DPT Family Style

There are a few brave souls in the Regis DPT program who have taken on the challenge of a doctorate program while also filling the role of parent. We reached out to some of them to hear how they balance training to be a physical therapist with home life.

My name is Emily Seidelman and I am currently in my second year of the DPT program at Regis University. My family includes our two children (ages four, Charlie, and seven, Noah), my husband, Jason, myself, and an eleven-year-old lab/border collie mix.  

I started out mildly terrified at what I initially believed to be the daunting commitment of being a mom in grad school, but Regis students and faculty quickly connected me with another mom in the program. It helped knowing someone else had survived what I was diving into at Regis. I will forever be grateful to Sarah Spivey (from the Class of 2020) for all of her encouraging words of advice.  

The hardest part has been adapting to the constant change that comes with having children (which is certainly amplified during a pandemic). However, I think parents are uniquely positioned to fielding grad school curve balls because they already have experience with navigating brand-new circumstances. Logistics are never particularly easy, but things always seem to work out with the right amount of planning and readjusting coupled with a strong support system. 

I think the best part about being a parent in grad school is knowing my kids have been watching me work hard to achieve smaller goals leading up to my big goal of becoming a PT. I know this will instill the importance of work ethic and plant the seed for a love of higher education. The hard work for school never stops but I try my best to prioritize things so that my family always comes first. This typically takes a fair amount of pre-planning and creativity, especially when big exams are looming. Focusing on my priorities has helped me to always see the bigger picture. This means identifying key content that allows me to be the best PT I can be to future patients, doing “good enough” in school, and not sweating the small stuff.  

This journey has taught me that I can continue to expand the depths of my flexibility and that change, which might feel scary, can be a really good thing. Throwing COVID into the mix has obviously been a whirlwind, but our current hybrid schedule (online lectures and in person labs) has been a game-changer for me. There are fewer days that I have to commute from Colorado Springs and this equals more time I can spend with my family. I know things are ever-changing, but I will take the breaks where I can get them and adjust again when the next change comes.  

The biggest thing I learned about myself is that I have trouble asking for help. I am FINALLY learning how to do this! This sometimes looks like checking in with classmates to make sure I haven’t missed any assigned class prep work. Other times it means using a study guide a friend has already shared to direct my studies. Often it means frequent communication with faculty regarding any anticipated problems.  

To any parent who is considering pursing a DPT—Regis is a fantastic place to do it! You will have a ton of work cut out for you, but I will cheer you on alongside the rest of the ENTIRE Regis family. 

David (left), Landen (center), and Telisha (right)

My name is Telisha Quezada and I am a first year in the program. I have one child, Landen, age 3 and a husband, David. 

The hardest part of being in school is knowing that my child misses me based off his behavior and not being able to do anything about it. Often times I have to decide to have him be watched outside of our home or remove myself from our home in order to get work done in addition to being gone for classes when I know he misses me. He tells my mom that he wants to go home or that he wants to see me and it sucks because there’s not a lot I can do about it. I set aside Saturdays so that I can be 100% present with him but one day a week isn’t enough for a little guy. It breaks my heart, but I also know it will be a part of his growing up and becoming an independent, well-adjusted member of society. 

The best part is having him see me be a “doctor” and wanting to emulate that. I think one of the most rewarding parts of being a parent is seeing your kids have good healthy habits and I think “doing homework” and “being a doctor” aren’t bad ones to have. Also, my husband took on the responsibility of doing the laundry and it is quite literally the best thing ever. I never want to do laundry again! 

COVID was obviously unexpected but even more so was the blessing that it became in my life. It really helped me with the transition of being a stay-at-home mom to a student. I think it made the transition so much gentler for all of us and helped me figure out the beast that is childcare. I didn’t have to hire childcare until my second semester because of the way our schedules were which was a huge blessing. 

I don’t know if I learned anything new about myself, but I definitely cemented the knowledge that I am not/was not made to be a stay-at-home mom and my experience has enhanced my ability to go with the flow, take things as they come and trust other people with my life and my family’s life. That can be challenging for a lot of people, but I believe it is essential to survival. I could not survive if I didn’t trust the people in my support system and relinquished my control over everything to them. 

If we are being honest, cereal is my go-to week-night dinner. I don’t typically eat dinner which makes it hard for me to prepare it most of the time. So cereal and eggs are good choices. And my son often helps himself to granola bars. I know it’s terrible but again there’s only so much I can control or care to. On a good night (maybe once a week) it’s grilled chicken or steaks with Colombian rice (with a mushroom cream sauce).

Sinjin (left), Astrid (center), and Zoie (right)

My name is Sinjin Altobelli and I am a first year DPT student. My family consists of my wife, Zoie, my four-year-old daughter, Astrid, and myself.

The hardest part about being a parent while in the DPT program has been time management and adapting to a new environment. As an undergraduate I generally took 3-4 classes as a full-time course schedule and would do 1 class in every summer session but having 5-6 classes has been very challenging. I have much less time to prepare and content knowledge requirements increased. Workload increased and the COVID times have been a contributor as well. I really do not enjoy online learning in any form and would say that has also been a difficult adjustment.

The best part about the program has been all of the intelligent people I have had the pleasure of working with. It has helped me think about things in ways I normally would not and helped me grow both as a Student Physical Therapist and as a person. What has been unexpected about the program at Regis is that the level of difficulty increased from undergraduate studies to graduate studies definitely caught me by surprise. One thing that I have learned about myself is where my learning threshold is, and PT school has pushed me to it. My capabilities for learning are high when I immerse myself in something but PT school forced me to spread my self a bit thinner and make better use of my time. My go-to weeknight dinner is chicken and rice with broccoli.

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