In any field, your passions can drive your commitment to giving back to the community, whether locally, nationally, or internationally. This article was published in the winter 2018 issue of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Perspectives magazine.
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Two days after the baby boy died, doctors finally discovered his diagnosis—and it had been a treatable condition. His physical therapist (PT), Mary Elizabeth Parker, PT, PhD, found herself deeply angry and considered quitting practice. Instead, she focused the anger into a passion for undiagnosed and rare disorders, making a volunteer commitment that transformed her practice, research, and dissertation direction. “There’s more that we could do. We couldn’t save him, but I bet there are others we can save,” she said. Partnering with 2 women who had lost children to undiagnosed causes, she founded U.R. Our Hope, a nonprofit that supports families coping with undiagnosed and rare disorders. Parker is a board-certified clinical specialist in pediatric physical therapy and in neurologic physical therapy and is on the faculty at Texas State University.

… Whatever the spark that lights the path to pro bono work—a mother’s inspiration, anger after a patient’s death, or a simple invitation to participate—giving service provides personal and professional fulfillment and growth. “You get a great education, and you come out very prepared, but now you’re on a new learning slope. Work has become the learning, and it’s continuous learning, both about yourself, your patients, and your practice,” Iwand said.