Partnerships form a vital role in the health of our community as they enable organizations to expand their impact. The ongoing partnership between the University of Indianapolis and Community Health Network is one such important example of strengthening ties and improving lives in the local community and beyond. With programs that emphasize the compassion and understanding that form the core of the University’s mission, students, faculty and alumni are bringing new healthcare opportunities to clients through clinical experiences, research and collaboration.
For Bryan Gezon ’13 (exercise science), ’16 (doctorate of physical therapy), the partnership helped to launch the next phase of his career. Gezon now works as a physical therapist in Community Health Network’s Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Center, located in UIndy’s Health Pavilion, with patients ranging from 10 to 90 years old coping with orthopedic or sports injuries. His favorite part of the job?
“Patients who have doubts when they first come in because they might not know much about therapy–seeing them learn what it’s like and start to see improvements, those are special moments,” Gezon said.
The vision statement of the American Physical Therapy Association is “transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” Sara Scholtes, Krannert School of Physical Therapy chair, explained, “Physical therapists are called to be movement experts, dedicated to improving the quality of life for all individuals by addressing movement and movement-related impairments. Bryan addresses this vision statement by being dedicated to improving movement of individuals in the greater UIndy community.”
The examples of physical therapy patients run the gamut from athletes looking to get back on the field to stroke patients who are learning to walk again. Even small improvements can make a huge difference in clients’ lives. Gezon gave the example of helping a patient overcome a foot injury as she prepared for an overseas trip.
“When I see a patient come in, and they’re really excited about being able to do something they haven’t been able to do for a while, that’s really motivating,” Gezon added.
In a neighborhood with few clinics, Gezon said the Community Health Network clinic serves many patients from the local community. A typical day for Gezon might involve treating several patients for a wide variety of conditions, and he’ll often have a Krannert School of Physical Therapy student by his side.
Gezon’s mentees range from undergraduate students in the pre-physical therapy or athletic training programs to those who are shadowing to become doctorate of physical therapy candidates and treating patients as part of their clinical or internship duties. He’s thrilled to be a part of the same program that prepared him so effectively for his career and he appreciates the strength of the University’s clinical focus.
“Through the amount of clinical experience that students are exposed to, UIndy recognizes the importance of both learning in class and then applying it in clinical settings,” Gezon said.
Following a rigorous year-long orthopedic residency through the University of Indianapolis, Gezon began working at the Community Health Network clinic. He also enjoys bringing clarity to patients about their physical condition.
“When you can explain what’s going on to a patient, why they’re having this issue and what we can do to help treat it, it’s exciting to empower them with knowledge. That can take a weight off their shoulders, even if it takes a few months to heal,” he said.
Gezon pointed out that amid the ongoing opioid epidemic, physical therapy provides a safe alternative to strong pain medication.
“We can treat pain through a variety of ways, and we see the benefits that come from exercise versus some of the dangerous consequences from taking a pill,” he said.
Gezon noted faculty like Emily Slaven, director of the Orthopedic Residency Program; Sam Kegerreis, professor emeritus; and Ed Jones, assistant professor of physical therapy, who were “incredible role models. It’s very motivating when you really respect your professors and want to become like them.”
To learn more about UIndy’s physical therapy program, visit uindy.edu/pt.