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Alumni Family Pays Forward the PT Tradition

Mackarey family (from left) John, Paul, Esther, Paul Jr.Proud PT alumni Paul and Esther Mackarey have made physical therapy – and a Temple education – a family tradition. The couple met as undergraduate students, then opened a practice (Mackarey & Mackarey Physical Therapy Consultants) in Paul’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Their two sons are also now physical therapists – and Temple alumni. “We are very proud to be Temple alumni, and  we enjoy a long and satisfying history with the Physical Therapy Department,” Paul says.

The longtime Temple PT supporters recently formalized their commitment to the department by cofunding the Kader-Mackarey PT Scholarship with their friends Paula and Rich Kader (PT 1980). The scholarship was established to provide financial support to a Temple University Doctor of Physical Therapy student in need who demonstrates exceptional character as well as dedication to and passion for physical therapy. The Mackareys shared the impact of their two generations at Temple – and how they’re paying it forward.

How did you and Esther meet?
Paul: We met as undergrad classmates in 1978 – we were the “class couple.” After we graduated in 1981 I went on to graduate studies abroad in London, England, for six months. Esther joined me as we traveled through most of western Europe, carrying everything we owned on our backs, following my studies. I proposed to her in Venice, Italy, while riding a gondola.

What is Esther’s role in the family PT practice?
Esther: When Paul and John were young, my role in the practice was limited to the hours when they were in school. I was happy to be “mom” first. However, now that we are “empty nesters” my role has changed. In addition to providing physical therapy to our patients, some may also consider me to be the “office mom.” I listen to the problems of patients and staff and make every effort to meet their needs. I believe that is one of the many important differences of a family practice.

How did your kids get involved in PT?
Paul: Our sons worked in the practice as office help, cleaning service, and PT aides throughout middle school and high school. Paul Jr. attended Temple for undergraduate studies in exercise science and then went on to complete his DPT here in 2015. Our younger son, John, attended St. Joseph’s for undergraduate studies (he’s the black sheep of the family), then found the light and attended Temple for his DPT as well. He graduated this past spring.

How have you stayed involved with Temple over the years?
Paul: We truly are a Temple PT family! I’ve proudly served on the College of Public Health Board of Visitors, and I’ve lectured in the DPT department and helped students publish columns in healthcare publications. Our clinic is a clinical education internship site for the DPT program, and we employ several Temple alumni. Some of our best lifetime friends are former Temple classmates – our children even refer to some of them as “aunt” and “uncle.”

What do you feel is important about Temple’s mission?
Esther: Now more than ever, as tuition costs soar and prevent many capable students from attaining degrees, Temple is a tremendous value. Our department is part of an international university with a diverse community from Philadelphia and around the world – and it’s affordable. We are proud to be part of the TU family and consider it our privilege to give back.

What are some of the changes you noticed between when you were a student and when your kids went to Temple?
Esther: In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, Temple was known as a commuter school. Now more than 20 percent of students live on campus and many more live in the surrounding neighborhoods. Consequently, Temple is alive with energy and has become the place to be for those interested in personal and intellectual growth and development in a diverse community.

How did the next generation get into PT? Do you feel like you’re following in your parents’ footsteps?
Paul Jr.: Growing up as part of a family physical therapy practice in a relatively small town, it was an integral part of our identity. It was never a 9-to-5 job for our parents, as patients regularly visited us at home. I remember patients who were alone for the holidays joining us for Christmas and Thanksgiving dinner.

John: We saw the personal professional gratification our parents derived from physical therapy as a vocation instead of a job. We were immersed in a service environment and it was infectious… I guess we wanted the same for ourselves.

What are your career plans?
Paul Jr.: While most would think we would immediately return to our home town and join the family practice, our parents have always encouraged us to follow our dreams and make our own way. We plan to work in progressive healthcare environments that foster professional development and education. Presently, I work for Kinetic Physical Therapy in the greater Philadelphia area and specialize in manual therapy and management of lower back pain.  

John: I plan to work in a teaching healthcare system in New York City. If we do decide to return home, these experiences will insure that we will bring something new and exciting to the family practice.

What have you enjoyed most about your Temple PT experience?
Like our parents, we have met some our closest friends at Temple. Moreover, we have been the beneficiaries of an exceptional education in healthcare, with diverse, dedicated, progressive faculty and students. The classroom was alive with positive energy from people who are passionate and engaging! We did not realize how well-prepared we were for patient care until we entered the clinic…we were ready to hit the ground running…we were Temple made! 

Pictured above, from left: The Mackarey family -- John, Paul, Esther, and Paul Jr.

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Posted:  June 8, 2017