PT HEARTDoing Good Things


ptheartumflint-3Students in the Physical Therapy Department at the University of Michigan-Flint have big hearts – and a huge desire to contribute to the community. They not only undergo rigorous physical therapy training and study for many long and tedious hours; they have also formed a student-led, pro bono clinic at the Catholic Charities North End Soup Kitchen. Founded in January 2012, the non-profit clinic is called PT HEART (Physical Therapy, Health Education and Rehabilitation Treatment). The clinic is overseen by a student board of directors, operated by students, and is funded through grants, donations and fundraising.

Jake Brokenshaw, Monica Godoshian and Joel Ford – all first-year PT students at UM-Flint – sat down with My City Magazine to talk about the services offered at the clinic.

According to Monica, physical therapy and health education are provided to people who are uninsured or under-insured in Flint. Along with providing physical therapy under the guidance of a licensed physical therapist, the students provide health care checks such as heart rate, weight, BMI and blood pressure. A Clinician Volunteer is on-hand to oversee the students’ work.

James Creps, a faculty member at UM-Flint, is the Faculty Liaison for the students. “They come to me with any questions or concerns, and about rules and regulations,” he explains. According to James, PT HEART came about at the same time there was a growing number of people in the U.S. who were disenfranchised from conventional medical care, and a push for student-run medical clinics. And, high-quality, professional care is what patients receive at PT HEART. “The care provided at PT HEART is as good as any,” he says. “The supervisors are all board-certified and that’s pretty unusual!”



According to Joel, PT HEART got its start with the help of a grant from the Ruth Mott Foundation, and funds are raised by an annual run/walk event. One UM-Flint professor, Amy Yorke, donated proceeds she received from participating in a national conference. “Many local businesses and organizations have donated equipment and supplies,” says James. “Flint has a lot of heart.”




The clinic is fully equipped with mats, tables, bike machines, therapy balls and medical balls, free weights, crutches, walkers and canes – equipment you would find at any PT clinic – all donated by local organizations. The PT students hold fundraisers and are currently working on a campaign to raise awareness of the clinic. “We are trying to get the word out that we are available and offer high-quality PT services.”

According to James, altruism is a primary core value of physical therapists, and they place the needs of the patient ahead of their own. “Our PT students are doing this for the betterment of all.” You will find seven to ten student volunteers at the clinic every Friday, from 11:30am-1pm. And, the students love doing it. “To volunteer at the clinic is a big deal for students,” says Joel, “and the patients love coming back.”

ptheartumflint-2“It’s great to give back to the community in such an under-served area,” Monica adds. “It’s also very beneficial to students, because it gives us the opportunity to interact with patients.”

PT students don’t have much free time and volunteering at the clinic is something they do for fun. “It’s not just an educational opportunity – it’s a calling,” Jake says, adding that it’s great to have the opportunity to work with classmates and faculty to help those in need.


(L-R) the pt heart team includes Asst. Clinical Professor Leslie Smith, Krista Ellis, Cassie VanDyke, Christin Curtis, Joel Ford, Laura Blemaster.

(L-R) the pt heart team includes Asst. Clinical Professor Leslie Smith, Krista Ellis, Cassie VanDyke, Christin Curtis, Joel Ford, Laura Blemaster.

“It’s a truly a joy to work with a group of students who are so educated and so motivated to help other people,” says James.
If you are interested in receiving physical therapy or health education services at PT HEART, call 734.417.8963 or e-mail Physician referral forms are available on the website. For more info, visit An individual can have ten sessions or 21 days without physician referral.

Photography by Eric Dutro


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