DMU offers interprofessional treatment in IMT Marathon’s Recovery Zone

Five thousand, one hundred and sixty-seven athletes finished races during the IMT Des Moines Marathon this October. A lucky 124 of these athletes visited the Des Moines University Recovery Zone where DMU students, faculty and staff came together to aid in the recovery for this brave community of runners.

A total of 86 students and nine faculty members volunteered their time and expertise to this interprofessional education (IPE) and community medicine event.

DMU has hosted the Recovery Zone at the IMT Des Moines Marathon for many years, but this year the approach was different. Considering the diverse talents represented by the University’s clinical programs, we decided to take an interprofessional slant on our care this year. Teams were created for each treatment table in the recovery zone. These teams were made up of one doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T.) student, one doctor of podiatric medicine and surgery (D.P.M.) student, and one doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.) student. This interprofessional team assessed the athletes’ needs and decided which student had the most appropriate skill set to respond. In some cases, it was a combination of two or even all three. After caring for the participant, a faculty member would check the students’ work and engage with the participant about their experience before sending them on their way. 

Courtney Elkin, a second-year osteopathic medical student, shared that “volunteering with the marathon has been one of my favorite experiences in medical school thus far. I was able to see how D.P.M. and D.P.T. students approach participants and how my osteopathic manipulative medicine skills can supplement their treatments. As a team, we were able to treat participants effectively and efficiently in a way we wouldn’t have been able to if we were working alone.”

Kristina Salazar, a third-year physical therapy student, volunteered at the marathon for the second time in her time as a DMU student. “I really enjoyed treating the marathon runners as I was able to reflect on all the skills I have gained since participating in the Recovery Zone my first year,” she said. “The D.O. student and I were able to complement one another well with our treatment strategies as there is a lot of overlap in manual techniques. One thing I found interesting was the D.O. philosophy that the runner had to report pain to perform a treatment, whereas I focused more on what I felt in their tissues and used those feelings to guide my treatment.”

If you are an athlete and are interested in receiving comprehensive care from the Des Moines University Clinic on campus, please visit to learn more about our services and providers who are caring for athletes and other individuals as well as educating diverse groups of highly competent and compassionate health professionals. Our providers would love to see you in our clinic! 

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