Medical Student Profile: Meet Reham Abuatiq 

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.  I am a Middle Eastern woman of color in my early 40’s, who is proudly navigating the intricate balance of academia and motherhood! As a mother to three vibrant boys aged 7, 10, and 15, I bring a unique perspective to my work in pediatric physical therapy, blending personal experience with professional expertise. 

 What specialty are you pursuing and what year are you?  I am specializing in pediatric physical therapy, currently in my fourth year as a PhD candidate in Rehabilitation Science program at the University of Washington. My academic journey is nearing its culmination, with an anticipated graduation in Autumn 2024. 

Student posing on the Seattle waterfrontWhy did you choose this specialty?  My choice to specialize in pediatric physical therapy stems from a deep-seated passion for creating inclusive environments and advocating for the rights and well-being of individuals with disabilities from an early age. I believe that rehabilitation and advocacy have the potential to significantly improve the lives of all people including children with disabilities. 

Where are you from and where did you go to medical/undergraduate school? I proudly claim a Jordanian-Palestinian heritage. My academic foundation was laid in Jordan, where I completed my studies through the master’s level. I hold a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from the University of Jordan (2006) and a Master of Science in Health Services Management, jointly awarded by Al-Yarmouk University and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (2013). 

What are your research interests? My doctoral research focuses on a critical yet often overlooked area: the transition of Middle Eastern young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities from pediatric to adult healthcare services in Washington state. Employing participatory action research methods, particularly the photovoice narrative technique, I aim to empower participants to share their experiences authentically. This approach not only yields rich, nuanced data but also promotes inclusivity and accessibility in research practices. 

What are your plans after completing your current program? Upon completion of my PhD, I aspire to pursue a career in academia and research. My goal is to contribute to the field of pediatric physical therapy through innovative research, while also mentoring the next generation of healthcare professionals and advocating for inclusive healthcare practices. 

What do you like to do in your spare time? In my spare time, I go hiking!  Taking full advantage of the Pacific Northwest’s breathtaking landscapes. The Seattle area offers a wealth of hiking opportunities. These hikes not only provide excellent physical exercise but also serve as a form of moving meditation, allowing me to clear my mind and find inspiration in nature. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?  I’d like to add that my journey as an international student, mother, and researcher has instilled in me a deep appreciation for the diversity in the University of Washington. I’m committed to fostering inclusive environments that celebrate and leverage diverse perspectives for the advancement of the rehabilitation field and the communities I serve!