Annual Marymount 5K raises money for patient care abroad

Annual Marymount 5K raises money for patient care abroad


This Saturday, April 20, Marymount University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program will host its ninth annual Marymount 5K. Attracting nearly 250 runners every year, the event raises funds to support patient care during the program’s yearly service learning trips. Proceeds are used to purchase medical supplies, expensive tests and screenings and patient education programs.

Last year’s 5K race helped fund a service learning trip to Guatemala, where DPT students experienced the stark health care inequities that exist internationally. Students found themselves performing tasks they never expected to carry out in clinical settings, such as chasing chickens out of hospitals and wheeling patients outdoors to transport them to treatment areas. 

They also witnessed how patient care in Guatemala is often limited by an individual’s financial situation. DPT student Meghan Dean, who volunteered at a local clinic, saw this play out during routine health care procedures.  

Annual Marymount 5K raises money for patient care abroad

“I watched an irrigation and debridement surgery for someone who had an amputation,” Dean said. “When the surgery was finished, I asked the surgeon why he did not use a wound vac, which is a tool that helps heal the wound. He replied that the patient could not afford one. This was so different from the health care I’ve seen in the U.S. In Guatemala, if a patient could not afford a surgical item, then it simply wouldn’t be used, even if it was the best treatment option. This means that the hospital staff often come up with creative solutions to give the patient the best care possible.”

Dean says this harsh reality made her rethink the treatment plans she would create for patients in need of ongoing physical therapy, and adds that patients who are able to rent specific surgical equipment or take a few days off work can enjoy a faster recovery with better long-term results. 

“A lot of my patients had various injuries due to working labor-intensive jobs,” Dean added. “Many patients don’t have any health leave at work, so they often had to work through pain because they needed the money. When treating these patients, I had to choose interventions that were more functional and give them strategies to employ while working to help decrease the pain.”

Student Sabrina Bishop says this opportunity to give back to others, even in small ways, is an extremely valuable experience as she begins her journey as a health care provider. 

“I understand and recognize that I come from a place of privilege, and I know that giving back to others who may not have the same access to health care is extremely important,” Bishop said. “Giving back is mutually beneficial one party receives care while the other gains patience and kindness.”

Annual Marymount 5K raises money for patient care abroad

Dr. Megan Moran, assistant professor of physical therapy at Marymount University and faculty mentor for the 5K event, detailed how impactful the Marymount 5K fundraising can be for communities in need.

“Our work in Latin America is one step towards improving access to rehabilitation services for underserved populations,” Dr. Moran said. “The funds we raise support building equipment, such as treatment tables and walkers, and training students and health care providers so they have the tools and knowledge to improve the health of their communities well after we leave.”

Dr. Moran also spoke about how important the program’s service learning trips are for developing a true global perspective. 

“Through time spent communicating with local community members, students are exposed to the culture and day-to-day life of the individuals they serve,” she said. “This experience provides students with a first-hand look at how Guatemalans live, and it enriches our cultural discussions.” 

The 2024 Marymount 5K is open to Marymount students, faculty and staff, as well as the general public. Check-in starts at 11 am, with the race beginning at noon. If you are interested in participating, click here to register.

“Through this race, we raise money to support our global community and expand physical therapy services in Latin America while training future physical therapists, ensuring our work will be long lasting,” Dr. Moran said. “Additionally, it supports the overarching goal of physical therapy to improve the health of society.”