Student Spotlight: Michelle Kowalski and Global Physical Therapy in Trinidad

This January Professor of Physical Therapy Marilyn Moffat took a group of NYU Doctorate of Physical Therapy students abroad for the program Trinidad: Physical Therapy in a Global Context, which is an optional extension of the required Clinical Observation II and IV course. The purpose of the trip was to analyze the clinical performance of experienced practitioners in a non-U.S. setting to help students gain an understanding of different physical therapy service delivery models and different health delivery systems.

We spoke with DPT student Michelle Kowalski about her experience on the trip, what brought her to the program here at NYU Steinhardt, and her reflections on the experience.

Where are you from and what brought you to the DPT program here at NYU Steinhardt?

I am originally from Westchester, New York, and I studied Psychology at Fairfield University as an undergraduate. I was drawn to the Physical Therapy Program at NYU Steinhardt because of the unique opportunity to learn from a prestigious faculty in a small class setting, and the numerous experiences provided to students to expand their clinical knowledge and skills.

Why did you want to participate in the global aspect of this class? What was unique about it?

The idea of working hands-on with experienced clinicians who have a different outlook on physical therapy treatment pushed me to pursue the opportunity to study and practice in Trinidad and Tobago. I think cultural awareness is a key aspect of being a good clinician, especially in diverse areas such as New York City, so I found this opportunity to be a great chance to expand those skills.

What was your favorite part of the Steinhardt global experience?

My favorite part of the global experience was how culturally immersed we were from the time we landed. Whether it was with food, music, or the many Trinidadian traditions, we were warmly welcomed into their country. Their customs were greatly tied into their medical practice and provided us with a different outlook on healthcare.

How do you think seeing how clinicians from other cultures interact with their patients will help you in your future practice?

Every clinician we worked with in Trinidad brought a different perspective to practicing physical therapy. This opportunity taught me to separate each patient experience, to focus on it individuality, and to always step back and think about the multiple approaches to treatment that best fit the patient’s needs.

What made you want to be a physical therapist, and how has Steinhardt helped you achieve those goals?

I was drawn to the profession of physical therapy based on its principle of improving quality of life. The happiness of patients when they see day to day progression from treatment was inspiring to me, and I wanted to be involved in a career where I could help people reach the goals they set for themselves. Steinhardt has provided me with many opportunities to learn from experienced clinicians about the profession and has opened my eyes to importance of physical therapy in various clinical settings.

Visit Steinhardt Global Affairs for more information on this and other global experiences available to NYU students.



Posted: March 8th, 2017