Crammed schedule leads to Legacy Scholarship

Lindsey McDaniels, D.P.T.’18, participated in this year’s APTA conference in Washington, DC.

Lindsey McDaniels says she tends to “function better” when her schedule is “crammed,” and the evidence is clear she’s firing on all cylinders. The 2018 physical therapy graduate has been highly engaged in service, leadership, interprofessional education and research, all activities that enriched her DMU experience. They also led to her being chosen to receive the Midwest Association of Allied Health Deans of Academic Health Centers Legacy Scholarship.

The organization is a subset of the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions, of which DMU’s College of Health Sciences is a member.

“While we are thankful for the academic prowess of Lindsey and our other students, it is often a student’s performance outside of the classroom that sets a student apart,” stated CHS Dean Jodi Cahalan, Ph.D., M.P.H.’01, M.S.’93, PA-C’89, DFAAPA, in the nomination letter she submitted with Traci Bush, P.T.’95, D.P.T., OTR/L, D.H.S., associate professor and director/chair of the physical therapy program. “Given her abilities and excellence in academics, service and scholarly activities, she would be the kind of person we would hope would eventually enter into academics.”

Past president of DMU’s Physical Therapy Club and a peer instructor for the program, McDaniels decided after her first clinical rotation that she wanted to do more for her patients. She became an Iowa Physical Therapy Association student advocate and participated in advocacy activities for the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), including traveling to Washington, DC, to serve on an APTA advocacy panel and talk with legislators.

“There’s a therapy cap, especially for patients with Medicare. I would see patients who needed a few more therapy sessions but had met their cap,” she says. “You feel restricted when you know you could do more.”

McDaniels sought out interactions with club leaders in other DMU programs. She and other physical therapy students provided pediatric screenings when students from the University’s other clinical programs offered back-to-school physicals for local school children. “It’s nice to get different perspectives from students in other programs,” she says. “That’s really helpful, too, on clinical rotations.”

McDaniels’ volunteer activities have included serving as a “buddy” to kids with special needs who participate in the Miracle League of the Kiwanis Club of Des Moines, in which those kids get to play baseball on an adaptive field. She also volunteered at wheelchair soccer games and other activities at Courage League Sports, an indoor adaptive facility. She says the experience that shaped her the most at DMU was her work with a girl with autism and Down syndrome.

“We worked on exercises, social skills and her homework, taking steps so that she would be ready to go trick-or-treating,” she says. “It was challenging but so rewarding.”

McDaniels and a classmate, Courtney Buhrow, worked with Catherine Stevermer, P.T., D.P.T., Ph.D., GCS, associate professor of physical therapy, and Kari Smith, M.S.P.T.’98, D.P.T.’04, BCB-PMD, associate professor and manager of the DMU Physical Therapy Clinic, on a study analyzing movement of pregnant women with varying levels of pelvic pain. They  had two abstracts accepted for poster presentations at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting in New Orleans in February.

McDaniels, far right, with fellow Courage League Sports volunteers

“I got involved to have the patient interaction,” McDaniels says.

Her early interactions with her future profession included receiving physical therapy for her scoliosis, a sideways curvature of her spine that required she wear a back brace in middle and high school. Even before that, her mother, Cindy, who ran a day care in the family home, brought in physical therapists to work with the kids who had special needs.

“She is my role model,” McDaniels says. “She loved the kids. She’s the hardest working woman I know.”