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Union Rescue Mission Pro Bono Clinic

A student helps a patient with stretches

MSMU’s DPT Students Get Involved

Doctor of Physical Therapy students at Mount Saint Mary’s University offer pro-bono care to people experiencing homelessness on LA’s Skid Row at the Union Rescue Mission.

Union Rescue Mission was established in 1891. It is the oldest shelter in Los Angeles and the largest private homeless shelter in the United States. Emergency and long-term services are provided to occupants including food, clothing, transitional housing, job training, legal assistance, recovery programs, medical and dental services.

MSMU's DPT students have volunteered in partnership with UCLA Primary Health Clinic since 2011. This service learning experience is designed for doctor of physical therapy students to develop professionally, give back to the community, and assist those with obstacles that challenge their access to healthcare. Student volunteers are held to the same level of responsibility as during a clinical affiliation and the experience is almost completely student lead.

This opportunity is sustained through dedicated MSMU faculty members who volunteer their time to mentor current DPT students. Dr. Valerie Teglia (PT,DPT,NCS) diligently developed this opportunity since its commencement and, as of 2018, is under the guidance of Ben Cornell (MPT,OCS). 


The Union Rescue Mission was presented to me as a student at the Mount. The patient cases were complicated and access to resources were limited. I believe the URM prepared me for my clinical rotations by connecting evidence-based practice with the individual patient cases. I decided I wanted to help support the URM and give back to the Mount. The enthusiasm the students bring to URM is inspiring and contagious. As a practitioner, I have learned a lot from their creative ideas and fresh perspectives.

- Adam Babitts, DPT Faculty and MSMU Alumni Class of 2013

Union Rescue Mission has encouraged me to develop professionally and get involved in the LA community. I appreciate the opportunity it gives to be autonomous so I can develop my style as a professional. URM has, most importantly, allowed me to begin my career with a heart of service which has been an invaluable experience.

- Angela Cedillo, SPT and Graduate Student Coordinator for URM 2017

Volunteering at URM was an awesome opportunity to give back to the community while brushing up on my ortho skills. This experience gave me a clearer picture of the biopsychosocial model and how psychological factors and patient motivation hugely influence treatment strategy.

- Isaac Auyeung, SPT, CSCS

URM is a great opportunity that enables students to treat patients suffering from a broad spectrum of musculoskeletal impairments in conjunction with various psychosocial factors. As students it challenges our abilities to adapt to our environment and provide the best possible care while maximizing the limited resources we had available.

- Kenneth Barcelona, SPT

The Union Rescue Mission started as an opportunity for me to learn more about the under-served population in Los Angeles, but it became much more. The experience expanded my awareness of the role of the physical therapist in the community, introduced various psychosocial considerations for health care providers, and allowed me to practice my manual skills in preparation for clinical.

- Julia Vande Hei, SPT