Well, it’s official! On December 11th, the DPT class of 2016 became Doctors! And maaaaan does that have a sweet ring to it. In the weeks since graduation, I’ve been reflecting a lot on these past three years. Some of the questions I’ve been asking myself: 1. How in the world did 2014-2016 go by so fast? 2. How did we learn SO MUCH in so short a time? 3. Most importantly, how in the heck did the guys not win an intramural championship!? As I’ve pondered all of these questions and reflected on these past three years in general, one particular theme keeps coming up over and over, i.e. thankfulness (OK maybe I’m not so thankful about the lack of intramural hardware, but I am thankful that we had so much fun trying!). I have been so incredibly blessed over these past three years in so many ways, and so this final blog post (bittersweet!!) will be focused on thanking those who have helped me reach my goal of becoming a Doctor of Physical Therapy.
- First and foremost, I have to thank God. He clearly and lovingly orchestrated each step along the way during this journey, and I am thankful that I will be able to love others as he has loved me, through my work.
- To my wife and family, thank you for believing in me always, and thank you for your never-ending and unconditional encouragement, love and patience.
- A huge thanks to each of my professors and the entire Department of Physical Therapy Education at Elon. You have all been and will always be mentors to me, and I can’t thank you enough for how you have invested in me and helped me grow so much over these three years. It’s abundantly clear that each of you cares tremendously about your students and the profession of physical therapy!
- To my classmates, thank YOU! I mean it 100 percent when I say that you have all become like family to me, and I look forward to continuing to grow with each of you and to making a big impact on the world of physical therapy. Thanks for all of the laughs, the support and the love. I miss each of tremendously already!
- Many, many, MANY thanks to each patient that I have treated as a student. The lessons that you have taught me, the ways you have encouraged me, and the memories that we made together are more precious to me than you will ever know. I love physical therapy because of YOU!
- Last but not least, a big thanks to you the reader. I hope the posts I’ve had the honor of writing over these past three years have proved helpful to you in at least some small way. If my corny jokes haven’t made you laugh at least once or twice, then I hope you have learned more about physical therapy at Elon University and the profession of PT in general!
It has truly been a great honor and pleasure writing for this blog, and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to share how the PT program here at Elon has prepared me well to venture into the profession that I love so much.
If you’re a super nerd like me, then all I have to do is mention the original Transformers cartoon and in your head you’re already signing “Transformers, more than meets the eye.” Now before we get into a discussion about whether you’d replace the manufacturer’s emblem on your car with either an Autobot or Decepticon logo, let’s recognize that we could apply that same catchy phrase to the profession of Physical Therapy (HUGE nerdy segue alert!). From the outside, Physical Therapy may just look like taking patients through exercises, mobilizing joints, training people on three vs. four point gaits, and powering through your required documentation. Dig a little deeper though, and you’ll find that there really is more to being a PT than what meets the eye.
One of my biggest realizations on this final clinical rotation has been that we do so much more than just deliver examination and interventions services. What people on the outside may not realize is that we are also educators and advocates. In addition, we have the professional responsibility to be movers and shakers in the world of health care. On top of carrying out the more typically recognized PT duties of performing an examination and delivering subsequent interventions, on this clinical, I’ve also coordinated wellness services for patients, advocated for surgical interventions for particular individuals, and provided ergonomic education and transfer training for hospital employees. At times, all of these different hats that I wear during a given day can feel a little overwhelming. However, when I leave at the end of the day, I’m always thankful that these “behind the scenes” roles that I play are ultimately geared towards bringing about even greater positive outcomes in the lives of others. Our profession is incredibly rich and full of new opportunities every single day, and I am beyond excited to graduate in two short months so that I can continue to expand on these roles and help more and more people, both in my own practice setting and throughout the health care landscape.
Oh and by the way, I’d totally be an Autobot.
For the class of 2016, we’re now officially on the back half of our final clinical rotation and that means only a few more months until we get that coveted DPT! By this point, we’re all becoming more independent and starting to really feel like we’re ready to hit the real world on our own. I think I speak for us all when I say that our PT skills have grown immensely since that first day in Module I! But this clinical is about more than just sharpening the PT skills we’ve learned in school; it’s also about honing the intangibles that we can’t necessarily learn or practice in the classroom. For instance, personally I’ve felt over these first three months that I’m constantly learning how to be a better listener (if you think I’m wordy with blogging, just imagine how I am in a conversation =). One intangible that I definitely have down pat is making every patient smile or laugh AT LEAST once during a treatment session (let’s be honest, it’s quite possible that they’re laughing at me, not with me). While I’m certainly thankful for the chance to expand my hands-on PT skills, it’s been the growth of the intangibles that have really made this last clinical so much fun. Three more months, Class of 2016!!!
During this last clinical, I’ve found myself caught in between two mindsets. On the one hand, I find myself very excited to retire the role of student and graduate on to becoming a full-fledged PT. On the other hand, I find myself constantly being made aware of all the things I have yet to learn, and it’s during those times that I realize that in actuality, I’ll be a student forever. A classroom student?? No not necessarily, but a professional student that loves to learn more about how he can treat his patients more effectively? Absolutely! I’m thankful for a profession where I get to learn new things every day all for the sake of making people better!
At long last it has finally arrived! The Elon DPT Class of 2016 is now a little over a month into our final clinical rotation and that means graduation is ever so close! It also means that we’ve reached the point where we get to take all of the didactic knowledge that we’ve soaked up over the past 2.5 years and put it to good use. For me, it’s been pretty amazing to see the growth that I’ve achieved from my very first clinical to this last one. While there is still MUCH to learn and many areas for continued growth, I’ll speak for the class in saying that we are much more confident and feel much more worthy of that oh so coveted license!
In addition to putting together all of our hands-on skills and knowledge, this clinical also affords us an awesome opportunity to build our research skills and our ability to contribute to the knowledge base of the profession at large via a case report. Basically, this involves us gathering data regarding the response to particular intervention strategies that we implement in the treatment of a specific patient. Our profession is constantly evolving, and this case report is a fantastic opportunity to become better equipped to contribute to this growth once we graduate.
Exciting and busy times for sure for the Class of 2016 during this final clinical! While I know we all certainly miss each other, it will only be a matter of time before we’re reunited to recap our final clinical and then walk across that stage!
Word always wants to tell me that selectives is misspelled….I guess it’s thinking I’m trying to talk about electives. Segue! The Elon DPT Class of 2016 is currently making our way through the Selectives module, which is basically electives for PT school (happy now Word??). Before we head out onto our final clinical rotation in a few short weeks, this module provides us with a lot of very helpful options such as having the chance to build more skills in a practice area of interest and getting opportunities to review skills/knowledge that we’ve gathered in the past few years. Currently we’ve got students in the ortho selective, the neuro selective, the pediatric selective, as well as five students learning about PT in Belgium, three students learning the ways of the Australian PT, two students fending off grizzly bears while learning at a PT clinic in Alaska, and a few students doing independent studies in other specialty areas! There are MANY strengths of our program, but I truly believe that this Selectives module is one of the best. Not only is it a great time to learn and review, but it’s also a really sweet time for us to reflect on how far we’ve come and how we’ve all developed our own specific passions.
While I know we’re all very excited to get started with our final clinical, it’s also bittersweet to think that our classroom days together are coming to an end. Luckily though, many of us will be close enough to visit each other, and I’m already excited to hear about all the awesome things we’ll do during our final rotation!
One of the things that I love most about our PT program here at Elon is the large number of opportunities that we have to interact with people in the Elon/Burlington community. From actors that come into school to serve as standardized patients to the residents at local retirement communities, we are blessed to learn so much through our interactions with these great people. During one recent interaction as a part of our geriatrics course, a classmate and I performed a one rep max assessment with an individual from one of our local retirement communities. As we were completing the assessment, she said that while she knew the intent of the session was for us to share information with her, she turned the tables on us and informed us that she had something of her own that she wanted to share. She told us of a negative health care experience that she had recently had where the individuals delivering her treatment made her feel like just another number in a long list of patients that needed to be seen. Urging us strongly to avoid this mentality at all cost, she told us instead to always remember that we are working with people and that we therefore have an obligation to treat every person with genuine care and respect.
I loved this interaction not only because we received some timely and important advice but also because it reminded me that the people that I treat often have more of an impact on me that I have on them. Yes, PT is undeniably about using the skills and knowledge we have accumulated to make physical improvements in people’s lives; but perhaps more importantly, it is also about building relationships and making sure that each of our patients knows that we don’t view them as just another number. Here’s to many years of building awesome relationships through PT!