Our first break from the books finally arrived. Many of us were itching to head home, to the beach, to a vacation retreat or simply to escape to a silent mind. I arrived at the Chicago O’Hare International airport to await my connecting flight to Michigan. While scanning the gate numbers to locate mine, I finally arrived at gate C7.
C7…this is but a letter and a number right? Not at all. For a physical therapy student this combination has so many meanings it can make your head spin. C7: sensation for your middle finger. C7: muscle action for elbow extension and wrist flexion. C7: third starting point for the nerves known as your brachial plexus. Multiple meanings for what seems to be simple combinations continue to be an ongoing occurrence throughout the past months. It’s homonyms gone wild. Our eyes are being open to a new world of vocabulary and greater appreciation for the interconnections of the human body.
To my family and friends I give my apologies. When I look at you I no longer see you…I see your muscles, your bones, your veins moving your blood…AND… your bad posture, awkward gait, high sodium based diet, and arteries clogging up from eating your favorite breakfast burrito. Of course I pass no judgment as I sip on a famous milkshake from Cookout (best place in town, folks).
This is the beautiful result after four months of PT school. The material we learn isn’t just taught to pack in our brains and regurgitate at a test. It is to use in the real world. And as a professor proclaimed, a patient is a cumulative exam. The material learned months ago will continuously be tested. This keeps us sharp and motivates us not to fall into the trap of what many of us did in undergrad…just learn it for the test and move forward without really learning.
As we regrouped from around the nation over the past days our minds were awoken. We began a new module with a few new courses as well as continuation of others. Our research projects are being tweaked, new material is going to come as quick as our time here is flying, and clinical sites for next January, July, and September are being planned. I have a feeling it is going to be a busy summer but with amazing North Carolina blue skies and sun, I know I must take advantage of getting outdoors. It sure is a beautiful place to be!
We are halfway through our selectives module, which I am completing in Seattle, WA with two classmates. We have set up an independent study to further pursue manual therapy in a clinic with three therapists who have been gracious with their time and knowledge. It was a quick adjustment to flip from classroom time back into the clinic. We haven’t experienced the clinic since last October, or specifically the orthopedic setting since February 2012. It was initially very overwhelming realizing how much there was to review, but as we reviewed and the brain juices started to flow again, it highlighted how well we had learned the material the first time around. It was also fun to review our notes and remember how difficult certain concepts were for us in the beginning. Our professors were so patient with our questions and stress back then…I don’t know that I would be so patient if the tables were turned. It was just another example of how blessed we have been with our professors who are so brilliant but who take the time to “dumb things down” for us until we are ready for it.
It has been an exciting month for community involvement for the DPT program. Our program got involved in the ALS walk in Greensboro for the second year with a great turnout and beautiful weather to support those with ALS and their families and friends. The Gears and Cheers bike race for MS also was a huge success with students, professors, family and friends coming both to race and support. Both groups and events were able to raise money to fight the respective diseases through community fundraisers and donations. The renewed consistency of such events has been challenging and rewarding and allows us to give back to the patients that are the reason we are in this career.
We will be headed back to Elon in 2 weeks to finish up with a couple of classes and presentations, as well as our Board Exam practice test. After that week of reconnecting, we will split ways across the country once again for our final six-month clinical. I can’t believe we have made it this far!
I came to a few realizations today as I was thinking about writing this blog. The first one is that, since I will be returning to the coast for my final internship, I will be moving away from Elon in roughly a year. It seems impossible that we’ve come this far so soon! I also realized that, with just less than two months of the neuroscience module left, our remaining time in the program will include 10 months of clinical rotations and just eight months of classes. A faint glimmer of light, at the end of what seemed like a million mile tunnel, is actually coming into view!
Regarding the neuroscience module, I am happy to report that I did start to see the big picture soon after my last blog. So… if you’re a first year student or a future student and neuroscience seems a bit tough at the beginning, hang in there and try to see the big picture; it will eventually start to come together! Of course, take advantage of the help the professors’ offer, attend their review sessions, and study hard… but also know that you will make it through!
Currently, many of us are already make plans as to what we will do our third year during our module that’s referred to as “selectives.” There are some exciting opportunities available and some potential opportunities in the making. Some of my classmates are going to Belize and others may be going to the Yucatan Peninsula! It will certainly be an exciting time for us all to pursue the area of physical therapy that most interests us individually.
As for the immediate future, we begin our second of three rounds of exams in this module next week. With that thought, I will end this blog and head off to continue my studies!