Advent Physical Therapy Clinic
GVSU Family Health Center
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 the first clinical
- 1:1 experience with a licensed PT
- Practice with SOAP notes
- Work on Home Exercise Programs (HEP2GO)
- Requires about 3 hours total on a Friday
- Will typically see 3 patients with 60 minute appointments
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 4 hour segments. There is no limit to how many sessions one volunteers for at the clinics.
Does this opportunity cost anything to the student(s)?
There is no cost to students to participate, however students are responsible for gas/travel costs incurred when traveling to/from the clinics.
Who do I contact to get involved?
Q & A With a Valued Volunteer
Katie Collins, a student who has volunteered multiple times at the GVSU Family Health Center, was interviewed about her volunteer experiences.
What do you enjoy about volunteering at the clinics?
Katie: Primarily, it is a way that I can take a step out of school and outside myself and really immerse myself in the profession I love, serving some of the people who arguably need my help the most. Serving in the pro-bono clinic has been a great reminder as to why I am putting myself through 3 extra years of school and it reminds of why I wanted to be a PT. It is a great way to keep my orthopedic clinical skills fresh, something that tends to get put on the back burner as I explore different areas of PT practice. I also get to work with different clinicians each time. I love getting to see how the faculty and community PT’s work in the clinic and learning from their individual areas of expertise and their personal philosophies of patient care. The pro-bono clinic not only provides me with the opportunity to step outside of myself and give back to the community, but it also helps enhance my education as I prepare to become a licensed professional.
What do you think this experience has taught you?
Katie: Working in a pro-bono clinic has opened my eyes to a different side of heath care that I hadn’t previously been ex- posed to, both personally and through clinical experiences. I have very little experience working with the underinsured and uninsured prior to volunteering in the pro-bono clinic. It has been a good experience for me having to work with little supplies (the only supplies we have are donated one) to make “big” improvements for the patients I work with. It has also opened my eyes to the impact that language barriers can have on PT care, especially for initial evaluations. Working in the pro-bono clinic has widened my view of the populations and needs that I can serve as a PT. Additionally, it has helped me see some cultural and clinician skill gaps in my own practice that I have been able to work on improving.
Why should other students and professionals get involved with the pro bono clinic?
Katie: I think it is really easy for us to get caught up in our course work and forget the reason why we entered the health care profession. By being involved in a pro-bono clinic, you have the opportunity to be reminded why you are putting yourself through 3 intense years of school and you have the opportunity to give back to the community you are a part of. In regard to professionals, the professional code of ethics states “Physical therapists shall provide pro bono physical therapy services or support organizations that meet the health needs of people who are economically disadvantaged, uninsured, and underinsured.” If the pro-bono clinic is attached to a DPT program, it is a great opportunity to give back to the profession through assisting a DPT student in their evaluation, treatment, and clinical decision in a clinical setting.