For Good……

pro bo•no pu•bli•co [proh boh-noh poo-bli-koh; English proh boh-noh puhb-li-koh] Show IPA

Latin. for the public good or welfare.

The term “pro bono” has been used over time to refer to “free” services. Interestingly, from the Latin it means “for good”. Some interpret this to mean “free” rather than the true meaning. However, take a few minutes to talk to one of the 300 or so folks who visit the clinics each week and they will tell you that the literal meaning is the correct one in this case. Children and adults with speech, language, or reading problems and a variety of people with problems in motor function or with pain, visit the two centers which operate in the Shouse building weekly. They get better. They work with highly motivated (and bright) students and faculty members of the Institute. People talk and read and understand and walk and lift and move because of the work that they have done in the Centers. Our patients in the pro bono clinics are some of the best teachers at the IHP. They spend time explaining their symptoms and conditions to our students. Our students help these patients and they help our students.

In our culture, it is unfortunate that sometimes we associate low or no cost with little value. Who would ever give something of value away for free? The answer is that the IHP gives services away that are of high value, for no charge to the patient. We have estimated the value of the services that we provide to others to be in the neighborhood of $1 million per year. I would argue that sometimes when we give away something for little or no cost, it is because it has so much meaning and value that the cost is immeasurable.

Our two centers have served and will continue to serve the community and our students. This is made possible because we have excellent faculty in place in each of these programs, whose job is to teach the students and to assure that the quality of the services being offered is excellent. Skilled clinicians themselves, these faculty members, work tirelessly to achieve this dual mission. In 2014-15, we will add Occupational Therapy to the mix, assuring that the services available to our patients/clients include this important new group of students and faculty.

How fortunate we are to be able to serve our remarkable patients. How fortunate we are to have dedicated faculty leaders, with skill in teaching and practice. How fortunate we are to be able to provide a learning climate that brings the community in to our space, in such a meaningful way.

Special thanks to Lesley Maxwell, Jane Baldwin, and the faculty and staff from the Speech, Language, and Literacy Center and the PT Center for Clinical Education and Health Promotion.

I will always remember that “pro bono” means for good.

Alex Johnson

Role: Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. In this role, I am most interested in education, research, and practice issues for health care professionals. I am a speech-language pathologist and had the great opportunity to work in the field of Communication Disorders as a clinician, administrator and an academic for over 25 years.

Posted in Provost Blog

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