Reflecting on Advocacy and Innovation

During my Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities (LEND) traineeship at The Ohio State University Nisonger Center and my Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) virtual traineeship, I had an opportunity to learn from some of the brightest clinicians in the field of developmental disabilities; I am now in my second year as a pediatric physical therapist. 

My experiences and education from the AUCD programs informs my work on a daily basis; two key concepts, advocacy and innovation, affect my clinical practice. 

I have seen changes in my attitude and interest in advocacy both at the political and interpersonal level. At the political level, I strive to participate by contacting my members of Congress whenever possible to promote issues that are important to me, my profession, and the disabilities community. The political action alerts from the American Physical Therapy Association and Action Center through AUCD are fantastic resources for quickly and effectively communicating concerns to my legislators. On an interpersonal level, I try not only to inform patients and families of their rights and responsibilities but empower them to become advocates themselves. Recently, a mother had some questions related to physical therapy in the educational environment. I was able to talk with her about the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and direct her to reputable sources for more information.

I truly feel that my experiences as a LEND trainee and AUCD virtual trainee helped me take the leap from being a “thinker” to a “doer.” At any given time, I tend to have numerous ideas for innovation swirling around in my head. Prior to my traineeship, I often thought “Why is no one doing this?” Now, I find myself thinking, “How can I make this happen?”

I have always had a passion for promoting health and fitness, for example; this past summer, with the help of my employer’s clinical therapies department, I started a fitness group for children with neurological diagnoses. The first year was a learning experience but everyone had a lot of fun. Thanks to the influences of my LEND and AUCD training, I even gathered pre- and post- test data!  I am looking forward to a more extensive and impressive program next summer.

These are just a few examples of  the impact my LEND and AUCD traineeships have had on my career as a young professional. I very grateful to have experienced so many wonderful and unique experiences throughout my traineeship and enjoy staying connected through emails from AUCD and my LEND alma mater, as well as frequent visits to the AUCD website.

Liz Maus, PT, DPT
LEND trainee 2007-2009
AUCD virtual trainee 2008-2009

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