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Chateaugay native becomes first Clarkson PT program student to complete clinical rotation overseas


POTSDAM - Courtney Trainer reached a milestone both for herself and for Clarkson University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program when she traveled overseas earlier this year.

Trainer was the first student in the program’s history to complete a clinical rotation overseas. She worked with a population of patients with neurological disorders in the Istituto Prosperius hospital in Umbertide, Umbria, Italy, from July through September.

The experience was transformational for Trainer, who grew up in nearby Chateaugay, and received her bachelor of science in psychology and pre-physical therapy from Clarkson in 2011. She is set to complete her DPT degree in May 2014.

Trainer had little knowledge of Italian before she left last summer. She gradually immersed herself in the language through the friendly, welcoming atmosphere she experienced in Umbria. By the end of her rotation, she was speaking Italian when tending to patients in the hospital.

Trainer said the experience changed her life and prepared her for a variety of situations back home.

“Now I feel I can go into any clinic in the U.S. where someone is speaking a different language,” Trainer said. “In any situation I’m in, I know how to effectively communicate with somebody. You have to be able to laugh at yourself and have humility.”

Trainer’s work ethic, strong interpersonal skills and openness to new experiences made her an ideal candidate for an international clinical, according to Clinical Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Vicki LaFay, director of clinical education in Clarkson’s DPT program. The program may consider other students with similar attributes for overseas opportunities in the future, she said.

The experience also allowed Trainer to gain a global perspective and immerse herself in Italian culture, LaFay said.

“Courtney really wanted to challenge herself and put herself out there,” LaFay said. “She is always at the forefront of wanting to do more and doing it with a smile.”

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