International perspective helps new physical therapist

This article submitted by Stephanie Everson on 7/1/97.

Having spent eight years of his childhood in Oslo, Norway, Daniel Perry, Paynesville Area Health Care System's (PAHCS) newest physical therapist, serves as a small town health care provider with an international perspective.

As a young child, Perry grew up in several different places in the United States, until the age of 14, when he and his mother settled in Oslo. He didn't know the language, so before they left, his mother sent him to Concordia Language Villages in Bemidji where he was immersed in the Norwegian culture and language.

When Perry was 16, he and two friends took a train trip across Europe, traveling being a common custom in Norway. While traveling on the train, he and his friends met and talked with other passengers from many different countries in the world. The experience was life changing. "You can learn something from everyone you meet," Perry commented, "even if it's only for five minutes, but it's your job to figure out what it is. If you don't, it's your loss."

After completing high school there, he enrolled at the University of Oslo for two years, with the intention of becoming a medical doctor. Although Norway has some of the best doctors and treatment facilities in the world, the competition to enter the medical program was high, being native students and those from third world and underdeveloped countries are generally admitted first.

Perry made the decision to come back to the United States and finish his schooling here, completing his four years of undergraduate study in chemistry, at Hamline, and his masters degree at the College of St. Catherine in Minneapolis.

While completing his undergraduate work at Hamline, Perry's father, a medical doctor at St. Paul Ramsey Medical Center in St. Paul, suggested that he spend one day with one of the specialty doctors to see firsthand what a physician does.

With such a large hospital and patient load, Perry noticed how time constraints made it difficult for the physician to spend extra time with patients, and often, after diagnosis, the patient was sent to another department, such as physical therapy, with minimal contact with the doctor until their treatment was completed.

With the information he gained from that experience, Perry decided he wanted to work in a more hands on health care field. He wanted to be able to develop stronger patient contact and relationships than the doctor at the large hospital was able to.

Having spent his first rotation at PAHCS two years ago, Perry liked the easy going atmosphere of a small town hospital, yet in a growing community. He also appreciated that the physical therapy department was able to work more closely with the doctors.

In some of the larger metropolitan hospitals he worked at, there was often a feeling of discouragement, or of being in "a rut," because there was little contact with the patient's doctors, and a "ship in, ship out" feeling. "Here, I can get a better feel for where the patient is at," Perry said. He mentioned that with a smaller patient load, it's easier to develop a trust, and physical therapy patients at PAHCS are more willing to do the work necessary to complete their treatment.

Growing up in Norway for the last half of his childhood, Perry learned to see the world and its people from another perspective. Each new patient provides an opportunity for learning, which is an opportunity Perry never turns down.

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