Student Highlight: Shane Mathew

The Department of Physical Therapy is proud to highlight Shane Mathew, SPT, CSCS, a second-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student, for his contributions to the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professions Education. Learn more about the Forum and how Shane is representing the program during conversations discussing the role of students amid critical situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shane Matthew

Second-year Doctor of Physical therapy student

Shane Mathew, SPT, CSCS

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Health Education and Behavior from the University of Florida. Leadership roles: Administrative Co-Director of the Equal Access Physical Therapy Clinic, Class of 2023 DEI Committee member.

The Global Forum is an ongoing activity of the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professions Education, a sub-group of The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM).  The Global Forum brings together diverse stakeholders to network, discuss and illuminate issues for the benefit and promotion of health professional education.

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated questions and drive to consider experiential learning from different angles. In the past 18 months, the need to remove students from the clinical environment was driven by system implications, such as shortage of personal protective equipment, rapidly changing care protocols, or disrupted workflows, making supervision harder and requiring major changes in educational formats. In a series of workshops, the forum is exploring the role of students during crises and how to create an environment appropriate for learners across all the professions to be part of the health care response for future events.

Kim Dunleavy, PhD, PT, OCS, clinical professor and director of community engagement in the Department of Physical Therapy, represents the American Council for Physical Therapy Education on the forum and nominated Shane Mathew, SPT, CSCS, a second-year University of Florida Doctor of Physical Therapy student, and Olgert Bardhi, a fourth-year medical student from the UF College of Medicine and one of the UF COVID-19 Student Service Corps leaders, to contribute to the student voice in these discussions at the national level. Shane is currently one of the student co-directors of the Physical Therapy Equal Access Clinic (PT EAC) and a member of the class of 2023 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

Tapping into past professional and academic experience – particularly joining the UF DPT program during the height of COVID-19 – Shane has participated in a variety of discussions with other professional students. Discussion topics include identifying the importance of value-added roles for students to provide care in a public health capacity, building greater working-learning integration for a stronger learning health system, and determining how to include students as members of the health workforce, particularly in the times of crisis.

“My experience as co-director of our Equal Access Clinic significantly contributes to the robust discussions I have with my peers at the forum,” Shane explained. “Recognizing the personal impact the pandemic had on my peers, yet learning valuable skills needed to conduct patient treatment through telehealth – skills that we were able to identify and refine early on in our curriculum – in many ways put us ahead of the curve for our transition back to in-person clinic this fall.”

He adds, “Many of the students and professionals present at the forum argue that students serve a vital role in the health care space, and they should have the experience and knowledge necessary to work with patients in times of crises.”

The forum and its members recognize that all health professional programs have grappled with the needs of students, educators, and stakeholders in this unprecedented and challenging time, and recognizes the importance of decisions that both protect students as well as facilitate their continued educational growth. The intent of the workshop series is therefore to develop a decision tree applicable to all health professions to assist with guiding choices and directions for role of trainees in the health system in future times of disruption and crisis.

“We are extremely excited and proud of Shane,” Dr. Dunleavy said. “His enthusiasm to invest in the growth of health professions education and preparing for future challenges shines as he represents the UF Department of Physical Therapy and the physical therapy profession in these important discussions!”