Dr. Kenneth Harwood receives physical therapy field’s highest honor

Dr. Kenneth Harwood, the newly appointed Dean of Marymount University’s Malek School of Health Professions, has been named a Catherine Worthingham Fellow of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). This is the Association’s highest membership category honoring physical therapists that attain the greatest level of professional excellence and impact in terms of advancing the profession.
To be eligible, a physical therapist’s leadership, influence and achievements must demonstrate frequent and sustained efforts to advance the profession for a period of at least 15 years prior to their nomination. Dr. Harwood joins Dr. Rita Wong as Marymount’s second Catherine Worthingham Fellow.
“I was humbled by this award and truly touched by the effort people dedicated in nominating me,” Dr. Harwood said. “I am immensely proud of being a Fellow, and it is certainly a career highlight.”
For his nomination, several letters of support were submitted that detail Dr. Harwood’s consistent and sustained impact on the field of safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM), prevention of musculoskeletal injuries and influencing the capacity of health care systems to effectively and efficiently deliver care.
“Dr. Harwood demonstrates an extraordinary level of excellence in the primary domain of advocacy. He has demonstrated sustained leadership across local, regional and national levels in ways that inform the public about the benefits of physical therapy,” said Dr. Joyce Maring, Associate Professor at George Washington University. “He has effectively advocated for the physical therapy profession in the areas of patient and health care worker safety, professional autonomy and direct access and regional, national and international practice policy. These efforts have facilitated the development of new guidelines and new methods to improve safe patient handling and effective care.”
Dr. Harwood began his tenure as Dean of the Malek School of Health Professions on July 6. He was most recently the Director of George Washington University’s Health Care Quality Program in Clinical Research and Leadership, and was also the Research Director for the University’s Department of Health, Human Function and Rehabilitation Sciences. He previously served as APTA’s Vice President of Practice and Education, and held full-time academic positions at Columbia University, New York University (NYU) and the State University of New York’s (SUNY) Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn.
“The most important guiding principle that I have learned throughout my career is to be fearless – try to do things that make you a bit nervous and perhaps out of your comfort zone. You will be surprised by what you can do and how much you will get out of it,” Dr. Harwood added. “My career and life has been enriched by letting myself say ‘yes,’ even when I knew it would be a stretch.”
“A more important lesson I have learned is no one does anything alone. You build upon those that came before you and your work becomes the foundation for others to build upon. This is what progress is all about – learning from others and taking others with you on your journey.”
Dr. Harwood holds a bachelor’s degree in Physical Therapy from SUNY’s Downstate Medical Center, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees from NYU’s Biomechanics and Ergonomics Program. He has received numerous awards and recognitions over his career, including the Advocacy Award for Improved Caregiver Safety and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from SUNY’s Health Sciences Center at Brooklyn. He and his fellow researchers were also awarded the Woodbridge Award for Excellence in Research, and most recently the 2019 John M. Eisenberg Article of the Year Award from the Health Service Research Journal.