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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

UIC: Alumna Kathryn Roach Receives Achievement Award

Dr. Kathryn Roach views the story of her career in physical therapy as having two interrelated chapters. And she is quick to credit UIC with playing an essential role in both. In the first chapter, she was in clinical practice for 14 years in settings ranging from the burn unit of the old Cook County Hospital to home visits as a physical therapist. “I worked with people as they fought to regain their ability to fully participate in their lives,” Dr. Roach said. “It was an enormous honor.” She was trained for that role in the second-ever physical therapy class offered at UIC’s College of Applied Health Sciences, meeting in classrooms in an old building next to what became the Medical Library. “We watched the construction from our classroom windows, and the construction workers watched us practice our clinical skills,” Dr. Roach recalled. “Little did I know that years later I would spend many, many hours in that same Medical Library doing dissertation work.”

In fact, she never imagined herself leaving clinical practice, but an interest in research led to her second chapter. She returned to the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health to pursue a PhD in epidemiology. “At that point in time, the practice of physical therapy was primarily guided by the medical model of disease care,” Dr. Roach said. “The theories, models and methods I was exposed to in the School Public Health expanded my perspectives on health and health care enormously. The concept of health as more than the absence of disease was totally consistent with my experiences as a physical therapist.  The idea that you could identify factors that could increase or decrease the risk of health outcomes and that those factors occurred at both the individual and population levels made enormous sense to me.”

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