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Real-world teaching nets outstanding mentor honors for alumnus

Feb. 3, 2023

Story by Cheri Ghan

Eric Lybeck-Brown
Eric Lybeck-Brown, DPT ’11, is a Mizzou physical therapy clinical instructor.

Mizzou physical therapy students graduate and enter their careers prepared to provide patients outstanding and life-changing care thanks to the many hours of hands-on learning experiences in the physical therapy curriculum.

Eric Lybeck-Brown, DPT ’11, coordinates clinical opportunities for physical therapy students at University Hospital. He says serving as a clinical instructor and mentoring students is a favorite aspect of his job. Thorough and intentional in his guidance, he helps ensure students can turn their didactic education into real-world care. He’s so good at it, students request him, and his dedication and skill were recently recognized with the 2022 School of Health Professions Alumni Award for Excellence in Mentoring.

Students start their clinical rotations as observers. Lybeck-Brown brings them into the care with descriptions of what he’s doing. As they progress, students eventually take over some of the patient care under his supervision. Lybeck-Brown recalls a recent incident involving a stroke patient who was having gait issues.

“The student and I had discussed the case and the plan I had in my toolkit,” Lybeck-Brown recalls. “But when the student worked with the patient, he invented his own plan and it worked! In fact, it worked so well, I have added it to my toolkit for working with that type of patient.” Mizzou’s physical therapy students earn about 1,440 clinical hours and another 64 hours in PhysZou, a pro bono in-house clinic, during their education. Lybeck-Brown says to be a good clinical instructor, therapists must stay current and fresh.

“The students ask you questions, and it forces me to dig deep in my own knowledge and practice,” Lybeck-Brown says. “I love it when the questions come from a place of curiosity.”

Dana Martin, DSc, MPT ’03, teaching professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, nominated Lybeck-Brown for the School of Health Professions mentoring award. It is not the first time he has been recognized in this role. In 2014 and again this year, Lybeck-Brown was presented with the Mizzou PT program’s CIinical Instructor of the Year award. The award is given annually to one clinical instructor nominated by students who embodies what an excellent mentor and health care provider should be.

Eric Lybeck-Brown and parents
Eric Lybeck-Brown, center, and his parents, Barb and Bryan Brown

Martin says there are many aspects to Lybeck-Brown’s mentoring.

“Eric is quick to point out to students how each member of the health care team is important in the care of patients,” Martin says. “Co-treating with occupational therapy on a daily basis gives Eric the opportunity to educate students in an interprofessional environment. I actually have had students come to me requesting to be placed with Eric, as they know he is fully vested in their education.”

Lybeck-Brown’s parents, Barb and Bryan Brown, were on hand at the Health Professions Scholarship and Awards Luncheon last fall to see their son receive the mentoring honor. Barb Brown says he has a gift for teaching and organizing.

“We are pleased that he has chosen a career that he enjoys,” Brown says. “Being happy at work translated into being happy in the other aspects of his life. It is always nice to see your child succeed.”