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Michener to be recognized with Paris Distinguished Service Award

Lori Michener portrait

Award to be bestowed at APTA’s Combined Sections Meeting next week.


PROFESSOR-CLINICAL SCHOLAR PHYSICAL THERAPY Lori Michener will be honored with a Paris Distinguished Service Award at this year’s Combined Sections Meeting, the American Physical Therapy Association’s annual meeting.

The prestigious award recognizes an Academy of Orthopaedic Physical Therapy (AOPT) member whose contributions to the Academy are both exceptional and enduring. As part of the award, Michener will deliver a lecture at the APTA Combined Sections Meeting on February 16 in Boston.

“I believe service is important in physical therapy and really any occupation,” Michener said. “I feel honored that this award recognizes that I’ve provided contributions that are important to the profession.”
Michener also appreciates how this honor shines a spotlight on the value of service among physical therapists.

“Within the Division, and in any academic department, we often acknowledge the two larger pillars: teaching and scholarship,” she said. “I think a faculty member receiving a national award shows the importance of service and how meaningful it can be.”


Making Time for Service


During her nearly 20-year tenure with the Academy, Michener has held several key positions, from vice president to research committee chair. She’s helped managed the 18,000-member organization and its multi-million-dollar budget, as well as a staff of six in a building located in Wisconsin.

“I truly didn’t realize the magnitude of all the Academy handled until I was on the AOPT Board of Directors,” she said.

While Michener has made a profound impact, she initially had no grand plans to pursue service. Instead, someone simply asked if she’d consider volunteering.

“I think an important piece — to help to consider volunteering in the AOPT or any other type of organization — is to reach out,” she said. “You can’t assume it’s something people have considered or think they might be a good fit for.”

Michener has tapped all kinds of colleagues, creating volunteer opportunities that might be a match, from a year-long committee commitment to reviewing abstracts for a few hours.

“I really want to meet people where they are in terms of time and energy,” she explained. “They might say they don’t know if they have time, and that’s OK. I’ll suggest a project that might take 10 hours over the course of a year. Smaller opportunities may be the best fit for an individual at a given point in their career.”

Over the years, Michener has grown her network, asking hundreds of professionals to volunteer.

For instance, while chairing the Research Committee, she would have up to 100 people reviewing abstracts, a 15-person committee involved in grants, in which $150,000 a year was awarded.

“By providing this service, my goal is to make the orthopedic physical therapy community better and stronger,” she says.
While the Academy has certainly benefited from her efforts, Michener has benefited as well, including making connections that have enriched her professional career and clinical practice.

“I’ve learned from fascinating research projects I’d never considered and seen innovative teaching approaches I’ve incorporated into my classroom,” she says. “Have I gotten out as much as I’ve put in? Yes, absolutely.”