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Harnessing the Power of Language for Healing

Spurred by her recollection of Amanda Gorman’s beautiful poem spoken on the steps of the Capitol building just days after a violent attack, Sarah Blanton, in her Spring 2021 Editorial, reflects on the power of words to harm or to heal. She encourages readers to consider the daily impact of their own words on those around them. She details how researchers, educators, and clinicians can more deeply engage with the humanities in order to better hear their own stories—thereby strengthening their individual power for healing with the spoken word.

Gathering on the Wrong Side of the Road: Critical Race Scholarship Across the Health Humanities

In a compelling response to our article, “Exploring How Racism Structures Canadian Physical Therapy Programs,” Dr. Bryan Mukandi offers an account of his critique of early drafts of the article, requested by the authors. He notes that his fear at the time was that the article “was an inadvertent reiteration of the idea that the inclusion of people of color in health disciplines is a matter of charity rather than justice.” Dr. Mukandi expresses the hope that more colleagues like these can gather with those “on the wrong side of the road” to foster dialogue and spur change.

Agency Restored, Dignity Preserved: Lessons Learned as an Art Historian About Enhancing Quality of Life for People With Dementia

April 25, 2021 . by Susan Shifrin, PhD

“What started as a narrowly-focused mission to welcome people with dementia … into our museum for the first time evolved into a much broader and more profound project: to reinvent what agency within the museum would look and feel like for visitors living with dementia,” author Susan Shifrin notes in this compelling piece. She details her journey from that experience to founding ARTZ Philadelphia, a program that invites people with dementia to serve as mentors to program participants.

Profiles in Professionalism With Beth Skidmore

This installment of JHR’s interviews with industry innovators focuses on clinician, researcher, and educator Beth Skidmore, an award-winning Occupational Therapist whose gifts inspire a wide range of students. Beginning with her early days, detailing why she chose her field, to describing her current leadership roles, Dr. Skidmore offers a compelling picture of how professionalism develops and professionals reach enlightenment. “I think now professionalism means to me…grace and humility,” she notes.

‘Making Strange’: Exploring the Development of Students’ Capacity in Epistemic Reflexivity

Engaging in epistemic reflexivity, or the ability to question the ways in which we practice, and their association with organizational and social structures, is the key to gaining a clear perspective on the profession, according to these authors. How can students take a step back, and gain true insight into their professional world? This study employed a 7-step framework to introduce learners to the process of “making strange.”

Poet in Profile – Ted Kooser

April 25, 2021 . by Amy Haddad, PhD, RN, FAAN

Interpreting poems written by renowned poet Ted Kooser in a Nebraskan winter in 1998, his friend Amy Haddad highlights the beauty of the human spirit when faced with life-threatening challenges. Kooser wrote the poems on his two-mile walks before dawn as he recovered from surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation for tongue and neck cancer in 1998. Compact and powerful, they show how one creative mind forged a bit of order in the “chaos” of recovery.

The Persisting Values of Humanism, Integrity, and Truth-Seeking

Presenting the Fall 2020 issue of JHR to readers, Editor-in-Chief Sarah Blanton looks deeply into the role of humanities in healing and inspiring a nation facing challenges both physical and societal. Remembering the last words of Representative John Lewis urging Americans to “stand up, speak up and speak out,” Blanton pledges the commitment of JHR to presenting narratives, both personal and collective, that encourage fundamental healing. She introduces with this issue a themed series dedicated to topics of social justice as well as the experiences of people caught in the COVID-19 pandemic. “We believe, in moments like these, that the next right step begins with seeing each other more clearly and using the humanities as a conduit for exploring the lived experience of others.”

Healing Hands: A Street Medic in the Twin Cities Uprising

This unique reflective narrative presents a harrowing account of a clinician’s experience trying to heal the wounds of demonstrators during the Twin Cities uprising this past spring. Michael Rosentreter and Jáime Gonzalez vividly describe Rosentreter’s time spent navigating flash grenades, tear gas, and other threats as he provides medical support to demonstrators. The experience helped him realize how valuable the role of a physical therapist in emergency settings truly is. Reflecting on the lessons learned during those nights, he realized, “However elevated the risk to me, nothing I experienced compares to the fear and danger people of color continually face.” He states his commitment to the role of advocacy in physical therapy to recognize and dismantle systemic, institutional, and individual racism.

A Challenge from the ‘Otherside of America’: Perspectives from a Black Clinician

In this stirring account, Oluremi Wanjiru Onifade and Sarah Caston present an honest and compelling look at the challenges within the physical therapy educational community for Black and brown people. Onifade paints a picture of her life growing up as a Kenyan/Nigerian queer-identifying Black American, and the obstacles she overcame on the path to her DPT. Her account ends where she challenges her colleague Caston: “There is a lack of representation of Black and brown people teaching in your PT program. Are you willing to do something?”
In response, Caston describes how that direct question changes her perception as an educator. She asks, “What does it look like for me, a white, heterosexual, cis-gender woman, to stand up to racism? And again, I ask, what does it look like for the profession of physical therapy to do the same?”

A Letter to My Mother

November 17, 2020 . by Ezeoyibo Justin Otiwu, SPT

An homage to a devoted Charge Nurse, “A Letter to My Mother” lovingly shows what makes a true hero in today’s healthcare system. Ezeoyibo Justin Otiwu’s mother works nights with her COVID-19 patients without complaint and returns home to serve as a caregiver. This letter is a call-to-action for a new perspective on our essential workers, and poignantly drives us to reckon with the question of “how will we advocate for much-needed change to help the system’s valiant fighters?”

"Few people are powerful enough, persuasive, persistent, consistent, and charismatic enough to change the world all at once, but everyone has the ability to affect the three feet around them by behaving more ethically, honestly, and compassionately toward those they meet."

Sharon Salzberg

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