Vijay Kumar

Global Health

Physical Therapist

His dream is to affect health on a global scale. By earning a Master of Public Health (MPH), he hopes to gain hands-on experience with renowned organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Here, he talks about his medical background and his MPH@GW student experience.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a licensed doctor of physical therapy in the state of Michigan. I own and operate five outpatient rehabilitation clinics. I have worked with patients with a variety of injuries to restore them back to their normal activities of daily living. I also provide a therapeutic program for children and adults struggling with obesity.

I earned my Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) from Boston University and have a PhD in Social Science and Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from Xavier University School of Medicine. I did my training at the Atlanta Medical Center. Currently, I am attending MPH@GW, an online Master of Public Health (MPH) program from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. After graduation, I hope to work globally to help eradicate disease and promote health and wellness.

I am the chairperson of the Michigan Board of Physical Therapy, and I also serve as chairperson on the Education Committee. I am very active with the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy (FSBPT) — the highest regulatory body for physical therapy in the United States — where I serve as chief reviewer of Continuing Competence Certification and serve on the Foreign Education Standard Committee and Item Writer Committee. I also sit on advisory committees for a few PT/PTA programs in the state.

I am a member of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), Michigan Physical Therapy Association (MPTA), American Medical Association (AMA), the Chamber of Commerce, Lions Club and the Indian Association of Physiotherapy (IAP).

I am a published author, and I actively volunteer for the American Red Cross serving on their medical core. I also volunteer for the Lions Club, serve economically underserved populations at a free clinic, mentor local high school students, and participate in 5k and 10k races in my area to support local charities.

After work, I love spending time with my family. I enjoy watching movies, going to concerts and staying updated on world soccer teams. I have coached my daughter’s soccer team, and in our spare time, we practice some kicks and moves. On weekends, I do a small run in the neighborhood with my daughter to keep fit and promote fitness in my family.

I love Indian food and relish the opportunity to try new cuisine. I am a nonsmoker and nondrinker. Approximately five years ago, I decided to change my diet and incorporated fish and supplemental proteins into my vegetarian diet. I have noticed a difference in my energy level and in my health. I exercise every day, and once a week I do a workout with a professional trainer who pushes me to the limit.

I love to travel and have toured four continents. I have seen differences in lifestyles and technology while traveling abroad. I am the type of person who is thoughtful and wants to move forward. I see my dreams come alive while working toward my goals. I believe in helping people and will go out of my way to help others so we can all live in harmony. I love watching wildlife (life can be so precious), which reminds me of all things that are innocent and great. I appreciate the nurturing my parents have given and live my life to pay it forward.

Why and when did you decide to earn an MPH degree?

Public health is a big area, and even though I have several degrees, they are not enough to work on a global scale. So I decided to pursue an MPH degree, and the George Washington University was the first thing that came to mind. I had been thinking of doing a graduate program from GW for a long time, and this degree will allow me the opportunity to pursue a career in global health.

Why did you choose the MPH@GW program?

GW has such a great reputation, and the faculty members have connections with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and many other national and international organizations. I knew I wanted to work closely with such a fine faculty. The program also worked around my busy schedule, making it convenient.

What excites you most about the program?

The opportunity to work with the CDC or World Health Organization (WHO) for my practicum and the knowledge I will gain to further assist others, whether it be locally or globally.

What has been your favorite part of the experience in MPH@GW?

So far I have completed my core courses and have enjoyed all of them. I look forward to the rest of the electives. The system is awesome and the support team is the best for technical difficulties — they answer any questions you have or they will direct you to the person with the answer. The support services team is very efficient and prompt with answering your e-mails, and so are the instructors.

Have you confirmed your practicum experience?

I am working on prerequisites for the practicum. I am still in the process. My goal is to do my practicum with the WHO.

What are you hoping to accomplish upon graduation?

After graduation, I hope to work globally to help promote health and wellness.

Any advice that you would have for someone who is thinking about applying to MPH@GW?

This was the best choice for my MPH. The instructors are very knowledgeable in the courses they teach and bring life to the class by sharing personal experiences. Student support is the best I have worked with — very efficient. The online classes fit my busy schedule, and the instructors are very helpful and prompt in answering my e-mails.

What else should we know about you?

I am very passionate about people. Every individual touches my heart and soul in a different way. I try to help each individual in any way I can. Travel has allowed me to meet people from around the world, so I have a good understanding of different cultures, beliefs and practices. I am very sensitive to cultural differences, so I do not impose my opinion on others. I want to be well informed. I am a good listener, very thorough, detailed, evidence based, and I think outside the box.