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Morehead State volleyball alum Liz Schuler helping patients in California as occupational therapist

By Matt Schabert
Morehead State University

You might call Morehead State volleyball alum Liz Schuler adventurous. Since her days as an Eagle, Schuler has lived in her hometown of Louisville, then in Texas and now nearly 2,500 miles away in Monterey, Calif.

Her new adventure is one Schuler says she has strived for her entire life, and it was similar life experiences that led her to the field of occupational therapy where she helps patients ages 30 to 100-plus recover from injuries, surgeries and even COVID-19 right now at her hospital in Salinas.

Liz Schuler

“I knew back in high school I wanted to be in the therapy world since I had plenty of therapists help me with my injuries over the years,” said the Louisville Holy Cross High School graduate. “Then I fell in love with the elderly population. So now, I rehab patients, mostly ages 30-100+, in the acute care setting in the hospital.”

Schuler’s unit has helped many patients recover from their time in the hospital with COVID-19.

“In our hospital, we have a locked unit where COVID-19 patients are. Therapy just started seeing these patients a few weeks ago including physical, occupational and speech therapy,” she said. “Some of these patients have been intubated for weeks and are very weak and debilitated once extubated.”

“Our goal in therapy is to increase their strength, balance and endurance in order for them to complete their daily routine such as feeding, dressing, toileting and bathing.”

Strength, balance and endurance are three areas in which Schuler shined, especially for the Eagles. Originally more of an offensive specialist when she came to the program in 2008, Schuler developed into a solid defensive player at Morehead State.

She even transitioned into the Eagles’ primary libero in 2010 and was named Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Week twice. In 2011, she was a key factor in Morehead State winning the OVC Tournament title and appearing in its first-ever NCAA Tournament match at Purdue.

She balanced her athletic and academic schedule perfectly as well, being named to the Ohio Valley Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll all four years and earning an Academic Medal of Honor in 2010-11.

She says her time at Morehead State as well as seeing what is happening in the world right now has helped her appreciate how fortunate she really has been and is.

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“It has taught me to not take things for granted like your family being by your side when you are in the hospital or being by your family members’ side in their final moments,” Schuler said. “Right now, we are not allowing visitors so it is harder for patients to not see their family during their most challenging times. It has also taught me to not take the smaller things in life for granted – hanging with family and friends, not wearing a mask into every place you walk in, going out to eat or to an event.

“Here in California, I work with my friends so I still see them on a regular basis. We don’t get to hang out outside of work but I am lucky to still have my job.”

Schuler also admits that whole her work has seen many adaptions and adjustments, she is enjoying life outdoors too in California.

“I have been hiking more, more walks by the ocean, and bought a cornhole (bean bag toss game) set since I didn’t bring my ones from home.”

Having played college volleyball and learning the importance of teamwork has also benefitted Schuler in her career.

“Being a part of a team is huge in my field,” Schuler said. “We are always communicating and bouncing ideas off each other as well as talking to other disciplines about what is the best plan of action for the patient.

“We have one goal – get the patient back to their best potential – and work as a team to accomplish that goal. That is the same as my volleyball days at MSU.”

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