Met Chad when I trashed my shoulder.

Three years ago my left shoulder experienced a cascade of problems. Kind of stiff and painful to move all the sudden one day. A little worse each day. Very, painful, less mobile and unable to ignore a week after that. My daughter Phoebe had been to the ATI clinic down the block and across the street the previous year with a ballet injury. “Chad’s pretty good, Dad, you should go see him.”

chad ATI

Chad Doerneman is the clinic Director. Officially he is Chad Doerneman PT, DPT, LSVT-BIG, CIDN. All those letters don’t add up to much if you’re playing scrabble, but I think in the world of Physical Therapy it means he’s attained a serious level of training and experience. Phoebe was right – I liked Chad right away. PT can seem a little anti-climactic at first. I felt like a kindergartner all over again when I was given my first set of exercises. Exercise number one: stand a little hunched over and dangle my arm like a Frankensteinian pendulum. “So Chad, this is supposed to put my shoulder back together, right?”

I discerned that Chad was a Christian believer part of the way into our many brief conversations – while skillfully torturing my shoulder. Very slowly I got better that fall. Little by little I did more rigorous exercises, worked my way through the thera-band color spectrum. I appreciated the interest Chad took in my work. I think he was the first to successfully convince me that my stressful work situation was probably the culprit behind my trashed shoulder. My job of 10 years at the church had been terminated about a month before I went to see Chad.

Health care providers like Chad are really special. I felt a level of care from him that I knew came from something deeper than his technical gifts. I also observed him with other patients. One older gentleman in particular left an impression on me. Chad was working with his parkinson’s using his training in BIG (only PTs get that). He was really kind to this man. Explained things repeatedly. Affirmed him profusely for his efforts.

My shoulder came out of its funk. It took longer than I’d hoped. But healed up far better than I thought possible. I’ve kept in touch with Chad over the past three years. He’s helped me think about my ministry with grad and faculty InterVarsity. I’m inviting him next week to come talk with our PT/OT/Pharm group at Creighton. The aim of our integration talks is to explore the connection between faith, learning and practice. My hope is that students could see themselves in what Chad has become – a very skilled practitioner. A leader in his practice. A tireless trainer of others. A professional whose relationship with Jesus makes him wiser and more effective.

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Creighton OT professor Dr. Shirley Blanchard speaking to the group last fall.

I’d really appreciate your prayers for the group – we’ve had some difficulty getting going this fall. Our current list of new and returning people includes 22 students – a mix of Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Pharmacy students. We meet this time over at my house – two blocks from ATI and about 3 miles from Creighton. Pray for students to make the time to come. We usually catch-up, enjoy some dinner together and have a conversation with a Christian faculty member or clinician. I want our students to meet Christians in their profession who have connected their faith with their practice in compelling ways. I want them to hear their faith stories and soak up their passion for Jesus and his kingdom in the presence of their professional work.

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