Tag Archive | "Department of Physical Therapy"

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The Fine Art of Healing


Medical, nursing, and physical therapy graduate students come to the Lowe to observe and discuss art—and enhance patient safety.

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 21, 2017)—Medical, nursing, and physical therapy graduate students gathered at the Lowe Art Museum last week as part of a unique study program that hones their observation and communication skills—while reflecting on art.

Part of the University of Miami’s annual Patient Safety Week, the Fine Art of Health Care program developed at the Lowe is based on Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a methodology that invites participants to enhance their sensitivity, empathy, communication, and teamwork, which in turn improves patient outcomes.

“Participants are always surprised at what they discover beyond their initial impressions of what they see,” said Hope Torrents, the Lowe’s director of the program, now in its fourth year. “Additionally, they learn to communicate about their observations with sensitivity and in collaboration with their peers, which can only benefit their patients.”

While many programs around the country incorporate visual art into medical education, the Lowe program is singular in that it convenes students from different medical disciplines who one day will need to work together.

More than 300 students spent part of last week in small groups, observing and discussing pieces of art in the museum’s galleries, and focusing on the connections between examining art and examining a patient. The exercise is valuable, Torrents says, because ambiguity in art is similar to the uncertainty of a patient’s illness. Different perspectives and interpretations can help to enhance the understanding of a work of art, just as multiple perspectives support a more accurate patient diagnosis.

Hierarchy doesn’t exist when the students walk into the museum. The playing field is leveled, and all interpretations and perspectives are welcomed.

Now a surgical resident in Chicago, Miller School of Medicine graduate Benjamin Lemelman was asked to share his thoughts about the Lowe program with the students who attended last week’s session. He applauds it for breathing arts into the sciences.

“As you focus on a painting or sculpture or photograph, you will: Observe. Listen. Communicate. Acknowledge. Connect. Substantiate. Lead. Affirm. Be silent. Disagree. And JUST BE,” Lemelman wrote in a message. “This is what’s missing from medicine. We get so focused; we get lost. We can lose sight of what matters. What is meaningful. Why we entered health care in the first place.”

In an age where insightful communication is compromised by social media and stimulation overload, VTS and the Lowe program are now recognized as a highly effective strategy to develop the empathic and observational skills fundamental to so many industries—from law enforcement to air traffic controllers to human resources.


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Pioneering Physical Therapist Honored for Advancing Her Field

Meryl Cohen

Meryl Cohen

Special to UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (June 25, 2014)—Among the nation’s first cardiovascular and pulmonary (CVP) physical therapists, Meryl I. Cohen, assistant professor of clinical physical therapy and a member of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, has received the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) Catherine Worthingham Fellow Award for her pioneering and innovative contributions to the field.

In accepting the association’s highest honor, Cohen shared the credit with her “village”— her patients, students, family members, friends, colleagues, and bosses, who she said enabled her success. “I am thrilled and very humbled to receive this award,” she said. “Thank you to my village.”

In the 1970s, Cohen was among the first physical therapists to recognize that progressive mobilization, when adequately monitored and followed by CVP conditioning, would offer high-risk individuals the opportunity to successfully return to their communities. She later developed several cardiac rehabilitation programs, including in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and South Florida.

In 1985 she was among the first three professionals the APTA recognized as board certified cardiopulmonary clinical specialists. As a professor, she has won six Teacher of the Year awards, and has served as a mentor and advocate to those rising in the CVP area of the physical therapy profession.

Cohen also has been recognized by the APTA and its components almost every year for her expertise in CVP physical therapy. Her honors include Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Practice by the Massachusetts Chapter of APTA, the Linda D. Crane Lectureship, and two research awards.

The Catherine Worthingham Fellow designation honors individuals whose sustained leadership, influence, and achievements have advanced the physical therapy profession. The APTA represents more than 88,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants, and students of physical therapy nationwide.

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Patriotic Recognition


Patriotic Recognition

Sherrill Hayes, left, accepts the Patriot Employer Award from retired U.S. Army Colonel Martin Rosen.

The daughter of a World War II veteran who served in the 82nd Airborne and parachuted into Normandy on D-Day, Sherrill Hayes has always done her part to support active-duty personnel, making allowances for her students who are National Guard reservists to fulfill their part-time commitments.

“I’ve always told them, ‘It’s your obligation, and we will help you meet it,’ ” says Hayes, professor and chair of the Miller School of Medicine’s Department of Physical Therapy.

Such an attitude is what helped Hayes win the Patriot Employer Award, an honor that recognizes employers—in this case, an individual—who “practice leadership and personnel policies that support employee participation in the Guard and Reserve.”

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