Culturally Competent Care is Key: Meet Rizing Tide Scholar Elisha Li
Washington University Physical Therapy student, Elisha Li, always dreamed of having a career in healthcare, but never knew what field to pursue. It wasn’t until she reflected on her interests, her family’s experiences, and her future legacy that she realized that dream career was in physical therapy.
As a former cheerleading coach, Elisha was looking for a career that included both her interest in healthcare and her talent for coaching people. “I really loved anatomy and learning about how the human body works, but I also really know that I loved teaching and coaching,” she explains. “I found that it [PT] really was the perfect combination of health and coaching.” But Elisha really fell in love with the profession when she volunteered as an undergraduate at her school’s disability resources gym. There, she coached students with conditions such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy through physical therapy sessions.
Elisha also had experience in the PT field long before she became an undergrad. “A few years ago, my dad was involved in a car accident and he required care from a neurologist and a physical therapist.” Elisha says that her father traveled over an hour to get care from a physical therapist who was Chinese so he could feel more comfortable participating in his care and asking questions.
“People care about having culturally competent care,” she adds.
Many people in the physical therapy industry understand the disproportionate barriers some communities face when seeking healthcare and thus acknowledge the need for culturally competent care. Elisha wants to help break down those blockades and fulfill patients’ medical needs. As she continues through her PT program, she foresees integrating her career with her commitment to her community. She is considering working pro bono with underserved communities—and she hopes to one day teach and add to the diversity of academia.
She is eager to learn as a student of Washington University and from her experiences with the mentors and industry leaders working with Rizing Tide. As a Rizing Tide scholar, Elisha knows that these opportunities will help her become a physical therapist who puts her patients first.