Dr. Greg Chown, at right, with Alvernia OT and PT students during a clinical-based mission trip to Belize in January 2023.
Educator assists with clinical-based mission trips to underserved areas outside of the U.S.
Dr. Greg Chown pursued a career in academia because of his love of research and the continuous process of learning and applying information. The tenured associate professor joined the full-time ranks in 2011, drawn to Alvernia University’s mission and value system and how it was embedded in the occupational therapy major’s clinicals and coursework.
The associate professor of occupational therapy and co-associate director of the Holleran Center for Health Sciences is a firm believer in practice outside the classroom, assisting with clinical-based mission trips to underserved areas including Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Belize.
“We try to put our theory into practice," he said. "It makes the students think about things like ethics, the right to health and access to healthcare. Many people in the world that need our services live below the poverty level. They have to think, ‘How do we serve them? What are some alternative methods?’”
Students experience both personal and academic growth when they get out in the world to aid others, Chown said.
“There’s almost a shock value,” he explained. “Sometimes they see horrendous, significant injuries that they’ve never seen before.” Such situations require real-time problem-solving skills and teamwork.
The trips, not to mention increased opportunities to work with local pro-bono clinics and shelters in the immediate community, are just a few ways he’s seen the occupational therapy program at Alvernia evolve through the years.
A practicing occupational therapist with a focus on treating hand injuries and burns for 20 years, Chown now finds joy in teaching the next generation of those who will provide aid.
“At the end of the day, it’s all about the students and hearing them feel like they are making a difference," he said. "I find joy in practicing ‘paying it forward’ now. By teaching future occupational therapists that will aid others, I’m helping an exponential number of individuals. I love when a student can make a difference for someone else.”
Regina Rossi '24, an occupational therapy major, called Chown a fantastic professor and mentor.
"He explains complex concepts clearly and concisely, teaches in an engaging way — I’m never bored in class — shares his own incredible stories and experiences, and has overall helped me fall in love with OT," Rossi said. "As my advisor for the Senior Scholar research project, he is an instrumental guide with his problem-solving skills, creativity and knowledge. I am so fortunate to be able to learn from Dr. Chown and he is helping me become the best OT I can be."