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Feb. 15, 2013
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

SRU PT student studies in Spain

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Erin Boyle, a second-year Slippery Rock University doctor of physical therapy student from Pittsburgh, needs no further proof that being in the right place at the right time can change a life.

One of Boyle's physical therapy instructors, Nancy Shipe, an assistant professor in SRU's School of Physical Therapy, took a group of 17 SRU students to Spain last March as part of an international spring break study abroad program to learn about Spanish physiotherapy education, practice and healthcare delivery. The collaboration with faculty and students at Escola De la Salut I l'Esport Griona led to an agreement between the EUSES and SRU for future students to one day intern as part of the city's School of Health and Sport.

Boyle, a 2012 SRU exercise science graduate, learned of the program's possibilities and "jumped at the chance. I had already studied in Spain about two years ago as part of my language courses and wanted to go back. What better way than as a physical therapy intern."

Boyle returned to the SRU campus last weekend following her five-week internship at the 200-bed, three-story hospital sant jaume olot, Spain. She is enthusiastic about the program. "Olot is rural and about 90 minutes outside Barcelona. As part of the program, I was housed with a host family in Olot," she said.

"I had the chance to participate in a number of programs, including work in the hospital's gerontology residence. It was interesting to see the different approach to therapy offered at the hospital. They have massage therapists there and the patients seem to enjoy the 'hands on' therapy. They do not do the level of strengthening training that we do in the U.S. They make the patient's feel good," she said.

"My gerontology work involved about 150 people who reside at the facility. I would walk them down the hall, work on their range of motion and, on Thursday's, participate in their group exercise class. For other patients it was basic electric stimulation and massages," she said.

"On the outpatient rehabilitation side of the internship, I also worked in the same areas, including passive range of motion work for patients. Many of the patients are there after knee replacement or rotator cuff and acromiopolasty surgery for their shoulder injuries.

"I was permitted to do hands-on therapy and worked along side of three or four physical therapists at the hospital," she said.

"It was a great opportunity to work on my Spanish language skills and my physical therapy studies at the same time. I think it is important to know another language because America is not the only country in the world, and because Spanish is growing in a number of southern states. It will also make me more marketable in my job search," Boyle said.

"I would not object to practicing in Spain for a while, once I graduate," she said.

During her weekend off time, Boyle visited Barcelona, including attending a soccer game in which Lionel Messi, the Argentine footballer who plays forward for the Barcelona-based La Liga, was a player. Messi is often rated as the best footballer in the world.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.