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Rockhurst University CASE STUDY: IPLS - - - - > Physics of Medicine. ILPS Conference March 15, 2014 Nancy Donaldson, Ph.D Professor of Physics Rockhurst University Kansas City, Missouri

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rockhurst university case study ipls physics of medicine

Rockhurst University CASE STUDY: IPLS - - - - > Physics of Medicine

ILPS Conference

March 15, 2014

Nancy Donaldson, Ph.D

Professor of PhysicsRockhurst University

Kansas City, Missouri

outline of presentation
Outline of Presentation:
  • Let’s start with successes in our program. . . .
    • Large Growth in physics students:
    • Physics of Medicine (POM) Program – Major and Minor
    • NSF TUES grant for POM active learning curriculum development
    • Wonderful Networking with all of you!
  • How’d we get there? ‘”IPLS” course reform: what worked well and challenges that led to opportunities
  • Lastly, where we are now - - and where we are going!

Why not take more???

What I was hearing from the students (and some faculty) was . . . . . .

General pre-health or pre-med student thought:

“ . . . . . . .well, you know, physics is not really relevant to medicine”

opportunity so we worked to help students see and experience the relevance
Opportunity:So, we worked to help students see and experience the relevance . . . . . . . . .
  • Start by asking questions:
    • What do my students need to know?
    • What are the big ideas that unite?
    • What can I do to help them get there?
    • Goal: develop a strong, inquiry based introductory physics sequence that stresses the relevance of physics to medicine/healthcare – --- - - - - - - - - - start of IPLS!
steps to ipls development
STEPS to IPLS Development. . . .
  • My background: “I was this student” . . . . .
    • Constructivist pedagogy
    • Inquiry based curriculum: based on physics teaching experience (state grants: CPU, PET).
    • Building a foundation - - - - wonderful “story” of physics
  • Another Challenge: Department climate:
    • Pre – med
    • Pre-PT, OT, CSD
      • Previously “Baby” physics 
      • This is where I started reform in 2003
led to another opportunity worked with other faculty
Led to Another Opportunity: Worked with other faculty . . .
    • Colleagues from other campuses
    • Colleagues from other disciplines
  • Great value
    • Strong belief in collaboration
    • Create interdisciplinary learning for “pragmatic” students
    • Interesting and I learned a lot!!
so how did we win over the pre therapy students curriculum development passion pedagogy
So, how did we “win over” the pre- therapy students? Curriculum Development, passion, pedagogy
  • Teach physics as essential to an understanding of therapy – examples:
      • Force and Torque:
      • Vectors and Statics:
      • Fluids:
      • Buoyancy:
      • Electricity:

Final Project relating physics to career interests in therapy - --

    • Students research and choose group topic w/ professor approval
    • Meet with PT, OT, CSD faculty
    • Very happy with student work!!
example intro student project the barefoot running fad
Example Intro Student Project: The Barefoot Running Fad
  • Student Question: Is it worthwhile?
  • Investigate:Discrepancies in research
  • Experiment:Foot strike pattern is crucial
  • Analyze: Compare shod vs. unshod using impulse, friction, force vectors, pressure
force plate experimentation
Force Plate Experimentation:

Forefoot Shod vs. Unshod

Rearfoot Shod vs. Unshod

promoting recovery relationship to pt
Promoting Recovery: Relationship to PT
  • Knee injuries
  • Ankle Sprains
  • Ice massages
  • Stretching
  • Strengthening
physics service learning and medicine
Physics Service Learning and Medicine:

Service Project:


at Children’s Mercy Hospital

2007 on to reforming pre med physics
2007: on to reforming Pre-Med Physics:
  • Challenge: Faculty illness in 2007
  • Opportunity: reform Pre-Med Physics
    • Same emphasis of relevance to medicine and the body
    • Same emphasis of inquiry –based, deep conceptual understanding intertwined with mathematics
    • Problem solving with “big picture” in mind
    • Success!

“The Physics Curse”

(It’s a good thing!)

2009 ipls success led to development of physics of medicine pom program
2009: IPLS Success led to development of Physics of Medicine (POM) Program
  • Active Learning, relevant upper division coursework (Interdisciplinary component)
    • Pre-requisite: one year of general physics and calculus I
    • Focus: intermediate level physics coursework + advanced physics options for students wanting more depth
  • Designed to address the AAMC Scientific Competency Report
pom curriculum guidelines
POM Curriculum Guidelines:

Applications of physics principles to an understanding of the function of the human bodyin health and disease

  • Application of physics in the medical imaging and nuclear medicine used in diagnosis and therapy

Address AAMC/HHMI Competencies

physics of medicine coursework inquiry based
Physics of Medicine Coursework: Inquiry Based!

Physics of the Body I

Physics of the Body II

Optics (with medical focus)

  • Physics of Medical Imaging

Statistics for the Health Sciences or Mathematical Modeling

POM Capstone Research Course

physics of the body i topics covered
Physics of the Body I – Topics Covered
  • Law of Conservation of Energy in the Body
  • Biomechanics
  • Pressure in the Body – organs and osmotic pressure
  • Fluid Dynamics as applied to the Body

Physics of the Respiratory System

physics of the body ii topics covered
Physics of the Body II – Topics Covered

Physics of Cardiovascular System

Electricity in the Body

Sound, speech


Physics of Hearing


optics in medicine
Optics in Medicine

Optics &


Fiber Optics, Endoscopy &


medical imaging how do you see inside of me
Medical Imaging - “How do you see inside of me?
  • How are they the same?
  • How are they different?
  • Physics involved?
  • What are the advantages and limitations of each?
pom field trips
POM Field Trips:
  • University of Kansas Medical Center – Nuclear Medicine Dept.
  • Research Medical Center – Medical Imaging Dept.
  • Kansas City University Medical Center – Using a Fiber Scope!
  • Kansas City University of Biomedical Sciences – Microscopy Imaging
guest speakers to campus
Guest Speakers to Campus
  • M.D. - - therapeutic and diagnostic ultrasound
  • D.O - - forces on the spine and therapeutic manipulation
  • D.D.S. - - forces in the jaw and concussions
  • P.T. , Ph.D. Electric Signals in the Brain, EEG
  • P.T. - - physics of transfers of patients
  • Physiologist – physics of respiration
  • Veterinarian - Acupuncture
  • Health Psychologist – Obesity and Thermodynamics
  • Ophthalmologist - new research in eye laser surgery
nsf grant tues award may 2012
NSF Grant TUES Award: May 2012
  • $200,000
  • Collaborative with Loyola University Maryland – Dr. Mary Lowe
  • Create three upper-division active learning physics modules:
    • Fiber optics and light delivery in Medicine– on iCollaborative
    • Pressure in the human body - RESPIRATORY and CARDIOVASCULAR System
    • Nuclear physics and nuclear medicine - Gamma camera
  • Medical Consultants: Research Hospitals and Medical Faculty; Fiber Optics Experts, Specialty areas in Medicine covering Physics of Medicine Topics
where we are now
Where we are now . . . . .

New Students to Physics!

Physics Program is vibrant!


  • Very Active POM Program: currently 38 declared POM Majors and Minors in our fourth year of implementation – majority of women!
  • Projection for strong 2014 class
  • Very positive student/alumni survey/reflections
where we are going
Where we are going . . . .
  • NSF developed active-learning curriculum modules – available to share! (just email me)
  • Strong interest in networking and shared curricula/pedagogy/strategies for development

Pressure Equilibrium

Small Balloon

Large Balloon

Ambient Pressure

summary institutional impact pom is a recognized program on rockhurst campus
Summary & Institutional Impact:POM is a recognized program on Rockhurst campus


      • Faculty Load &Training
      • Marketing – tips if you want them!
      • Fit within course load of busy pre-med & pre-therapy students
      • Funding
      • “Real” physics (traditional vs. reform)
      • Our Dean: Chicken or Egg 
  • Opportunities: addressed by PASSION for program

POM is a whole lot of FUN!

pom grad quote
POM Grad Quote . . . . . .

Note: Physics location!

  • “As the Dean of the College of Medicine addressed us regarding the foundations of our medical education, he presented us this image, showing the importance of an integrated understanding of biology, chemistry, and PHYSICS in medical education. “

“” . . . . you can imagine how having that extra knowledge in the physics of medicine will be a HUGE benefit as I begin my studies.” – Melissa Hager ‘11

thank you for more information nancy donaldson@rockhurst edu
THANK YOU!!For more