Stepping Back to Move Forward: Megan Andre (MNLEND, 2019–20)

Megan Andre.

A mother with a few young children, including one with Down syndrome, was having a difficult day recently. Trying to juggle orthotics that didn’t fit properly for one child and some behavioral issues with another was adding up to a lot of stress.

“I just thought, ‘What can I do to take some of that load off today?’” said Megan Andre (MNLEND, 2019–20), now a pediatric physical therapist with Mary Bridge Good Samaritan Children’s Therapy Unit in Puyallup, Washington. While the family was in the office, Andre was able to get the footwear adjusted, avoiding a second trip back to the facility, and completed a referral to the behavioral health department for the other child. For the actual physical therapy appointment, Andre focused on some streamlined exercises that the family could work into their chaotic, pandemic-interrupted routine.

“You have to take into account what the family is going through outside of the clinical environment,” said Andre, who completed her residency at Gillette Children’s Specialty Care in St. Paul. “It’s really easy to get stuck in the professional mindset and only think about the technical aspects of what needs to be accomplished in the appointment.”

Combined with her residency training and earlier career experiences with people with a variety of neurodevelopmental disabilities, MNLEND solidified the family-centered care she now delivers, and the understanding that disparities in resources can have a dramatic impact on how therapies are accessed, said Andre, who recently sat for the pediatric clinical specialist exam.

Before becoming a MNLEND fellow, Andre practiced in outpatient pediatric and neurologic physical therapy clinics, developing an interest in working with children learning to walk and eventually presenting a community parent education class. 

“LEND was a huge help in cementing that person-first care mentality,” she said. “It helped me complete the circle in working with families so that they understand we’re not just taking a few extra steps today. We’re going to understand why it’s important to do these steps and to continue them outside of PT. The goal is to be functional in everyday life, so they can participate more fully in the community.”