Faculty spotlight: Associate Professor Nora Fritz

Dr. Nora Fritz is an associate professor of physical therapy in the Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, associate professor of neurology in the WSU School of Medicine, and director of the WSU Applebaum Neuroimaging and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory

WSU Applebaum: Over the past year, you have experienced major life and work successes. Tell us about them.

Dr. Nora Fritz
Dr. Nora Fritz

Dr. Fritz: Most exciting, we welcomed our second daughter in November 2020 right in the midst of the pandemic. Shortly after she arrived, I learned my tenure and promotion had been approved. On the heels of this announcement was notice of a nomination and subsequent awarding of the WSU Applebaum Excellence in Teaching Award. Receiving this award was an incredible honor. I consider myself to be primarily a researcher, so to be recognized for my teaching is very meaningful, particularly given the shift to virtual teaching.

Related story: Q&A with Excellence in Teaching Award-winning Dr. Nora Fritz

In late July 2021, I received the notice of award for my first NIH R01 grant. Finally, at the October APTA-Michigan meeting, I was honored with the Richard E. Darnell Research Award, which recognizes my contributions to PT research. The recognition for my research is both incredibly humbling and thrilling, as I have been working hard to build this work over the past 6 years at WSU.

Related podcasts: Dr. Nora Fritz in conversation with Jon Strum of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

WSU Applebaum: How do you achieve work-life balance — before the pandemic and during current conditions?

The Fritz girls
Dr. Fritz’s two daughters, ages 1 and 3
Photo by Jennifer Dickson, assistant clinical professor of physical therapy

Dr. Fritz: Over the past 2 years, I’ve had the work-life balance conversation with many colleagues around the world, as we navigated the challenges of a global pandemic, closure of schools and childcare centers, and the transition to virtual teaching and research. The short answer is, it’s not easy. The long answer is that none of the achievements I mentioned would have been possible without my incredibly supportive husband and family, my amazing students and mentees, and my truly amazing coworkers and collaborators. All of these individuals help me to maintain balance between work and family time, especially my kids, since littles demand a set schedule, so they keep me on track! Even pre-pandemic, I tried to limit how much I work in the evenings and weekends to reserve that time for family. This became even more important when we were working from home where the line between work and home was blurred.

An anchor in urban health care 
The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is built on more than 100 years of tradition and innovation in the heart of Detroit. We have grown deep roots in our city, harnessing its powerhouse hospital systems and community service organizations as vibrant, real-world training grounds for students, with an ongoing focus on social justice in health care. And our research at all levels — from undergraduates to veteran faculty members — translates into creative solutions for healthier communities.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 26,000 students.

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