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,

Raina

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,

Kailey

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!

Kailey