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2017 IPTA Award Recipients
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The Illinois Physical Therapy Association gives several awards that recognize the efforts of clinicians, educators and leaders toward the advancement of the physical therapy profession.


Julie Schwertfeger, PT, DPT
Babette Sanders Leadership & Service Award

Julie Schwertfeger, PT, DPT is the recipient of the 2017 Babette Sanders Leadership & Service Award. This award is to honor and recognize a physical therapist who has demonstrated, over time, an exceptional level of support and dedication to physical therapy through his or her support and/or roles in the national (including Sections) and/or state association.

Dr. Julie Schwertfeger, PT, DPT, is currently a faculty member in the Physical Therapy Department at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science where she teaches clinical neurology and professional government content in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program and serves on the University and departmental awards committee, the curriculum committee and the Comprehensive Examination committee. Dr. Schwertfeger's nominators cite her contributions to the APTA Section on Research for which she serves as Federal Affairs Liaison and her service to IPTA in the role of Delegate-at-Large to the APTA House of Delegates, Vice President of the IL PT Chapter, Il Chapter Research Committee Chair and her current service as the first President of the Illinois Physical Therapy Foundation. Her service was recognized in 2015 with the APTA Federal Government Affairs Leadership Award. Her commitment as an advocate for the physical therapy profession has been demonstrated by her successful efforts to engage with multiple members of the Illinois Congressional delegation to educate them about the clinical importance of physical therapy as well as the critical need for support of research by physical therapists. In addition, she has played a key role in increasing awareness of physical therapy research by championing monthly research webinars hosted by IPTA. She is noted to be an outstanding role model of advocacy for physical therapy students.

Emily Pisani, PT, DPT
Emerging Leader Award

Emily Pisani, PT, DPT is the recipient of the 2017 Emerging Leader Award. This award recognizes active members who are developing leadership skills at the state or district level.

Dr. Emily Pisani, PT, DPT is currently practicing in orthopedics  in the outpatient setting.  Dr. Pisani graduated from Bradley University in 2013.  Her leadership development began while she was a student member of the APTA and IPTA   as the Bradley University Student Representative to the IPTA Assembly and Western District.  Since graduating she has continued her involvement with IPTA as an IPTA Assembly representative for the Central district and by serving first as the Central District Vice Chairperson and now serving as Central District Chair and on the IPTA Board of Directors.  She has also taken an active role in promoting the value of physical therapy through work with dental professionals and veterinary medicine students.  Her nominators were very consistent in recognizing her beginning leadership roles as well as her potential for continued growth as a leader. 

Thank you, Emily for demonstrating leadership within the IPTA.

Christopher Meachem, PT, DPT, GCS
Clinical Educator of the Year Award

Christopher Meachem, PT, DPT, GCS is the recipient of the 2017 Clinical Educator of the Year Award. This award honors and recognizes a clinical educator of physical therapy who has who consistently demonstrated significant contributions to the quality of clinical education.

Dr. Christopher Meachem, PT, DPT, GCS has been the Center Coordinator of Clinical Education at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center since 2010 and serves as an associated faculty member for Northwestern University's Doctor of Physical Therapy Program. Dr. Meachem's nominators state that he has been an active advocate for physical therapist clinical education at the VA since he arrived both by serving as a clinical instructor and by building a strong clinical education program that provides full time clinical experiences to a large number of students using a collaborative model of student supervision. Students are quoted as recognizing Dr. Meachem's commitment to the development of their critical independent thinking. In addition to overseeing a clinical education program that provides clinical education to many physical therapy students from Illinois physical therapist education programs, Dr. Meachem recently completed an appointment on the APTA's Best Practice in Clinical Education Task Force and he currently serves as Chair of the VHA National Education Committee.  He is a past recipient of the Outstanding Clinical Instructor Award from the Chicago Area Clinical Educators Forum and the Outstanding Clinical Partner Award from Northwestern University's Physical Therapy program. 

Thank you, Christopher for your contributions and service in PT.

Dr. K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, FRCP
John Maselter Friend of Physical Therapy Award 

Dr. K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, FRCP is the recipient of the 2017 John Maselter Friend of Physical Therapy Award. This award is given to acknowledge and honor an individual who has substantially supported the betterment of the practice of physical therapy in Illinois. Candidate is well known in Illinois for fostering quality physical therapy for the benefit of all, sharing expertise and/or communicating information on behalf of physical therapy with other health care professionals.

Dr. K. Michael Welch, MB, ChB, FRCP  is President and Chief Executive Officer of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.  After a distinguished international career as a neurologist and researcher he arrived at Rosalind Franklin in 2002 and he has been a consistent champion for the ongoing development of the University's Physical Therapy Department for the past 14 years.  His nominators spoke passionately about his early support for the transition of the entry level PT curriculum to the doctoral level and of his great resourcefulness and innovation in ensuring that the Physical Therapy program has had the resources needed to continue to grow and develop as a premier program at Rosalind Franklin. In addition to his current role at Rosalind Franklin he has served in leadership roles in the State of Illinois serving on the Workforce Investment Board Healthcare Task Force and on assisted the Governor's Office of Health Innovation and Transformation.  Dr. Welch has appointed physical therapists to leadership roles at the highest levels of the University including the University Board of Trustees, Vice- President and Dean. It is also noted that he is a champion for interprofessional education and has provided the opportunity for physical therapists to serve in leadership roles in the DeWitt C. Baldwin Institute of Interprofessional Education at Rosalind Franklin University. His nominators all spoke enthusiastically of his active involvement with students and alumni and his enduring commitment to producing highly qualified health professionals who ultimately provide excellent patient care. 

Erin DeMarco, SPT
Outstanding Physical Therapist Student of the Year

Erin DeMarco, SPT is in the final year of the DPT program at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. Those who qualify for the award are outstanding SPTs or SPTAs who exhibit superior scholastic ability and potential for future professional contribution.

Erin's nominators recognize her ability to excel in multiple areas by earning a 3.9 GPA on a 4 point scale,  co- authoring a paper with her research advisor and presenting this research at the APTA Combined Section meeting and participating in a variety of service activities including service at Rosalind Franklin Interprofessional Community Clinic and participating in health and wellness programs for the community.  One of her most notable service activities was taking a lead role in the 2015-2016 Pittsburgh-Marquette Challenge which resulted in the highest level ever of fund raising by Rosalind Franklin's PT program for the Foundation for Physical Therapy. 

Thank you, Erin for demonstrating outstanding leadership and superior scholastic ability.


Kathy Hall, PT, EdD
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