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  • Physicians for Peace

“Teach One, Heal Many—That’s What You’re Seeing in Me”

Updated: Apr 14, 2023

Liliana Arango started her physical therapy career in Medellín, Colombia treating individual patients, mostly with severe burns.


Today, buoyed by training with Physicians for Peace, she is not only using her skills to treat patients in the burn unit at San Vicente Fundación, but sharing them with healthcare providers in Colombia and around the world.


Last fall she was chosen to present two of her abstracts (and one more displayed as a poster) at the International Society for Burns Injuries Congress (ISBI) in Mexico, where she received the prestigious André Zagamé Rehabilitation Specialist Prize.


“The mission of Physicians for Peace is ‘teach one, heal many,’ and that’s what you’re seeing reflected in me,” Liliana says. “Physicians for Peace has trained and uplifted me for several years, and now I can be the person who trains other professionals."


Physical therapist receiving burn-care training in Colombia
Among other skills taught by Physicians for Peace educators, Liliana learned how to fabricate custom masks to minimize and prevent facial burn scars

A Rare Chance at Life-Changing Training


Liliana first learned of Physicians for Peace when she attended a congress on burn care in Bogotá, Colombia, organized by Hospital Simón Bolívar and Physicians for Peace. She recalls her excitement at learning she could obtain ongoing quality training with Physicians for Peace.


“Physicians for Peace gives us continuous support for anything we need,” she says, “and this allows progress in all aspects, from professional knowledge to hands-on work.”


Not only that, but “it gives our patients confidence to know the person treating them is well-trained and knowledgeable about the treatments and procedures needed for their burn pathology.


”These practices are life-changing, she says. “Visualize that we’re giving hope back to a person who—when an event like this happens—believes they’re facing permanent disability, or that part of their life is now over. We can reassure them they can go on living, they can reintegrate, and that they have many options available to improve their physical and emotional state."


Once Liliana and fellow trainees learned more through PFP, they started teaching colleagues at work. “I tried to elevate myself more by being diligent about those practices,” she says.


In recent years, she’s shared her knowledge with nursing and therapy staff at her burn unit and with therapy students at local universities. In July, a burn unit at a hospital in Cali, Colombia—nearly 300 miles south of Medellín—sent a nursing specialist and rehabilitative therapist to shadow Liliana at work.


“When they came, they saw how our interdisciplinary team manages and treats burn patients,”she says. “Recently the hospital called and asked me if I could come there to train.” It was not just rehabilitative providers like herself who were looking for information, she says, but the whole burn-care team.


Sharing Knowledge on a Global Stage


Though Liliana is known locally for her expertise in burn care, the chance to share her knowledge with an international audience wasn’t on her radar.With PFP actively encouraging, supporting, and fostering her participation, it became a reality.


“I never thought I could get to an international congress as a podium speaker—the greatest experience I’ve ever had!” she says. The ISBI Congress gave her the chance to not only present her own findings and learn from noted experts in burn care, but to reinforce what she’d been taught through PFP.


“A large part of what was confirmed for me, from the peers I met at ISBI, is the interdisciplinary team is what’s most important for the management of a burn patient,” she says. “Not individuals working in isolation.”


Liliana was also encouraged to continue full steam ahead with her own research. “In this congress I realized everything we’re doing is valid for patients everywhere, not just where we practice,” she says.


Physical therapist training in burn care, Bogotá, Colombia
At a Physicians for Peace training in Bogotá

A Future Full of Possibilities


Liliana’s future includes expanding her repertoire with patients, “looking at other opportunities and other services we can offer them.”


It all goes back to the most gratifying part of her job: watching her patients recover and go on to live full lives. “Without an organization like Physicians for Peace,” Liliana says, “many of our patients could not receive those best practices, if we weren’t there providing them.”


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