Category Archives: Kailey

G’day mate

Hey Everyone!

I am reporting live from the beautiful country of Australia! I am one of the luckyAustralia_2 students who have the opportunity to complete one of their clinicals abroad, so the past 6 weeks have been full of new and different experiences. How did I get set up in this awesome opportunity?! Elon has a program called Global Learning Opportunities that promotes study abroad experiences. One of the things that makes our graduate program so unique is the extension of that program to our studies as well. When I speak to students in other physical therapy programs around the country, they don’t always have these cultural exchanges so readily available. But Elon offers experiences in Australia, Belgium, Peru, Belize, Italy and many more!

Australia_1It’s impossible to describe the massive impact of this experience in just one blog post. I arrived nearly 6 weeks ago with two of my classmates and we have made the most of this wonderful placement. Logan and I are working at BodyWorx Physio, a private practice with multiple locations in the city of Newcastle, NSW. We see a variety of patients from adolescents to older adults and acute trauma to chronic pain. Australia is known for having some of the best manual therapy in the world, and we have learned to master our hands on skills to improve the quality of our care. The best part is our clinical instructor allows us the independence to grow and improve, while the patients really trust our expertise. This combination has helped to boost my confidence tremendously, which is an area that students typically struggle to overcome. We have the knowledge and the skills to be competent, caring physical therapists, but there’s a learning curve to trusting your instincts and believing in yourself. Navigating the structure of physio in a foreign country and communicating effectively has helped cultivate my faith in my skills.

When I first arrived in Australia, I thought “at least there isn’t a language barrier to overcome” but boy was I mistaken. While the Aussie accent is lovely to listen to, their vocabulary is quite different than the English that I grew up with. All of the words are shortened:

Physical therapy – “Physio”

Afternoon – “Arvo”

Some words are entirely different all together:

Yeah definitely! – “Fair Dinkum!”

Gas Station – “Servo”

This may not seem like a huge change, but when you try to strike up conversation with a patient it can be quite challenging to follow the conversation. Especially because Australians are pros at speaking at the speed of light. Combine the accent, the vocabulary and the rate of speech and you’ve got one confused American physical therapy student. Jon, Logan and I have finally adapted and g’day mate has become our natural greeting.

While the clinic is absolutely the primary reason for the world wide travel, I have also had so many wonderful opportunities outside of physio that have been incredible. I got to feed kangaroos at a local zoo, snorkel in the great barrier reef, explore the coffee shops of Sydney and hike the incredible coastal cliffs. It has surely been a trip that I will never forget. We have a little over two weeks left and I’m certain that I would much rather stay at the beautiful beaches than return to the walls of the Francis Center. But graduation is creeping closer and closer and I certainly can’t wait to be a full-time physical therapist!

Hope you enjoy these photos of the journey!

Kailey

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Neuro, neuro and more neuro

Hi everyone! I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to write another blog. Time just slips away from you in PT school, but for those of you unfamiliar with the Elon DPT Curriculum, today I’m going to talk about the best module — neuro!

In your second year of the DPT program, your first didactic semester revolves around treating patients who experience or develop neurological injuries and disease processes. Half of the time is spent learning the anatomy and physiology while the other half details just how physical therapy can make a difference in the rehabilitation experience. Neuro has a reputation for being a dense module with challenging material, but I can honestly say it has been my favorite module so far in PT school! Maybe I’m a little biased, since I think I’d like to work in this setting, but here are some of the aspects I’ve enjoyed this module.

We have outstanding professors that are incredibly passionate about the material they teach. Dr. Folger has a remarkable gift for taking complex information and transforming it into a language that is easily understood by my classmates and I. Dr. Andrews has a wealth of experience that gives us the tools to conquer challenging situations using our intuition and learned skills. Along the way we have heard from numerous guest lecturers who have shared their expertise and allowed us to learn a new set of skills unique to the neuro population. All of these incredible instructors make it easier to sit through the long days and enjoy the lessons that are being presented.

The professors have also done an amazing job of integrating opportunities to work with clients currently living with neurological conditions. We have had multiple visitors come and speak to tell us of their experiences in their day to day life. We have had the opportunity to evaluate patients with spinal cord injuries and practice hands-on skills. We have the opportunity to work under the supervision of a physical therapist and have weekly sessions with a client to practice selecting and implementing interventions to help improve their quality of life. Each of these experiences leaves me so grateful to have the chance to be in this profession. I am often humbled by the wise words of our clients and the determination that they exemplify. One of my favorite moments from a client to class, was a client who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. They said “When I think about my life, I truly think MS has given me more than it has taken away. MS has stripped away the facade and has shown me who I really am, and more importantly, who appreciates who I really am.”

In just 4 weeks, we will leave for our 2nd and 3rd clinical experience. This means my classmates will be apart for 4 months before returning to the classroom in November. It’s been a beautiful experience seeing how all of my classmates grow into the confident and capable physical therapists that I know they will be on graduation day. Our next clinical experiences will focus on the acute care and neurological settings, so we will be able to take the skills acquired this module and really apply the knowledge we have gained.

As for me, I’ll be staying in Burlington for July and August to work at a skilled nursing facility for the next clinical. But at the end of August, I’ll be headed to AUSTRALIA! Thanks to Elon’s incredible global studies initiative, I get to spend two months learning from the manual therapy experts in Newcastle, New South Wales. As you can tell, a lot of exciting things are coming, and I can’t wait to share it all with you!

Until next time,

Kailey

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

A Day in the Life of a PT Student

Hey everyone! I can’t believe how long it has been since my last blog post. Time around here seems to be a constant contradiction– it speeds by while also creeping slowly. Before I began PT school, I always wondered what the day-to-day schedule would be like. Would I have any time to enjoy my favorite Netflix shows? Would my mom wonder if I was still functioning? Well, I thought it would be nice to give you all a play-by-play! Call it a day in the life of a first-year PT student. (Let’s say it’s one of my ultra-productive, Wonder Woman kind of days).

The alarm clock blares at 6 a.m. and I jump out of bed, resisting the urge to hit snooze. Waking up early is absolutely not a requirement for PT school, but I always loved the feeling of being accomplished before noon. My early-bird roommate has already hit the brew button and the aroma of coffee fills the living room. After chugging a glass of creamer drenched coffee, I head to the gym with the hope that my eyes are open enough to see the treadmill. Working out at 6:30 a.m. isn’t easy, but once you’re in the routine it gets pretty addictive. An hour later and drenched in sweat, I race back home to prepare for the day.

Class begins at 9 a.m. every morning allowing me plenty of time to get everything prepped for school. I pack up my backpack, make my breakfast and lunch (on a good day), make my bed and lock up the house. Living in a house with two of my classmates a short 5-minute drive away from the Francis Center is the greatest. While I like to pretend that my ducks are always in a row, it doesn’t hurt to have two friends giving me gentle reminders about school commitments when I need them (thanks Lauren and Allison!!).

I settle in to my seat in the third row and open up the PowerPoint of the day. Depending on the day our schedule can change. Sometimes we have one class for three hours and sometimes the morning is split between multiple courses. The good news is that our professors give us 10 minute breaks every 50 minutes. While that doesn’t sound like much, it feels amazing to get up and stretch your legs after sitting. I mean, would we be future PTs if we didn’t encourage that kind of behavior?

Our lunch hour arrives at noon and we each spend it differently. Occasionally, I’ll have different meetings, discussing clinicals with Dr. Herbert or my research project with Dr. Johansson. Many of my classmates use their lunch hour to study for upcoming quizzes or exams. On a beautiful day (and a day that may have started with a late morning), I may take my lunch hour to go on a run around our beautiful campus. Whatever you choose to do, our lunch break is a time to reset before our afternoon begins. The third years had a fun tradition of holding a cookout in the yard every Friday and everyone was invited.

The afternoon alternates between more lecture and lab days. Our lab days are great because we get to take the skills we learn in the classroom and apply them in a real setting. Today, we spent the first half of the afternoon in the anatomy lab working on our lower leg dissections. This week was particularly exciting because we had a teach-and-share swap with the PA students. While the PA students share the Francis Center with us, these moments of interdisciplinary work open our eyes to many different perspectives in the health care world. It helps to simulate a real-world experience of collaborating with professionals from other areas. It is always incredible to see how we can learn the same topic from a novel point of view.

After anatomy lab, we head to our practical lab for PT Science III where we learn the proper techniques for muscle testing. Today, Dr. Johansson and Dr. Murphy instructed us in evaluating strength in many motions of the arms and legs. While physical therapy can vary depending on your diagnostic methods, Manual Muscle Testing (MMT) is unique in that it is conducted the same way in every clinic. It’s pretty cool to think that every person who has learned physical therapy in the U.S. has been taught exactly what we are learning now. This is just one step of our initiation into the community of physical therapy.

Our classes wrap up by 5 p.m. and I head back home. The rest of the night can vary depending on the upcoming days. Today, I spent the afternoon analyzing some data to submit our research study for a conference. Now, that may not sound like fun to some, but I am so excited for this opportunity. Although that was the primary focus today, data analysis and research studies are not always the highlight of the afternoons. Some days I come home and binge on “Jane the Virgin” – my latest Netflix obsession – before reviewing lecture material. Some days I immediately hit the books and waste no time preparing for the school assignments to come. Every night consists of some sort of work to keep up with school, and some nights are busier than others. The reality is that while this PT program can be intense and it’s important to keep up with the work, you also need to find ways to keep your sanity. Whether that’s cooking an incredible dinner, walking around the lake on campus, or watching reruns of “Friends” on TV, the things you enjoy are still an important part of PT school.

Around 10 p.m. I hit the hay because, as my mom would say, that’s when I turn into a pumpkin. If you’re someone who enjoys late nights and late morning wake up calls – do not fret! I have classmates who make that lifestyle work as well. The most important thing to know is PT school is like a full-time job, but just like a job you have time for your personal life as well. The chance to learn the material that you’re interested in and pursue your dream career is the constant motivational force that makes the 9 to 5 more bearable. And in just two and a half short years, my classmates and I will finally earn that DPT we are so excited for. That makes everything worth it!

Alphabet Soup

It’s crazy to think that my classmates and I are already three months into the Elon DPT program. Just a few weeks ago, we walked into the Francis Center unsure of where the nearest restroom was, exchanging awkward glances with unfamiliar faces, and nervously awaiting the hard work to come. Now, deep into our second module, we are gaining confidence as we breeze through bed mobility and flow through evaluation interviews like pros. It’s been a fun experience growing and learning with a group of people who continually support one another through new and exciting challenges.

Our professors fondly refer to much of our coursework as “alphabet soup.” Whether it’s learning neurotransmitters in Physiology, documentation abbreviations in PT Science II or memorizing the route of the brachial plexus in Anatomy, it can often appear as a cryptic, secret code. When that secret code evolves into a mastered language, incredible things begin to happen in the classroom.

One of the new challenges that many of the first-year DPT students face is the anatomy cadaver lab. We are extremely fortunate that these selfless individuals have donated their bodies for the betterment of our education. It’s impossible to describe the overwhelming gratitude that my classmates and I feel each day that we step into the lab to begin our independent discoveries. Our anatomy professor, Dr. Cope, has spearheaded an anatomical gift program at Elon that has given new meaning and respect to the act of anatomical donation. Last Friday, Elon hosted a signing ceremony to honor the individuals who have made the noble decision to donate their bodies to our university. Listening to the future educators share their life stories and experiences that led them to this program helped solidify the importance of human connection within the cadaver lab. We are so grateful that Elon has allowed us to have these wonderful and impactful opportunities. You can learn more about the Anatomical Gift Program here: https://www.elon.edu/u/academics/health-sciences/anatomical-gift/

While the anatomy lab can be an obstacle, both emotionally and technically, it is the glue that binds the textbooks and the lectures together. The maze of muscles and nerves can seem undecipherable and admittedly evolves into the dreaded “alphabet soup.” But beautiful things seem to happen when our lab groups work together and formulate an anatomy language. This week, we had the unique chance to see the human brain and heart for the very first time. My classmate Kahli said it best, “Right within the palms of my hands sat decades of knowledge, memories and life. To see the complexity of our anatomy first hand, to uncover the mechanics behind each movement and learn about someone’s life beyond what their own eyes could ever see, has been an experience beyond the pages of any textbook.”

The class of 2019 has survived their first week of midterms!!! (And it only took a few comfort pizzas to get us there…or was that just me?). We have already learned an immense amount of knowledge in such a short amount of time. While the days can be long, we can see how this program has transformed the second and third year students into confident and prepared professionals. One day we will make it there, even if it means digesting a lot of alphabet soup.

Finally

Finally. After 15 months of anticipation, it was finally time to start the PT program at Elon. As I walked through the doors to orientation, I had no idea what to expect. Forty-six new faces filled my view as I hobbled my way to my assigned table. The strange mix of excitement, anxiety, fear and pure joy made my heart jump. While it was impossible to focus on the new introductions and informative sessions, I could tell this was the beginning of an incredible 3 years.

 Hi everyone! My name is Kailey and I just began my first year in Elon’s DPT program. I wanted to start my blog posts by giving you my first impressions as I acclimate to this new adventure. It has been an enormous amount to take in, but time is already flying by. Here are the incredible things I’ve noticed about our program in 3 short weeks:

 1.     My classmates are the BOMB (the good kind). I don’t know how we got so lucky, but each of us brings a unique perspective that transforms and builds our group dynamic. We have already begun to share learning methods and study materials because we care about each other’s success. It’s comforting to be surrounded by constant support when we are in such a new environment.

2.     It’s no wonder the class is a great group of people because our professors are outstanding! They are passionate and engaging with each passing minute, and inspire us to be the best therapists we can be. All of our professors have acquired special certifications or have conducted impactful research. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to learn from their experiences.

3.     Elon offers so many opportunities to get involved. Whether you are keen on leadership positions or you enjoy volunteering in your community, Elon encourages activities outside of the classroom. All of the first years have already gotten involved in our pro-bono physical therapy clinic called the HOPE clinic. It gives students the opportunity to utilize the skills they learn in didactic sessions and apply them in a real-life clinical setting under the supervision of a PT. These experiences allow us to expand our life skills and become well-rounded health care providers.

 While I could write an entire novel on our first impressions, I know there is still so much more to discover. One thing is absolutely certain: all of us are eager to learn and excited to join this promising profession. I hope you will enjoy following along with me on this journey! Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you might have. Until next time, cheers to the next 3 years!