Category Archives: Brittany

Living in Italy: Changing Seasons

And the second half begins. We just finished up midterm paperwork and we’re looking ahead to the last four weeks of clinical before we return to Elon – to classes, to classmates, to professors and life as we knew it prior to the past two months of being away on two clinicals.  The first few weeks of clinical are always tough with adapting to new situations, patients, settings and CI’s, but by week four, it’s usually easier to settle into a still challenging but dependable stride (thankfully).

My classmate and I have continued to work here with our patients but were sad to see some of our favorites go. They had been here since we started and we had gotten used to them being a part of our days here. There were some hard good-byes as these patients had taken us under their wings when we started (our self-proclaimed “father” and a British woman whom we would catch up on all the news in English with). Thought we were happy that they had made enough progress to return back to their homes and families.

We have been working with a fair number of neurological patients (many strokes, some car accidents) and a lot of orthopedic post-op patients. We have been learning different approaches with which to treat, specifically the neurological patients, which has been very challenging to connect what we learned in classes and are now learning here. We are both starting to get the hang of the new approach and are hoping to be better for it in the long run.

At the end of last week, we observed aquatic therapy and hospice (more of a coma/TBI unit than is typical in the US) and will be starting work with both of these arenas this week. It will be a welcome change to add to our repertoire of patient-care.

Fall is in the air here and we are very much looking forward to the color changes that have begun, especially from our mountaintop views. We are missing the change of season back home, though, with apple picking and pumpkin spice lattes.

We have continued our travels to some smaller Tuscan towns and will be headed on to Lucca, Pisa, Rome, Florence and Pompeii on our remaining weekends. We will be finishing our time here after our clinical ends in Athens, Greece and doing some exploring there. Then US-bound we will be after 10 weeks away!


Living in Italy: Continued Transitions and Acclimation

I am writing from my clinic in Italy as we finally got access to the computers and Internet as of yesterday.  Its still a bit surreal that I have been out of the States for almost three weeks now.

My 2nd clinical ended very well with much more knowledge and confidence in acute care than I started out with. I guess that’s to be expected, but its always a comforting realization considering the time and effort put into those two months.

The day after my clinical ended, I boarded my plane for Italy for a week of traveling prior to my classmates arrival. We traveled up to the mountains of Tuscany to a small village (Gavinana) that is connected with the city of Pistoia.  We received a short tour of the facilities of Fondazione F. Turati and our new home/work for the following eight weeks. The clinic is an inpatient rehabilitation center with additional units for long-term, coma, and “pediatric” care. The “pediatrics” are almost all middle-aged patients that have grown up in the facility due to developmental difficulties that have been taken in by the facility. We work in inpatient rehab the majority of time but have opportunities to observe (and live among) all of the patients.

The first 1.5 weeks of clinical have been a total whirlwind of transition.  New clinicals always bring about a new set of challenges but my classmate and I have faced a whole new beast with this experience: continual learning/practicing a foreign language with both our patients and our coworkers, differences in Italian healthcare/culture/physiotherapy practice, a new clinical setting, and then the additional challenges of living in a foreign (and remote) country.  Each day is fairly exhausting and requires constant prepping and practice, but I am so grateful for this opportunity. Our CIs and other therapists are very knowlegeable, skilled, and fun, and the setting provides an chance for more continuity in care.

The Italian culture and language (and attempts at communication and mistranslations) have brought much laughter to all and we (patients, therapists, and ourselves) have practiced patience and an easygoing attitude.  Our patients are incredibly loving despite our lack of communication and constantly rub our faces and kiss our cheeks in gratitude, and always wave at us as we walk through the facility.  We have even been asked to join patients for afternoon coffee, night conversation, and TV watching (the perks of living among your patients).

Although this has been one of the most challenging experiences I have had in PT, I feel very lucky for this learning experience and appreciate the graciousness this we have received here.

And not to worry, we are making the most of our weekends and have visited the Cinque Terre and Siena so far, and will be heading to Venice this weekend.

Missing the States but living it up here!

Continued Chapters

I am more than halfway through my clinical in acute care. We finished up our midterm evaluations and phone calls last week, which was a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned so far.  

Just like the 1st clinical, everyone I have talked to from my class is having a very different experience, dependent on the hospital, the location and the CI.  I’ve been very lucky to be at a large hospital as I’ve been able to see a large variety of patients but I’ve also had the opportunity to observe other healthcare workers. 

My CI set up opportunities to observe orthopedic surgeries, a heart catheterization, OT, speech therapy, pediatric PT and biomechanics/prosthetics.  I have gained a much stronger appreciation for other healthcare fields through this time.  In acute care, we also have more time to spend working with nurses, doctors and discharge planners.  It has been a good challenge to work together and communicate as specialists in our own fields, all working together to provide what we believe is best for our patients.

Each day is different with its own challenges, all with the same PT goal: increase mobility and function.  It has been very different from outpatient PT but has been a good learning experience.

Italy is drawing near!  I fly out in less than three weeks to travel for the week before the clnical starts.  I am incredibly excited and only slightly nervous…but I’m sure both of the feelings will only increase as the time nears.  Until then, I have much to continue practicing and learning here.

I do miss Elon and being with classmates every day but I hope we will only appreciate our time together that much more when we return.  Enjoy the end of summer!

Next Steps

I’m not sure how I even got here, but here I am, on the tail end of my first week of our 2nd clinical.  I am at a hospital in South Carolina working in acute care.  My first week consisted of patients from all floors: orthopedics, neurology, medical ICU, cardio ICU, med/surg, oncology, dialysis etc.  I definitely have the least amount of experience in acute care and it was a bit of a whirlwind week.  It’s certainly one way of working through a 10-hour day without blinking.

We finished up the neuro module a lot smarter, a lot more experienced, a lot more tired, and a bit burnt out. We did finish though and I know I felt ready to get back to the clinic/hospital to see patients again.  I need periodic reminders of the people behind the information that we learn day after day.

As a major plus, nights/weekends have improved significantly without the added stress of homework!

Summer Adventures

Summer has arrived! The third years are about to start their final internship tomorrow, us second years only have three weeks until we start our two 8-week clinicals, and the first years are beginning their long haul through the summer.

The end of the semester/module always seems to sneak up on me. Just when I think I have finally caught up, exams are just around the corner. This time around, however, I (as do many of my classmates) have the added bonus of moving out of our current homes to move around the country for clinicals. My next clinical is in South Carolina, followed by my third clinical in Tuscany, Italy.  As excited as I am to get back in the clinic, there is much to be done before then.

The PT program is also hosting a blood drive this coming Wednesday, June 6th.  If you are interested in donating, please sign up here!


Getting Involved

We’re halfway done with the neurology module—never thought I’d see the day! I still feel like I know only a minor fraction of what there is to know, but when I look back to eight weeks ago, I can clearly see how much we have learned.

The 1st years are on break so we our population is cut severely this week.  I’m sure they are thoroughly enjoying their first real break since starting.

Intramurals are nearing the end for the school year since the undergrads will be heading off for summer break soon.  The 2nd year co-ed and girls indoor soccer teams both took first place, as did the 1st/2nd year guys team.  This week, we are continuing into playoffs for sand volleyball and outdoor basketball.  So when in doubt, you can find us DPTers either in the classroom or playing sports.

The 2nd years had a great Friday the other week as we had an opportunity to volunteer as a class at the Special Olympics. It was a beautiful day to be outside with classmates and the athletes, who by the way, are some serious rockstars.  It was a great reminder of what determination and a positive attitude can do.

We’ve got another fundraiser/benefit coming up this weekend to raise money for the Racers Against Childhood Cancer.  The 3rd year class is hosting the event for Friday night.  If you’d like to learn more about it or donate, you can do so at

Hope everyone is enjoying themselves as summer is approaching!

A Marathon and a Walk

We have begun the marathon known as neuro.  All of our classes are neuro-based, as are our labs, thus is all of our studying.  We think, study, and breathe neuro. Can you tell I’m overwhelmed?  Thankfully, we have been told that we’re nearing the point where information starts to click. We are finally familiar with the “new language” we’ve recently learned and now we can focus on just learning the concepts.

A few community opportunities are approaching, including the Walk to Defeat ALS on April 4th.  If interested, feel free to sign up to walk or to donate to our team!

Two days off for Easter next week!