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Clarkson University Professor Honored for Physical Therapy Education and Research

For Clarkson University Associate Professor Leslie Russek, physical therapy education is about empowering both students and patients.

Leslie RussekRussek recently received the Dr. Marilyn Moffat Distinguished Service Award for her contributions to physical therapy education and research. The award recognizes a New York Physical Therapy Association member who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

As a founding faculty member of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Clarkson and a faculty mentor, Russek has worked to develop the quality of learning experiences. She said students in the program not only study physical therapy, they become critical thinkers.

"One thing that is really exciting about being at Clarkson is the problem-based learning curriculum and how it helps students become lifelong learners," she said. "The medical profession evolves so quickly, and we don't want to only impart knowledge to our students because that will become outdated. We want to teach them to seek out and critique information and gain their own knowledge so they can stay at the forefront of their field."

Russek also is committed to the community through her roles facilitating a fibromyalgia support group in Potsdam, N.Y., and teaching Aikido. She said she aims to help people suffering from chronic pain have more control over their health.

"We teach people how to help themselves and how to take care of themselves, so rather than me doing something to the patient -- we call that passive treatment -- a lot of physical therapy is about me empowering the patients to take control in their own lives," she said.

This approach to physical therapy is beneficial to both patients and students, Russek said. She hears great feedback about Clarkson's physical therapy students being prepared for clinics during their internships.

"We're teaching our students to have control of their learning and not depend on me as a teacher, so there's a nice parallel between how we teach our students and how they learn to take care of patients," she said.

Russek said she is honored to receive the award, and she is pleased that her profession appreciates her work as a clinician and a researcher.  Her clinical research on fibromyalgia and hypermobility syndrome has been presented at national conferences.

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

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