Lisa Wiesenberger is a medical student (MS 3) at Central Michigan University College of Medicine. She is also Chair of the AAP's Medical Student Council. Discover her path to PM&R and her plans for future leadership!
I’ve always felt passionate about disability awareness. Perhaps it was my sister’s wheelchair that stirred the interest, or the special education classroom that I frequently visited in elementary school. Regardless, from a young age I can remember wanting the world to know that people in wheelchairs and people who are differently abled, aren’t different. They are people with talents, gifts, thoughts, emotions, dreams, and goals, just like you and I.
With time, I discovered my deep interest in science and the human body. With more time I realized that I wanted to attend medical school. And with even more time, I thought that perhaps PM&R would be the field I wish to pursue.
The summer after my first year of medical school, I had the opportunity to be a medical extern at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab/ Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, completing two rotations in PM&R. It was throughout this experience that I really learned what PM&R was, and became invested in the practice of this field. I saw people at their most vulnerable states: individuals learning to manage their new life with a spinal cord injury, others working to navigate their surroundings with a traumatic brain injury, kids with cerebral palsy and spina bifida receiving botox injections, etc. With each patient, there was a plan that was developed to fit their specific needs, and a supportive multidisciplinary team of physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, psychiatrists, and other health professionals behind them. This is what I really loved about PM&R; the holistic and team oriented nature of it. Furthermore, I learned that PM&R is not about curing ailments, rather it is about assisting patients with long-term disabilities to maximize their functional abilities. I am looking forward to creating long-term relationships with individuals with chronic disabilities, to always communicate hope, and to be a part of their journeys.
In the fall of 2017, I became a part of the inaugural Medical Student Council for the AAP, serving as the Secretary. It has been an honor to work with the Council and I am proud of the work we have done to expand PM&R exposure to medical students. From connecting with the PM&R student interest groups at various institutions, to creating podcasts and hosting journal clubs, the Council has had a successful year.
As Chair for the Medical Student Council, I hope for the Council to continue to expand our reach and open the PM&R door to medical students. I am looking forward to working with the new Council to initiate new projects that will continue to inform students of this field, assist them in finding mentorship, and to find ways to advocate for individuals with disabilities.