“The Joy of Being Involved” by Prof. Sam Wu

Reprinted with permission from the Association of Academic Physiatrists




International Rehabilitation: The Joy of Being Involved


I have been involved with international rehabilitation efforts for the past decade. On this journey, I get asked the following two questions frequently by colleagues. The answers will hopefully provide insights to guide you on your path.

How to get involved with international rehabilitation efforts?

An easy way to get started on this journey is to register for the upcoming 14th International Society of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine (ISPRM) World Congress which will be jointly held with the 53rd AAP Annual Meeting. This meeting will be held in March, 2020 in Orlando, FL. At this joint conference, there will be delegates from at least 72 countries. The opportunity for you to lend support to international rehabilitation efforts will literally be on a global scale. AAP’s committees are working hard to support this joint international conference. Although the application for 2020 committee volunteer positions are now closed, there is still time for residents, fellows and medical students to apply for Resident/Fellow Council and Medical Student Councils when the application opens in the fall of 2019. Information on AAP’s volunteer opportunities is available at https://www.physiatry.org/page/Volunteer .  Moreover, as a member of AAP, you are eligible for free membership to ISPRM. You can obtain the code for this free ISPRM membership from AAP. If you would like to be actively engaged in international rehabilitation efforts, you can also apply for membership in an ISPRM’s committee, such as UN Liaison Committee, WHO Liaison Committee, and Disaster Rehabilitation Committee. The full listing of ISPRM’s committees is located at https://www.isprm.org/discover/committees/ .

Why get involved internationally when there are so many domestic issues that need our attention?

I have found that there are never enough hours in the day to take care of all the issues that each of us has to attend to. That said, by being involved internationally in our field of Physiatry, I had the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from other nations and cultures, and to exchange best practices. The sense of accomplishment is phenomenal when I learn from the successes of international colleagues as well as when I share with them our domestic experiences.  In the process, I have made many friends from various parts of the world who I may not otherwise meet. My experiences with international rehabilitation efforts are not unique as my U.S. colleagues who also took this journey provided similar feedback. Furthermore, for those who would like to strengthen their academic portfolio in preparation for promotion to full professorship, international professional organizations, such as ISPRM with its Journal of ISPRM, are great platforms for academic international presentations and publications. If you have not done so yet, I hope that you will take the first step on your journey to support international rehabilitation efforts. If you have already done so, I hope you continue on this joyful endeavor. I look forward to seeing you in Orlando at the joint conference for the 14th ISPRM World Congress and the 53rd AAP Annual Meeting in March 2020!