Physical Therapy Majors Study Abroad in Poland

Physical therapy students study abroad in Poland during summer 2023.

Eleven Lebanon Valley College Physical Therapy majors toured hospitals and clinics and visited historical sites during the first-ever study abroad experience in Poland this past summer. The students traveled with Dr. Andrew Milosz, Clinical Assistant Professor of Exercise Science.

“This experience differentiates itself from other study abroad programs in its unmatchable insight into the health professions,” said Rachel Gibson ’23, D’25. “We visited multiple hospitals, which would be very difficult to do on a regular trip! We saw virtual reality-adapted rehab machines that enabled patients to work on fine tuning muscles and motor control skills at the neurology hospital. We also looked at the high-tech simulation labs that replicated real-world scenarios with their mannequins that performed all bodily functions such as breathing, blinking, IV simulation, pulses, salivation, and more. There was even a birth simulation to prepare students interested in that field of healthcare.”

Students traveled throughout the country with stops in Warsaw, Olsztyn, Gdansk, Ustron, Krakow, and Auschwitz during their three-week program. Their educational sites included university sports facilities, a health resort, an underground respiratory clinic, and physical therapy/fitness facilities, along with hospitals.

“While all of the clinical sites we visited contributed to the trip, I especially took an interest in the rehabilitation hospital for adults’ campus in Gorowo and the Ameryka Children’s Hospital,” said Meg McCracken ’26, D’28. “The pure love and passion the staff at both hospitals had for their patients was clear in the hospitals’ design. In both places, it was clear that even though the healthcare system is not ideal for them, Polish citizens still want to provide the best possible care for patients who need it, and it is possible to have great providers in these circumstances.”

Students also connected their tour of an underground salt mine in Weliczka to their cardiopulmonary class. This experience emphasized the importance of exercise and physical activity with pulmonary clearance techniques. I had never witnessed the techniques used in person yet, so this experience was very gratifying to see it being used universally and worldwide,” said Gibson.

The group learned about more than health practices and explored cultural and historical sites such as the Wawel Royal Castle, old town Warsaw, and Auschwitz concentration camp.

Now that students have returned to LVC and are continuing their classes and clinical placements, they are carrying forward the lessons and knowledge gained in Poland.

“My understanding of the healthcare network expanded, and I saw the effects and importance of approaching a patient’s plan of care from a more biopsychosocial perspective,” said Dain Vallie ’23, D’25. “I feel that is growing in importance here in the U.S., and I am interested in how much the environment, lifestyle, and psychological therapy can influence and aid in the goals in physical therapy. I definitely learned things and found concepts to be supported in Poland that I would like to carry into my own practice one day.”

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