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Bournemouth, Elon University physical therapy students participate in an intercultural exchange program

Bournemouth-Elon (BE) Buddies connects physical therapy students from both programs in a Zoom environment where students share their own culture and learn cultural aspects of an international student, as well as a different health care system, in a facilitated exchange.

Bournemouth-Elon “BE” Buddies connects physical therapy students from both programs in a virtual environment where students share their own culture and learn cultural aspects of an international student, as well as a different health care system, in a facilitated exchange.

Paula DiBiasio, associate professor in Elon’s Department of Physical Therapy Education and the Global Learning Opportunities Program Coordinator, and Katey Collins, senior lecturer in physiotherapy at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom, have been working together for over a year to create student and faculty exchanges . Both programs are interested in creating intercultural learning opportunities to promote the development of intercultural awareness, sensitivity and humility in physical therapy students with the ultimate goal of providing high-quality patient-centered care that helps to reduce health and health care inequities.

In the first meeting, both academic programs introduced information about the path to becoming a physical therapist and then 32 students broke out into groups to “scavenger hunt” facts about each program. In the process, students explored program similarities and differences, described unique aspects of their programs and shared some of their favorite aspects of their local culture.

The group will continue to meet monthly to discuss student-initiated topics while exploring aspects of the physical therapy profession, health care systems, delivery and reimbursement models in each country. Next month, a patient panel will launch the exchange. Future sessions will include topics related to patient populations, work environments and the impact of climate change on health care.

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