Karen Kowalske, M.D., Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, has been elected President of the Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP), an international organization of physiatry professionals dedicated to improving patient care by advancing the specialty through research and education. She will begin her two-year term in February.
Dr. Kowalske’s goals include implementing the AAP’s new strategic plan, launching a physiatrist fund focused on fundraising for educational initiatives, expanding awareness of physiatry with specialties, working with student groups to increase physiatry exposure during medical school – especially medical schools without a physiatry presence – and expanding educational programming for residents.
“I also want to work with early career physiatrists to better understand their needs and the type of learning opportunities that would decrease burnout and improve job satisfaction in the first 10 years of practice,” she said.
Dr. Kowalske has special expertise in treating patients with complicated catastrophic injuries, including burns and complex or nonhealing wounds. The Principal Investigator of the renowned North Texas Burn Rehabilitation Model System, she has published more than 110 peer-reviewed publications and abstracts – many related to burn care and outcomes – and delivered 90-plus invited lectures. Her research interests also include wound care, amputations, post-ICU cognitive decline, and patient outcomes.
Among her honors, Dr. Kowalske received the 2018 AAP Distinguished Academician Award. She was a Director of the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation from 2004-2016 and served as Chair of the Board from 2013-2016, which allowed her to set the direction of the physiatry field on a national level.
After receiving her medical degree from the University of Florida College of Medicine, she completed her internal medicine training and a residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Thomas Jefferson University. She joined the UT Southwestern faculty in 1990.