Rodrigo Garrido Cáceres, the first Chilean physical therapist student to take part in an exchange program with the University of San Sebastian in Chile, spent six weeks this fall taking classes and observing physical therapy research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He also practiced physical therapy skills under the supervision of a licensed physical therapist at a variety of Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago clinic locations.
His experience is part of a partnership between the two universities that was created in 2012 and grew out of a friendship between Fernando Quiroga Dubournais, dean of health sciences at Universidad San Sebastian, and Jules Dewald, PT, PhD, chair of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences. The collaboration was designed by students through an educational research project mentored by Nora Francis, PT, DHS, assistant professor, Antoinette Sander, DPT, associate professor emeritus, Chandi Edmonds, ’02 PT/DPT, assistant professor, and Krista Van Der Laan, ’03 PT/DPT, assistant professor, all of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences. The first group of Northwestern University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students to participate in the program went to Chile last year.
After meeting and becoming friends with the DPT students from Northwestern last year in Chile, Garrido Cáceres wanted to come to Feinberg for his final internship. He is also the first student from his university to study abroad in the United States.
“This internship was one of the best experiences in my life, because it is my first time in America and I attended a really good university,” he said. “The classmates and professors from the program were so friendly, and I loved the city.”
While at Feinberg, he took classes and participated in research studies with stroke patients. Garrido Cáceres said he was impressed by the advanced technology and robotics used in research in addition to their ability to offer personalized solutions to better care for patients.
“In Chile, a wheelchair is a wheelchair and everybody has the same wheelchair. Here, a wheelchair is for that person. It’s personalized,” he said.
Back in Chile, Garrido Cáceres will finish his physical therapy program and plans to keep in touch with faculty and peers at Northwestern.