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In delivering the fifth Lynda D. Woodruff Lecture on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Physical Therapy, Julian L. Magee, PT, DPT, ATC, evoked the concept of divine dissatisfaction, saying it "must be our catalyst to stay in the fight to transform the health of society." Magee is the inaugural assistant director of diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Program in Physical Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

What is divine dissatisfaction, in terms of achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion? "It is that inner voice that tells us there's more to be done, more to be achieved, and more to be experienced," Magee said. "It is a feeling that arises when we recognize that we are not living up to our fullest potential."

Doing so is not easy, Magee indicated. "Transformation takes sacrifice, takes hard work, takes constant reassessment," he said. "Audacious goals do not allow for being stuck in satisfaction. We can settle for convenience or we can be transformational, but we cannot do both."

Magee conceded that in the face of growing opposition and resistance to DEI efforts throughout the country, he had felt disappointed, disenchanted, and disheartened. But after some reading and reflection, he said "it dawned on me that I needed to turn my discouraged state into one of divine dissatisfaction." 

Magee had several recommendations for embracing divine dissatisfaction:

  • Be dissatisfied with not placing emphasis on the human skills of empathy, caring, and understanding of individuals, which "is required to be a transformative health care professional."
  • Be dissatisfied with complacency and mediocrity, which "have no place in the hands of people who aspire to do great things. Good enough has never been great for anyone, and it rarely is good enough for most."
  • Be dissatisfied with arbitrary standards in the pursuit of technical perfection. "We should embrace having our learners see the beauty and failing, failing again, and failing better."
  • Be dissatisfied with not incorporating culturally responsive pedagogy into our curriculum as it relates to empowerment and representation. "We must hear, see, and value those who are not the most represented."
  • Be dissatisfied "with the lies that we are a colorblind society, and that identity does not matter."
  • Be dissatisfied when the value of our individual identities is denied. "Embracing intersectionality as a foundation for our work will help create a more inclusive society."
  • Be dissatisfied with being told that to help another means that I must limit the progress of someone else. "That is the legacy of Dr. Lynda D. Woodruff."

Following the lecture was a panel discussion with moderator Rebeca Segraves, PT, DPT; Wayne Brewer PT, PhD, MPH; Shannon Richardson, PT, DPT, EdD; and Talina S. M. Corvus, PT, DPT, PhD.

The lecture, now in its fifth year, is co-sponsored by APTA, the Physical Therapy Learning Institute, the American Academy of Physical Therapy, the National Association of Black Physical Therapists, the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy, and APTA Academy of Education. The event is free, but sponsors encourage that in lieu of registration fees, viewers make a donation to the Lynda D. Woodruff Professional Development Sponsorship Fund on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) in Physical TherapyAmerican Academy of Physical TherapyThe Physical Therapy Fund, or the National Association of Black Physical Therapists.

Visit the APTA website to view the entire lecture and panel discussion. And look for more comprehensive coverage of the lecture in the September issue of APTA Magazine.

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