Physical therapy professor receives top honor

Courtesy of Regina Harbourne
Harbourne, pictured here with a child, specializes in pediatrics. She was awarded a top fellowship honor from the APTA.
Courtesy of Regina Harbourne
Harbourne, pictured here with a child, specializes in pediatrics. She was awarded a top fellowship honor from the APTA.

Hallie Lauer | Layout Editor

To win the Catherine Worthingham Fellowship from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) is among one of the highest honors those practicing physical therapy can be awarded, and for the first time ever, a Duquesne faculty member has received that honor.

Regina Harbourne, a physical therapy professor, is the 2017 recipient of this fellowship. According to DU’s physical therapy department chair, Christopher Carcia, only 200 people have achieved this level of recognition since the inception of the award in 1982.

“I didn’t even know about [the nomination]. I was totally shocked,” said Harbourne.

She said she was surprised to get the award.

“I got the phone call here and the person who called … said ‘I’m from the APTA and I immediately thought they were going to ask me for money because that’s the only time the APTA ever calls me … so I was trying to figure out how to get off the phone quickly, I just had no idea, so it really was a total shock,’” Harbourne said.

The long nomination process includes letters of support, resumes and a submission of research or contributions. To be nominated the individual must be a member of the APTA for 15 years or more and show excellence in the field.

“The award is for any PT in any specialty,” Harbourne said. “We jokingly call it the gray haired club. Once you’re in the field for that long you’re probably going to be a lifer in the profession.”

According to the APTA website, Catherine Worthingham was a “change agent effective, respectful and honest, and motivated others to make an impact within the physical therapy profession.” This recognition is meant to honor Worthingham and to inspire all physical therapists to advance the field and aspire for professional excellence.

Some of the people who nominated Harbourne for the fellowship are from the Physical Therapy Department at Duquesne.

“We are obviously thrilled Dr. Harbourne has been recognized as a Worthingham Fellow,” Carcia said. “More importantly, we are excited the attention this recognition draws to her specific interest and passion in the early development of infants with neurologic disorders.”

Harbourne’s specialization is pediatrics.

“They always tell you in PT school not to specialize right away and I did and I never regretted it,” Harbourne said. “My first job was at a state school for the mentally retarded … and I loved it and I never did anything else.”

Harbourne also teaches Introduction to Research at Duquesne, along with working with interventionists through a grant she recently received.

“I’m really just so grateful to all the people who nominated me,” Harbourne said. “It gives you a funny feeling to know that you’re part of this special club, this special group. Because when I look at the list of people, those names are immediately recognizable to me. It does give you a new layer of confidence that other people feel that you’re worthy.”