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Gannon University Doctor of Physical Therapy Students Take Inspiring Trip to Valladolid, Mexico

Published: 08/24/2021

 Doctoral of Physical Therapy  Students in Mexico.

Doctoral of Physical Therapy Students in Mexico.

A trip to Valladolid, Mexico taught physical therapy student Christina Longjohn the importance of health care and that what may seem like little help to a patient actually goes a long way.

Gannon University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program paired up with its partner CHOSEN International Medical Assistance Inc. to go on a trip to Valladolid, Mexico this summer. CHOSEN is an Erie-based organization with offices, distribution center and warehouse on West 26th St. where it refurbishes and distributes top-quality medical equipment to local homes as well as clinics and hospitals across the world to improve quality of life.

Longjohn was one of fifteen students who traveled to Valladolid alongside three faculty members on this seven-day trip. 

During this trip, students used their hours that they ‘worked’ for required community service hours for their capstone presentation in our Gannon’s community health initiative course. These students have been working closely with Constance Lewis, PT, DPT, assistant teaching professor of physical therapy, and CHOSEN throughout the year.

Longjohn, a third-year DPT student, joined CHOSEN in the year 2021. With the Erie-based CHOSEN location, she volunteers to help clean and organize medical equipment while also helping to ship some to Mexico and Africa.

Her favorite part about CHOSEN was being able to serve others. In fact, one of the reasons she chose to enroll in Gannon’s physical therapy program is because she enjoys helping others.

On her trip to Valladolid, Mexico, Longjohn and her classmates worked at a physical therapy clinic. Longjohn and her classmates provided services to people in Valladolid and civilians who were around the area. With help from translators, they were able to provide physical therapy services to people who weren’t financially able to obtain services or physically have access to the things they need including rollators, canes, and walkers.

"One of my favorite parts of the trip was the opportunity to give out assistive devices to many of the people that came to see us,” Longjohn said. “This was my favorite part, because so many of these people came in with pain or difficulty moving, and when you give them these devices it significantly improves their quality and ease of movement." 

"It really made me feel that even though we would only be able to treat these people for a single session, we were also giving them tools to use at home to make life just a little easier,” Longjohn added. 

A few lessons that Longjohn was able to take home with her from her trip to Valladolid, Mexico was listening to the patient and treating known injuries. Longjohn and her classmates didn’t have the right equipment to diagnose the patients, so they were very dependent on what the patient was saying hurt them. She said she found it is important to educate patients on why they are having pain and what they can do to further reduce it in their everyday lives. She said she also learned that she is incredibly thankful for the access to health care available in the United States.

“For any student who is looking into doing a service trip, I would say 100% do it,” Longjohn said.  “You learn so many lessons and meet some incredible people along the way. Also for me, I went to Valladolid to serve people, but the people of Valladolid also showed so much kindness to our group and everyone was incredibly welcoming, kind and extremely grateful for what we were doing. This trip was truly incredible and I feel that through all of these experiences I was able to learn a ton.”

Lewis said that she has wanted to create an overseas service-learning experience for her DPT students for a while now.

“I never imagined that, within a year of starting with Gannon and in the midst of a global pandemic, I would have been provided a university blessing to fulfill this dream,” Lewis said. “I am honored and extremely appreciative in the assistance from everyone at Gannon who consulted and assisted in all of the required steps to approve this trip, as well as our amazing community partner and the leadership at CHOSEN.”

For more information on CHOSEN, email Constance Lewis at lewis008@gannon.edu

Learn more about Gannon's Doctor of Physical Therapy program in Erie and Ruskin.