Physical Therapy PT, Health Sciences MHS

MHSc alum Kristin Briem brings USAHS with her to Iceland

Briem’s PT Experience at USAHS Equips Innovation in Iceland

You can never go home again — that’s how the saying goes, referring to how a person grows and changes so much that a place that once felt like home can feel too small, too different, to return to. But Kristin Briem MHSc ’03 disagrees with that old adage.

She spent almost her entire life in and around Reykjavík, studying physical therapy at the University of Iceland. There she took some courses from a visiting professor who opened her eyes to the opportunities that existed beyond her country’s borders. That professor, USAHS founder and retired Chancellor Dr. Stanley Paris, inspired Briem to come to the United States to pursue her doctor of physical therapy degree.

“I found his approach really inspiring,” she says. “I was curious to learn and develop as a PT, and this seemed like a move that made sense to me at the time.”

She could have stayed in the United States; the opportunities for employment and growth were vast. But she felt the pull of home. So, she returned to Iceland, working as a clinical physical therapist. Briem went back to the United States for a PhD in Biomechanics and Human Movement Science. She once again returned to Iceland, and in 2008 took a position as a professor at the University of Iceland, paying forward the inspiration and motivation imparted to her by Dr. Paris.

“The combination of taking courses, meeting different faculty members, interacting with all sorts of PTs and then spending quality time at St. Augustine was a fantastic experience,” Briem says. “I think, even now, all these years later, the experience has led me to encourage my students to seek similar adventures.”

She now chairs the PT department at the University of Iceland and focuses her teaching on musculoskeletal PT and biomechanics. Briem also has secured funding to build a motion analysis lab and conduct research relating to ACL injury risk factors.

“Gaining experiences by moving away from what you know best will always be valuable,” she says. “Not following your dream and instinct will likely always leave you wondering, and possibly regretting. Opportunities are yours to seek.”

Article written by Christine Van Dusen

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