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Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern students volunteer, provide health screenings to Savannah community

When Luke Thayer signed up to volunteer for a National Physical Therapy Day of Service event hosted by Georgia Southern University’s Department of Rehabilitation Services, it was about more than simply volunteering. 

“I chose to volunteer because the profession that I am working toward does not stop outside the hours of 9 to 5,” said the second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student. “Physical therapy is meant to be a continual effort to serve the community in the best way that you can.”

Thayer and his classmates in the DPT program in the Waters College of Health Professions volunteered earlier this month by providing blood pressure and balance screenings to 114 Savannah community members. He enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the community while educating people on the overall benefits of physical therapy.

“A lot of citizens are not informed of the benefits of physical therapy and do not realize that we treat more than postoperative individuals and sports injuries,” Thayer said. “We are musculoskeletal experts and can facilitate an increase in one’s wellness by improving function, movement, balance and decreasing pain.”

These community events, which were hosted at the Southwest Branch of Live Oak Public Library and the Forsyth Farmers’ Market, were organized by Haley Worst, DPT, assistant professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. They were held in recognition of National Therapy Month, which is organized by the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia and the American Physical Therapy Association. 

Students were enthusiastic about the community’s response to the events and valued the opportunity to provide participants with meaningful healthcare services.

“By volunteering, I was able to help in the community and continue to develop my personal communication skills in a professional setting,” said Jacob Gross from Thomaston, Georgia.

Alicia Connolly from Dacula, Georgia, participated to make a contribution to the community and bolster her communication skills. 

“The event gave me an opportunity to assess people and talk with them about their health, which will help better my skill set for when I am actually working and treating patients,” Connolly said.

In addition to the students, several current and retired physical therapy faculty members assisted in the event, including Sharan Zirges, PT, Andi Beth Mincer, DPT, and Emeritus Anne Thompson.

The Physical Therapy program at Georgia Southern University is a full-time doctoral program housed in the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences. The program consists of nine semesters of academic coursework, including three full-time clinical affiliations and several additional clinical experiences.

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