Monthly Archives: August 2015

Looking Back and Thinking Ahead

Currently I am sitting lakeside at a cottage in Michigan eating a fresh-baked cookie and a big ol’ glass of lemonade. Life couldn’t be better. The first-year PT students just finished up Module III and are now on a well-deserved two-week break. The classes during Module III were challenging, yet they were very enjoyable and hands-on. We are feeling more and more like physical therapists everyday!

Here are some brief highlights of what we learned in a couple of classes this past module:

ANATOMY: We just finished up seven months of anatomy lecture and lab. I looked forward to most every day spent with Dr. Cope, Dr. Little and Dr. Zimmerman. Since memorizing muscles origins, insertions, innervations, and attachments can be somewhat boring, we spent time during lecture having a competition of painting muscles onto each other. For being “movement scientists” we have a pretty artistic bunch! At the end of the module, we said goodbye to our donors and honored them in a memorial service at the Sacred Space on Elon’s Campus. It is amazing how much I learned from someone I never met. At first I was a little skeptical about human dissection, but it was a unique and fulfilling experience that I will never forget. When I am in the clinic and have a patient who has had a rotator cuff repair, I will envision my donor’s shoulder and all of its intricacies in order to help my patient recover better and faster.

HUMAN MOTOR DEVELOPMENT: We were able to get out of the classroom for much of the part of Human Motor Development this semester by taking part in a Baby Lab, Big Kids Lab and getting outside to teach middle school children about physical activity. Cute little babies came to our classrooms and we were able to analyze their reflexes and motor development. During Big Kids Lab children ages 3-6 came and we played games, and ran and jumped around with them, all the while analyzing their strength, gait and physical abilities. Getting kids entertained and doing what you want them to do can be pretty difficult, so it taught us that we have to be creative and innovative when working with children.

PT SCIENCE III: In PT Science III, we learned all there is to know about goniometry (measuring joint range of motion) and manual muscle testing (MMT which is testing and grading strength of isolated muscle/muscle groups). Who knew there was so much to know about measuring joint angles?! For the final part of the course we had to perform a full body manual muscle test. When it came to learning MMT, I really noticed how our class comes together and supports one another. Some of the hands-on stuff is a lot for the mind to grasp during two hours in the lab, but when 46 minds come together – magic happens!

While it is nice to relaxing back home, I have been having the time of my life back in North Carolina. Our class still finds time to have fun on the weekends. We hang out and celebrate birthdays poolside. Two of our classmates are phenomenal and bring treats for every birthday (let me tell you, that’s A LOT of treats). Going to movies and getting burritos the size of your arm at a local burrito joint is always a good time too. To work off those extra calories, people run 5Ks and go kayaking together. If you want to be a little lazier down a river, you can just go tubing down the river. The possibilities are endless when you have free time in PT school… and there is never a dull moment with the 46 of us together!

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Classroom? What Classroom?

The campus of Elon seems like a distant memory. Streams of new PowerPoints to download are no longer a daily task. Eating a snack every 50 minutes due to a break from class no longer exists (I’m now hungry ALL the TIME). Some days I yearn to be back in the classroom surrounded by good friends and new knowledge. But, on the majority of days I am quite content being in the clinic. As the next month proceeds, we 3rd years will be moving deeper and deeper into our fourth and final clinical rotation. Hurrah! We all ventured to new clinical sites during the month of June. We now cross the nation from Michigan, Florida, Maryland, Texas and more! Being our last clinical, independence with patients comes quicker and with more confidence. The cases that once seemed complex are not as intimidating this time around. We know the language, we know the abbreviations, we know the diagnosis, we know the progression. There is always a learning curve with every new Electronic Medical Record but even that is learned more efficiently. The time to graduate is coming and I can speak for not only myself by saying “we are ready!!”

Before this final clinical came about we wrapped up courses in Geriatrics, Resume/Interview skills, Pediatrics, and Business Management. Although these courses were informative, the excitement of the 6-week selective on the horizon made many of us ready for classes to conclude. Once the final exam was taken we said goodbye to the chairs that formed to our bodies over the past 3 years and we said hello to Australia, Belgium, Alaska; we said hello to Pediatric and Orthopedic outpatient clinics in Alamance County; and hello to independent studies in cardiac rehab, Olympic training and rehab, and more.  The 6-week selective that the DPT program installs into our PT life schedule allows us to review, train, explore, and learn new perspectives within this field. For me personally, I went to Wasilla, Alaska and was stationed at 2 different Physical Therapy Outpatient clinics specialized in Manual Therapy. Myself and another classmate ventured out to this last frontier and picked up on PT tricks from certified manual therapists. The experience was absolutely amazing. My eyes were opened to the variety of Physical Therapy practice.

The learning never ends, though. Being in the clinic is continuously bringing new knowledge and new challenges. You quickly realize this isn’t going to be an 8-5pm career. It isn’t going to be a career in which you have time to call you doctor or plan a vacation during the day unless a patient cancels. It isn’t a career in which you can roll in at 8am and sip on coffee to get your day started. And to top it off, the headache of documentation and insurance is real. But, it is worth it. It is a line of work in which you are getting people back to their lives. You are an asset to their recovery. You get to be a doctor, a teacher, a counselor, a comedian, an encourager, and even a friend. Not a bad gig.