2015: The Year of Graduation

2015 has arrived. The year of graduation. It is hard to believe we have made it to this point in our physical therapy education. It is hard to believe we will be entering the working world within the next year. The excitement within us is undeniable and uncontainable. This module filled with Wound Care, Electrotherapy, Prosthetics/Orthotics, Cardiopulmonary, and Exercise Physiology keeps us running and our heads spinning. Senioritis has set in or has been sneaking up on a lot of us. The professors have acknowledged our anticipation to become clinicians and have accommodated the lesson plans to be filled with clinical applications. There have been group projects, hands-on experiences with patients, and journal readings in this module which have been advantageous for our intellect and for keeping us engaged.

2015 has much to hold. With one last module and then on to a 6-week selective followed by a 6-month clinical, it doesn’t leave a lot of time left in the Francis Center or with each other. It is the year that the family of 53 moves on from Elon. But, with the time left, we are making the most of this final year. The HOPE pro bono clinic is serving many in the community and many of us are taking part in practicing our clinical skills with oversight. It is a great opportunity for reviewing and applying what we have learned in past modules and clinicals. Extracurriculars like Dancing above the Barre, ALS walk, MS bike ride, and of course intramurals, do not go unnoticed. Many are training for races stretched from 5K to Marathon, Half Marathon, and even a 24-hour run. If you are looking for motivation or encouragement to fulfill a New Years Resolution for becoming more active, look to the class of 2015.

The next week will wrap up our last week of finals. For many, if not all of us, this will be the last “finals week” of our lives. We cannot dismiss the fact that the Boards will be the final of all finals but considering that we have been in school for most of our lives, the thought of the last “finals week” is thrilling. It causes me to reflect on the past years and think how blessed I am to be in the Elon DPT program and surrounded by 52 other amazing soon to be physical therapists.

Nice to Meet You!

Hey Ya’ll!

My name is Libby and I’m new to the blog this year! I’m from Michigan so getting used to saying ya’ll has been a difficult task, but I have really enjoyed getting into the southern swing of things. The weather is pretty phenomenal too – I don’t miss the 15 inches of snow my parents got last weekend. Our class of 46 is made up of wonderful people from all over the US (including Alaska!), so I’m not the only one in transition.

Although our class is made up of people of many different ages, personalities, and backgrounds, we all are clicking very well. It always seems like there is something fun and exciting to do. One of our first assignments was to experience life in a wheelchair for 48 hours. It was very difficult, but to make the most of it we went bowling. One of our classmates even bowled a strike by swinging the ball under the wheelchair. It was pretty impressive.

Professors definitely eased us into the first module, which was very considerate. It gave all of us time to bond and hang out with each other. A group of us were able to go to dinner and the movie American Sniper. Another group was able to go hiking at a state park about an hour from Elon. We even have class challenges playing Trivia Crack (a smartphone trivia game). So many memories have already been created! We are going to be seeing a lot of each other the next three years, so we best get started now.

It is crazy to think that the first module has come and gone. Now it is time to get down to business. We already had our first anatomy test, which was actually really exciting (nerd alert). A group of us studied together whilst watching the Super Bowl and eating chicken wings and mozzarella sticks. We didn’t get much studying done, but again, we definitely made some memories.

I could go on for days talking about how exciting the first module was (about both the course content and the social activities) – but I must be off to anatomy lab! A cardiothoracic surgeon is visiting us to perform a median sternotomy on a cadaver and to teach us more about the cardiac system. Pretty exciting material!

Can’t wait to keep sharing my experiences with ya’ll.

-Libby

Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing

As Marvin Gaye says, “ain’t nothin’ like the real thing.” Now I know you’re thinking “wait a minute, I thought this was a student PT blog, not a music blog!?” Well it is a student PT blog, and it just so happens that the lyrical genius of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell perfectly applies to how I’ve felt during this first month of our first clinical. Allow me to explain….

For the last five months of 2014, my classmates and I practiced a plethora of musculoskeletal assessment techniques and interventions. Fortunately, we had 48 different people with whom to practice these techniques. Unfortunately, only a small handful of us had the given pathologies that these techniques and interventions were intended to treat. Therefore, we all came out of our last module feeling pretty good about our technique but having little to no concept about what these things actually looked like with real patients.

What’s that you said Marvin?? Ain’t nothing like the real thing?? So true!!! When it comes to using all the techniques and interventions that we’ve learned, there really is nothing like applying them to a real patient with a real pathology. Within the first 4 hours of my clinical, I was blown away by the realization of how different it feels to perform a joint mobilization on a pathological joint versus a healthy joint. While I’m not at all implying that our coursework didn’t prepare us, I am confident in saying that you really can’t appreciate what you learn in PT school until you actually stand in front of a real patient with real pain. But what an awesome month it’s been so far!! I’ve certainly realized that I’ve still got MUCH to learn, but it has been so much fun and so exciting to actually work with real patients!! Can’t wait to see what the second month holds, and while I know you might be tempted to just say you “Heard It Through the Grapevine,” check back here in a month to see “What’s Going On” in the clinic!

Graduation – A Time to Feel All of the Feelings

So this is it, our time as students is coming to a close, as Elon’s DPT Class of 2014 is graduating! I write this blog with so many mixed emotions that I’m not quite sure where to begin. I guess I’ll start by going through each of them; I can assure you that they are not likely emotions that I am feeling in isolation; my guess is that many of my classmates are feeling some, if not all, of the same emotions that I am feeling right now.

Feelings of Disbelief:

-I cannot believe I made it through PT school! For me, I have so many people to thank for making this possible: my husband and my family, my best buddy in school, and all the professors that have given their time and effort to make this a success. I know in my heart however, that the only thing that has truly made this experience a success for me is God’s grace; to Him alone I give the glory!

-I cannot believe it’s over! Where have the last 3 years gone? It’s hard to believe that three years ago we were strangers about to embark on this roller coaster of a ride that is PT school.

Feelings of Joy:

-We’re done and will be graduating next weekend! It’s an exciting and joyful time to celebrate all that we have worked so hard to accomplish.

-I also find joy in reflecting on the lifelong friendships that have formed, the peers that met at school and have gotten engaged and/or married, and looking back at how far we’ve come since our first day at Elon.

Overwhelming Feelings:

-Too much to do! For myself (and some of my classmates) the next 7 weeks will be quite overwhelming, as they’ll include: family visiting for graduation, studying for the NPTE, taking the NPTE, packing to move/moving/unpacking, applying for jobs, interviewing for jobs, and hopefully starting a new job! Oh and don’t forget the holidays; you can add gift shopping, traveling to be with family, etc. to the list.  Yikes, I feel overwhelmed just writing this all down!

Feelings of Hope:

-I am hopeful for my future and for the future of all my classmates. We have worked so hard and my desire is that each of us find fulfillment is what we do, I hope that we help many people and affect many lives in a positive way, and I hope that over the years we all stay in touch regardless of where life may bring us!

In closing, I’d like to extend a great big “CONGRATULATIONS” to Elon’s DPT Class of 2014! I am grateful to have met each one of you and am proud to be a part of the doctors of physical therapy that make up this class. Good luck and best wishes!

Who’s got rhythm? Not us.

How thine buttocks detest the contours of the desk chair. How thine body fights the necessary entrapment in a single room for hours. How thine mind struggles to find focus and drive to listen and learn in a static setting. After returning from 4 months of clinical rotations being on our feet, using our hands, recalling material learned, experiencing life with patients, being educated in the midst of doing, we have returned to Elon. Professors warned us of the challenges Module IX will bring. The classes are fairly dissociated from one another and holiday breaks make it nearly impossible to develop a rhythm of being back in the classroom. After 2 weeks into the module, I’m finding this to be true.

But, I am also finding a strong sense of ownership of the new material learned. Confusion, misconception and the downright lack of knowledge I experienced while in clinicals are being addressed through the current courses. I have tangible images and experiences of patients I met while working in the hospital and ICU that come to mind during lecture. I have mental snapshots of patient charts with acronyms, diagnoses, surgical procedures and impairments that never, until now, reached the gyri of my brain. An educated understanding is being formulated through Module IX with classes in Exercise Physiology, Cardiopulmonary, Prosthetics/Orthotics and Wound Care.   As a treat, we do meet with a patient once a week to decipher a plan of care in conjunction with best evidence and reason to explain that plan. This edifies our application of newly learned material. Our “PT toolbox” continues to grow.

It is truly a neat feeling to watch and to hear how classmates have developed in this profession over the past 4 months. We each bring our own flavor of physical therapy to the classroom now. There has been a progression of knowledge, an increased confidence with our PT skills, and a strong sense of community and support from one another even when not in the same geographic location. Just around the corner is Christmas break, which leads up to year 3. The final year. The good year.

“Hey Mom, please pass the mobilizations, errr I mean stuffing.”

At long last, Thanksgiving break is here!! As we approach the end of the infamous Module IV, I think I speak for all my classmates when I say that this break is well placed and much needed. However, as the title might suggest, PT is still on the brain, and we’ve got a lot left to study before we finish up and head out for our first clinical. Despite the studying, the hustle and bustle that comes with the end of the module, and the head-spinning thought of us somehow having reached the end of our first year, there is much to be thankful for! So without further ado and in honor of Thanksgiving, I present to you the inaugural Elon DPT 2016 list of thankfulness!!

10 Things the Elon DPT Class of 2016 is Thankful For

  1. Soon we get to head out on our first clinical and get a chance to practice our passion!
  2. The Francis Center – it truly is a world class facility
  3. We’ve had the chance to learn from some pretty stellar clinicians during our orthopedic module, and we’re thankful for how they’ve prepared us for our first clinical.
  4. The countless intramural championships that the Elon DPT 2016 ladies have been reeling in (don’t worry gentlemen, we’ll get one soon).
  5. The chance to relax and spend time with family and friends over Christmas Break, before we head out for Clinical Uno.
  6. When we’re done with this module, we’ll be second years!!
  7. In just a few short months, the Francis Center fountain will awake from it’s slumber and signal the onset of the wonderful season of spring.
  8. We’ve all done some pretty awesome research this module, and we’re going to get to share it with each other when we get back from Thanksgiving break.
  9. There’s a new class of first years coming in at the beginning of 2015, and we’re excited to mentor them/show them the ropes!
  10. Time to get sentimental….we’re thankful for each other. We’ve spent A LOT of time with each other during this fourth module, and we’ve grown even closer than we already were. Definitely gonna miss everyone while we’re out on clinicals, but I’ll be excited to hear about all the amazing experiences we’ll no doubt get to have while on clinicals!

Well I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with lots of turkey, football, and therapeutic exercise….uhhh I mean pecan pie. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!!

This is why we make the big bucks

The last part of the journey through physical therapy school is winding down for the third year DPT students that make up Elon’s graduating class of 2014. Those of us who did not use the five days provided for excused absences have just completed their last week of final internship and those (like myself) that chose to use these five days throughout our six month experience, will be wrapping up our final days at the clinic at some point this week (as late as Friday).

These last few weeks have been a challenge as we have been busier than ever! We have revised our drafts/completed our patient case report, reflected on our experiences and written them out in our contemplations assignment, began to prepare for graduation, and mailed off necessary forms in conjunction to our application to sit for the NPTE (National Physical Therapy Exam), all while trying to balance a full patient caseload.

For some of my classmates, who chose to take the NPTE in other states that offer the exam prior to graduation, I say “CONGRATULATIONS!” You are one more step closer than the rest of us to becoming practicing (and of course PAID clinicians instead of PAYING) clinicians!

That brings me to the two things I have experienced patient’s say to/ask me over the last six months that make me almost laugh inside, as they are just too ironic and opposite of our reality. The first statement I frequently hear from patients is, “That’s why you make the big bucks!” To respond to this statement, I remind them that, as a student, I am actually paying my usual tuition for this experience.  I explain that an internship is like an apprenticeship where I am able to learn through my CI and through hands-on experiences with my patients.

The second inquiry/comment, that requires self-control to keep me from bursting out laughing, has been presented to me in the form of either a question or a statement. When presented as a question, it is usually asked something like this, “So, what do you need to become a PT, a certificate from taking a course, a special weekend training, or something like that?” To this I explain that there’s a little more that’s involved with becoming a PT than that. I then continue by sharing with them the fact that I am actually finishing up my doctorate, which is currently the typical degree requirement. The statement (similar to the question form above) referring to the schooling involved with becoming a physical therapist usually occurs after someone has read my Elon nametag, which lists the title “Doctor of Physical Therapy Student” above my first name. The general response of my patients is usually one of surprise, and the patient will usually state something to the effect of, “Oh wow, so you’re getting your doctorate in physical therapy.” I again reply with the explanation that the majority of students pursuing physical therapy are currently enrolled in doctoral programs, adding that the vision for 2020 is that all physical therapist will be doctors of physical therapy.

I find it interesting that the level of education involved in what we do is so surprising to many people. My hope is that this will change in the future, as I feel a graduate level degree tends to be accompanied by the perception of credibility in the eyes of the patient.

In the meantime, getting back to the final weeks of the long journey through PT school, life resumes along its busy route. Emails continue to arrive in my Elon inbox pertaining to the last week of classes, reminding me that the end of this internship is by no means the end of our PT school experience. We will have a week of school consisting of electives courses, a licensure review course, an exit interview, and a variety of other courses, obligations, and of course festivities. It is an exhausting time, but as the light at the end of the tunnel draws near, I can feel a small spark of excitement ignite as I think of graduation day just a few weeks away. The day we have worked so hard for over the last three years! To think this chapter of our lives is coming to an end seems almost impossible!

We will soon begin the next chapter, the chapter where we become all that we have been striving to be these last three years: the chapter where we become doctors of physical therapy!