With 1,782 total volunteer hours, Chapman’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program won first place in the 2019-2020 California Outreach Challenge. The Challenge is an annual state-wide competition that runs from September through mid-March and encourages student Physical Therapists and Physical Therapist Assistants from all educational programs in the state to volunteer in their local communities. In addition to increasing student exposure to the communities and populations they will be serving, the Challenge attempts to promote the PT profession through positive community interactions.

Over 200 Chapman DPT students participated, contributing their time to a wide variety of organizations throughout Orange County, Southern California, and even out-of-state, including Second Harvest Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Orange County Coastkeeper, Special Olympics, Ronald McDonald House, Long Beach Rescue Mission, and the Red Cross.

Providing community engagement through service-learning is an essential part of the DPT program, and while completing a total of 45 hours, students are asked to write papers that reflect upon their experience and present them orally to their classmates and faculty. The goal, according to Georgeanne Vlad, instructor for the two Service Learning courses, is “to get them out of the just-PT mode and to open their eyes to the whole patient, the whole community, and what needs beyond the physical our clients and patients bring with them”. “It’s very heartwarming,” says Vlad, “Many students meet individuals barely making ends meet who have to put humility aside and ask for help. They learn quickly that misfortune can hit anyone at any time.”