An Ode to Roommates

This week my apartment was extra echoey. It was one of the first times since starting graduate school that I was living on my own. I’ve been very blessed to have wonderful roommates since starting PT school at Elon, and it has made a world of difference. My current roommate (at least as until last week), Shagun, and I met on the first official day of our program—when we happened to sit in the same row. Side note: choose your seats wisely because chances are you’ll be sitting there for the next three years. Anyways, we started studying together and during the unproductive moments (which there were many) we realized how similar we were and became friends and eventually roommates.

IMG_0162Over the last two and a half years, we shared so many experiences together. We discovered our mutually low tolerance to caffeine. We slowly increased our tolerance (and dependence) on caffeine. We watched every Marvel movie, in order. We memorized every muscle in the body. We adventured to the ocean. We cooked (and burned) a variety of dinners. We learned the details of how our muscular/skeletal/cardiovascular/neural system works. We I killed the monster bugs in the apartment. We binged A LOT (arguably too much) of Netflix. We practiced transfers and mobilizations and so many other physical therapy skills.

Having a roommate is great for many obvious reasons like splitting costs and cooking meals together. The latter, being especially important to me because I once accidentally dumped an entire pot of pasta down the drain. But by far, the best part about having a roommate in PT school (especially one that is in the same program as you) is that youIMG_0765.JPG have someone that can 100% relate to you without you having to explain all the details. They understand the stress and pressure of school, because they are going through it too. They help remind you that it is all worth it, because they are passionate about joining the same field that you are. And, perhaps most importantly, they help remind you to take a study break and enjoy life outside of school.

You can definitely make it through PT school without having a roommate, but having one makes the hard days more tolerable and turns the good days into great ones. Even if they are a Bears fan.

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April 2018… update from first year class

Hey Everyone!

I am excited to tell you that Finals week has passed! I feel as though I started Module 2 as a pigeon and came out the other side as a fierce hawk. When I first started PT school I was fixated on getting good grades. I wanted all A’s! It was what I was striving for. Now I realize that the grade I get on the final isn’t what is important. What’s important is the knowledge I am gaining. I am supposed to be building my clinical decision making ability. I am supposed to be understanding what muscles work together to create which actions. What nerve gets injured cause what injury to present. These things are important. Not the letter that pops up at the end of the exam.

I’m saying this because I felt a sense of calm going into this past weeks finals. Substantially calmer than how I went into midterms. I was so paranoid that I was going to mess up or that I wasn’t smart enough. This time I felt assured that I was equipped with the proper knowledge to succeed on the exams. I wanted to know what I wasn’t sure of so that I could work on those things. I wanted to see what I got stumbled up or confused about. I wanted to be able to argue a questions correct answer because I was using my newfound clinical judgement skills. This to me shows real growth! I feel as though I have already showed real growth since starting Elon’s DPT program. It’s an incredibly rewarding feeling and I have so much more to learn. It’s impressive what the human brain can do because I have been shoving information into it for so long that you would think it would just pack its bags and leave. But no, it continues doing whatever it is brains do with knowledge. I’ll probably be learning exactly what brains do with information in my second year.

Now that we have discussed the school stuff lets talk about all the other things that make grad school awesome! The month of April was one crazy ride! There was so much to do. Here is just a few things that happed:

Maker Hub:

Elon has this awesome place on campus called the Maker Hub. It’s basically a woodworking, 3D printing, painting, laser engraving studio. They teach you how to use the various machines and tools and you are set to go. I took two classes with them this month and it was seriously awesome. Sometimes doing something that isn’t PT related is really nice. I also ran into one of the professors that I previously had there, which was a neat surprise.

Guest Speakers:

The DPT program is hiring a new staff member and they have been doing interviews lately. They do a really good job of including the students in this whole process which makes you feel like your opinion is truly valued. The interviewing professor gives a presentation about a topic of their choosing to anyone in the program. It’s very interesting to see what they come in to discuss because the topics are generally groundbreaking research that is taking place. Not only did I enjoy being a part of the hiring process by giving feedback on the presentation, but I also liked that I learned something completely new.

National Advocacy Dinner:

This was an event that in essence talked about advocating for the PT profession and the legislative process on the state and federal level. Me and a few others from the cohort went to this together. It was a bit of a drive as it was hosted at UNC, but it was so worth it. In my personal opinion, it is these events that make the full grad school experience. I got a chance to socialize with other students in different programs nearby. I got to know my fellow peers better and learn how they felt about the issues facing this career field. There was a panel of professionals in the area that spoke. they gave different sides to the varying issues that the PT profession is trying to get legislation on. It was interesting to hear the different areas where improvements could be made. I don’t think about these things on a daily basis, but they matter because this is my chosen career and I want it to be the best that it can be. Okay I’ll calm down now, but seriously when these events come up you should go to them!

Research:

WE GOT OUR RESEARCH TOPICS!!! I am so excited to start working on the research! I never got the chance to work on research in undergrad so I am looking forward to this experience immensely. What could be cooler than looking into topics that are plaguing the populations that you want to work with? The answer is nothing could be cooler. I have so much to learn and work on, but that’s the whole point of why I’m here. Bring it on.

Hope you all are having an awesome time reading this blog!

Combined Sections Meeting (CSM)

CSM 1Last month, 18 of my classmates and I went to New Orleans for the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) to present our research. During our first year here at Elon we worked on a research project as part of our curriculum. Many of us chose to work with a professor or group of professors on a project that they were starting or had already started and some students designed their own project. I worked with two professors and two of my classmates on a project that investigated the use of the Lower Quarter Y Balance Test in women ages 50-79. Through the course of our curriculum we developed a research plan, collected data, analyzed data and reported our findings. Many of us chose to continue with the research and develop abstracts to submit to national conferences or write manuscripts with our professors. CSM is the national conference that the APTA puts on each year to promote continue education, present new and updated research and further develop the profession of physical therapy.

So what was it like, you ask?

Well, most of us arrived to New Orleans a day before the conference officially started and did some exporting before the conference began. We filled the day with beignets, people watching, delicious food, streetcar rides, and enjoying the culture of New Orleans.  That night I went to the “opening ceremonies” of CSM, where we got to listen to the president of the APTA and celebrate the physical therapists that earned their specialty certifications this year. The celebration continued with delicious appetizers and desserts (pro tip: there is a LOT of free and delicious food at national conferences…you just have to know where to look).

CSM2The next three days consisted of the actual conference. At the conference there are MANY lectures given by physical therapists and researchers across the country. These lectures were in all of the different areas of physical therapy practice: Neurologic PT, Orthopaedics, Pediatrics, Sports PT etc. Because I want to work with a Neuro population, I primarily attended these sessions which allowed me to learn about new research that was being done and think about how I could apply this information on my final clinical and ultimately when I am working as a PT.

Each day of the conference there was a section where all the posters that were accepted were presented. This is where I (and my classmates) presented our research. In the simplest version, I made an abstract and a poster that depicted our data, the results and why it would be important for us as physical therapists. I got to talk with many clinicians and students about what we did and how it could be useful to them in their practice. It was a great experience to participate in and see 2 and 1/2 years worth of work come to fruition.

Overall, it was great to be in place with over 17,000 physical therapists who are excited and contributing to our (future) profession. It was an energizing experience as I near my final clinical rotation.

Reflections from an Elon DPT graduate

Hi everyone! My name is Ashley and I graduated from Elon University with my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree in 2015.  I would like to tell you about why I am grateful to be a physical therapist and why I am very proud that I chose Elon, or rather, that Elon chose me.

After attending a large University for my undergraduate studies in Exercise and Sport Science and Psychology, I was looking for a smaller, tight-knit community to explore my passion for movement science.  While I thoroughly enjoyed my undergraduate experience, in a graduate program I sought an environment where I could make personal connections with faculty and peers while pursuing my intellectual passions.  For me, Elon was that place.  From the moment I set foot on Elon’s campus for a tour of their physical therapy facilities and program I knew that Elon was where I wanted to be. There are numerous reasons why I love Elon, but two that are most important and impressive to me are the people and their commitment to the community.

At Elon I found myself surrounded by professors who would go out of their way to see their students succeed.  And not just to succeed, but to truly understand.  I never felt myself to be “just another student”.  Quite the contrary, I was treated with respect, as if I were a colleague or a friend.  With professors’ doors always open to ask for, quite literally, a last minute question before an exam or just to stop by and say hello, Elon quickly fell into place as a home away from home.

Reflecting back on my three years at Elon, I’d be hard pressed to recall a professor or student who was not involved in community outreach in some capacity.  Elon is a place that continually gives back to the community.  During my time at Elon I was very involved with the H.O.P.E. Clinic which is a student run pro bono physical therapy clinic that serves those in Alamance County who are uninsured or underinsured. As students, this was an excellent way to apply our classroom knowledge in a clinical setting while serving those in our community.  Local elementary school students spend time with Elon physical therapy students during Elon’s Bone and Backpacks program.  The Bones and Backpacks program is an interactive way to teach children about their muscles and bones and the implications of carrying a backpack that is too heavy.  We were also fortunate enough to host the Special Olympics Spring Games where we set up and manned activity stations with the goal of providing a healthy and fun environment in community with one another.  Each of these programs has a common theme: using our knowledge and skills as students of physical therapy to give back to the community.

Here I am, over two years following my graduation from Elon.  I am fortunate that I find myself surrounded by a very supportive work family who is passionate about putting the patient first. What I love about the physical therapy profession is that every day you are given the opportunity to touch someone’s life in a meaningful way.  It is not uncommon to find yourself helping someone walk for the first time after a life-changing trauma or relieving someone of the pain they have experienced for the past five years.  There will be days where you will spend time outside of your one on one treatment time to find the perfect community resource for that patient.   These are the experiences that make physical therapy more than just a job.  When you enter this profession, especially after your graduate experience at Elon, you quickly realize that you are not simply a physical therapist but you are a patient advocate, a motivator, and a friend.  As a physical therapist you are often the healthcare provider that spends the greatest amount of uninterrupted one on one time with your patient.  What an opportunity!

Quite often I hear from other practicing physical therapists that Elon physical therapy students are one step above. I may be a little biased, but reflecting upon my experiences at Elon, and for many more reasons than are listed above, I understand this comment. When it is your time to decide which physical therapy school to apply to, I hope you choose Elon.  You will not regret it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Midterms

Hey All,

So this past week was the dreaded midterms. Here’s the lowdown on what to expect.

Midterms:
Monday: PT Science 1 Practical
Tuesday: Anatomy Written Exam and Lab Exam
Wednesday: Research and Design Written Exam
Thursday: PT Science 1 Written Exam
Friday: PT Science 2 Written Exam

So as you can clearly see it was a jam-packed week. It was nice to not have our Physiology exam this week as well. That professor does things a bit different and has a different testing schedule. So it was like a mini physiology spring break. I think when I looked at what the week looked like it gave me this small dose of panic because it just seemed very overwhelming. I definitely sat there on the Saturday before and had to figure out my game plan. That included a lot of me opening and closing various notebooks and textbooks trying to study everything all at one time. After I realized how absolutely futile that plan was I started to prioritize my studying by when the exam would appear. So what I did was, I would try to study two items ahead. So on Sunday I was studying mostly PT Science 1 practical information, but also Anatomy. This helped to make the material more manageable and didn’t make me feel as though I was cramming.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I was in undergrad or in high school I rarely ever studied in groups. I hated them. I found that to be one of the most epic wastes of time ever!! Ever since grad school has started, I have changed my view on group studying drastically. Everyone in the program is so smart and comes from such a variety of backgrounds that they bring different perspectives to what is being taught. For example there are a lot of people who worked in outpatient physical therapy clinics and a handful who have worked in hospital settings. These two settings are very different and so each student brings a different outlook on how to do stuff and why things are done in that way. I have really benefitted from group studying. I did a lot of this to prepare for the midterms. It also makes you feel better to be around others who are doing nothing but studying for as many hours as you are. Misery likes company, not that I was truly miserable, but you get what I’m saying.

Everybody studies in different ways. I am the kind of person who has to rewrite everything at least twice for the information to really click in my brain. I know someone who writes all important information on colored pieces of paper. Some of my classmates have to write things down on whiteboards to digest the information. I have difficulty with the whole whiteboard thing because I get marker all over myself every time! Anyways, I also study in the morning. Like early in the morning. Like six or five in the morning depending on if I feel that I need extra time. I go to sleep about the same time as most grandparents: 9-9:30 P.M. One of my best friends in the program stays awake until about 2 every night, but wakes up at around 7 every morning. So you can see how everyone’s style of when and how to study varies so much in the program. I know one guy who only studies at the Francis Center and once he leaves he doesn’t do anymore work. I am really impressed by everyone’s work/life balance. I think most of us understand that we still have to keep doing the other things in our life that brings us happiness or else we are going to get burned out.

On all the days of testing it was really nice to talk to my fellow classmates. They were super encouraging about everything and helped to not make me feel dumb for some of the questions I had. I felt that most people did a really good job in reducing the nerves that built up for the practical and lab exams. Something about those kinds of tests really get me super jittery and nervous. I don’t know why I just end up building them up in my head. They were fine. The professors were super nice, reasonable, and reassuring. They encouraged us to come by and talk to them and review stuff with them before and after the exams. I really appreciate how they are always so accommodating and friendly.

All in all midterms weren’t that bad. Did I feel stressed out at some points? Yes. Did I question if I actually belonged in PT school? Yes. Did I eat 3 boxes of Girl Scout cookies because of said stress? YES. But I feel like all that is to be expected and I’m glad it’s behind me. Now I feel more prepared for what to expect for finals and for all the other major exam weeks to come. I survived them completely unscathed! I am just happy that I have such great classmates to be going through all of this with.

Oh and as treat to ourselves for handling midterms like a bunch of champs me and a few classmates went to a local Vineyard. That was a neat experience and I am glad these little outings exist. It was like the exclamation point at the end of one heck of a week.

Rediscovering the Passion – Clinical Rotations

Hey guys! Wow, time flies when you’re having fun. It feels like just yesterday I was writing my first blog post and beginning the journey of PT school. On Monday, my class began their neuro module and successfully completed our first clinical rotation! So if you’ve done some research into the curriculum of PT school, you may be asking: what is a clinical rotation?

clinical rotation is an opportunity for physical therapy students to apply their knowledge to real patients under the supervision of a certified physical therapist. At Elon, we complete three 8-week clinical rotations in our 2nd year and finish our 3rd year with a final 6-month rotation. The first clinical rotation is completed in an outpatient orthopedic clinic to follow our heavy orthopedic semester. I was lucky enough to return to my alma mater and work in the greatest university health care system in the area (Go Heels!).

So now you may be asking: what do you get out of a clinical rotation?

Passion:
After a year of intense, didactic studies where we spend hours absorbing lectures, digging through textbooks and deciphering research it can be difficult to maintain the passion the existed at the time of PT school application. It is challenging to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re staring at names of neurotransmitters found in the nervous system. But there is nothing more thrilling than your first opportunity to step into the driver seat and feel what it’s like to really be a physical therapist. You have the ability to see first hand the necessity of physical therapy and the direct results that patients experience. It gives you a window into the “why” that is often missing from the pages of a textbook.

Confidence:
If you ask any of my classmates their level of confidence on the first day of their clinical, the resounding response would probably be quite limited. But in a matter of 8 weeks, we began to trust our knowledge and our ability to apply what we know to our patients. We learned how to problem solve, adapt when things change, and discover unknown answers on our own. Now, that’s not to say this was an easy process. The struggles and the mistakes we made in the clinic only made us better future physical therapists. But the best part about the clinical rotations is that they are the perfect place to make mistakes and learn from them. One of my favorite quotes I discovered online, “Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better than you were before” and I couldn’t agree more.

Relationships:
Getting into the clinic gives you the opportunity to foster relationships with patients, physical therapists, and staff members that only strengthens your professional presence. I had the opportunity to work with the same patients over the course of the entire clinical who ended up feeling like family to me. Although it was difficult to leave, I know that I had a small part in their recovery process by building trust and respect. I also had the opportunity to develop friendships with everyone on staff and have resources within the physical therapy community that extends far past the end date of the rotation.

Experience:
It’s expected that you will learn tons of new information in the classroom during PT school, but the new skills and techniques that you learn from your clinical instructor (supervising physical therapist) and other therapists on staff is just as valuable. I had the opportunity to learn tons of new exercises, manual techniques and types of interventions that are used in the clinic. It would be nice if I could learn every single thing in the classroom, but one of the coolest parts about physical therapists is their creativity when it comes to treatment. Each therapist offered a unique perspective and gave me new tools to use for my future patients.

While there are many more valuable lessons learned in the clinic, I like to keep these blog posts brief enough to digest. On Monday my class had the first day of our neuro module! The next 4 months will be dedicated to understanding the neuroanatomy, neurological disease processes and the implications for physical therapy. But the best part is I get to spend the spring and summer with my classmates. After 3 months apart from one another, we are so excited to be back and spending time together. Physical therapy school may only be for a few years, but these friendships are for a lifetime.

Until next time!

Kailey

Hey Everyone!

Right now I am in my second module here at Elon. There are a total of thirteen modules. So basically I’m right at the beginning. I don’t want to overload you with too much information, but to instead give you a light taste of what has been going on. These are just three topics that have really been on my mind lately. Each post will focus on something different to give you an idea of all that is the Elon DPT program.

Anatomy:

When I was in undergrad I loved my Anatomy classes. I thought they were so fascinating and I remember other students complaining about how hard and boring they found it, but I couldn’t get enough. I found the human body so intriguing. My undergrad program didn’t use human donors, instead it was all done on models and pictures. That has been the biggest delight with Elon’s Anatomy course. I love that we get to actually work on a human donor. It really brings all these concepts to life and helps to solidify my understanding of the human body. The first day of dissections I wasn’t sure how I was going to react because I’ve got a pretty severe fear of sharp objects and I don’t like seeing people get hurt. However, it was one of the most exciting and interesting things I have ever done! I loved every minute of it!

We have completed our first Anatomy written exam and lab practical and I have to say I just adore this class. I feel as though I am absorbing the material in a way I never did in undergrad! Dr. Cope is a fantastic professor who makes the concepts stick.

 

PT Sciences:

So we take these classes called PT Science 1 and 2 this module. I have found these classes to be the most challenging because they are very hands on. This is really the start of taking the information that we are taught and applying it in a realistic way. We work with different lab partners and practice bed mobility, range of motion, modalities, etc.. Having the chance to actually do stuff that can be applied in a clinical setting is a little intimidating, but overall it is exciting. I love learning techniques that are applicable to my future.

 

Outside of school:

The students in my cohort have done an excellent job at finding activities to do outside of the classroom. We have had events where we hang out as a cohort and others where we socialize with the 3rd years. This has been a great chance to get to pick their brains and find out what to expect. I really enjoy when the class will do impromptu wiffle ball games on sunny days when we get out of class early. Or when we get people together to go watch a free movie at the Turner Theater. Also some of the girls have created a workout group where we go to the group exercise classes offered at Elon and exercise together. These small outings are huge morale boosters because PT school is challenging and sometimes you just need a break.

 

All in all things are going great!

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