Finally

Finally. After 15 months of anticipation, it was finally time to start the PT program at Elon. As I walked through the doors to orientation, I had no idea what to expect. Forty-six new faces filled my view as I hobbled my way to my assigned table. The strange mix of excitement, anxiety, fear and pure joy made my heart jump. While it was impossible to focus on the new introductions and informative sessions, I could tell this was the beginning of an incredible 3 years.

 Hi everyone! My name is Kailey and I just began my first year in Elon’s DPT program. I wanted to start my blog posts by giving you my first impressions as I acclimate to this new adventure. It has been an enormous amount to take in, but time is already flying by. Here are the incredible things I’ve noticed about our program in 3 short weeks:

 1.     My classmates are the BOMB (the good kind). I don’t know how we got so lucky, but each of us brings a unique perspective that transforms and builds our group dynamic. We have already begun to share learning methods and study materials because we care about each other’s success. It’s comforting to be surrounded by constant support when we are in such a new environment.

2.     It’s no wonder the class is a great group of people because our professors are outstanding! They are passionate and engaging with each passing minute, and inspire us to be the best therapists we can be. All of our professors have acquired special certifications or have conducted impactful research. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to learn from their experiences.

3.     Elon offers so many opportunities to get involved. Whether you are keen on leadership positions or you enjoy volunteering in your community, Elon encourages activities outside of the classroom. All of the first years have already gotten involved in our pro-bono physical therapy clinic called the HOPE clinic. It gives students the opportunity to utilize the skills they learn in didactic sessions and apply them in a real-life clinical setting under the supervision of a PT. These experiences allow us to expand our life skills and become well-rounded health care providers.

 While I could write an entire novel on our first impressions, I know there is still so much more to discover. One thing is absolutely certain: all of us are eager to learn and excited to join this promising profession. I hope you will enjoy following along with me on this journey! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you might have. Until next time, cheers to the next 3 years!

Many Thanks!

Well, it’s official! On December 11th, the DPT class of 2016 became Doctors! And maaaaan does that have a sweet ring to it. In the weeks since graduation, I’ve been reflecting a lot on these past three years. Some of the questions I’ve been asking myself: 1. How in the world did 2014-2016 go by so fast? 2. How did we learn SO MUCH in so short a time? 3. Most importantly, how in the heck did the guys not win an intramural championship!? As I’ve pondered all of these questions and reflected on these past three years in general, one particular theme keeps coming up over and over, i.e. thankfulness (OK maybe I’m not so thankful about the lack of intramural hardware, but I am thankful that we had so much fun trying!). I have been so incredibly blessed over these past three years in so many ways, and so this final blog post (bittersweet!!) will be focused on thanking those who have helped me reach my goal of becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy.

  1. First and foremost, I have to thank God. He clearly and lovingly orchestrated each step along the way during this journey, and I am thankful that I will be able to love others as he has loved me, through my work.
  2. To my wife and family, thank you for believing in me always, and thank you for your never-ending and unconditional encouragement, love and patience.
  3. A huge thanks to each of my professors and the entire Department of Physical Therapy Education at Elon. You have all been and will always be mentors to me, and I can’t thank you enough for how you have invested in me and helped me grow so much over these three years. It’s abundantly clear that each of you cares tremendously about your students and the profession of physical therapy!
  4. To my classmates, thank YOU! I mean it 100 percent when I say that you have all become like family to me, and I look forward to continuing to grow with each of you and to making a big impact on the world of physical therapy. Thanks for all of the laughs, the support and the love. I miss each of tremendously already!
  5. Many, many, MANY thanks to each patient that I have treated as a student. The lessons that you have taught me, the ways you have encouraged me, and the memories that we made together are more precious to me than you will ever know. I love physical therapy because of YOU!
  6. Last but not least, a big thanks to you the reader. I hope the posts I’ve had the honor of writing over these past three years have proved helpful to you in at least some small way. If my corny jokes haven’t made you laugh at least once or twice, then I hope you have learned more about physical therapy at Elon University and the profession of PT in general!

It has truly been a great honor and pleasure writing for this blog, and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to share how the PT program here at Elon has prepared me well to venture into the profession that I love so much.

Many thanks,

Luke Boyd

Back in the Game

The Elon Class of 2017 is back on campus and back in action! We’ve been back together since the first week of November and it has been an adjustment. From July through October we were on clinical rotations and up on our feet working with patients in acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and inpatient rehabilitation hospitals from 9 to 5. I would say most of would agree that it was so nice to be up and moving and putting the skills we have learned in the classroom and lab into action. But now it is back to the books and the Francis Center for a couple more months! The hardest part about being back so far has been the sitting; nevertheless it is great to be back with our DPT family!

So now let me tell you what we are learning! Yay.

We are currently taking five courses: Exercise Physiology, Management of Cardio-Pulmonary Dysfunction, Wound Care, Prosthetics and Orthotics, and lastly, Directed Research.

One of my favorite parts of Exercise Physiology and Cardio-Pulm is the lab experience. We combine the knowledge we are learning from both classes and work with a client who has some type of cardio-pulmonary dysfunction 1x/week for 12 weeks. We are only 3 weeks into the experience, but I’m excited to see how far my group’s client will improve. This week our patient came in with 7/10 neck pain and with a little exercise and postural education, they left with 1/10 neck pain! Pretty amazing, right?

Now I know you are probably thinking, why were you treating your patient’s neck in a cardio-pulmonary class? Well, when your patient’s number one complaint is their 9/10 neck pain that they woke up with, you can’t just ignore that. You must evaluate and treat the whole patient. As a physical therapist you can’t be narrow-minded. You must be ready for anything a patient presents with that day, and you must be skilled in all areas of physical therapy to treat a patient effectively.

That leads me to wound care!

I will be honest, when I arrived at Elon nearly two years ago I had no idea physical therapists evaluated and treated wounds. It is pretty amazing though how vast the physical therapy scope of practice really is. We must become skilled in all areas of the body, including the skin. So I guess it does make sense! Lectures and labs are spent analyzing pictures of wounds, which isn’t the most appetizing for everyone, but it has been an enriching experience that I wasn’t expecting. We also do fun things like debride fake wounds (AKA oranges). On my clinical rotations I came across A LOT more patients who had wounds than I expected I would. It is important that we know how to care for wounds so we can provide the best quality of care to our patients.

Next up is prosthetics and orthotics! This past week we all learned so much from having healthcare professionals and clients come to lab.

  • An occupational therapist told us all there is to know about upper extremity orthotics and splinting.
  • A certified prosthetist and orthotist brought in a variety of AFOs, KAFOs, HKAFOs for use to try on so we could see how it would impact a patient’s gait.
  • A physical therapist who owns a sports store in Greensboro came to teach us all about running shoes and foot orthotics.
  • A woman with MS came in to show us how her AFO helps her walk faster and more efficiently.
  • A pediatric physical therapist gave us a run down of all there is to know about pediatric dynamic ankle and foot orthoses. She brought in SO many cute and little orthotics for us to put our hands on which helped us learn more about them.
  • A man who had a recent stroke demonstrated the use of he HKAFO and how it impacts his gait and quality of life.
  • Lastly, an orthotist brought in a variety of COs, CTOs, TLSOs, LSOs, and KOs and showed how impressive some of these larger braces can be.

If you don’t know the abbreviations, please feel free to Google! This post would get really long and wordy if I typed it out. J

Last, but not least, is Directed Research. We have all been split into groups of 6-8 or so, depending on what we want to learn more about (i.e. nutrition, manual therapy, peds neuro, adult neuro, etc.). Each time the group meets, someone picks a research article to pick apart. Dr. Bailey helps the group analyze not only the content of the research, but also how it is presented to the reader. It leads to great group discussion, and helps us to understand the importance of analyzing research.

While it has been great to get back into the swing of school, it has also been wonderful being together again as a DPT family. This week we came together for a holiday party. Everyone came to school in their tacky holiday wear, with SO MANY crockpots full of deliciousness as well as a wide array of desserts that Buddy the Elf would be so excited about. Over half the class participated in a gift exchange. From seeing the gifts, it is pretty amazing how well our class knows each other. Three DPT students who live together even handed out a “family” Christmas card to everyone in the class. Holiday spirit is in the air!

Nevertheless, we have four pretty big exams that separate us from Christmas break. The end of our 2nd year is in sight! I was talking to first-year physical therapy students this afternoon who are nearing the end of their ortho module and about to leave for their first clinical rotation in January. It is hard to believe that that was the Elon Class of 2017 just one year ago! We have come so far in one year and I’m so proud of all we have accomplished together.

Here’s to (almost) being third years!

 

Learning All Around the World

Hello Readers!

The 2nd Year Class is nearing the end of our clinical rotations and from what I hear (and from my own personal experience) we have all had a great time and have learned so much. We are really becoming physical therapists! There is only so much you can learn in the classroom, so it is great to get some hands-on experience with patients. Physical therapy students are pretty smart, but not the best actors when trying to “act out” being a patient; so it is great that we get to practice our skills on real patients who have had spinal cord injuries, strokes, and brain injuries. Our first rotation was an outpatient rotation, so now most if not all of us are at skilled nursing facilities, rehab hospitals, or in acute care hospitals.

In July and August I was at my acute care rotation at Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Illinois. I (as well as many other PT students) have had my eye on outpatient orthopedics when I’m out of PT school. I enjoy working with this patient population and love the problem solving aspect that outpatient provides. However, in order to be a well-rounded physical therapist you must be exposed to different settings. I knew Dr. Andrews and Dr. Folger had prepared us well, but I was still a little hesitant to jump into the hospital setting. Patients may be medically unstable. There are lines, leads, and tubes everywhere! And what if I forget to set the bed alarm? Or what if I forget to leave the patient their call light? So many scary scenarios would pop into my head that sometimes I’d freak myself out.

Now, after eight weeks in Illinois I can now say that I really enjoyed acute care and could definitely see myself working in that setting some day. The patient presentations were so interesting and always kept me on my toes. My clinical instructors were helpful and made sure I wasn’t going to be pulling anything out. And soon after I began my rotation, setting the bed alarm and giving a patient their call light became routine. Hospitals aren’t so scary after all!

Another part of my clinical rotation that I really enjoyed was learning from other PT/OT students. The hospital provided housing to therapy students so I had the opportunity to live and work with students from schools all over the country. I had the pleasure of co-treating with OTs as well as other PT students. My clinical instructors also provided me with other learning opportunities like observing swallow studies with speech therapists, watching open heart surgery (SO AMAZING), and going to an exercise class designed especially for patients with Parkinson’s Disease called Rock Steady Boxing. Learning so many awesome things was exhausting, be oh so rewarding!

My roommates also had pretty amazing learning opportunities on their clinical rotations. One went to Italy and the other to Australia! The beautiful cornfields of Illinois were pretty great and all, but I’m not going to lie, I was a little jealous! Kellie said that Italy was a wonderful and unique experience that taught her a lot about the physical therapy field and the Italian culture. Brittney worked at an outpatient office in Newcastle, Australia called the Physio Joint (great name for a physical therapy office, am I right?). She says that learning from the “physios” gave her an entirely new perspective on how to conduct initial evaluations, and how to select the appropriate interventions. Physical therapy is a lot different in other countries, so it is great that Elon provides these opportunities for us. It helps us figure out why we do what we do in America.

I have been in South Bend, Indiana at Memorial Hospital on my inpatient rotation since Labor Day, and I have about two weeks left of this experience. I’ll update you more on my experience in South Bend next time! Each rotation has its own challenges and joys; I’m grateful that Elon has provided all of these learning opportunities for us. I have enjoyed learning and life outside of the Francis Center, but I sure do miss all 45 of my classmates and can’t wait to see all their smiling faces in a few weeks!

Talk to you again soon!

Behind the Scenes Physical Therapy

If you’re a super nerd like me, then all I have to do is mention the original Transformers cartoon and in your head you’re already signing “Transformers, more than meets the eye.” Now before we get into a discussion about whether you’d replace the manufacturer’s emblem on your car with either an Autobot or Decepticon logo, let’s recognize that we could apply that same catchy phrase to the profession of Physical Therapy (HUGE nerdy segue alert!). From the outside, Physical Therapy may just look like taking patients through exercises, mobilizing joints, training people on three vs. four point gaits, and powering through your required documentation. Dig a little deeper though, and you’ll find that there really is more to being a PT than what meets the eye.

One of my biggest realizations on this final clinical rotation has been that we do so much more than just deliver examination and interventions services. What people on the outside may not realize is that we are also educators and advocates. In addition, we have the professional responsibility to be movers and shakers in the world of health care. On top of carrying out the more typically recognized PT duties of performing an examination and delivering subsequent interventions, on this clinical, I’ve also coordinated wellness services for patients, advocated for surgical interventions for particular individuals, and provided ergonomic education and transfer training for hospital employees. At times, all of these different hats that I wear during a given day can feel a little overwhelming. However, when I leave at the end of the day, I’m always thankful that these “behind the scenes” roles that I play are ultimately geared towards bringing about even greater positive outcomes in the lives of others. Our profession is incredibly rich and full of new opportunities every single day, and I am beyond excited to graduate in two short months so that I can continue to expand on these roles and help more and more people, both in my own practice setting and throughout the health care landscape.

Oh and by the way, I’d totally be an Autobot.

Three Months Down, Three To Go

For the class of 2016, we’re now officially on the back half of our final clinical rotation and that means only a few more months until we get that coveted DPT! By this point, we’re all becoming more independent and starting to really feel like we’re ready to hit the real world on our own. I think I speak for us all when I say that our PT skills have grown immensely since that first day in Module I! But this clinical is about more than just sharpening the PT skills we’ve learned in school; it’s also about honing the intangibles that we can’t necessarily learn or practice in the classroom. For instance, personally I’ve felt over these first three months that I’m constantly learning how to be a better listener (if you think I’m wordy with blogging, just imagine how I am in a conversation =). One intangible that I definitely have down pat is making every patient smile or laugh AT LEAST once during a treatment session (let’s be honest, it’s quite possible that they’re laughing at me, not with me). While I’m certainly thankful for the chance to expand my hands-on PT skills, it’s been the growth of the intangibles that have really made this last clinical so much fun. Three more months, Class of 2016!!!

I’m Hooked

That split second when you pass beneath an overpass during a torrential down pour, although quick, the silence and stillness of the moment is magical; a perfect analogy of our most recent 2-week break.

As we 1st years enter into the much anticipated yet dreaded (due to tales from 2nd and 3rd years) ‘ortho’ module, the rainstorm of knowledge has once again begun. Now, I understand, from an outside perspective, the endless amount of work is seemingly daunting and quite undesirable, but in reality, it is addictive. Within the past week we’ve endured lecture and lab ad nauseam leaving us drained. At the end of each day, with mushy brains, we meander home only to continue our studying or work on our research projects. However, no matter how burnt out you feel lying your head down each night, you wake up with an uncanny motivation to get back and learn more.

Adrenaline in the classroom rarely occurs outside of being called on while daydreaming of the rock star life or hurriedly fumbling to silence a sounding text message. Yet, I’ve felt adrenaline coursing through my system as all the information from the past 8 months begins to mesh together and we start to ‘see’ like a PT. The idea of us becoming ‘movement specialists’ is constantly drilled into our minds and the title is beginning to make sense as our ability to analyze gait and breakdown the movements of the human body is developed.

As the wise words of Lao Tzu state, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” With the first week of ortho under our belt, we have officially taken that first step!