Professor takes Physical Therapy knowledge to Vietnam

Traveling 8,465 miles, Professor of Physical Therapy Julie Gahimer flew to Da Nang, Vietnam to volunteer for a non-profit organization. This is the second time Gahimer has traveled to Vietnam to teach physical therapy and this year she decided to use her time on sabbatical volunteering with Health Volunteers Overseas.

HVO has sought to teach, train and mentor health care providers in low and middle income countries, according to Deputy Director of Health Volunteers Overseas Beth MacNairn.

After reviewing what Gahimer did during her first trip to Vietnam in December of 2018, MacNairn said that Gahimer had a structured curriculum that she was teaching to the students and professors there.

“That’s the kind of thing project directors and onsite coordinators really help our volunteers, like your professor, to do,” MacNairn said. “Which is really to prepare culturally, professionally and have all the logistics in order. That is also the role of HVO staff, to make sure that everything is handled and that volunteers who go are ready in every way that they can be for impact.”

Gahimer said Google translate has been her best friend while in Vietnam.

“Google translator has been very, very helpful because we can cut and paste an entire document into Vietnamese,” Gahimer said. “Then I can have students read a case study in Vietnamese. I also have an interpreter who teaches the same thing I teach and he knows exactly what I am talking about, he also translates the words into Vietnamese. It wouldn’t be a successful trip if I didn’t have an interpreter.”

Gahimer is teaching the same curriculum in Vietnam as she does at UIndy. One of the key ideas she is trying to convey to her students is that they are movement experts and that they are teaching people how to move in order to enhance their quality of life.

Gahimer is particularly focused in teaching neurological rehabilitation, focusing on different techniques for working with people who have suffered from strokes, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries.

“Everything I teach here are things that I have brought from UIndy,” Gahimer said. “For example, I was teaching about traumatic brain injury and the Rancho Los Amigos scale. It’s a tool for determining the level of consciousness and they had never heard of it. It’s a scale commonly used in the United States, but they had never heard of it.”

Gahimer said that teaching in Vietnam is interesting because Vietnamese professors sometimes do not know some of the things she teaches and they often sit in on some of the content she teaches.

“My typical day is to discuss with the faculty in the morning for about three to four hours and discuss different concepts of faculty development and teaching strategies,” Gahimer said.

According to Gahimer, besides the language barrier, there are not many major differences in teaching in Vietnam compared to UIndy, however, she said that majority of students at UIndy use laptops, whereas a majority of the students in Vietnam use their smartphones.

While UIndy uses ACE, the university in Da Nang, Vietnam does not have an equivalent system, according to Gahimer. She is attempting to help integrate a similar program through the same vendor as UIndy called Sakai.

This program will give students a way to view grades and for the professors to be able to post lectures on the cases they are studying.

“It’s awesome here. Everybody is just trying to do their best to be the best they can be, I think,” Gahimer said. “They have much more of  a sense of community, I think, than we do because they are always outside in groups of people. You see a lot of people just milling around and enjoying each other’s company.”