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12 DU Grads Helping China to Fill Need for Rehabilitation Specialists

Twelve health care professionals from China will be among the graduates at the John G. Rangos School of Health Sciences summer Commencement ceremony on Friday, Aug. 7, at 6:30 p.m. at Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo Center.

The 10 female and 2 male students participated in a unique, 12-month pilot program as part of a partnership between the School of Health Sciences and the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SUTCM). The arrangement was developed, with backing from the Chinese government, to help address the critical need in China for health care professionals with specialization in physical therapy and occupational therapy. Duquesne is the only American university involved in such an arrangement.

"In many of China's universities and medical schools, they only have a rehabilitation school or department, and what they offer is more comprehensive treatment, rather than a specialty like physical therapy or occupational therapy," said Associate Professor of Speech-Language Pathology Dr. Yang Chen, who helped to develop the pilot program. "Now, there is a big need for rehab, but they don't have enough manpower to fill that need."

Of the students participating in the pilot, eight took classes through the Department of Physical Therapy and four through the Department of Occupational Therapy for three straight semesters of study. "The (program) helped strengthen my basic knowledge and led me to more focused areas in which I learned many more techniques," said Jiawen Cui, a faculty member at the SUTCM's School of Rehabilitation, who had the opportunity to attend the American Physical Therapy Association's Combined Sections Meeting in Indianapolis in February. "It really allowed me to see the newest techniques and research in the different areas of physical therapy-it really opened my eyes."

Qianwen Liu, who received her bachelor's in rehabilitation therapeutics from the SUTCM in 2014, participated in the occupational therapy concentration at Duquesne. "This has been a really great experience," she said. "I got to see the bigger picture of what occupational therapy looks like through observation in the community and clinics. We learned to view every client as an independent person with individual needs. I enhanced my competence as a future occupational therapist, and I feel confident in bringing back what I learned and saw here back to China."

A second cohort of 14 Chinese students arrived at Duquesne University this week to begin their studies through the program in the physical therapy and occupational therapy departments.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.