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Author Topic: Two years of study and 6,000 miles later, Nigerian students come to march in UM-  (Read 1213 times)

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FLINT, MI – Two years of intense training  and 6,000 miles later, some University of Michigan-Flint students will march to pomp and circumstance in graduation.

They're students of UM-Flint's transitional training program for physical therapists in Nigeria, which began in 2011. The program will see its first rounds of graduates next month. And a few of the students, along with a delegation of dignitaries from Nigeria and Nigerian Physiotherapy Association members, will travel to Flint for the ceremony, set to take place May 5.

"This program was specifically developed because of a request by Nigerian programs," said Cindy Pfalzer, UM-Flint physical therapy professor and associate director for post professional education degree program. "We've worked in partnership in collaborations with their organizations. ... It has been a great exchange and collaboration."

Physical therapy – known as physiotherapy in Nigeria – programs require four years of training in Nigeria, which is the equivalent of a master's degree. The additional training program through UM-Flint helps the Nigerian professional receive a higher standard of education, equivalent to a doctorate degree, Pfalzer said.

The two-year program, which is done completely online through discussion boards, presentations and Skype sessions, looks at more evidence-based practice guidelines and teaches about digital and high-tech images to help the professionals better assess the patient.

It helps those who participate learn to better use x-rays and ultrasounds to tailor treatment appropriately and use clinical research to improve the health of certain groups.

Kayode Alewi, 39, has been practicing in Africa for seven years. The program through UM-Flint has been very beneficial to his practice, he said in an email to MLive-Flint Journal.

"This program has really improved my skills and knowledge as far as rehabilitation medicine is concerned. From improved knowledge of advanced musculoskeletal imaging techniques, to differential diagnosis and screening, to detailed pharmacological knowledge, I can confidently say I am a better and competent physical therapist now," Alewi said in the email. "My clinical reasoning and confidence has being fortified to meet the challenges of a highly dynamic medical environment."

Alewi said he is proud to be able to study at a school as prestigious as University of Michigan. The physical therapy program serves both the Ann Arbor and Flint campuses, Pfalzer said.

University of Michigan's program is one of six in Michigan, she said, and it's one of the oldest. It started at the Ann Arbor campus 60 years ago and in 1983 it moved to the Flint campus.

The first class for the transitional program in Nigeria was made up of 14 physical therapists. Six will be graduating in May and six need a little more time before graduation. A second class has been admitted into the program.

The goal of the program is to help universities in Nigeria create a six-year program and phase out the collaboration with UM-Flint, but it might take another six or seven years after more physical therapists get through the program, Pfalzer said.

In the fall, a guest professor from Nigeria will come to UM-Flint for an academic year and have a chance to visit other physical therapy programs in the state of Michigan, Pfalzer said. The professor will go to national and state meetings, while interacting with other educators.

They will research and develop a model for a doctorate physical therapy program for Nigeria.

"We really hope that each one of these pieces will lead to them successfully transitioning. It's a wonderful collaboration," said Pfalzer, adding that the program will also benefit UM-Flint. "I think always that exposure to different cultures, different health care systems, different ways to manage conditions is always beneficial to our students and faculty."

Alewi is one of three graduates of the program who will attend graduation May 5.

He said he's excited to travel to Flint to see the school he studied from and complete the experience, which he says will have a great impact not only to him but his profession in Nigeria.

"The overall experience has been simply 'explosive,' eye-opening and once-in-a-lifetime experience. The partnership of UM-Flint with the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy has been a wonderful and beneficial one. One that promotes the image, recognition and professionalism of the Nigerian Physical Therapists," Alewi said. "I have decided to travel down to Michigan for the commencement because I would like to see the school that has trained me, see America, meet my faculty and be part of history. As you would have learned, my cohort will be the pioneer graduates from Nigeria to bag this degree. Is that not historical?"

Adewale Odubiyi
Owner, Nigeria Oil & Gas Forum

Nigeria Oil & Gas Forum


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