LGBTQ+ Pride Month - Student Highlight
Annie FlowersJun 1, 2022
Get to Know: Annie Flowers
Q&A by Tori Serna
What made you want to pursue a career in Physical Therapy?
I was motivated to go into physical therapy because of my mom. My mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis the same year I was born, and I’ve grown up as a caregiver for her. She’s been treated by many different healthcare providers and the people that always had the greatest impact on her were physical therapists. The socialization of going to physical therapy and the friendships she made during physical therapy all helped improve her quality of life. She’s the reason I am where I am, and who I am today.
How has CU Anschutz Physical Therapy program allowed you to pursue your goals?
Our program does a great job of incorporating the idea of treating the whole person, not just their impairment(s). In classes, we discuss social determinants of health when discussing plan of care of interventions. As well as learning the impact mental health has on our patients when dealing with pain, illness, or disabilities. I believe that therapy involves us as clinicians being able to be there to help our patients heal in whatever way that looks like for them. I am thankful to be a part of a program that places an emphasis on really understanding each patient and I know it will help me to become a better clinician.
What is your “why”?
I’m tired of having a healthcare system that doesn’t represent the majority of individuals and one that lacks healthcare providers that are culturally competent. Too often, I take my mom to her healthcare appointments and the workers presume I’ll be talking for my mom and only talk to me, as if my mom isn’t there. As if her wheelchair makes her invisible. I want to be a part of creating a culture in healthcare where practitioners can and will communicate and understand any patient, not just those who fit the societal accepted norms. This is why we all desperately need exposure to people with different life experiences; not just to be culturally competent healthcare providers, but to better providers to our patients that we serve.
June is a month to honor and celebrate the LGBTQ+ protestors in the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. What does this mean for you? What role(s) have you taken up within the program that bring you pride?
Stonewall is an example of what happens when a few brave people decide to take action against injustice and start a revolution. To honor their courage, while also using this month as a time for visibility is powerful, however our fight isn’t over. There are still legal policies being enacted that restrict LGBTQ+ rights, as well as systemic and personal prejudices that prohibit us from reaching true equity.
It's important to remember the reason we celebrate Pride month and parades, which is directly because of the actions of LGBTQ+ members at Stonewall to rise up against the acts of police brutality in their communities. However, half a century later, police brutality is still an issue, specifically in the black community. When people came out and protested for black lives, they weren’t given a parade. To this day, it is not enough to sit quietly or repost an Instagram story. It takes having these hard and uncomfortable conversations with people, getting involved and educated, and using your voice to be brave and speak out when you see injustice, every time you see injustice. Allyship is key. Allyship is knowing when you’re in a place of privilege and not being afraid to speak up for the betterment of a people.
What words of encouragement do you have to share with future LGBTQ+ students pursuing careers in healthcare?There’s power in intersectionality. I know it can be exhausting but make yourself known and it will be easier to find and surround yourself with people who are working towards your same goals and have the same mindset as you. There’s something so uplifting about meeting and having a conversation with someone you don’t need to educate and can just really connect with on shared experiences and understanding. We need you!