Diedra Dyer Barlow

COUNTRY: Thailand and Nepal
FOCUS: Healthcare Education
PROJECT: Teaching Physiotherapy at Dhulikhel Medical Institute
PROJECT GOAL: To help prepare a new generation of Nepali physiotherapists.

Diedra (Dee) was born in Concho, OK. She has a B.S. degree from the University of Oklahoma in Physical Therapy. She has worked as a Physical Therapist at Broken Arrow Medical Center in Oklahoma. She has been on three volunteer trips to India and Nepal to work with the Missionary Sisters of Charity, and visited and observed mission work in Guatemala. Diedra also volunteered for a year with the St. Joseph Residence for AIDS through Catholic Charities. Diedra’s interests and hobbies are running, square dancing, aerobics, cross-stitching and reading.

Before joining MKLM she was active in the parish of St. Bernard in the Diocese of Tulsa. Dee also graduated from the Phelps Theological Seminary in Tulsa.

Dee served her first four years as a Maryknoll Lay Missioner in Thailand using her talents as a physiotherapist and as a teacher.

Since 2004 Dee lived and worked in Nepal. The previous year she visited the Maryknoll Sister community there and was impressed by the tremendous need for physiotherapy services. She set her heart on a dream that she lived out!

Physiotherapy is a new field in Nepal, and Dee is helped to expand it. In any Nepali hospital there are great needs, where one will see many head and orthopedic injuries, especially from bus and motorcycle accidents. Dee taught Anatomy and Physiology to students at Dhulikhel Medical Institute (DMI). DMI had a partnership of Dhulikhel Hospital and Kathmandu University and allowed students to earn a certificate in Health Science without having to leave the country for training.

Dee has done groundbreaking work, since rehabilitation has been a new concept in Nepal. Dee supported the program mainly through teaching and supervising. Dee taught classes to first year students. She also was involved in the clinical placement and supervision of 2nd and 3rd year students. In addition, Dee worked with the final year (3rd year) students conducting a Disability Survey throughout three of Dhulikhel’s nine wards in order to better understand the needs of the disabled in these communities.

A central part of the three-year program was to broaden the students’ knowledge and understanding of rehabilitation from a facility-based approach to a community-based approach. This was crucial since the vast majority of Nepalis in need of physio services are in rural communities. Dee traveled with and supervised final year students as they provided services throughout the countryside. Dee was able to celebrate the success that she contributed to when the first class of 10 physiotherapists graduated!