National Student Conclave

Hello everyone,

This post is basically going to be all about the National Student Conclave. I recently attended and it was a wonderful experience. It was hosted in Rhode Island, so it was a little far away, but totally worth the long drive. Five Elon students attended it in total. A lot of really exciting things happened while we were there. I’m going to try and just talk about my top 5 favorite moments to keep things simplified.

  1. Educational break out sessions
  2. PT Day of Service
  3. Student Assembly Board of Directors
  4. Exhibit Hall
  5. PT Pub Nights

DPTblog1Educational Break Out Sessions

These were the lectures that were given by a plethora of different presenters. Each day you had an option of a few different lectures to go to. They covered a bunch of different topics. Everything from residency programs to travel PT to bridging the gap between orthopedic and neurological rehabilitation. This really allows for anyone who attends to get something valuable out of these lectures. They are my absolute favorite part of attending conferences. I have heard some amazing talks that got me thinking in ways that I wouldn’t normally. It is also topics that build on what you learn in class but go that one step further to truer and deeper understanding.


PT Day of Service

This was a real treat!!! It was on Oct. 12th and we all attended a build a hand event. This was so awesome to be a part of. We worked in small groups to build prosthetic hands for people without. They then send them to people with amputations who have been affected by land mines and other hazards in developing countries. The company that was hosting all shared some of their service stories and gave away a special bike for one of the patients that they work with in their clinics. It was a beautiful thing to see everyone come together to do good for others. It left me wanting to do more and trying to figure out a way to utilize being part of Elon to make this happen.


DPTblog2Student Assembly Board of Directors

This is the group that is behind setting up NSC. They are the direct connection between the students and the APTA. During NSC they hold their elections and being able to meet and talk with the candidates was a really great experience. It allows you to feel like you can really get to know who you are voting for and be more behind what they want to do with the association. You can see what is important to them and where their values lie. Also one of our own got elected to be on the Board! That was a true treat to see and be a part of such a big moment for her.


Exhibit Hall

This is where all the loot is. Tons of schools, companies, sections, and a whole host of other people will set up in these exhibit halls. They are there to offer information and give away prizes. They usually have some type of candy, T-shirt, or other items that they give out. It’s super fun and can give you an opportunity to learn a lot about different aspects of the physical therapy profession. I talked to the company that I will have my first clinical at and got to ask them some questions and I now feel like I have a way better idea about who they are. This wouldn’t have been possible had I not gone to the NSC.


PT Pub Nights

Oh what fun! Seriously such a blast! These events are where you get to socialize with the other students in a more laid back less formal setting. It is usually a really fun time. A lot of really great connections get to be made at these events. It allows you to talk to people that have different interest than you, but are still part of the PT profession. It’s also a chance to just let loose with your peers and there’s generally a ton of laughter!


I can not say it enough: GO TO A CONFERENCE! You wont regret it! Budget it in at the beginning of the year! Trust me on this one.





G’day mate

Hey Everyone!

I am reporting live from the beautiful country of Australia! I am one of the luckyAustralia_2 students who have the opportunity to complete one of their clinicals abroad, so the past 6 weeks have been full of new and different experiences. How did I get set up in this awesome opportunity?! Elon has a program called Global Learning Opportunities that promotes study abroad experiences. One of the things that makes our graduate program so unique is the extension of that program to our studies as well. When I speak to students in other physical therapy programs around the country, they don’t always have these cultural exchanges so readily available. But Elon offers experiences in Australia, Belgium, Peru, Belize, Italy and many more!

Australia_1It’s impossible to describe the massive impact of this experience in just one blog post. I arrived nearly 6 weeks ago with two of my classmates and we have made the most of this wonderful placement. Logan and I are working at BodyWorx Physio, a private practice with multiple locations in the city of Newcastle, NSW. We see a variety of patients from adolescents to older adults and acute trauma to chronic pain. Australia is known for having some of the best manual therapy in the world, and we have learned to master our hands on skills to improve the quality of our care. The best part is our clinical instructor allows us the independence to grow and improve, while the patients really trust our expertise. This combination has helped to boost my confidence tremendously, which is an area that students typically struggle to overcome. We have the knowledge and the skills to be competent, caring physical therapists, but there’s a learning curve to trusting your instincts and believing in yourself. Navigating the structure of physio in a foreign country and communicating effectively has helped cultivate my faith in my skills.

When I first arrived in Australia, I thought “at least there isn’t a language barrier to overcome” but boy was I mistaken. While the Aussie accent is lovely to listen to, their vocabulary is quite different than the English that I grew up with. All of the words are shortened:

Physical therapy – “Physio”

Afternoon – “Arvo”

Some words are entirely different all together:

Yeah definitely! – “Fair Dinkum!”

Gas Station – “Servo”

This may not seem like a huge change, but when you try to strike up conversation with a patient it can be quite challenging to follow the conversation. Especially because Australians are pros at speaking at the speed of light. Combine the accent, the vocabulary and the rate of speech and you’ve got one confused American physical therapy student. Jon, Logan and I have finally adapted and g’day mate has become our natural greeting.

While the clinic is absolutely the primary reason for the world wide travel, I have also had so many wonderful opportunities outside of physio that have been incredible. I got to feed kangaroos at a local zoo, snorkel in the great barrier reef, explore the coffee shops of Sydney and hike the incredible coastal cliffs. It has surely been a trip that I will never forget. We have a little over two weeks left and I’m certain that I would much rather stay at the beautiful beaches than return to the walls of the Francis Center. But graduation is creeping closer and closer and I certainly can’t wait to be a full-time physical therapist!

Hope you enjoy these photos of the journey!




All these puzzle pieces are finally coming together


Hello Everyone,


School is crazy right now. I feel as though every day there is something that has to get done and I’m always updating my planner with new things. It’s truly a very exciting time. We are right in the middle of out Orthopedic Module. Right now we are learning about the lower extremity. I’m loving this module. We get to actually put our hands on people and feel all the things we spent so much time learning about in Anatomy class. It’s like all these puzzle pieces are finally coming together to make a gorgeous picture.


When I first started the Ortho module I felt nervous about handling everything. I figured I would be sleeping less and spending all my time studying. That is absolutely not what is happening. I am sleeping the same as always. The workload is manageable. We are so much more well equipped than we even realize. Everything that they are teaching is like another layer on this beautiful PT cake. It’s really awesome to be sitting in a classroom where there is so many interesting discussions happening that tie in anatomy, biomechanics, and physiology. I am constantly being impressed by my classmates and what they bring to the table. It’s awesome being surrounded by others that are so passionate about what you are passionate about.


The only other thing that is happening right now is research data collection. I have mentioned previously that we do a research project in this program. The project that I am working on is looking at baseball and softball players. We are collaborating with Elon softball and baseball and that has been a truly rewarding experience. I have learned so much about conducting a research project and working with university athletics. As I mentioned, my research team is collecting data at the moment and so this is requiring a lot of out of class time. We are also having to work with our classmates for help with collecting the data in an efficient  manner. I am so thankful that Elon fosters such a collaborative group of students or else I don’t know how we would manage.


Overall everything is continuing on wonderfully. Next month I will be updating you all on APTA’s NSC and the NCPTA Fall Conference. It should be very exciting!!




Checking In & Recapping NEXT


Hey Everyone,

So this last month has been crazy. They all have, but this month felt extra amped up. I feel like they are gradually increasing the intensity of school and I’m constantly expected to keep up. Good news is that they are giving us the skills to keep up with the new, more intense demands. So basically what I am saying is BRING ON THE CRAZY! I’m up for the challenge!


I am basically going to spend this whole post telling you about my APTA NEXT convention experience. So if you’re sitting there confused about what the APTA is or what the NEXT conference is then get ready because I’m going to tell you. The APTA stands for American Physical Therapy Association. It is our professional organization. They advocate on our behalf and help to educate the general public about the benefits of physical therapy. That is a really simplified explanation of who the APTA is, but just know that it is important and you should want to be a part of it. You can visit this website to read more about who the APTA is: . The NEXT Conference is the APTA’s annual national conference.  There are a bunch of different conferences that are available to attend.  You have the main three:  CSM, NEXT, and NSC.  They are all distinct in what they offer and they are all worth going to at least once. There are more national events that deal with national governance and advocacy which are also worthwhile to attend if you want a deeper view into what the APTA is doing on your behalf.

I know that some of you may have just read that and been bored or that you have heard from other PTs that you have met that joining the APTA is a waste of money and to not do it. I hope that by the end of this you will understand that it is completely worth it and that you should form your own opinions by doing some exploring of what the APTA has to offer for you.  I know that for me I just signed up for it because I was told to, but I didn’t understand what it was or what I could benefit from it. I still am learning about it and it is exciting. Let me give you the lowdown on my NEXT experience and segment of the reasons why attending a conference can help you decide if being a part of the APTA is worth it for you.

I volunteered at the conference to help reduce the cost of registration. This was a huge help and still allowed me plenty of time to attend informational sessions. There were many jobs that you could get assigned to, but I was assigned to be a directional. So I was partnered with another student volunteer and helped to assist people in finding the room that their session was in. Another student from the program was assigned to be a Session Chair. His job entailed him to introduce the speaker and to moderate the session.  This afforded him the opportunity to meet some of the forward thinking experts in the field. Volunteering was amazing because it allowed us the opportunity to meet other students from all over and get to know them pretty well by being paired with them.

When I wasn’t volunteering I was attending sessions, listening to debates and lectures, and networking. I met so many amazing people at this event and now feel so much more connected with others in this profession. I got to meet the president of the APTA and she was such an endearing and warm person for being so high up in the profession. I now know people that are going to be in Birmingham, AL while I’m doing my first clinical rotation that have offered to help me find a place to live and to meet up while I’m there. This is such a nice thing to have. Living in a new place can be very nerve wracking if you don’t know anyone, but now I have these connections and that brings the stress down.  I was also able to learn more about some of the different sections that are available.  I’m interested in sports and women’s health and so I was able to attend their booths and find out some very valuable information. I found out that it is possible to attend courses in women’s health while still in school and that there are scholarships available starting in the second year. I don’t think I would have found out this information had it not been for this invaluable experience. I attended meetings held by the Student Assembly which really helped to inspire me to want to come back and get more involved. I highly recommend that you follow them on Twitter or Instagram to see what all that they do. I could write on and on about all that I experienced because it was that impactful of an experience. However, I am going to just leave you all with this: Go to a conference! Volunteer yourself to be a part of something. Even if you don’t know exactly how to do the job, you will grow into it. Don’t let fear stop you from getting the most out of your educational experience as you can.

Hope this inspired at least one person,






When do I get to see my first patient?

**We are pleased to share a guest post from Ms. Nita Skillman, Director of the Client and Standardized Patient Program for Elon’s School of Health Sciences.**


Elon University Physical Therapy students have their first patient encounter just a few months into their education.  The Client and Standardized Patient Program (CSPP) provides on average eight encounters the first year, thirty the 2nd year and fifty the 3rd year.  These encounters ensure students are given the opportunity to test their examination skills with patients, grow critical thinking skills, and develop individualized treatments plans even before their first clinical rotation.

The very first encounter is focused on enhancing communication skills and taking a patient history.  After this encounter, the patient and faculty offer each student personal feedback on their communication style and effectiveness.  This provides a richer experience to the student and adds a sense of realism that practicing with their peer might not.  This encounter is also recorded to allow the student an opportunity to watch their video and self-reflect.

Just recently our first-year students held a Baby Lab in their DPT 610 Human Motor Development class.  This lab consisted of eight typically developing children ranging in age from birth to one year.  During the lab, students performed assessments looking at each baby’s motor development.  All while observing primitive reflexes, infant mobility, and functional play.  Each baby was also paired with a pediatric therapist from the community allowing the student to have access to an expect in that area.  For the same course in July, the students will participate in a Big Kid Lab that will include ages ranging from one to seven.  During that lab, they will assess gross motor skills such as higher-level locomotion, ball skills, and higher-level balance.

In the second year, PT students worked in groups of four to treat patients with a neurological disorder in their DPT 703 Clinical Seminar IV class.  During this class, the students worked with their patient over five visits.  The first visit included testing and goal planning followed by four treatment days.  This exposure to patient care not only gave our students the chance to see how neurological disorders impact a patient’s everyday life, but also gave our students an opportunity to bring to life classroom lectures.

Our third-year students gained valuable patient exposure during their DPT 804 Selectives class.  Selectives offer our students the opportunity to choose which area they wish to gain more practice and instructional time in prior to their final six-month clinical rotation.  Currently the offerings include pediatric, muscle skeletal, neurological, independent study, research and global studies.  The muscle skeletal group of students logged approximately 45 patient treatment hours within their six-week instruction.  During this class, faculty gave one-on-one assistance to students with their patients.  The students worked on things such as treatments to help patients return to running, community ambulation and evaluations of muscle injuries such as strains and pains.  Students enjoy not only the one-on-one instructional time, but also valued the additional hands-on experiences with the patients.

The CSPP is often asked where we get our patients from, and what type of patient will a student see.  Our patients are local members of the community that want to partner with Elon to ensure our students get as much patient exposure as possible.  Some of our patients participate in classroom discussions, some receive individualized treatments, and others work with our students to simply give them hands-on knowledge to how their illness has affected their body.  Our students are exposed to patients with a wide range of diagnoses including but not limited to stroke, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, orthopedic complications, amputations, and multiple sclerosis.  The CSPP not only encompasses patients that have very specific diagnoses but also includes trained Standardized Patients (SPs).  SPs portray a medical diagnosis and allow students to work through treatment options without risking harm to vulnerable populations.  SPs are also well versed in giving patient centered feedback to students.  The feedback conversation is designed to allow students to hear directly from a patient’s perspective about the encounter and work alongside of the SP to improve upon the experience.

The Client and Standardized Patient Program is focused on providing every student an opportunity to work with patients, reflect on their encounters, receive feedback, and gain valuable firsthand experience.  It is our goal that all students will be able to look back on their classroom patient encounters and take those lessons into their clinical practice.

Neuro, neuro and more neuro

Hi everyone! I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to write another blog. Time just slips away from you in PT school, but for those of you unfamiliar with the Elon DPT Curriculum, today I’m going to talk about the best module — neuro!

In your second year of the DPT program, your first didactic semester revolves around treating patients who experience or develop neurological injuries and disease processes. Half of the time is spent learning the anatomy and physiology while the other half details just how physical therapy can make a difference in the rehabilitation experience. Neuro has a reputation for being a dense module with challenging material, but I can honestly say it has been my favorite module so far in PT school! Maybe I’m a little biased, since I think I’d like to work in this setting, but here are some of the aspects I’ve enjoyed this module.

We have outstanding professors that are incredibly passionate about the material they teach. Dr. Folger has a remarkable gift for taking complex information and transforming it into a language that is easily understood by my classmates and I. Dr. Andrews has a wealth of experience that gives us the tools to conquer challenging situations using our intuition and learned skills. Along the way we have heard from numerous guest lecturers who have shared their expertise and allowed us to learn a new set of skills unique to the neuro population. All of these incredible instructors make it easier to sit through the long days and enjoy the lessons that are being presented.

The professors have also done an amazing job of integrating opportunities to work with clients currently living with neurological conditions. We have had multiple visitors come and speak to tell us of their experiences in their day to day life. We have had the opportunity to evaluate patients with spinal cord injuries and practice hands-on skills. We have the opportunity to work under the supervision of a physical therapist and have weekly sessions with a client to practice selecting and implementing interventions to help improve their quality of life. Each of these experiences leaves me so grateful to have the chance to be in this profession. I am often humbled by the wise words of our clients and the determination that they exemplify. One of my favorite moments from a client to class, was a client who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. They said “When I think about my life, I truly think MS has given me more than it has taken away. MS has stripped away the facade and has shown me who I really am, and more importantly, who appreciates who I really am.”

In just 4 weeks, we will leave for our 2nd and 3rd clinical experience. This means my classmates will be apart for 4 months before returning to the classroom in November. It’s been a beautiful experience seeing how all of my classmates grow into the confident and capable physical therapists that I know they will be on graduation day. Our next clinical experiences will focus on the acute care and neurological settings, so we will be able to take the skills acquired this module and really apply the knowledge we have gained.

As for me, I’ll be staying in Burlington for July and August to work at a skilled nursing facility for the next clinical. But at the end of August, I’ll be headed to AUSTRALIA! Thanks to Elon’s incredible global studies initiative, I get to spend two months learning from the manual therapy experts in Newcastle, New South Wales. As you can tell, a lot of exciting things are coming, and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

Until next time,


So this month has been a busy time…

Hey Everyone!

So this month has been a busy time. We started module 3 which is basically like our pre-orthopedics module. Module 4 is our major orthopedic module. It’s exciting to start learning this new information. I have talked to some classmates and a lot of us have felt that this is what we imagined PT school would be like. A lot of lab time working with goniometers and doing MMT. I feel like every module I get more and more energized about my decision to pursue a doctorate of physical therapy. So here is the lowdown on the classes and fun stuff that been happening.


Everyone has to complete a research project. My research team has been working on our project pretty diligently since we were assigned. Not everyone has the same commitments for their research, but ours is working with athletes so we are trying to coincide with their schedules. There are times when everyday after class and during lunch that my group has met to work on our research. There are also times where I haven’t worked on research because I have to prioritize an exam or quiz and everything has evened itself out.

Duke has been collaborating with us on collecting data and we were taught their testing protocol. This took some practice and learning because some of the tests in the protocol we haven’t had the chance to go over yet in classes. It required some extra practice after and before school, but the skills that I learned made it worth it. The protocol can also come in handy for our own research, so that is a definite bonus.

A little side note, but I participated in another Elon student’s research. It was interesting to be a patient in a research project because I have never participated before. It allowed me to see the level of professionalism that is required. I highly recommend participating in someone else’s research before doing your own so that you can see how it all goes. Also getting patients for a research project is difficult so help people out and participate.


We had a challenge in one of our anatomy classes to paint the face muscles. We were separated into teams and worked to create the most anatomical representation of all the facial muscles and then describe their functions. It was a ton of fun! We got judged by faculty members, which is always nice to see faculty that we don’t see very often all come together. My team was the winner!


Fun Stuff:

APTA NEXT Conference

I got accepted to volunteer at the APTA Next conference in Orlando, Florida. I was also awarded a scholarship to help make going be more financially viable. I am going to be going down with another classmate. I also know of other students from Elon that are planning on attending. I am really excited to see what this conference has to offer. I am also pumped to meet other PT’s and PT students from around the nation.


This is a program that works with the special olympics. They sent out information to our class and three of us have decided to volunteer with them. We will be providing screening as part of APTA’s Special Olympics Healthy Athletes initiative. I  have been craving more opportunities to volunteer, but find it difficult with my current schedule. I think this type of event is such a relevant and perfect opportunity to volunteer.