An Interview with a Duke University DPT Student Fundraiser – Taylor Chapman

We are pleased to introduce Taylor Chapman whom has completed a successful fundraising event for the GWHI in Chicago, IL.  Her singular efforts have resulted in an event that raised $1,000 for the foundation. Taylor is an amazing example of how one person can change the world!

Taylor Chapman is a 3rd year Doctor of Physical Therapy Student at Duke University and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She is a member of the Women’s Health Section, the SoWH SIG, the Research Section and the Health Policy and Administration Section as well as a PT-PAC supporter. Taylor will present her research on “Comprehensive Primary Care Models for the Management of Multiple Chronic Conditions in Community-Dwelling Older Adults” at the 2017 Combined Sections Meeting, and gave a Poster presentation at the 2016 ACSM Annual Meeting on “Examining differences in movement competency in professional baseball players born in the United States and Dominican Republic.” She recently traveled to Guatemala with the Hearts in Motion organization to administer skilled physical therapy services via pop-up clinics in a variety of cities.
Taylor, how did you get interested in Women’s Health Physical Therapy?

As a Duke University DPT student in the class of 2017 I had a variety of opportunities to be exposed to the specialty through wonderful faculty and surrounding Women’s Health Clinics. I fell in love with the specialization because of the intimate environment and the inspiring passion Women’s Health clinician’s embody. My clinical instructor at ATI Physical Therapy, Amanda Bachman, was very supportive of my passion and assisted me in securing a 12-week rotation that positively impacted my future in WHPT.  I am now in the application process for a residency program in this specialty.

Why did you get involved with the Global Women’s Health Initiative? The GWHI is the perfect model to describe how I would like to transcend my professional career by first creating a sustainable foundation to then evolve and create positive change.  The start-up’s plan to build from the ground up by initially engaging medical professionals interested in the care of women in under-served communities, locally and globally, along with promoting a social medial message campaign that improves awareness of the current medical status in various countries pertaining to the care of women, will allow for a solid foundation to be built. As they evolve these efforts into awareness and support, funding as well as personal and professional efforts will naturally keep the mission moving forward. I have also had the pleasure of working with another wonderful and sustainable organization, Hearts in Motion, assisting locals via pop-up PT clinics in Guatemala.  I was first introduced to sustainable projects from Dr. Landry at Duke University.

The GWHI embodies two of my passions.  1) My ultimate ambition of educating medical professionals on the benefits of pelvic health physical therapy and to improve the public’s uneasiness and general unawareness of the specialty. 2) The ability to work with an organization whose mission is to transcend the public awareness into worldwide support and effort, utilizing service and education, to create systemic change.

Tell us how you created such a successful fundraising event over a short period?
I have always been involved in fundraising and event planning. I have volunteered my services to organizing charity events for the Make a Wish Foundation, planning social networking events with the various medical programs at Duke University, and acting as the Event Chair for my Greek Student Organization at Indiana University. I served on the Events and Dancer Relations committees for Indiana University Dance Marathon and I am currently the Events Coordinator for the Duke DPT Class of 2017.  
I worked with my Chicago connections, IU alumni/friends/family/colleagues, to raise awareness of WH on a local and global level.  I utilized a survey engine distributed via social media to inquire about the general public’s knowledge about WH PT and found that over 50% were unaware of these services.  I wanted to create an event to promote global perspective with an emphasis on education to improve awareness.  I contacted the event planner at State Restaurant, an Indiana University Alumni bar, to honest the event. I spread the word through social media, friends, connections through my helpful sister at Groupon, local companies and colleagues, and the physical distribution of flyers.  I was able to provide information to local universities and student organizations to help increase event attendance. Finally, I created a mechanism to allow for donations on and offsite of the event. During the fundraiser, I offered pelvic health knowledge as a driver and conversation starter.  Educational materials from the APTA Section on Women’s Health on pelvic floor trauma, fistula and prolapse promoted awareness for the physical therapy need in the US and abroad.  My goal was to give a global perspective and the event procured donations through awareness and in the form of raffles and food/drink donation.  I am so grateful to have successfully raised and donated $1,000.00 for this worthy organization.

An Interview with a GWHI Founding Member and the World Wide Fistula Fund Executive Board member – Tracy Spitznagle

Tracy Spitznagle has been involved in the international education of Urogynecologist and Physical Therapists as well as a provider of clinical services for the World Wide Fistula Fund since 2011 She has served in many leadership roles within her profession as a Women’s Health Physical Therapist.  Included in these positions is serving on the Board of Directors of the APTA Section on Women’s Health and Chair of the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists.  She is also a very busy clinician and educator at Washington University in St Louis and a strong advocate for Women’s rights.  It is no wonder she has committed herself to the work of the Global Women’s Health Initiative both as a Board Member and as a donor!  The GWHI is focusing this time of the year towards giving and has partnered with the World Wide Fistula Fund during Giving Tuesday.  This amazing physical therapist sat down with us to talk about her involvement on the international stage.

What is the Vision/Mission of the World Wide Fistula Fund?
The World Wide Fistula Fund was developed by Dr Lewis Wall in 1995 to help women heal from birth related injuries.  The initial focus of WFF was fistula repair, however, now the organization is also caring for women with pelvic organ prolapse and post-partum dysfunctions.  Prolapse is now a 3rd world epidemic – and for the women of these regions – fistula and prolapse is believed at times to be a “curse” which limits their interactions with their families and communities as well as their ability to obtain education and earn a living.

Tracy, how did you get started with the World Wide Fistula Fund?  
I met Dr. Louis Wall in 2001 while in clinical practice at Washington University.  He was interviewing for a position as the Chair of Urogynecology and I was on the interview team.  At the time of his initial interview, He discussed my possible involvement in assisting women in Africa.  A few years later, The WFF sent me to Ethiopia to teach and observe at the Hamlin Fistula Hospital.

What has been your focus of your work with the World Wide Fistula Fund? 
My focus in the beginning was providing education for the PT staff at the Hamlin Fistula Center in Addis Ababa.  I worked with the staff treating women pre and post fistula surgeries. I supplemented the established rehabilitation program with lectures on lower extremity strengthening and care for foot impairments commonly found in the survivors of Fistula.  Over the years, as my participation grew, I was asked to join the Board of Directors.  After my second year on the Board, I was asked to join the executive council and served as secretary.  Now I continue to serve on the executive council as the Treasurer and the board representative for our Danja Fistula Hospital in Niger.
How has your practice with the World Wide Fistula Fund changed?
During my tenure with this organization, I have moved into al teaching role with the Urogynecology Fellowship program.  I have provided pelvic health lectures for both Physicians and Physical Therapists at the University of Mekelle.  In June of 2016, I was asked to facilitate the recruitment of faculty to enhance the Physical Therapy education for their first cohort of 5 students starting in 2017. Graciously, The World Wide Fistula Fund has provide the resources to cover some of the costs for this program, thus allowing Physical Therapy educators to engage in  capacity building within the Masters of Physical Therapy program at the University.  WFF is aiding in the development of the future educators of the Masters of PT program, thus allowing them to grow the PT program in within the scope of the Mekelle Medical School. A  long reaching aim of WFF is  to support  systemic change and sustainable growth of the healthcare services in the Tigren Region of Ethiopia.

What led you to become involved in the Global Women’s Health Initiative?
Rebecca Stephenson – a fellow inaugural board member invited my participation because of my work within the World Wide Fistula Fund.  Her engaging spirit, and never ending positivity has given me great hope that we can join together to make a change. There is an extreme lack of women’s health services in both 3rd world countries and underserved populations in our country.  I hope to transfer what we learn globally to local engagement, I believe that global is local and local is global. 

My overall hope is that GWHI will create resources to send and facilitate Physical Therapy care in underserved regions of the world. I feel so very blessed to be able to support sustainable programs for development of Women’s Health Physical Therapy on a global scale.

Please consider your own personal engagement; we who have so much can make a beautiful difference to those who have not.

Taking Stock: HIV/AIDS

The end of the year is around the corner and at this time many people around the globe take stock of their lives- their achievements, failures and goals or resolutions. Typically, the end of the year provides an opportunity to plan out goals for the coming year.  

December first was World AIDS day, below are global statistics and findings from 2015, and an initiative by UNAIDS. This list truly provides insight into where the global community can focus for goal setting for 2017:

•    In 2015 there were 34.9 million adults globally living with HIV, 51% of them were women
•    Also, in 2015 there were 2.1 million new HIV infections, 1.1 million AIDS related deaths and about 5700 new HIV infections daily
•    Since 2003 the number of AIDS-related deaths has decreased by 45%; this implies that more adults living with HIV age into adulthood. People living with HIV have increased risk of cardiovascular diseases
•    In Eastern and Southern Africa where 19.0 million people live with HIV, about 10.3 million are on antiretroviral therapy, this is double the number it was in 2010
•    Approximately 7500 women between ages 15 and 24 acquired HIV every week in 2015, this is linked to gender inequalities in societies
•    The risk of becoming infected with HIV increases significantly for adolescent girls in sub-Saharan Africa
•    AIDS is the leading cause of death among women aged 15 to 49
•    Childhood and adolescence violence increases HIV-related risk behavior among adolescent girls and young women
•    Child brides are at higher risk of sexually transmitted infections including HIV because they are unable to negotiate for safer sex
•    Violence can lead to decreased adherence to treatment among women living with HIV
•    90-90-90, a UNAIDS initiative established in 2014 “By 2020 90% of people living with HIV know their HIV status, 90% of people who know they are HIV status are accessing treatment, and 90% of people on treatment have suppressed viral loads”

HIV/AIDS is no respecter of persons. The good news! The risk of death has been greatly reduced! Sadly, women and children are more affected by HIV/AIDS than ever before. Keep in mind that the infection produces significant effects on the different systems of the body, and can result in major emotional and social consequences for those affected. In 2017, make it a goal to make a difference by supporting programs that help women, children and men affected by HIV/AIDs.



  • UNAIDS. AIDS by the number. Accessed November 28, 2016.
  • UNAIDS. Get on the fast-track: the life-cycle approach to HIV. Accessed November 28, 2016.
  • Press Release. UNAIDS Website. Accessed December 1, 2016