With experience as a physical therapist, faculty, and administrator, Dr. Laura Plummer is well positioned to lead the health and rehabilitation sciences school into the future.
As much as Laura Plummer enjoyed working with patients as a physical therapist, she was always interested in leadership and in 1999 received the Emerging Leader Award from the American Physical Therapy Association of Massachusetts.
Over the past 25 years, she has steadily moved in that direction. After starting out as a PT working at Massachusetts General Hospital and then in a local school system, she joined the IHP faculty in 2009. In 2021, she became interim chair and then chair of the PT department and in 2022, added interim dean of the School of Healthcare Leadership to her roles. Now, she has reached new heights, being named the new Dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
“I have always been interested in leadership,” said Dr. Plummer, who in 2021 earned her Doctor of Education with a concentration in higher education administration from Northeastern University. “I love to be challenged, so when opportunities have arisen, I have embraced them to grow my expertise.”
Plummer was chosen after the IHP conducted a nationwide search to find a leader with the knowledge and skill to work with the six separate programs in the SHRS. In addition to PT, it also includes Communication Sciences and Disorders, Genetic Counseling, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant Studies, and Rehabilitation Sciences – several of which are nationally recognized and have high U. S. News & World Report rankings.
“Laura is an innovative teacher and dedicated administrator who has been a catalyst for interprofessional education and community-based service learning at the Institute,” said Dr. Marjorie Nicholas, Chair and a Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders who chaired the search committee and most recently has served as interim dean of SHRS. “Working closely with Laura over the past year, I have seen how creative and energetic she is. I am excited about the vision and leadership she will bring to SHRS. With her deep knowledge of our current programs at the IHP and her experience as part of the Mass General Brigham system, she is well positioned to lead the faculty and staff of SHRS into the future.”
Added Dr. Reamer Bushardt, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, “Laura has all the necessary talent, skills, and abilities to build a visionary plan for the future of SHRS while nurturing and supporting the school’s faculty, staff, students, and community partners.”
Plummer’s work in helping to develop the PT department’s module-based curriculum provided her with a deep understanding of the intricacies of curricular design. “I love trying to figure out the best ways to make learning engaging, inclusive, and impactful,” said Plummer, who in 2017 received the Nancy T. Watts Award for Excellence in Teaching, the MGH Institute’s highest faculty honor. As an administrator, I will continue to be able to influence teaching by influencing policies, developing opportunities for innovation and mentorship in teaching and scholarship, and advancing best practices in curricular development.”
She pointed to the importance of IHP mentors who supported her and intends to implement mentorship opportunities to help faculty, staff, and students develop their careers. “We have the opportunity to learn from each other and think innovatively about our future,” she said. “The diversity of expertise in SHRS creates unique opportunities for interprofessional collaboration across teaching, service, and scholarship.”
“One of many strengths of SHRS is our commitment to equity andragogy, anti-oppression, and justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion principals,” she said. “We can leverage our collective expertise to continue to advance curricular initiatives, faculty development, student supports, and scholarship to foster justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
Plummer will initially focus on promoting teaching and scholarship, cultivating alliances with clinical and community partners, and pursuing innovations that advance the IHP’s mission of developing health professionals and scientists to advance care for a diverse society.