Paying it forward: Alum donates to Equal Access Clinic

Photo of Dr. Arlyn Thobaben
Dr. Arlyn Thobaben, PT, OCS

The Physical Therapy Equal Access Clinic, or PT EAC, is unique to the UF Doctor of Physical Therapy program in that it provides DPT students the opportunity to work first-hand with patients under the guidance of faculty and clinicians.

Thanks to a generous gift from Arlyn Thobaben, PT, OCS, UF Doctor of Physical Therapy class of 2012, the EAC student leadership group was able to purchase artwork to promote health and wellbeing for community members who attend the clinic once it reopens for in-person clinic hours.

Dr. Thobaben has come full circle. While completing the UF DPT program, she was assigned to the EAC as her community engagement group. Now as a physical therapist, residency mentor, and clinic director at Texas Therapy Specialists, she decided to give back to the clinic that helped shape her clinical and interpersonal skills.

“I remember learning so much at the EAC. Being able to work directly with patients, under the guidance of professors, helped build my confidence for my internships,” she explained. “And not just clinical skills, but interpersonal skills, by having the opportunity to work with patients and team mates.”

Recently, the EAC student directors and faculty leadership met virtually with Dr. Thobaben, where she explained how a clinic atmosphere can help create a safe space for patients the moment they step inside the clinic.  

During a renovation of her own clinic, Dr. Thobaben selected color schemes and chose paintings and images to promote a welcoming and calm presence that patients feel when they step into a clinic. She then passed on her experiences to the EAC Board.

“You need to think about the type of patients who are coming through the clinic,” she said. “What kind of experience do you want to create for them? Think of brighter blues, or some purples – you want the space to feel vibrant! Things that make you happy. You should stay away from images depicting pain or painful structures.”

After identifying ways to create a welcoming space, the second-year DPT student group worked with PT faculty and staff to purchase two sets of artwork for the CLC using the gift that Dr. Thobaben donated.

Thank you, Dr. Thobaben, for helping create a welcoming and warm space for the UF Clinical Learning Center reception area and for giving back to the UF DPT students and EAC patients!