Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, Former Dean of the Division of Health and Human Services
Teaching, Training, Treating in Physical Therapy
Dr. Ron Schenk has taught in the Daemen College Physical Therapy Department for more than a decade. As a seasoned educator, researcher and practicing physical therapist and orthopedic clinical specialist, he brings a wealth of experience to his position. Throughout his career, Schenk has published in peer-reviewed physical therapy journals and has presented at national and international conferences. He is also active in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists, an organization for which he has served as secretary and vice president.
What sparked your interest in physical therapy?
When I was in high school, a family member was experiencing neck and arm pain and was scheduled for surgery. Upon his insistence, he was referred to a physical therapist, who was successful in alleviating his condition. I then began to look into schools that offered the degree.
How has PT changed since you first started in the field?
The field has changed substantially since I graduated from a bachelor’s degree program. As we have moved to doctoral level preparation, the PT curriculum has evolved to include differential diagnosis, diagnostic imaging, and study related to pharmacology and evidence based practice. Also, the practice expectations of the PT have increased as most states allow for direct access. This means that the PT may be the initial medical professional to see people experiencing disorders and loss of function related to the musculoskeletal, neurological, and cardiopulmonary systems.
Why did you decide to specialize in orthopaedic manual physical therapy (OMPT)? Why is it important in health care today?
Initially, I pursued training in OMPT to learn and practice manual (hands-on) procedures for spinal and extremity joints and soft tissues. Although these procedures remain a main area of practice for many musculoskeletal clinicians, the evidence and future of this specialty is leaning toward patient self-management, and through a clinical decision making process, determining which movements (exercises), positions, and postures will foster a reduction of pain, improvement in function, and prevention of recurrence.
What advice do you have for your students?
The best advice I can give students is to find a mentor, never stop learning, and always keep the patient’s best interests at heart. If you can do that while keeping your faith and those closest to you at the forefront, you will be successful.