I carry on with hope…

Hello Everyone,

So I’m about 6 weeks into my Clinical rotation right now at the VA. For my last clinical I am doing a split rotation which basically means I am doing 2 months at one clinic and 3 months at another. I have to hit entry level by the time this is all over (no pressure). When I was thinking about writing this blog post I was thinking about how all you have heard from is me, me, me these last few years and I thought it would be cool to hear from other people. So I asked around and I have two blurbs from two of my peers that I am going to include in this post. Mainly I wanted to explore the feeling of being on our last clinicals and how it compares to all the other clinical rotations that we have done before. I also wanted to look at how we are feeling in regards to our upcoming graduation (heres hoping!) and the preparation that goes into that aspect of our life. So without further ado:

Raina: I am feeling like the pressure is on! In my previous clinicals I wanted to do good because I wanted to graduate and to not harm my patients. That was my big goal: DO NO HARM. But this clinical rotation feels different. I don’t just want to do good for the grade, but instead because I want to be a good clinician. I want to leave these two rotations feeling prepared to take on whatever gets thrown my way. I’m not saying I want to leave an expert because that is wildly unrealistic,  but I do want to leave prepared to handle things I am uncomfortable with. I want to not do that look over your shoulder at your CI’s {clinical instructor’s} face that you do as a student when you are questioning if you are doing something correct or not. You know the one I’m talking about: looks kinda like a fish out of water wondering how in the world it got out of the water and who in the world is this person staring at me?!? That face. Anyways that is my main takeaway right now. This clinical just hits different! 

Peer 1: Entering this final set of rotations, it felt unreal to be near the completion of my student career. The two main thoughts I had entering the rotation were will I be able to achieve and maintain the “entry level” status I need to graduate, and how will I stay safe during a global pandemic? Each rotation I have had at Elon felt like another step up with realistic expectations for personal and professional growth, and this rotation has been no different. I am expected to be at a higher level than I was before, and to continue to develop my own personal style of treating. I had not previously treated patients while wearing masks and face shields in the outpatient facility. Usually PPE such as this was reserved for specific patients in the hospital system. I noticed I had a harder time seeing goniometric measurements through the face shield glare, and it took me longer to document for the same reason. Like with any new challenge I had to adjust, and sometimes that takes time to figure out. I feel very excited to continue on this rotation and begin a new challenge upon graduation. 

Peer 2: Upon starting my last clinical experience I feel excited, a bit more confident, but a lot of pressure. Not only do I need to be “Entry Level” capable to graduate I feel the need to be real life ready because when this is all said and done people will be counting on me. I feel an immense pressure to not let these future patients of mine down, and thus I am pushing myself everyday to be better than yesterday. In normal circumstances this would be hard and give me anxiety, but in the time of Covid-19 the stress is only amplified. In this time of coronavirus I’m scared for the world, I’m scared for my family, I’m scared for my friends,  I’m scared for myself, and selfishly I’m scared for my education and experiences as I near the finish of my PT education. I carry on with hope, believing in my heart that most people are good, and we will band together if only marginally as one large human tribe.

I’m currently in Alaska working in an acute care hospital rotation, which is the field I want to work in at graduation. For that reason I feel blessed beyond measure that I get one more education experience in the direct field that I intend to work in, and I’m in the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. My caseload is primarily high needs ICU, and PCU level patients, which is pushing my skills and knowledge to the brink. Some days I feel like I could just sit down and cry after a long day and others I could skip and sing the whole way home, but to me that’s just life and both feelings are important and useful. I really do miss my friends and family while away on a rotation, but I keep in contact with them often and that helps. Overall, I’m happy and living in the moment. I wish the best for my fellow classmates, myself, and the world as we near that day when we will call ourselves Physical Therapists. Joining a group of dedicated individuals that want to leave the world a better place than they found it.

Hope you gleaned something useful from this,
Raina Stevens 

Neuro selective

Hello Everyone,

So things have been very different over the last few months. I think that we are all aware of that and the changes we have each had to make due to COVID-19. However, I wanted to primarily speak about the experience of taking our Selective course online.

In our Third Year we are able to choose a Selective course that we want to take. There are many options such as, sports, neuro, pediatrics, cardiopulmonary, research, and independent study. You generally can only be in one Selective at a time, but the professors do try to create so blending of the courses and allow for guest speakers to speak to all of us at the same time. Sometimes people choose a Selective because they are planning on working in that specific field and sometimes they choose it because they feel weaker in that area and want to improve their skills. I chose to do the Neuro Selective because I feel that I have a more natural inclination to think about things in a more orthopaedic mindset and I wanted to challenge that framework and explore the Neuro mindset. So here are my top 6 thoughts on the Neuro Selective. I wish I could talk about the other Selective courses, but since I didn’t take them I have not much to say about them. I apologize.

  1. Online classes are different:  We did a variation of synchronous and asynchronous lectures. Which basically just means live lectures vs. pre-recorded lectures. I truly liked both options because they offered different pros and cons. My big pro of pre-recorded was that you could pause, rewind, and increase the playback speed to suit your specific learning needs. My big pro of the live lectures was that you could ask those burning questions that will keep you up at night if you just don’t get to ask them. I appreciate the ability to interact with someone in the live lecture format.
  2. Learning from your home is different: I would be listening to a lecture and then all of a sudden my mother would be in my room asking me about breakfast or want to show me a news clip. It was just interesting because in the classroom the distractions that I experienced were of my own doing, but at home you are at the whim of the other inhabitants. Also if everyone is eating pancakes in the living room and you are watching a pre-recorded lecture it takes massive willpower to not go join them.
  3. Friends continue to be lifesavers: Seriously these people are like a little raft boat. Having everything change in the time frame of about a week really makes you appreciate the friendships you have in school and outside of school. I cannot tell you how many times someone would remind me of a quiz, paper, or assignment that was due. I called a friend to walk through my whole treatment plan and she sat there and watched me do very exercise and gave me advice on how to tweak this or improve that. 10/10 would recommend spending some time making those friendships during PT school because it really helps.
  4. Neuro PT is BOMB: I think anyone who knows me on a personal level knows that I would be more so described as a ortho/sports kind of lady and maybe not the biggest neuro enthusiast. However, that all changed when I took the neuro Selective. Talk about exciting information! Talk about some serious good you can help foster with your patients! The interventions when you really get down to it is so cool and fun! I AM ABSOLUTELY HERE FOR IT. Also I’m not joking I thought neuro was like not for me at all and this Selective really flipped that notion on it’s head like a breakdancer doing that cool head spin move.
  5. Your thinking was challenged: I think that there is something powerful about pass/fail courses that allow for more learning to occur. When you aren’t thinking about what will get you the highest grade and are allowed to just think about what you actually want out of a course and have a professor who is challenging you to be your best self you learn more. This is the kind of learning where just following some cookie cutter treatment that you may have witnessed others doing before and cannot fully articulate your rational about performing will not fly. You need to know what you are trying to achieve, how you want to go about it, and why you even want to work on it. Talk about purposeful thinking.
  6. We got a say in what we learned: The professor did a wonderful job of asking us our opinion on what we wanted to spend time on learning. getting to have a say in that kind of thing is a pleasant change. So much of schooling is pretty much decided for you, but this felt special. We got to vote on stuff and give input. We were asked to give feedback about the course and things that we said were actually implemented. The changes happened in real time! We spent the class mostly learning about Stroke, PD, TBI, Vestibular, Dementia, and SCI.

Okay now I am done fan-girling over the selective course that I took! As a total side-note I found that during this time I was able to do other things outside of just PT school. It was very nice to explore some of my other interests. So I am going to include one of my drawings that I made during the Selective course just for fun.

Stay well,

Raina Stevens

CSM 2020 in Denver, CO!

Hey Everyone!

So one of my favorite things to do since joining PT school is going to conferences! I think that they are just an absolute blast. I have tried to figure out ways to attend as many as I possibly can while I’m a student and can still enjoy the perks of student pricing and sometimes participating as a volunteer and getting an even bigger discount. This year was no different!

I just got back from attending CSM 2020 in Denver, CO! Oh My Goodness what a fun time that experience was! I literally cannot use enough exclamation points to talk about this. You guys will probably be like this girl needs to calm down by the end of this blog post, but I just CAN’T. In typical Raina Fashion I am going to give my top 8 highlights from this experience. So here goes that!

  • Educational Sessions:
    • These were just amazing! All the topics are based on your specific interests. You can choose from 18 different sub-tracks ranging from pelvic health to sports. I saw so many different speeches about a wide variety of topics that made me feel incredibly excited about the PT profession.
  • Meeting your idols:
    • I got to meet a professor that I absolutely love! It was so cool to be able to go and introduce myself and see that these people are normal humans even if they are absolutely killing it in their professional careers.
  • Networking:
    • There are so many different events that are designed for you to meet people. I participated in an event under the Sports Section called Teammates that was a ton of fun. I got to eat, drink, and talk to different people in the profession that are interested in the same things that you are interested in. There are so many events that you can go to that it is ultimately hard to choose from.
  • All PT all day:
    • Let yourself be nice and nerdy. Its a time to soak in all the wonderful things about PT that you secretly geek out on. You also get to meet people from different universities all over the country and hear about how their PT experiences.
  • Denver:
    • This city was so darn cool. I went to multiple food halls and had some exceptional eats! There was so much to explore from the mountains to the breweries. It was beyond fun to check out. The city was also super walkable, which was nice because it allowed you to really explore.
  • Volunteering:
    • I got the chance to volunteer at the Pelvic Health section booth. This was my first time doing this at a conference and I am so incredibly glad that I did. It was fun to get to hang out with other people that are part of the section and that are passionate about pelvic health PT. I also got to tell other students about how I got involved in pelvic health and why they should, too.
  • Hanging out with your friends:
    • As a 3rd year this time spent with my friends in the program feels absolutely imperative. We are coming up to the end of this adventure and taking the time to just hang out is important. Especially outside of the classroom. I cannot stress enough how amazing the friendships you make while in PT school are.
  • Cheese:
    • Seriously y’all… SO MUCH CHEESE. It’s as if they heard that PT students love cheese and got all the cheese that they could find and have it available at every one of their events. I love cheese so therefore I was extremely happy!

I just literally cannot reiterate how amazing this event is! I recommend it to everyone. Even if you are thinking “ehhh thats a lot of money, I could use that time to do xyz”… Don’t do XYZ and instead go do CSM. You will absolutely not regret it!

Until next time,

Raina Stevens

Top things that occurred since I last posted…

As always things have been busy in Elon DPT Land. We have had a lot of events and learning opportunities in the past month. I am one of those students who has to write everything down in a planner or else I would be perpetually lost. It always shocks me when I look back through my planner and I see the amount of things that I have attended, turned in, or completed. PT school sure has a way to keep you busy! Here is a run down of the top things that occurred since I last posted.

1) HOPE Banquet

            ◦ This was an event to celebrate everyone who has participated in the HOPE Clinic and to also recognize the third year students who have accumulated enough hours to be a member of the National Pro Bono Honor Society.

            ◦ It was a super fun time and really exciting to see all the third years after they had completed their last clinical rotations.

2) Professional Pledge Ceremony

            ◦ This was a super exciting event where all the current cohorts pledged to uphold a unique set of values that an Elon DPT committee created based upon the APTA values. From this point forward it will be done at the beginning of the first year for the new classes that attend Elon’s DPT program.

3) First Annual Global  Engagement and Research Forum

            ◦ This is a celebration of the School of Health Sciences marked by PT Research, GLO experiences, Engineering department poster presentations, and an address by the Dean.

            ◦ This is always a good time to go to. There are so many interesting research posters and all the students have such solid information to discuss with you.

4) 4th annual Elon Kickbox

            ◦ This is an opportunity to get $300 and other resources to explore an idea that helps to solve a problem. This will be my second year participating in this and I am so excited to get started. The Kickbox is one of those opportunities that is unique to Elon and helps solidify why Elon is an amazing place to get my DPT degree.

The only other thing that has happened is that the class of 2020 is officially in our THIRD YEAR!!!!

Until next time,


First Year Wrap-Up

As crazy as it is to say, the Class of 2021 has finally finished our first year of PT School! The past year was such an exhausting but rewarding experience. All of our hard work and effort will be on display in full force in just a few weeks as we begin our first clinical rotation after a much-needed holiday break.

From August to December we plugged away at our module focused on orthopedic evaluation and treatment. Starting with spine, getting all the way down to the foot, and finally finishing up with the hand. This module was personally my favorite one thus far because it felt like we were slowly but surely becoming real SPTs! This was a culmination of all the information we learned in the classroom previously and an opportunity to put our hands on our classmates/patients (depending on the day) and practice our craft. We could not have done this without the help of our amazing professors who are too many to name.

In the midst of learning countless tools of the trade for orthopedics, everyone was doing a deep dive into a research project of their own. These projects coursed across all disciplines from pediatrics, to dry needling, to sports, and even to League of Legends! The months of researching, data collecting and processing was finally concluded by the first annual Global Engagement and Research Forum. The forum was an amazing opportunity to share our research with our fellow students from the School of Health Sciences, as well as undergraduate students, professors and professionals from within the community.

At the end of all of this we will now get to do what every student dreams of doing when applying to PT School: working in the clinic with REAL patients alongside the clinicians who make our wonderful profession possible. This is a nerve-wracking time for many of us, but as our professors and fellow students alike have all told us, we’re more prepared than we think and we will all do great! Well, until March everyone! The Francis Center and everyone who inhabits it will be greatly missed.

Top 10 things I learned on clinical rotations

Well it has been a crazy few months! I have now officially completed three clinical rotations. I have done one rotation in an outpatient orthopedic clinic in Birmingham, AL, one in an outpatient orthopedic clinic in Charleston, SC, and one in an outpatient neuro clinic in Palm Springs, CA. It has been such an invaluable learning experience and I am so fortunate for having this opportunity. This isn’t to say that clinical rotations are easy and always fun. Far from it a lot of the time! But you learn so much and you can’t help but grow as a future clinician. These experiences have taught me so much more than just how to be a good PT, they have taught me about who I am as a person. I’m going to give you a little top 10 things I feel like I learned on these clinicals and top 10 things that I think helped me make it through the clinical alive.

Top 10 things I learned:

1. You will be uncomfortable a lot of the time. That is okay.

2. You will not have the answer. That is also okay.

3. Talk slowly.

4. Talk concisely.

5. Different cues for different folks. Tactile, verbal, visual, and maybe even a combo of all three.

6. The 90 second rule is important. Learn what it is and when it is appropriate to use.

7. Silence is okay. You don’t always have to talk.

8. Seek out learning experiences. Your CI wants you to learn as much as you can!

9. You may think you have mastered documentation, but your new CI may require something completely different. That is okay.

10. Always and I mean ALWAYS think of what is best for the patient as a whole.

Top 10 things that helped me survive my clinical

1. My friends.

2. Establishing good communication with my CI.

3. A notebook to take notes on things I’m confused about throughout the day and valuable things my CI has said.

4. Begin your in-service earlier rather than later.

5. Coffee… I mean like buckets and buckets of coffee.

6. The more timid you are the less a patient will trust you. Trust in your abilities and you will gain your patient’s trust too.

7. Set small goals for yourself throughout the clinical.

8. Do fun things in your down time.

9. It is okay to reach out to your advisor or director of clinical education if you need help or feel uncomfortable about something that has happened.

10. Try and treat each day as an opportunity for growth and not as a test.

PT school really forces you to get out of your comfort zone and puts you in challenging situations. It forces you to grow and it can be a painful and a trying experience at times. I know that I have cried more times in PT school than I care to admit, but I have also done the majority of my growing here as well. So thank you PT school and thank you clinicals. I really needed this!

I hope that some of this information has helped you in some way.

Until next time,

Raina Stevens

Temporary Homes

When I first began physical therapy school, I couldn’t picture the next 3 years of my life. It felt mysterious and exciting with the anticipation of what was to come. One of the unexpected joys has been the opportunity to develop temporary homes around the country and the world.

Every student applying to PT school has an idea of short term rotations that require you to expand beyond your current community. When I first moved to North Carolina from Illinois for my undergraduate studies, I was thrown into a new community that enriched my life far beyond what I imagined. I had no idea this experience would follow me into my graduate studies through clinical rotations. With each 2 or 3 or 6 month experience, you are integrated into a therapy team to learn and grow as a professional. 

The first week or so is the “awkward new kid” stage, getting to know the staff, the patients and the rules/regulations. There are respectful introductions and light hearted small talk to get to know your colleagues. But in a short few weeks, something magical happens. You start to learn the intricacies of your team and the unique quirks that they bring to the community. You learn your way around the facility and look forward to greeting the nursing team who prepares your patients. You have deep talks advocating with your team to get your patients the best available resources to strive for the highest quality of health care. You discuss the mistakes you’ve made in your professional journey and the desire to be better every day. Somewhere along the way, you realize how lucky you are to wake up everyday and learn from the amazing people surrounding you. 

And then one day, the rotation ends. The consistency and the familiarity of your environment is flipped over. And while the thought is daunting, the comfort lies in the knowledge that you have built another temporary home. The people who you have spent months building relationships with, will continue to support you throughout your career. This unwavering support and ever growing network fill your heart with so much joy that it’s impossible to describe in words. 

As I enter my transition between my two clinicals, I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity that was given to me in the past 3 months. Learning under some of the best therapists I have ever had the pleasure to know and enjoying every minute of it. And while I am sad leaving another temporary home, I am eager and ready for what the next chapter holds. My new favorite quote reads, “Try not to resist the changes that come your way. Instead let life live through you. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?” Here’s to the next temporary home and all of the goodness that comes with it.

With love,


The Whirlwind of Module 3

Module 3 was probably the quickest 12 weeks I’ve ever experienced in my young life. The time flew past because we were incredibly busy with all of our classes. This module saw the conclusion of our 7-month Anatomy course and 6-month Pathophysiology course. I think I speak for my entire class when I say as tough as these courses were, Dr. Evans, Dr. Cope, and Dr. Zimmerman will be missed.

This module we also took our class on goniometric measurements and manual muscle testing which are two fundamental skills to being a good Physical Therapist. The two biggest takeaways I can give from this experience is take your time and practice practice practice. Those same two things apply for all classes of course, but developing fluidity and confidence with these motions are integral to being successful.

We also began our first musculoskeletal course this module, which was an eye-opening experience to say the least. I never thought I would learn so much in such a short time period, but I absolutely did. This was a great feeling because this course allowed us to tie together many topics we have learned and new ones we were just starting off with. Being able to put together these puzzle pieces made all the information make so much sense.

The final hurdle of this module was the selection of clinical sites for our first rotation, which was nerve-wracking to say the least. Although, it was equally exciting as we all got to select our home for the next 8 weeks and prepare for all the learning and practice that will ensue upon our arrival. While I’m on the topic, I’d like to give a shout out to Dr. Ramsey on behalf on my entire class for breaking the process down and making it as simple as it could be.

Overall, this module was no walk in the park, but we will all be better PTs as a result of it. I still cannot believe were over halfway finished with our first year of PT school. My only advice is to cherish the experience and soak up all the knowledge you can, because it will fly by. Next stop: Ortho!

Top 5 experiences over the last 2 months

Well we have officially made it through the neuro module!!! I couldn’t describe to you how excited I am to go off on my next two clinicals. These past four months have been really dense with material and it will be nice to get the opportunity to apply this new found knowledge on actual patients. This time is very very bittersweet as we won’t see our fellow classmates for approximately four months! So much life experiences will happen during that time and there will be so much to catch up on. In this program you spend so much time with each other that you really learn to rely on each other to make it through the ups and downs of PT school. So we are all in for an interesting next four months. I know the first years are probably thrilled because they will have the whole Gerald Francis Center to themselves which is always a nice experience. More fridge space! Can’t complain with that! 

On to the what’s what of this past month. Lots happened which is the norm when you are in the wonderful world of Elon PT school. Here is my top 5 experiences over the past two months:

1. Lizzo concert

This was an amazing concert that had nothing to do with PT school besides attending with the friends that I have made during my time in the Elon PT program. It is so nice to be able to do these fun little out of school events to decompress from the stress of PT school. Sometimes you just have to remember to do fun things that bring you joy. 

2. SEWSA Games at Clemson University

This was an adaptive sports competition that was held at Clemson that a few students in our class had the opportunity to volunteer at. They enjoyed this experience thoroughly and came back with tons of insight into how to better serve the differing patients that we will see. In my opinion, it is opportunities like this to serve the community and to learn from people that should not be taken for granted. Getting involved in what you are passionate about is so important!

3. NC FunFitness

I feel like I am always writing about this event, but that’s because I am a huge fan of it! Working with the athletes of the Special Olympics is an awesome experience. You learn so much from this group of athletes while being able to offer them some PT advice. You are also contributing normative data to better serve this patient population. 

4. Data collection for Elon athletics

This is an awesome opportunity that was set up by Dr. Christopher in conjunction with Elon Athletics. This is not only a great resume builder, but a chance to apply the skills you are learning in the classroom to real people. If you have any interest working with the sports or orthopedic population this is really worthwhile. Also collecting data is hard and getting as many hands on deck is very helpful and much appreciated. 

5. Helping Kids CIMT Camp

This specific camp worked with children aged 4-10 that have hemiplegia. These children participate in intensive constraint induced movement therapy. This experience could not be more worthwhile. The children are super sweet and are trying so hard. The physical therapists, occupational therapists, teachers, parents, and children all teach you so much about what it is like to work with the pediatric population. 

I have no interest in ever working with the pediatric population and frankly children scare me, but this had so much value to offer. I now feel way more prepared for interacting and working with children if they do so happen to show up at a clinic I am working at. I want to continue participating in this camp or camps like it if possible. 

I’m now off to enjoy my vacation before my clinical begins. Excited to update ya’ll with the details of that so stay tuned. 

The World of Physical Therapy

Hey everyone!

It’s been 3 weeks since I have returned to the states after my GLO experience in Belgium, and I finally have a free moment to tell you all about our European adventures.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, one of the things that makes Elon’s program stand out among others is the opportunity to explore how physical therapy is done in other parts of the world. I have always been passionate about travel and learning about other cultures, so this was something I was determined to take advantage of. I am fortunate that this is my 2nd(!!) GLO experience with Elon and it certainly did not disappoint.

Monica, Christian and I traveled to Brussels, Belgium for 6 weeks and partnered with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), a Flemish university that offers a physical therapy program. Through the VUB, we had the opportunity to meet students, shadow classes, visit hospitals and rehab centers, and learn unique hands-on skills in private practices. We learned about the structure of physical therapy education in Belgium and the different specializations and settings to pursue after the program. It was fascinating to learn about not only the differences but also the similarities of our profession thousands of miles away.

We had to adjust to Belgian life very quickly, with 3 national languages (Dutch, French & German), public transportation and different cuisine. We had the opportunity to visit facilities all over Belgium in Antwerp, Ghent, Ostend, and Leuven. We ate more waffles and french fries than is probably deemed socially acceptable. We also established wonderful friendships with the VUB students that will certainly last a lifetime. It was an experience that is nearly impossible to summarize in a blog post, but one that I will cherish forever.

During our stay in Belgium, we also attended the World Confederation of Physical Therapy Congress in Geneva, Switzerland. My professor, Charity Johansson, presented our Geriatric research to physical therapy professionals from around the world. It was overwhelming to be in the presence of like-minded individuals from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. I even attended a networking session on working and studying abroad. I had the chance to share the challenges and benefits of my own personal experiences while learning from others who have had similar opportunities.

Of course being in Europe, we had the chance to explore outside of Belgium on weekends and at the end of our selective course. We saw the beautiful tulips in Amsterdam, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Buckingham Palace in London and so much more. We feel so fortunate that we got to experience so many wonderful things while attending graduate school.

I certainly wish I could articulate the benefits of international travel combined with professional development into words, but it has proven to be more challenging than I imagined. With that being said, I’m more than happy to answer any questions that you may have about the GLO program or international studies. It is something I hope everyone has the opportunity to experience at some point in their life.

Until next time!