SMU Leader Wins National Physical Therapy Education Award

Terry Nordstrom
Friday, January 19, 2018

Terry Nordstrom, vice president of enrollment and student services at Samuel Merritt University, has been honored with a national award for his contributions to the field of physical therapy.  

Nordstrom received the Polly Cerasoli Lectureship Award from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) in recognition of his educational leadership and service.

“I am surprised and honored to receive the Polly Cerasoli Award and to follow in the footsteps of past recipients, many of whom were my mentors, former teachers, and people I admire,” said Nordstrom. “I have been blessed in my career to have the opportunity to work with so many colleagues and friends who care deeply about physical therapy education both at Samuel Merritt University and across the country.”   

The award is granted to physical therapists who distinguish themselves in their academic leadership, service to the profession, vision for the future of physical therapy education, and high regard from peers.

A physical therapist since 1977, Nordstrom has worked in many clinical environments, including pediatrics, home health, and outpatient orthopedics. He holds a doctorate in education as well as a master’s degree in physical therapy.

Nordstrom is an associate professor in SMU’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, which he previously chaired for nine years, and teaches in the areas of professionalism and ethics.

“Dr. Nordstrom has been very passionate in advocating ethics in our profession, and his work over the last 25 years in the academy and profession has been reflective of this passion,” Nicole Christensen, PhD, associate professor and chair of SMU’s DPT program, wrote in Nordstrom’s nomination letter.

Christensen highlighted Nordstrom’s support for increasing the presence of students from underrepresented groups and disadvantaged backgrounds in SMU’s healthcare programs as well as his role in spearheading the University’s Interprofessional Education (IPE) initiative.

“He strongly advocates for the creation of unique care delivery and learning experiences that expand the current conception for the delivery of primary care and care of people with chronic illness, particularly people from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups who live in medically underserved areas of the inner city,” according to the nomination letter, which was also signed by Nordstrom’s colleagues Professor Gail Widener, PhD, and Professor Sharon Gorman, DPTSc.

Nordstrom will receive the award during APTA’s Combined Sections Meeting in New Orleans on February 23, and will present the Cerasoli Lecture at the 2019 conference.

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