Category Archives: Renee

The Beginning of the End

In 10 short days many of us will be finished with formal classes as we know them. Some of the 3rd year physical therapy students will still be returning to the Francis Center after the long Easter weekend, but many (including myself) will be finishing up the last module, before our final internship, by pursuing an independent study.

For those returning to the Francis Center for the elective courses, known as selectives, they will study one of the following subject areas: orthopedics, neurology or research. A few of us are staying local, but will be expanding our knowledge and understanding of physical therapy practice through local, independent studies in such areas as pediatrics and geriatrics. Others from our class will be traveling to the other side of the planet during this time to learn more about the world of physical therapy in Australia and other distant lands. These next seven class days will be our final days spent together as a class until we reunite at graduation!

As I think about the many hours, days, weeks, months and years that we have spent together as a class, it is hard to for me to wrap my brain around this reality.  We have been together since January 2012 and have been through so much together. It is difficult for me to grasp hold of the idea that this is the beginning of the finale; the beginning of the end of our time together at Elon.

While we still have the last days remaining in this module, six weeks of selectives, and our final (six month) clinical rotation ahead, I can’t entirely suppress the twinge of sadness creeping in as I think of our time as one big group drawing to a close. Elon’s class of 2014 physical therapy students are about to begin writing the final chapters in the story of their lives as PT students. My hope for each of us is that these last chapters are not only rich and exciting, but that they play a pivotal role in molding us into the great physical therapist’s that we aspire to be!


The Kindness of Faculty

April showers bring May flowers, but what does a snow storm followed by an ice storm bring to the south in March? Well, at Elon University, it brought two days of cancelled classes, power outages across campus, and a fallen tree crashing into Belk Pavilion! While this month has been off to a chaotic start, coming in like a roaring lion, perhaps we will luck out and it will go out like lamb! Ironically, the peculiar weather we experienced this past week reaffirmed one of many reasons why Elon is the place to go for physical therapy school.

No, it’s not because I am originally from New York and the storms reminded me of how grateful I am not to be immersed in snow for months at a time! The reaffirmation came through an e-mail from one of our kind and hospitable professors, who was offering her home to any of her students without power. Whether a warm shower was needed or a warm place to sleep, her offer was available to (all 58) of her students! I use the term reaffirmation when referencing this, because things like this are not foreign to our class. With many of us coming from out of state, a different professor sent out an e-mail, back in November, inviting all students (that could not make it home for the holiday) to his house to have Thanksgiving dinner with him and his family! If these acts of kindness are unheard of to you, then you haven’t been to Elon…and… if that’s the case, you really need to come check us! Not only do we have the best facility for physical therapy education, but we also have the best faculty!

Now, on to academics…

Aside from the bizarre weather at the start of the month, Module X also commenced at the start of March. It is proving to be a little crazy as well! As third-year students, we had just grown accustomed to a set schedule, including such things as: weekly quizzes, mid-terms, practical and final exams. We were “in the groove” so to speak. My classmates and I “had things down”…until Module IX ended and Module X began. In this current module, even my peers who were the anti-daily planner types…the ones that wouldn’t own a calendar if their lives depended on it… even they are reconsidering, and some have  already make that  small investment at Staples to help them get organized!

Why the intense need for organization, you ask? Well, we are not only divided into three separate groups for one of our classes, so that you and the person sitting next to you in one class, have nothing else in common for the other classes, but we are doing group work galore! Having been an elementary and middle grade physical education teacher for almost 10 years prior to coming to Elon, I like to think of myself as organized and on top of what’s going on. This module however, even I am struggling!  I am in five different groups, with five different topics, collaborating with up to seven different people per group, and working around at least three different schedules in most groups!

While the new daily-planner and calendar owners are jotting down schedules, meetings, due dates and deadlines, you will not observe them penciling in exam and test dates, with the exception of just one class we’re currently taking (that has 3 exams). Again, this is much different from last module in which our daily planner was littered with exam dates. So, which do I prefer… the maddening attempt to juggle studying for multiple exams… or…  the circus act of trying to accommodate a plethora of  schedules all while attempting to produce stellar group projects, presentations and papers? That is a question I cannot answer just yet; we are only half way down the super highway of Module X with two weeks down and two to go! Only time will tell if this module will go out like the lion it came in as or if it will transform into a peaceful lamb.


Busy Times, Big Adventures

Change is on the horizon! With just two weeks remaining in this module, only a few modules remaining, and a large percentage of our class leaving in six weeks to study off campus (for what is known as the “Selectives Module”), our time together, as a class at the Francis Center, is limited! However, the time we do have left, is time that is being utilized well.

In a joint effort between our exercise physiology and cardiopulmonary labs, we have been working with individuals from our community to create physical therapy rehabilitation programs that meet their individual needs. Our class has had the opportunity to perform and implement examinations, evaluations, outcome measures, interventions, home exercise programs, and re-evaluations, as these individuals have volunteered to be our patients twice a week, for six weeks. Throughout this six week program, our class has worked together with each other, with the patient and care giver(s), and with our professors to provide quality care to each participant. It has been a great experience for everyone involved and with only two sessions remaining, I can confidently say that all of our patients have made great progress!  While our patients may have learned a few things from us, I am convinced that we learned more than a just few things from each of them; the value of working with patients “hands-on” far exceeds any textbook, lecture, or simulated experience!

As a part of DPT 709-Directed Research I (DR-I), another class that we are involved in this module, we have not only had the opportunity to dive into what the research reports about topics of our choice, but we have been placed in small groups with other students that have similar interests. In these small groups, we have been given the opportunity to review articles, selected by peers in our group, and have been assigned the task of looking more critically at the information presented. After analyzing the information, each of us decided if we would apply the ideas presented in the article, or if it would take more to convince us to use such interventions with our patients in the future. This class has not only been interesting and thought provoking, it has also made us into authors! Each participant in DR-I class, has submitted their article review to a website called Students 4 Best Evidence. This site is a great resource for future clinicians and serves as, “a network for students interested in evidence-based healthcare.”

After submitting our article review and making any changes (that may have been requested by the publisher), our article reviews were posted to the site. The best part about this site is that each article review is presented in a blog-like format, using easy to understand terminology, and allows readers to leave comments, tweet, or re-post article reviews to Facebook and other social media sites. I highly encourage every student studying rehabilitation and/or medicine to check out this site at www.students

With so much going on as we wrap up this module, I could continue writing by sharing all the interesting things happening in our other classes as well, but … with finals here, it’s time for me to hit the books! So, be sure to look for next month’s blog as we continue our journey to becoming physical therapists!

Getting a Jump on New Year’s Resolutions

I want to start off by wishing everyone a Happy New Year and by welcoming the incoming DPT class of 2016 and PA class of 2015! In just two short days, the 2nd year students will embark on their first clinical rotation, while the 3rd year students will return to the Francis Center as the minority amidst new faces comprised of 1st year PT students and 1st year PA students.

The New Year is certainly a time for new beginnings, and if you’re like the 45 percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s resolutions, then you’re not alone! As a matter of fact, many of us may accomplish a few of the top 10 New Year’s Resolutions of 2014 (or are already doing them,) by simply being students at Elon! For example, the #2 New Year’s resolution for 2014, is to Get Organized. If we aren’t already organized, the second half of this module is sure to motivate us to become more organized as we continue to balance the many classes we are currently enrolled in! Resolution #5 will certainly be accomplished by all PT students at Elon, as occurs almost daily in our lives. Can you guess what it is? If you guessed, Learn Something Exciting, as the 5th New Year’s resolution of 2014, then you’re correct! I have a feeling this resolution will be accomplished our first day back to class! The 8th Resolution in the Top 10 list is another that we do regularly; this is one that we often do and may not realize we’re doing it! We Help Others in Their Dreamsas we work together in groups, support one another in and out of the classroom, and build friendships that last long beyond our days as PT students.

While the three resolutions listed above may not have been one of your New Year’s resolutions this year, I do have good news for the majority of my classmates (unfortunately, this does not include me)! Statistics show that 39 percent of people in their twenties are successful in keeping their resolutions each year compared to only 14 percent of people over age 50.  Also, as physical therapy students we are taught to make such things as our documentation and our patient’s goals to be detailed and specific. As PT students, this is yet another advantage for us, because: “People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.”

I’d say, that as PT students and future PTs, we have a lot going for us. We’ve been working hard and have come a long way since that first day, two years ago, when we began our adventure as the class of 2014. I have faith that each one of us, through hard work and perseverance, will achieve our resolutions and reach our goals this year!


Pick Your Poison

If given the choice, which would you rather train for: an ultra-marathon , the World’s Strongest Man/Woman Competition, or  the UBC (Ultimate Bodybuilding Championship)? I ask this question to give you an idea of how I compare the three “big” modules of PT school.  These “big” three modules include: orthopedics (in the 1st year), neuroscience (in the 2nd year), and the module that we’re currently in (that carries into our 3rd year). Each one is just as hard as the other two, but in a different way!

Right now, I feel like all of us at the Francis Center are in a very challenging training period. The 1st years are in the midst of orthopedic finals, we (the 2nd years) are in the middle of our first round of tests for this module, and even the former 3rd years (that just became doctors of physical therapy yesterday) are preparing for board exams that are in January!  So, the level of difficulty does not change, it just becomes a different kind of difficult.

Speaking of different, this year our Christmas break will be very different, and not just because we get an extra week off! Unlike previous years, where we end a module before the start of the New Year, we will continue on with Module XI when we return to school in January. We will need that extra week off, as we’ll be ring in the New Year with assignments due, tests and quizzes to take, and projects to complete. On a positive note, at the start of 2014,we’ll officially be in our last year of PT school and closer than ever to becoming PTs!

It’s All About Balance

It’s very interesting to be back at the Francis Center; in some ways it feels like we never left and in other ways it feels like we’ve been gone an eternity! It has been great catching up with friends and classmates the last few days, but I have to admit it has been difficult to get back into the swing of classes, labs, homework and studying!

The current module is the complete opposite of our last academic module. Prior to our clinical experiences, we left off with neuro-science and neuro-management; currently, we are taking five very different classes: cardio pulmonary, exercise physiology, electro-physiology and wound care, research, and orthotics and prosthetics. Dr. Bailey has already warned us that this module will be challenging for the following reasons: 1) we’ve been out of academia for four months, 2) there are lots of breaks throughout the module ( both Thanksgiving and Christmas break fall within Module IX), and 3) we have, what he calls, “a hodge podge” of classes. It should be an interesting module to say the least.

My personal goal is to find balance during these last seven months of classes before our final, six month, clinical rotation. I have found, when on clinicals, I am much more social, travel more on the weekends, and have time to volunteer at (and participate in) events held at my church. The schedule of classes, assignments, projects, and papers seems pretty demanding for this module, but I am determined to find a healthy balance. It’s only been three days since we’ve been back to school, but so far I was to go out with friends Tuesday night and today I went for a walk with one of my classmates.  It was nice to chat and catch up with each other as we strolled along the sidewalk lined with beautifully colored fall trees. I am not sure what this weekend will bring, but in addition to my school work, I will be sure to make time for friends and family!

Vacation detour to the ER

“Don’t jump!” she yelled, in Belarussian, a moment too late.  I watched as he fell from the rock to the ground below. It was at that point  that our plans to relax with friends and family at our mountain retreat quickly turned to chaos.

This first weekend in October had been planned for several months. My husband and I made the drive to the mountains of North Carolina after finishing my day of work, at the SNF (where I am completing my 711 clinical experience).  Arriving late on Friday,  we met my in-laws, who had traveled from  Florida the day before, and my parents who, along with friends from the country of Belarus, arrived a few hours earlier from New York.

After a late night of catching up and sharing the current events of our lives, we headed to bed. Saturday morning after a delicious breakfast, we decided to head to the Blue Ridge Parkway, as our friends, from Belarus, had never seen mountains before. The first overlook we stopped at was beautiful, but we explained to our friends that the view would only get more beautiful the higher up the mountain we went. After stopping for a few photos, we got back in our cars and headed to the next overlook. As promised the next overlook was even more beautiful than the first.  With magnificent rocks across the street, one of  our friends from Belarus decided to go for a small climb to pose for a picture about 5 feet up the face of the rock. Those of us that brought a camera snapped a shot or two of our friend and began crossing the overlook to look at the valley below. That’s when we heard  Belarusian words being shouted toward the rocks; the words, we would later learn translated to, “Don’t jump!”

I ran across the street not knowing what to expect. Not speaking much English, my friend (Alexander) pointed to his left knee. I looked at his knee and knew immediately something was not right; his patella was situated more proximal than it should have been.  I asked him if he had heard a click or pop and he replied that he heard a click when he landed. I gently palpated it, moving it left and right and realized it was extremely hypermobile as though it were just floating under skin; I knew he had torn something. His knee was only slightly flexed and I placed my hand on the posterior side of his  knee. I asked  him if he could push down into my hand and completely straighten his knee. He was able to do so and I could see his quadriceps contract; his quadriceps tendon seemed to be intact.

Next I had him flex his knee, and while he was able to do so, it was difficult and painful. The biggest clue however, that helped me solve his diagnosis mystery, was that his patella did not track as it should, but instead remained in the same, strange, superior position it had been in.  I knew then that he had torn his patella tendon! He wanted to try to walk, but I told him not to. I had my husband and my friend (Dema) go to each side of him and provide the support he needed to get to the car without bearing  weight on his left lower extremity.

We arrived at the hospital and while we waited in the emergency department waiting room, I looked up the patella tendon on my mother-in-laws I-Phone. I then showed Alexander what I thought had happened when he landed from his jump off the rock. When the nurse called him back to the examination room, Dema and I both went with him, as Dema spoke the most English and could translate between English and Belarusian and I was able to help translate between medical terminology and common English. The on-call orthopedic surgeon arrived within an hour and confirmed my diagnosis of a patella tendon rupture. He then informed us that surgery was the only option; that Alexander could have the surgery done immediately or wait until he got back to Belarus. The surgeon’s recommendation for the best outcome was to do the surgery as soon as possible.  Despite the fact that this was a big decision for Alexander, for he had never experienced any surgical procedure in his 47 years of life, he quickly chose to have the surgery immediately.

Within exactly 24 hours Alexander arrived at the hospital emergency department, had surgery to repair his patella tendon rupture, participated in physical therapy at the hospital and was discharged from the hospital on crutches,  wearing a knee immobilizer! Two hours following his discharge, he and his family and my parents were continuing with their travel plans and were on their way to the coast of North Carolina where our friends from Belarus would see the ocean for the very first time ever!

Despite all that happened this past Saturday,  Alexander and his family were able to enjoy their last few days in America and continue with their traveling as originally planned prior to his injury. In an attempt to look at the positive side of this event,  it was a chance for me to use what I have learned at Elon and apply it in a real life situation. While a patella tendon rupture is very straight forward and easy to diagnose, my ability to do so quickly and accurately have left quite an impression on my Belarusian friends.  My Belarusian friends have always had great respect for American medicine. They now view American physical therapists with very high regard and see Elon as an outstanding university as well.