Where We Are and Where We’re Going

We are now three months into the 3rd year of the DPT program. This 3rd month brought a transition into spring weather and a transition into courses such as pediatrics, business management and clinical decision making. The course in pediatrics includes in-class lecture and clinical experience with a pediatric patient. It is an adjustment to those, like me, who have minimal exposure to pediatric patients. Having an imagination can be challenging when you are put on the spot. Adult patients don’t necessarily desire to act like a flamingo during a single leg stance test nor hop like a bunny during a triple hop test; but the pediatric population demands this of you as a physical therapist. Through this course we will be a bit more confident when up against an intimidating 5-year-old.

To deviate from the traditional courses in patient care, the course in business management brings a different way of thinking. There are some of us that see a future in owning our own private practice, which makes this course very applicable. But for those without that interest, the course is expanding our minds to the factors of a successful company, to the up-to-date insurance facts, to the fundamentals of a well-built resume, and to the skills for a successful interview. When discussing future employment, the realization that graduation is rounding the corner continues to bring smiles.

Although much of our time is looking to the future of our 6-week selectives, 6-month clinical, graduation, and the board exam, we also gain time to reflect. The clinical decision making course offers an opportunity to share with classmates an experience with one specific patient that was treated during a previous clinical. It was a chance to share clinical decisions made, interventions performed, and how this experience may have influenced you as a physical therapist. It was inspiring to listen to classmate’s stories and an edifying experience to share one close to heart with friends.

As we step outside the Francis Center, we dwell in the beauty of budding trees, freshly cut grass and warm sunshine. To take advantage of this North Carolina spring weather we have escaped to nearby Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock for hiking, become competitive with our March Madness Brackets, focused time on planning a 5K run for the Elon HOPE pro-bono clinic, and kept traditions through an annual St. Patty’s Day get together with the entire DPT program. With only a few weeks left for all 53 of the DPT 2015 family to be together, time in the classroom is dwindling but that time will be well spent making memories and making the best of time.

Thinking PT School? Here Are Some Tips! – Part 1

While it’s not application season quite yet, if you’re reading this and thinking about applying to PT school, I’ve got some tips to prepare you for the process. In addition to advice for the application process, I’d also love to share some suggestions about how to prepare for PT school itself. As you can see from the title, I’ve got lots of advice brewing in the ole’ noggin, so I’ll be sharing a few tips each month for the next few months! So without further ado……

  1. Like I said, while the application process is still a few months away, it can’t hurt to start getting familiar with the schools in which you’re interested. While PTCAS has greatly simplified the process, I’d still recommend making some kind of chart, table, or other document that can help you keep track of the specific requirements for each school. There are some subtle differences between schools, and I guarantee that organizing all the information will make the whole process much easier!
  2. If you’re applying during your senior year of undergrad, seriously consider and take some time to think about whether you would benefit from taking time off before starting PT school. And I mean more than just the few months between. Important disclaimer – I took two years off before starting school so I’m a little biased. With that said, it was a HUGE benefit for me to take some time off, work in the field of PT, and learn how to live in the “real world.” Make no mistake, PT school, while sharing some similarities with undergrad, is strikingly similar to the working world. Therefore, having these two years to learn to navigate things like bills, insurance, etc. prevented me from having to stress about learning the ropes once I hit PT school. Now I want to make it clear that I’m not at all saying this approach is for everyone. Obviously, a lot of people do perfectly fine with going straight to grad school. However, I do want to emphasize that it can’t hurt to ponder the possibility!
  3. Volunteer, shadow, or work in a number of different PT settings. When I started down the path towards PT school, I didn’t even know that inpatient or acute care therapy even existed. Outpatient ortho was what PT was in my head. Thankfully, I ended up discovering and working in Inpatient Rehab and absolutely loved it. That experience really ignited my passion for PT, and I wouldn’t have found that passion had I not branched out into new territory. Aside from potentially discovering a new passion, working in varied settings also has the benefit of vastly improving the strength of your application!

 

That’s all for this month! More on the way next month, and thanks for reading!

That’s All Folks

As I sit here writing this, I have a newfound appreciation for how fast one can blitz through an eight-week span. Eight weeks ago, we started our first clinical experience….and now in the blink of an eye, we’re done. Whoa.

It all went by so fast that I’ve barely had time to reflect on the clinical itself. However, one thing I’ve taken away already is that I’ve still got a long way to go and a lot to learn before becoming a licensed PT. Don’t get me wrong though; I say this in an optimistic tone and with great excitement. While there is certainly a lot left to learn, I love the process of furthering my skills and gaining new knowledge that will help me be a better PT. Also, while the clinical was a blur, that’s not to say that I didn’t learn a ton of good things through this experience! I had the great pleasure of working with some fantastic patients and a great CI, and I loved finally being able to take a break from the classroom and put my skills to work.

Speaking of the classroom, following a one week break, we’ll be back to class for 16 weeks to learn all about the nervous system and all its many wonderful complexities. I certainly loved my ortho classroom and clinical experience, but this upcoming neuro module is what I’ve had my sights on for quite some time. I love the complex workings of the brain and its effects on our physical state, and I’m already looking forward to applying our upcoming neuro knowledge during our next set of clinicals! Neuro here we come!

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!