Mountains and Valleys of CEI, 2020

This post is dedicated to our Clinical Education Team. This all-star squad is made up of Dr. Nancy  Mulligan, Dr. Alice Davis, Dr. Shelene Thomas, Dr. Stacy Carmel, Dr. Denise O’Dell, and Dr. Laura LaPorta. They navigated our first clinical experience with admiral perseverance and continue to work hard in the face of adversity for future clinical experiences. In addition, Addison Rodgers, the student clin-ed representative for our class, continues to serve with excellence. We thank you all for your commitment to our education!  

Last month, my peers in the class of 2022 and concluded our first clinical experience, where we were mentored by a physical therapist who served as our clinical instructor in various clinics and hospitals scattered across the United States. As you can imagine, the experience was complicated due to… unprecedented circumstances. Yet, despite last minute unavailability of sites, alarmingly rising COVID-19 statistics, and record wildfires, adaptable professors and clinical instructors and creative travel arrangements made it possible for everyone to arrive safe and prepared to begin their first clinical experience.

My clinical experience took place in rural Virginia. In just one weekend, I traveled from Denver to the east side of the Appalachian Mountains, which served as a frequent vacation destination growing up for this Hoosier. I felt pieces of home as I began to drive through the winding deciduous forest as the leaves boasted the shades of a fall bonfire, filling me with gratitude at every turn that I got to spend my favorite season among such nostalgia-inducing beauty. At the same time, I felt nervous, rushed, and geographically alone. I never imagined my first time working with patients as an SPT would be with two masks and a face-shield between us. I had only practiced on two bodies since March, due to our precautionary lab trios that served as a quarantine bubble from my 79 other peers. I was suddenly in a long-distance relationship, again, after establishing a blissful routine with my partner in a snug rental in Denver for the past two months. I did not know a soul within a 120 mile radius of this small town. I was eager for this experience, but simultaneously uneasy about how it would play out. As I was having this inner dialogue in my head, the late Tom Petty sang through the speaker of my  Suburu:  

“Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks. Some doors are open, some roads are blocked.”

I found deep comfort in the familiar tune in that moment. I was reminded that there are  highs and lows, diamonds and rocks, mountains and valleys in everything we do in this life. I reassured myself I had the tools to make this the positive experience I had worked so hard for. I found comfort in the thought that despite being so far away from my classmates and professors for those few weeks, in the midst of a pandemic, we were all in this together.  In an attempt to connect us and provide a platform for our voices, I asked my class about their personal “mountains and valleys” from clinical.  

The Valleys – the tough stuff, the learning opprutunities, the lows, the rocks:

  • “Meeting a patient with terrible chronic pain, who was hurting her entire appointment. She cancelled the rest of the week…it was a reality check that not every patient will feel better after one session.”
  • “Watching a patient with Huntington’s Disease get worse instead of better throughout my time there”
  • “I felt alone at times. I had not been hugged for a while. But one day there was a big cockroach on my wall, and I smushed it with my Doc Marten. It was disgusting, but I proved to myself I did not need anyone to come and save me.”
  • “I found self-care challenging. The first week I just wanted to kick my feet up at the end of the day, which is exactly what I did. I was neglecting to reflect, exercise, and rejuvenate. I joined a yoga studio (within social distancing guidelines) and discovered that committing to showing up on my yoga mat regularly was the form of self-care I needed all along.”
  • “There was a shock-factor to the overall health-literacy of the population. We are in such a bubble with PT students. It was also sad to see people in so much pain they could hardly move.”
  • “It is difficult not knowing how to proceed with more complicated cases.”
  • “I saw a lot of college students with back and neck pain, pointing to endless hours on Zoom as the culprit. It was too relatable…”
  • “Wildfires.”
  • “Subtle reminders that we never know what the person in front of us is dealing with. It was a reminder to me that we should try to be kind to all those who we encounter.”
  • “It was hard to bear witness to the realities of being a healthcare professional, like calling emergency services, addressing pain in my patients, and accepting that I cannot fix everything.”
  • “Hearing the frustration of my patients as they work through their pain, discomfort, and injury.”
  • “Feeling inadequate during times where my skills were not where I felt they should be, or not being able to understand/ participate as much because we haven’t gone over that material in the program yet. This was both humbling and sad in a way, as it allowed me to really comprehend and see how much the pandemic is impacting our education and the clinical care we will be able to effectively provide to our future patients. “

The Mountains – the good and the great, the highs, the “this is why I’m here,” the diamonds:

  • “Watching my patients grow and express pride in their progress.”
  • “I felt so supported by my CI. The staff was all there for me when my ballot was tampered with.”
  • “Exploring the hidden nature of Kentucky, playing at the climbing gym, making slow dinners, and reading books.”
  • “I was my CI’s first student, and he gave me a lot of autonomy with treating patients. We had so much trust between us – I built so much confidence and started to really believe in myself.”
  • “I loved getting cookies, cupcakes, and treats at the office. We dressed up on Fridays too. I worked with a patient who was non-verbal at the start of therapy and began to speak during the later weeks. Also, I played patty-cake with a three year old and they showed my their rock collection.”
  • “My clinic was always one-on-one patient to PT which resulted in getting to know patients more. Everyone was excited to have a student there and they always let me watch interesting sessions like vertigo, prosthetics, and post-op.”
  • “It was great to finally practice the techniques we have learned. I got to work on a lot of manual techniques, which was amazing.”
  • “I was in home health, and loved getting to know the patients including their families, pets, house, and hobbies. Their openness, vulnerability, and grit are so special!”
  • “I was in Maine, and loved the community. My patients gave me great hike and restaurant recommendations, which I loved to explore on the weekends then talk about it with them the next week.”
  • “A patient with PD who I had been working with on neuro re-education gave me a hug at his last appointment and told me to keep working hard and he would really miss me! It was cool to really experience effective change in patient care when using the things we are learning.”

My clinical experience ended up being refreshing and informative. It reminded me of my “why.” It was marked with diamond days, like the day I ran my furthest ever (thank you, sea-level oxygen levels), the day a patient brought me a detailed list of her favorite fly-fishing spots in Virginia (sharing your secret spots is a big deal in the fly-fishing world!), and the day I spent hiking through Shanendoah National Park with an old college friend. And of course, there were rocks – like the solo road-trip that seemed to last forever but was crammed into a weekend, and the discouraging feeling when a patient expressed their right to not be treated by a student.

Now that we are back in classes, we are seemingly barely holding on to the in-person component and constantly having to be prepared to slip. We are counting down the tests and practical exams left until our long-anticipated winter break. This general stress is combined with individuals fighting their own battles. Yet, there is still joy. For instance, Dr. Shelene Thomas spends the beginning of every zoom-class playing her favorite tunes. This small tradition serves as a great example of playing the hand you’ve been dealt; she coordinates her virtual class with grace, empathy, and transparency. It reminds me of how the song “Walls” settled my anxious thoughts on my drive to my clinical and how I am always surrounded by “hearts so big.” 

Overall, I am thankful for my professors and classmates who I can lean on in my valleys, but celebrate with on my mountains. Our class boasts an overwhelming triumph of learning in any environment as we discover who we want to be as therapists.

By Suzanne Peters, along with my peers in the class of 2022 

The “mountains and valleys” concept was inspired by the beautiful scenery we got to take in across the United States.

On Taiwan during the Pandemic – And What Our Profession Can Learn

By Peter Lee, Class of 2022

Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have written, edited, deleted, then re-written about this topic more times than I would like to admit. This year has been challenging on many fronts, especially on the topic of justice. Through it all, I have asked my community for a lot, and now I ask for more. This blog post might ruffle some feathers – good. I want to talk about the harmful effects of politics during a global health crisis; to do so, I have to talk about the country I emigrated from. 

Taiwan, the island nation closest to the origin of the pandemic in Wuhan, China, is home to nearly 24 million residents. It has been a shining example of health care excellence throughout the pandemic. The government trusted its best scientists, it was transparent with information, the citizens were responsible, and success was found with cross-industry collaborations. Rapid tests and digital contact tracing have led to Taiwan having a rare economic growth during a pandemic. Today, life goes on as usual in Taiwan with no lockdown, no economic downfall, no coronavirus. 

Since the beginning of this pandemic, there have been 618 cases recorded in Taiwan, with 7 total deaths from the virus that has killed more than 1.39 million people globally. As I write this blog, Taiwan has gone 224 days without a single locally transmitted case of COVID. The Taiwan model has been followed by nations such as New Zealand to successfully control outbreaks. Despite its miniscule stature in the international community, Taiwan, a nation ⅛ the size of Colorado, has donated hundreds of millions of masks to disease stricken countries like the United States, Canada, Iraq, Eswatini. The list goes on; in fact, Taiwan has donated PPE to nations on every continent, including sovereign native nations in the US that have largely been ignored by our government. 

“Taiwan has been a shining example of healthcare excellence throughout the pandemic. “

So far this sounds like a success story, but unfortunately, Taiwan did not have an easy path to success with the coronavirus. The island nation’s close proximity to Wuhan ensured that it had one of the highest risks for an uncontrolled outbreak. Moreover, the WHO excluded Taiwan from receiving important data regarding the pandemic during its beginning stages. The “World” Health Organization put 24 million Taiwanese lives at risk with its refusal to include Taiwan in its organization and communication. It continues to censor the word Taiwan from its interviews and even has blocked users from commenting the word Taiwan on their livestreams. They REALLY went through the effort of censoring out the word Taiwan in every language. Just this week, Taiwan was kept out of the WHA (World Health Assembly) despite support from the United States, Japan, New Zealand and many others. The nation with one of the best pandemic response models, the nation that continues to allies around the world with their respective battles against this deadly disease, the only nation that has seen gross GDP growth in 2020, was excluded from the single most important global health meeting about… the pandemic… Why? 

If you ask Google why Taiwan is not a part of the WHO, you might find explanations claiming that China and Taiwan have “internal” exchanges of information regarding the pandemic. You might even encounter Chinese propaganda claiming that Taiwan is a runaway province of the People’s Republic of China without claims to sovereignty. Some of you reading this might even think the economic benefits China provides is sufficient to ignore its human rights violations. I will be the first one to tell you about Taiwan’s complicated history with colonization efforts from the likes of Portugal, Spain, and Japan. But let’s set the record straight: Taiwan has never been a part of China, nor will it ever be. Pandemic response is not the only thing separating Taiwan from its communist neighbors across the strait. It also boasts a vibrant democracy that celebrates freedoms of speech, religion, and press. Taiwan has Asia’s only female head of state, Dr. Tsai Ing Wen. It is the first nation in Asia to guarantee equal marriage rights and it is not currently committing genocide by putting ethnic Muslims in “re-education” camps. I know, the bar is on the floor. 

The most dangerous aspect of allowing politics to interfere with global health initiatives is that it affects more than the nations being oppressed. Taiwan is lucky, it has a combination of technology, community support, and one of the world’s best universal healthcare systems; but Taiwan is not the only nation under intimidation by global powerhouses. Somiland in East Africa is another prime example of the dangerous effects of using pandemic response as a political pawn. In the beginning stages of this pandemic, Taiwan shared important findings about the mechanism of transmission of COVID, that information was withheld from communication by the WHO. While citizens in Taiwan all wore masks to protect themselves, major western nations still believed face coverings to be an ineffective way to curb the Coronavirus. Of course, they cited the WHO. 

As Rev. Martin Luther King said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Right now, people who might not know about Taiwan or its struggles on the international stage are suffering from the fact that the Chinese Communist Party, along with the WHO, continue to make a habit of playing politics with Taiwanese lives. How many of the 1.39 million people who have lost their lives  this pandemic would still be around this holiday season if nations were given accurate information? How many more can be saved if Taiwan was allowed to participate in the WHA to share its knowledge and resources? In order to provide true patient-centered care and create policy that centers around the care of populations, the WHO has to be held accountable.  

“Change starts with Doctors of Physical Therapy who hold space for and validate, patient experiences, even when it is uncomfortable. “

The purpose of this blog is not to say that we all have to care about every injustice around the world, I don’t think we have the capacity to handle such tremendous amounts of trauma. Instead, I hope it serves as a reminder that ignorance is not bliss. Just because we are not aware of the oppression that someone else is facing, does not mean the repercussions of that oppression will not affect us personally. I hope this serves as a reminder to always seek to learn more from one another. The very nature of our profession calls us to advocate on behalf of our patients, in order to do that, we cannot choose to remain ignorant to the world around us, in some instances, we cannot remain apolitical. This was an example on a global scale, but injustices like this happen at every level of health care. It is my hope that this blog inspires you to research Chinese oppression in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mongolia, or Xin Jiang. Or read into the roles PTs can play in the violence happening in Armenia by the hands of Azerbaijan and Turkey. We can’t solve every injustice, but we can always do more (Magis, nice). Change starts with Doctors of Physical Therapy who hold space for and validate, patient experiences, even when it is uncomfortable. 

Healing Hands – A Clinical Inservice by Lindsay Pendleton

For their first clinical experience, our students have the option to present an inservice, or mini-presentation about something they are interested in, to the clinic. Lindsay had the unique honor of being published in WGH Heartbeat, the official publication of Wilbarger General Hospital, where she just completed CEI. We congratulate Lindsay on this achievement and thank her for sharing with the Regis community as well!

“My interest in Physical Therapy came from the personal interaction we get to have with patients. It is arguably one of the most unique relationships in healthcare. In order to be able to do our jobs effectively, it is of the utmost importance that we convey empathy and maintain a relationship that does not lack sensitivity. The patient that has sought our services has to share what is likely their biggest fears, worst insecurities and greatest mistakes. It is our job to be receptive to that and create an environment in which they feel safe to do so. How we create this bond with others is personal and will vary from patient to patient. One of the best ways we can do this is through touch. Touch is now recognized as a cross-modal sensory system transmitting signals through proprioceptive, exteroceptive and interoceptive pathways.

The one which is the most familiar is proprioception. This is the basis of skilled manual therapists to overwhelm the nervous system, desensitize an area or acquire much needed information on soft tissue integrity and joint mobility.

Less well known is the exteroceptive touch pathway which gives the patient ownership of their body. It is how they relay information on what the touch means. Is the touch threatening, is it comforting, how does it make them feel? This pathway is associated with ownership of self and the ability to see their problem, their pain as within their control. Touch promotes positive emotional responses such as feelings of safety and relaxation and reduces negative affective feelings, avoidance and stress-related biomarkers.

The third and least well known is the interoceptive networks which convey emotionally relevant information through low mechanical threshold unmyelinated C fibers. This has been linked with pain inhibition, ANS regulation and an increase in pleasant sensations. In short, touch connects us to our patients in a physical, cognitive and emotional way. This can make us uncomfortable as we seek boundaries to keep us safe and distanced from potential transgression. Yet, as a collective, therapists at times are not adapting in a manner that fits the current needs of patients, especially during COVID.

Finally, perceptions regarding touch incapacitates us and limits our ability to treat. As touch without a the widely accepted researched justification is beyond the scope of practicing therapists. This could not be more backwards. Touch conveys a kindness, a kindred spirit to another person that improves mood and life satisfaction. When there are instances, where you can either touch the patient or use a machine, consider the power of your touch. When there are patients that baffle you, or refuse to get better despite your best efforts, consider that you can help them with the gift that is human contact.”

Sources:

1. Gutiérrez, Abbey. Interoception, mindfulness and touch: a meta-review of functional MRI studies. Int J Osteopath Med. (2019).

2. Bishop, Torres-Cueco, Gay, Lluch-Girbés, Beneciuk, Bialosky. What effect can manual therapy have on a patient’s pain experience? Pain Manag. (2015).

3. Geri, Viceconti, Minacci, Testa, Rossettini, Manual therapy: Exploiting the role of human touch. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice. (2019).

4. Nicholls, Holmes. Discipline, desire, and transgression in physiotherapy practice. Physiotherapy Theory & Practice. (2012).

September is Alopecia Awareness Month

Before we say good-bye to September (already?), we want to highlight second-year DPT student Conner Weeth and his journey with Alopecia. Conner is known for his hilariously dry sense of humor, kindness to others, and his #gains. Conner offers us an educational bit about Alopecia and provides a lens into living with the disease.

September is alopecia awareness month. Alopecia is an autoimmune condition that attacks a person’s hair follicles. This condition can vary from patches of hair loss to complete hair loss over the whole body. Some treatments may be helpful and hair may occasionally grow back, there is no cure for alopecia. Many people have never heard of alopecia, but it affects 200,000 Americans per year. Approximately 6.8 million Americans and 147 million people globally have or will develop alopecia in their lifetime. 

People of all ages, races, and genders can develop alopecia but it often appears during childhood. As young children with alopecia get older it may become more difficult for them to accept their condition leading to issues with self confidence and building relationships. 

I myself have alopecia universalis- total hair loss over the whole body. I was diagnosed with alopecia three years ago and for a year and a half afterwards I wore a hat wherever I went. I hated the way I looked and wanted to avoid the lingering eyes of people’s stares. This isn’t an uncommon reaction for people with alopecia. However with time and support many people come to find the condition liberating. They come to terms with the fact that who they are is not defined by the way they look.  

It is likely that you will eventually meet somebody with alopecia during your lifetime and there are resources available for you to help support them. For more information about alopecia please visit the National Alopecia Areata Foundation at Naaf.org. 

-Conner Weeth, class of 2022

Is Conner’s hair loss really from Alopecia, or from training so hard? The world may never know.

Physical Therapy during COVID-19: reflections from Regis DPT Faculty

Regis DPT faculty Alicia Lovato, Amy Rich, and Jenny Logan share their experiences practicing during COVID-19 in both home health and inpatient settings.

Thank you so much for your tremendous service, your mentorship, and your vulnerability in sharing your experiences. We miss seeing you in person so much and are so proud to call you our faculty and mentors.

~Alicia Lovato, DPT, North Rehab Lead, SCL Home Health~

This Pandemic… Has established fierce leaders

  • Has brought valid fear and anxiety.
  • Has demonstrated the strength and resilience of our team.
  • Has excelled our Telehealth innovations.
  • Has promoted critical thinking on how to keep our Home Health clinicians and patients safe (have to get creative when you don’t have that lovely PPE bin set up for you in the hospital hallway). 
  • Has increased my knowledge and awareness of how to treat patients diagnosed with COVID.
  • Has taken its toll emotionally and taken me outside of my comfort zone.
  • Has made me so grateful for my health and ability to work.
  • Has amplified my fierceness for this profession.
  • Has reminded me to have compassion for myself and others.

I miss seeing all of your faces at Regis. I can’t imagine the feelings and emotions that this has brought up in your education and personal life. Like good ole Dolly Parton said, “Storms make trees take deeper roots.”  Hopefully by the end of this we will be like Wild Fig Trees (per Google search these tree roots can dig down 400ft!). 

 

Working as an inpatient acute care physical therapist during COVID-19: A perspective

~Amy J. Rich, PT, DPT, NCS, Senior PT, University of Colorado Health~

*this opinion reflects the perspective of the individual and not necessarily that of the organization*

It’s 11:15am and I’m getting ready to call into my daily COVID-19 phone call from the rehabilitation team leadership in order to get updated on daily changes and progress, personal protective equipment updates and the number of patients in house who have tested positive for COVID-19.  While I await to virtually connect into our meeting, I reflect on 5 words that seem to define my experience of watching COVID-19 flip all perspectives within my healthcare institution upside-down:  Anxiety, Grief, Compassion, Empathy and Innovation. Never in my 20 years of practicing in the hospital and ICU setting have I seen such circumstances as I have now due to COVID-19.  One vivid memory I will recall is working the Sunday after our Governor instituted a “stay at home” policy due to the Coronavirus.  It was such an odd sensation to be driving TO work in an environment where patients were positively infected with COVID-19 while the rest of the community stayed home.  I entered the hospital donning my newly mandated mask, keeping my head down, noting that the hallways were eerily silent.  Just a few days before, the hospital had mandated a “no visitor” policy in an effort to protect the safety of our patients.  This invisible virus, over the span of a few weeks, progressively took away our outpatient clinic visits, our non-emergent surgical procedures, our visitors, our administrative assistants and our cafeteria workers among others.  The hospital went from a bustling “city” of people and procedures and socialization to a quiet empty space where essential healthcare workers, with masks on at all times, prepared for the surge.  The surge of the virus bringing the sickest of the sick to our doorstep. 

During this time, my perspective was of an environment filled with anxiety and fear of the unknown mixed with a strength and courage to combat the COVID-19 virus.  It is difficult to feel calm when everyone around you is wiping all surfaces with cavi-wipes, keeping a 6-10 foot distance from one another and wearing masks at all times.  It is an odd feeling to practice social distancing with your peers, but then walk into a patient’s room to perform a max assist transfer with them to enable them to get out of bed to a chair.

As the days progressed and the rules for social distancing tightened, I felt a bit of grief surround our hospital community. Grief over losing our “normal,” grief over watching family members have to say their goodbyes and stay at home instead of by their loved one’s bedside, grief over watching our bustling hospital community slowly become quieter as we prepared for the surge.

But in the midst of this extreme fatigue and anxiety and grief, I also saw signs of hope.  Leadership gave constant reminders to show compassion for our patients and advocate on their behalf to their family members and compassion for ourselves during this time.  One such memory is facilitating ambulation for the first time with a patient who had a severe traumatic brain injury.  His wife had been at his bedside every day up until the moment she was asked to stay home due to COVID-19.  She needed to be a part of this milestone of walking.  As I prepared the patient for ambulation, the nurse was able to facetime his wife via iPad.  While this patient would not look up and out from under his helmet for myself or the nurse, he was able to stand upright, attend to task, and take steps under the encouragement of his wife from the iPad shown in front of him.  Another bright spot of hope is the unimaginable outpouring of support from within our organization and from our community.  We have had offers for home-made masks and food, free access to meditation smart phone applications and even free coffee!  Peers are offering to donate vacation pay and individuals without work can apply to be placed in a resource management pool in order to earn a paycheck during this stressful time. 

From an inpatient rehabilitation perspective, I feel this COVID-19 virus has bound my rehabilitation team in a way I could never have anticipated.  As the COVID-19 surge preparation began, our rehabilitation team leadership asked for volunteers to be on the COVID-19 “A” team.  These are the physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language pathologists that have volunteered to step INTO the rooms to provide essential health care for patients with COVID-19. These therapists are working with these patients providing essential rehabilitation in order to maximize functional outcomes while also reducing the risk of their colleagues being exposed to this virus.  This self-less act has put me in awe of my team members.

The innovation seen during these times is also amazing.  For example, I was able to provide PT intervention for a patient intubated via endotrach to a BiPAP machine!  This innovation brought forth by an interprofessional team of physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists allowed for appropriate ventilation for the patient while saving a mechanical ventilator for those that have no other option.

Through the leadership of our Inpatient Rehabilitation Educator and fellow Regis graduate, Jennifer Gunlikson, the rehabilitation staff received constant and pertinent information along with a platform to be innovative.  Her efforts in combination with our entire organization’s leadership has kept us informed, safe and calm.  One of the greatest pieces of education was for all patient care employees to understand how and which personal protective equipment should be used with patients who have COVID-19 and for patients who need to be protected from the virus.  As information brought forth by the CDC was ever-changing, so was our education.  Detailed information frequently and in various platforms was provided so that use of PPE was safe, effective, and efficient.

As a rehabilitation team, we banded together to make innovative discharge plans and identify key needs for ongoing education surrounding the COVID-19 virus.  We came together as a team to facilitate quick and safe discharge plans for patients who were not positive with COVID-19 in order to get them out of the hospital.  We increased treatment times and frequencies, we increased family training (including virtual training over iPad and smart phones) in order to maximize function and facilitate a safe discharge out of the hospital.  We also came together to share our individual expertise to the rehabilitation team, providing increased mentoring of therapists for practice in the ICU and increased training on mechanical ventilators and respiratory equipment.  With collaboration from our community Doctor of Physical Therapy programs at Regis University and the University of Colorado, we were able to develop a training video on respiratory pathology and common interventions to maximize ventilation and mobilize secretions.

The battle to contain COVID-19 and care for our patients is not yet complete, and the future is still uncertain.   We will continue to feel anxiety, grief, compassion, empathy and innovation as we navigate these unexpected times.  But in the meantime, we hope we have flattened the curve, we are prepared, we are strong and we will overcome.

 

A Day in the Life of a PT Treating Patients with COVID-19: true stories from the front lines

~Jenny Logan, PT, DPT, NCS, Senior PT, University of Colorado Hospital~

I park my car in the parking lot of the University of Colorado Hospital and begin my walk into the hospital. I pass night shifters leaving the hospital still wearing a mask. I momentarily feel exposed and naked without a mask. I head to the small office that the COVID therapy team has been relegated to in order to decrease exposure. I grab my surgical mask and begin to chart review.

Patient A (55 y/o male, no past medical history, anesthesiologist), day 29 of hospital stay, 21 days in ICU, mechanically ventilated x 18 days. Per chart, patient is medically ready to discharge when cleared by PT.

Patient B (26 y/o male, no past medical history) 34 days in the ICU, 31 days on mechanical ventilation, decannulated from ECMO 6 days ago, extubated yesterday

Patient C (37 y/o female, history of HTN, DM, obesity, Spanish speaking, undocumented, no insurance), 27 days in ICU, trach placed five days ago, still mechanically ventilated. Decannulated from ECMO 10 days ago.

Patient D (65 y/o female, no past medical history, Spanish speaking, undocumented, no insurance), 18 days in the ICU, still mechanically ventilated x 15 days.

Patient E (39 y/o male, no past medical history), hospital stay x 32 days, mechanical ventilation x 28 days, trach placed 7 days ago.

Patient F (53 year old male, no past medical history, Spanish speaking, undocumented, no insurance). 37 days in ICU, trach placed 4 days ago. PEA arrest x 3.

 Patient G (45 y/o female, history of HTN and obesity), 18 days in ICU, 12 days on mechanical ventilation.

I grab my N-95 mask that was reprocessed yesterday using UV light. Is it really still effective? I can’t think about this too much. I have work to do.

I head to see my first patient, Patient A. I don my N-95 mask, yellow gown, gloves and face shield. Immediately my nose begins to itch. Why does this always happen the moment I put on my mask?

The patient is sitting in bed, chatting on his phone but immediately hangs up when he realizes that I am from PT. I assist him to ambulate in the room without a walker. He is very unsteady on his feet and but he only loses his balance twice which is an improvement from yesterday. He can only tolerate 30’ to the door and back twice before needing a rest break. Despite his shortness of breath, his SpO2 remains above 90% on room air. I ask if we can call his wife to discuss discharge planning. Once she is on the phone, I explain that her husband is ready to discharge home today. She begins to cry tears of joy. It has been 29 days since they have seen each other. I explain that he will need to quarantine himself at home for 14 days to avoid exposure to his family. This means that we will need to send him home with a walker because he cannot walk safely or independently without it. Neither seems bothered by this despite the fact that he was working as an anesthesiologist prior to contracting COVID and was an avid cyclist and skier. I also explain that she will need to assist with his medications at home. This is for a man who managed medications for a living but now has cognitive impairments that will prevent him from doing this safely on his own. I review the home exercise program that I have created for him and provide a few TheraBands. He will likely be unable to receive home health PT as he has yet to test negative for COVID. I exit and wish him well at home. “Thank you for everything you have done for me,” he says.

I head to the Neuro ICU, which has been transformed into a COVID ICU. I catch a nurse as she heads from one room to the next.

“How is Patient B doing this morning? Stable after extubation? Can I work with him?” I say. Yes, please, says the nurse as she rushes into her next room where the patient is crashing.

The patient is drowsy but wakes easily when I say his name. I introduce myself and explain that I am here to help him get moving. His eyes widen and he whispers, barely audible, “ok.” His voice is very weak likely due to the amount of time spent on a ventilator. I administer a CAM-ICU, which is positive for ICU delirium. He does not know why he is in the hospital and he thinks that the date is in April. He was admitted in April but it is now May. He looks shocked when I tell him the date and that he is in the hospital for coronavirus. I explain that he has been very sick in the ICU for weeks and on many medications that have made him lose track of time and forget everything that has happened to him. I ask him to raise his arms and he can barely lift them past 30 degrees of shoulder flexion. He cannot lift his legs off the bed in a straight leg raise. I help him move to the edge of the bed with maximal assist. He feels very dizzy. His blood pressure drops initially but stabilizes quickly. He seems to have forgotten how to use his arms to help support him while sitting on the edge of bed. After several minutes, he finds his equilibrium and can sit up with only a minimal amount of assist. He whispers, “This is so cool.”

Periodically someone knocks on the glass door and gives a thumbs up. It is a question. Am I doing ok in the room? Do I need anything? Usually the answer is no. I’ve got this. This is what I do – working in an ICU to help patients regain function. But it’s nice to know that I am part of a team that has my back and is working to help each other.

I move on to the next patient, Patient C, who I have been working with for a few weeks. “Do you want to try standing today?” She vigorously nods her head. She can’t talk because she has a tracheostomy but she can write. She writes that she has been waiting for me all day because she can’t stand being in the bed any longer. She also writes that she feels sad today. She misses her family and really wants to talk to them, especially her sister. I tell her that her sister went to rehab today (her sister also has COVID and our rehab has been to converted to a COVID only rehab) so maybe we can try to arrange a Face Time session later. She needs less help to sit up at the edge of the bed today. With help from me and the nurse, she stands but can only stand for ~ 30 seconds. She sits back down and looks frustrated. “Why can’t I walk?” she writes. I try to explain that she has been in the hospital and very sick for weeks. It has made her muscles very weak and her lungs unable to provide enough oxygen to her body. She will have to re-learn how to do just about everything.

As I walk down the hall to take a short break (ie remove my mask, breath some fresh air, scratch the itch I’ve had on my nose for hours), a physician assistant stops me. “We would really like for you to work with this patient because we think she is too weak to wean off the ventilator.” Roger that. Mask back on, no time to rest. This patient, Patient D, is on spontaneous settings on the ventilator, meaning that she is doing all of the work to breath on her own. Her respiratory rate is high so I cue her to breathe deeply and slowly. I show her the numbers on the telemetry monitor as visual feedback and she is able to slow her respiratory rate. I assist her to the edge of bed just as her medical team walks by. They wave at her through the glass and she waves back. After the session as I leave the room, the respiratory therapist tells me that the team was so impressed with how she did while mobilizing that they are going to extubate her today. “Yesssssss!” I think to myself.

I meet up with my OT colleague to see our next patient together, Patient E. He is too deconditioned to tolerate two separate sessions. He is awake but fidgety. I walk in and remind him who I am. He says, “Hey, how are you?” He has a speaking valve over his trach and I am hearing his voice for the first time in a week. “It’s so good to hear your voice,” I say. “Can I have a diet coke?” he asks. I explain that he has not yet been cleared to swallow by the speech therapist because his muscles for swallowing are weak just like the rest of his body. Once sitting at the edge of the bed, he asks again “Can I have a diet coke?” I explain again why this is not yet possible. OT and I assist him to stand and pivot onto the bedside commode. After he catches his breath, “Can I have a diet coke?” We stand and pivot into a chair. “Can I have a diet coke? Please let me have a diet coke. Can I talk to the diet coke boss?” I assure him that I will speak to the diet coke boss (ie SLP) when we are finished. Outside of the room, I say to OT, “He really presents like someone with an anoxic brain injury – so perseverative and unable to remember from one minute to the next.”  “Yeah, that’s tough. He’s so young,” she says.

As I gear up to head into my next patient’s room, someone walking by yells that the neighbor is disconnected from the ventilator. I already have on PPE so I go in. The patient has self-extubated and I suddenly find myself alone in a code-like situation. I scramble for the ambu bag and begin giving breaths to the patient manually. It takes a few minutes for nurses and doctors to get all of their PPE on. Once in the room, they take charge. The patient’s oxygen saturation is dropping quickly so I help to restrain the patient while the physicians quickly and expertly re-intubate him.

After my tachycardia subsides, I decide it is time for a break. I grab food that someone has donated to the hospital. Once back in the office, my OT colleague on rehab tells me “Remember that patient you worked with that had a brachial plexus injury from poor positioning in prone? She is getting some return in her arm and is now walking.”  “What?!? That’s awesome!” I say. “ I’m so happy she is making such good progress. She was a hot mess when I evaluated her in the ICU.”

I check in with the nurse for my next patient, Patient F. “I don’t know,” she says. “He has been really agitated and tried to pull out his trach a little while ago. But I guess you can try.” As I walk in, the patient is restless and attempting to get out of bed. I calmly begin speaking to him in Spanish, reminding him where he is and why he’s here. His body begins to relax a bit. His sheets still have bloodstains from when he tried to pull out his trach earlier today. I help him move to the edge of the bed and he is suddenly very calm. I notice photos of his family in the room so I bring them over and we talk about his family. I don’t recognize the patient from the photos as he has lost at least 50lbs from his time in the hospital. Like so many others, he has been in the ICU for weeks, most of that time on a ventilator with a trickle of nutrition going into his stomach from a tube in his nose. Today he takes his first steps. He is like a newborn learning to walk again, feet too narrow and then too wide, hands holding him up on either side. After the session the patient is calm in bed, his agitation having ceased. The nurse is amazed and grateful.

My final patient of the day, Patient G, is a nurse who works at a rehab facility. She has a gentle southern drawl and a great sense of humor. Her arms are so weak that she cannot bring her hand to scratch her face or feed herself or hold her phone to talk to her family. Her sister calls while I’m in the room and I hold the phone to her ear so she can talk to her. She is able to stand for the first time today with the Sara Stedy. She does a little shimmy while standing because she is so excited. We laugh. It feels good to laugh.

At the end of the day, back in my car, I breathe a sigh of relief. It’s been another good day of work but I’m exhausted. As I drive away, I see signs saying “Thank you healthcare workers.” I feel grateful to have chosen a career that allows me to fight this pandemic from the front lines, giving the gift of function back to my patients.

 

 

Endorphins Galore: Regis DPT Run Club

What are better de-stressors than exercise, a pint (or two) from one of the various Denver area breweries, and socializing with your friends after a week of classes? Well, why not put all of those together? This past year, Class of 2021’s Jack Corrigan and Michelle Perry spearheaded the start of a weekly run club that meets every Friday at a different brewery. A route is planned that finishes back at the brewery where classmates share a beer and stories from the past week. Here are reasons to join next time:

Running/walking/hiking

As most of us know, exercise releases endorphins that can put anyone who has had a long, demanding week in a better mood. In addition, we live in a beautiful and sunny city in Denver, Colorado where the majestic Rockies are always in view and the sun is almost always shining. We run around Sloan’s Lake, along the Cherry Creek and South Platte River, and along the trails of North Table Mountain. If you don’t run, you can walk or hike also! If these reasons aren’t enough for you, let’s move to number 2.

Beer/Ciders

Denver is known as one of the beer capitals in the world, with about 150 breweries in the city alone. They range from the local microbrewery down the street from campus (Goldspot Brewery) to one of the largest breweries in the world (Coors). Some are out near one of the many trail systems (New Terrain Brewery) while others are in the middle of downtown (Denver Beer Company). As you can see, there’s lots of options and still many more we need to try out. If beer isn’t your favorite beverage (even though most breweries have now other options), I think this last reason will get you out.

Camaraderie

Aside from sharing the run and beer together, the club has been the time to get the 1st and 2nd year DPT students together as well. We give or hear advice, learn about each other’s journeys to PT school, and plan other adventures for the weekends. It’s easy for the different cohorts to be isolated from each other during the school day as we have different classes and may never see one another other than the occasional passing in the hallways. The run club solves that dilemma as we meet more of the Regis PT community. The great thing about our group of classmates is our diversity. We have people from all around the country with different backgrounds, ages, and experiences.   Learning from and about each other has been the best part.

As you can see, the run club has created an opportunity to get outside, sweat a little bit, enjoy some libations, and enjoy the company of each other. Every type of skill level, pace, and desired distance is welcome. Hope to see you at the next one, whenever it may be. Until then we eagerly await being together again. Cheers! 

Jack Corrigan, Class of 2021

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A Trying Time – A Student’s Perspective on COVID-19

Regis University has ceased in-person classes at this time in response to the recent Pandemic. Read about Class of 2022’s Diversity Chair Peter Lee’s perspective on what this means to us as future healthcare professionals.

 

“ At the core of being a healthcare professional lies the belief that human life holds value, that it is worth saving.”

Times are undoubtedly tough. We started off our first year of PT school with a foreign cyber-attack and we are ending it with a shift to online classes during a global pandemic. I do not want to minimize that adversity; our shared circumstances are unfortunate. However, it is entirely possible to acknowledge our struggles yet maintain a compassionate outlook for society as a whole. We, the Class of 2022, engaged in passionate discussion in the midst of executive decisions regarding COVID19. As we pondered how we can most effectively be responsible members of society while simultaneously developing our skills as future healthcare professionals, my personal connections drew me to an obvious answer.

It is obvious that most of us got into this profession because we wanted to help people in one way or another. Furthermore, we have made many sacrifices to get here. Personally, my future career as a DPT in the United States is the result of hard work, sacrifice, and courageous dreaming by generations of my family; therefore, we have everything riding on my education. Recent events especially strike my heart as my family survived the SARS outbreak in the epicenter of the epidemic. I was little, but I remember the fear, the funerals, and overall how it changed the fabric from which my home was delicately sewn. The most important lesson I learned from that outbreak was that everyone plays a role in lessening the blow of an epidemic; it is a community effort to flatten the curve. It is important for us all to take the necessary precaution and do our part for the greater good of society.

What makes a great PT is mostly being a genuinely kind person with a little bit of being an excellent clinician. My classmates’ kind and giving nature assure me we are all going to make excellent DPTs, but it is important to practice what will make us great clinicians now. That takes thinking beyond ourselves. While the odds are most of us will not suffer directly from this virus, this goes beyond us. At the core of being a healthcare professional lies the belief that human life holds value, that it is worth saving. We hold the ability to do just that. Even more so, it is our responsibility as future DPTs.

Admittedly, during our class discussion some members were worried the hands-on experience essential to learning DPT skills would be compromised with a shift to online classes so that students and faculty could practice social distancing. I challenge my classmates to look at the bigger picture. This inconvenience in our education is such a small wave in the big ocean of providing healthcare. We cannot risk spreading this disease to those more vulnerable than ourselves. people like our parents or grandparents, the love of someone’s life, someone’s child, someone’s hero. Think of the healthcare professionals that we look up to, that we will be working with one day,  that will be working in overcrowded hospitals that won’t have the capacity to treat those who need. Remember what makes us choose to pursue healthcare every day.

Today, we have the power to enact positive change. We have the ability to discern scientific information from fear inducing social media posts. We have the power to explain to people in our lives why social distancing is important. By attacking our current situation with calmness, peace, and kindness, we can make a bigger difference than we think. Stay healthy, study hard, and spread love.

Peter Lee, Class of 2022

 

How are you taking care of yourself during social distancing? Aside from their online classes, our students are hanging out with their pets, doing at-home workouts, and responsibly enjoying the trails.

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Father Woody’s Haven of Hope

Written by: Colleen Lopp, Regis DPT 2nd Year Student

How often do you drive by someone experiencing homelessness? What do you do? How do you feel? Maybe I am naïve and optimistic, but I like to believe everyone who is willing to beg in the street could use some help and I always want to offer what I can. I usually shift through my purse only to realize I don’t have cash. I look around my car hoping I managed to stow away a snack, but I don’t find one. On the rare chance where I do have something to offer them, I quickly hand it to them before the light changes, but I am left wondering if that was what they needed. I wonder who they are and wish I could have a conversation. Just a moment of passing someone in a car, doesn’t create an opportunity to understand or to let go of any judgments I might feel.

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At Father Woody’s Haven of Hope I feel like I get the chance to have a conversation. The shelter itself is open Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 1:00pm. There are countless resources such as laundry service, phone service, internet access, clothing donations, hygiene kits, distribution of over the country medications, an outreach coordinator to work one on one with guests on finding resources for employment, transportation, and housing opportunities. There are also many weekly resources such as representatives from stout street mobile medical clinic, VA representatives’ visits, dental clinic, yoga classes, and massage therapy. Every 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month Regis opens a physical therapy and wound clinic. This shelter fosters a safe community of support in which those experiencing homelessness can get the resources they need.

There are so many DPT students who have given up their Wednesday mornings to help run the clinic, make breakfast, sort through clothing donations, and lend a hand. It’s an opportunity to serve a population in need and often learn about someone’s experiences from their own perspective. For me, I have had a chance to work with a number of patients and it is eye opening. It is often a little intimidating trying to treat someone who is experiencing homelessness, but I try to be present for the patient and make seeing a health care provider a positive experience for them. One patient that really resonated with me was an older man who was covered in face tattoos. He was looking for wound care for his recently amputated toe, after losing it to frostbite. As I started to gather his history, he was very open with me about his drug usage and his journey with addition and told me he was currently coming off a high. He shared with me his story on losing love ones and how he started his substance abuse. He told me how his relationship with speed and other drugs lead him to the streets. He was currently searching for a rehab program that would allow him to remain on his medications for diabetes. It was really powerful to listen to his story and be able to create a space where he could share. Instead of coming from a place of judgement, I praised him on his journey and encourage him to keep looking for rehab centers. Dr. Alice Davis helped clean the wound and we were able to provide a new pair of socks to help keep his feet dry and clean. At the end of the session we were able to get him in contact with the Father Woody’s staff to help find more information on rehab centers in the Denver area.

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When working with those experiencing homelessness, there are so many factors contributing to their well-being, creating a space of understanding and openness is powerful and can help treat the patient. I believe that even a conversation can offer comfort and in some cases, can lead to further information on resources to address their needs. Father Woody’s allows for increased access to healthcare and connections to resources to really serve those in need. Spending time in the Father Woody’s clinic has made me want to work more with those experiencing homelessness even more and learn more about how I can help. Even a simple conversation can make a difference.

Hey Class of 2022, Why Regis?

Interviews are right around the corner for prospective Regis DPT students, and current students and faculty could not be more excited to welcome them to our campus. We wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on just a few of the myriad of diverse reasons that our current students chose Regis. Some first-year students reflected on the major choice they made just one year ago. Radiating themes that seem to have drawn the class in include: obvious inclusiveness within the program, a unique emphasis on service to others, seemingly endless opportunities, and adventure in the beautiful state of Colorado. Meet some of our amazing students!

Brittney Galli

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Hey all! My name is Brittney, I am a Colorado native who knew I would miss the mountains WAY too much if I chose to attend grad school in another state. Luckily for me, Regis University offers one of the best DPT programs in the country complete with 3-4 different clinical opportunities, hands-on lab experiences, and a variety of different ways to get more involved in the community.  The core Jesuit values that Regis embodies really emphasize inclusiveness, justice, teamwork, and the importance of making the world a better place: these are all concepts that I hold dear to my heart, so I knew that Regis was exactly where I was meant to be.
I had a wonderful yet somewhat unique experience applying to Regis: I actually applied a total of THREE times before being accepted into the program. Throughout my journey, I had immense support from the admissions office on how to improve my application and set myself apart from other interviewees: with an excellent program comes an extremely competitive pool of applicants, so I kept improving and growing so that one day I would be among those accepted into the program.
All of the hard work and perseverance was COMPLETELY worth it: I am finally a member of the Regis DPT family and I would not want to be anywhere else! This program provides you all the support and tools you will need to succeed in whatever avenue you choose to pursue through a variety of intriguing coursework and a faculty who cares deeply about each and every individual in the program. Every day I am so excited to go to class and learn about how to become the best DPT I can possibly be all while still growing and improving as an individual. And in my spare time I am of course taking in all the beauty that Colorado has to offer.
Arianna Amendariz
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The interview process at Regis was my main drive to pursue my education here. The current students, faculty, and staff were all very welcoming and reassuring as to why we made it as far as we did–we all had the passion and desire to foster a positive difference in the community through physical therapy. The classes and professors continue to fuel that ambition every day.
Lena Parker 
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My name is Lena Parker and I am a first year SPT at Regis. My reason for choosing Regis University to receive my DPT degree is due to their strong value system. The Jesuit values of Regis University include cura personalis, doing more for others, and embracing a holistic approach. I had interviews at other schools that did not have an organized value system, and it absolutely made Regis stand out.
I was concerned at first because I am not a Jesuit, nor  have I ever practiced the Catholic faith. I was born and raised as a Shinnyo Buddhist. However, as I learned more about the Jesuit values, I found that they are broad and universal. Despite using language such as “God”, I could still deeply relate to and apply the Jesuit ideals. Another concern of mine was that the values were a facade and were not actually practiced by faculty and staff. During my first semester, I was relieved to see that the faculty regularly support the Jesuit values, without preaching them. I always feel supported physically and emotionally by the faculty. They emphasize community service as much as possible. We are always reflecting on our experiences to ensure that we as students can support ourselves, and therefore support our future patients.
Regis University is very accepting of people of all denominations, faiths, or lack of faith. I believe that these values are providing me with a unique and wholesome experience and shows that the school is not just trying to produce more robotic physical therapists. Regis truly cares about its students, and I am extremely glad that I chose this school to pursue my career goals.
Peter Lee 
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Regis stood out to me in my choices of DPT programs because I felt like Regis actively wanted me to be a part of their program. The general lack of responsiveness from programs during the application process can be discouraging, but Regis obviously placed value on their prospective students.
As an immigrant who came from a place that received assistance from all around the World in times of need, global health is important to me. I hope to one day be a patient-centered therapist who empowers diverse communities. Regis’s Global Health Pathway allows me to practice and serve with a global perspective; it played a big role in my decision to enroll.
Suzanne Peters
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I am an incredibly indecisive person. Therefore, I am thankful that Regis stood out so far above the other schools I was applying to, making this major life decision so easy. The highlights for me during my interview process included the abundance of opportunities and the personable attitudes of the students and staff on interview day and throughout my admissions process.
Opportunities at Regis include, but are by no means limited to, service learning, the Global Health Pathway, and many student government roles. Last year, I felt like I could see myself being apart of this intricate network of roles and growing opportunities. A year later, it has become a reality and I am so thankful! Anyone who is excited to be challenged and grow as a person, student, and a future clinician should pursue Regis.
Additionally, my personality meshed well with Regis students almost immediately both at interview day and a year later when I stepped into Claver Hall for the first time as an official student. The attitude here is friendly, helpful, and upbeat. I have found that the way the current students and staff interacted with us on interview day was direct and genuine, which to me is extremely important and reflective of the character here. Both the staff and students are true to themselves.
Lastly, you cannot beat this location! I am from the Midwest and have loved my move to Denver. It is so great to get out to the mountains every weekend and recharge. There are many new hobbies to explore here and there always seems to be a classmate who is an expert and is ready to help you learn. That’s why Regis!
@regis_dpt

Student Spotlight: Johnny Herrera discuses the APTA National Student Conclave

Name: Johnny Herrera, Class of 2021, Colorado APTA Core Ambassador in 2018-2019

Undergrad: Grand View University

Hometown: Santiago, Dominican Republic

Fun Fact: During my junior and senior years of high school I only had class on Saturdays

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A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of attending the National Student Conclave (NSC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. For those of you who don’t know me, during my first year of PT school I was involved with the APTA through a position as the Colorado APTA Core Ambassador (feel free to contact me about what this position is!). I chose to attend this conference because it is the only conference that the APTA offers specifically for students, and it is also the only conference that is mainly put together by students. I believe NSC was put together as a conference where students vote for the upcoming term of Student Assembly Board of Directors (SABoD), and the students from the previous term hand over their positions. I figured I’m only a PT student once, so I might as well see what the APTA offers during a conference made for students. Most people viewed me as being nuts for leaving town during Halloween weekend, but when I look back on my time at the conference, I can truly say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Here are a few reasons why:

  • During my time as core ambassador, I worked under supervision of the SABoD. The SABoD is a board of current students from all over the country who serve every SPT/SPTA in the country and improve their interactions with the APTA. When I began this position as a first year student, it was daunting to think that I could have any sort of impact on other students. I had put the members of the SABoD on a pedestal for taking on such large roles within the APTA, and when I arrived at the NSC, I realized all of the members of the board during my term as Core Ambassador were there. Turns out, they’re a pretty cool group of humans. I had initially found myself intimidated because they were students who had these huge responsibilities and large platforms; but it turns out they were all just like any other student in PT school, just with a bit more responsibility. They are all broke college kids who study a ton, have doubts and fears about PT school and their futures, and love to have fun on the weekends with their friends. Being able to interact with them and get to know them personally was honestly refreshing. It was nice to see that those who had these high positions were no different than myself or any different than my current Regis classmates. They just had a passion for student involvement and they made sure to do something about it! I left having this renewed sense of ability to accomplish anything I really wanted to, and it was because of these amazing humans.
  • While reflecting about the NSC, I realized how similar it was to Regis DPT’s interview day. I know that for some, that day was super stressful, but for me, it was about getting to know people and further realizing why I wanted to join such an amazing profession. When I looked around at NSC, it was a huge melting pot of students from all around the country coming together to demonstrate their passion for PT and its future. It was so cool to hear about the amazing things that students all over the country are doing and how they’re making an impact within their communities.
  • People from all over the country recognize Regis, so when you tell them you go to school there, they WANT to talk to you. Selfishly, it was really cool to hear about how many students really wanted to go to Regis but didn’t get in (small pat on the back moment for getting in).
  • One of the talks was put together by Jimmy McKay, who is the CEO of the podcast “PT Pintcast”. For those of you who have never heard of it, definitely look into it and you might find some of our professors on previous episodes! The talk was a live podcast interview, where Jimmy interviewed Shante Cofield (AKA the Movement Maestro) and Josh D’Angelo (AKA founder of PT Day of Service) and then was interviewed by them. The point of the interviews was to share stories of how they used their passions to build what they now do for a living, and their stories ended by saying that all they had to do was ask. It sounds like such a simple thing, but when the worst thing that can be said to you after a question is “no”, then why not shoot for the stars? (I believe all 3 interviews are uploaded, so go listen to them for some motivation!) All weekend long, all 3 of these individuals were at some of the booths in the exhibit hall, so I got to meet them and have conversations with them. How often do you get to walk up to a stranger who you know has made a difference in the world of PT and just get to chat with them?!
  • Throughout the weekend, I was able to learn about a variety of travel companies, OP clinics, and residencies. I was even able to build rapport with specific clinic and residency directors, hopefully putting me in a good position in the future to pursue employment or a resident position within one of those companies if I choose to.
  • Lastly, the absurd amount of free stuff. Who doesn’t like soft t-shirts and pint glasses?!!

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The NSC Exhibit Hall

As exhausted (and possibly hungover) as I was during my drive back to Denver, there were so many good memories and great relationships built during that weekend. I hope I was able to give you some insight as to what these large conferences are all about. Last time I heard, NSC was going to be discontinued until the APTA found a better way of getting student involvement within the conference. That can change soon, so stay updated on NSC news, and if they decide to keep it rolling while you’re a student, I can promise you that the money and travel will be well worth it.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about anything or if you want to know more about APTA involvement! Can’t wait for everyone to experience this at CSM this year!

Second Year Students Kick off “Toolkit Talks”

“Toolkit Talks” were instigated by second year students Tara Dirocco, Emily Cornelius, & Syd Knadler.

“The three of us were talking during Spring Break and reflecting on the diverse experiences and knowledge that our class has and how much we would love to learn from each other. We learn a lot in class from our professors, but we realized that there is a rich untapped resource of knowledge in our peers. So, we proposed a platform similar to TEDTalks and now we have ToolKit Talks—an opportunity to learn from our peers and add more knowledge to our ever-expanding PT toolkit.” -Emily Cornelius

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2nd Year Students Tara Dirocco, Emily Cornelius, & Syd Knadler:  Creators of “Toolkit Talks” 

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In Tara Dirocco’s session “Chill Out: Meditation to Help Get You Through,” Tara shared her background in yoga and meditation with an incredibly revitalizing “Love and Kindness Meditation.”

Jack Anderson shared inspiring insights from his favorite novel “Legacy” in his session “New Zealand All-Blacks: Using Sports to Learn About Life.”

 

 

Move Forward 5k/10k Race 2019, Featuring a New Course!

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 Are you a runner, walker, or just love dogs (and/or beer)? The Regis University School of Physical Therapy is hosting its 17th iteration of the Move Forward 5k/10k and kids run at Regis University on September 21st, 2019. The race will take place on the Regis University Northwest Denver campus, and we are especially excited this year to unveil a new course that takes participants off campus and onto the beautiful Clear Creek trail headed west. The course for both the 5k and 10k is an out-and-back and starts and finishes in the quad on the Regis University campus. I am an avid runner but will get to experience a race from the other side of things this time as a race director. This race welcomes all ages, levels of fitness, and supports two amazing foundations: The Foundation for Physical Therapy and Canine Companions for Independence

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Our youngest companion in training, Garin

This race is especially important to the school of physical therapy because it is hosted by the students of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program and has been an annual event for 17 years! This race means a lot to our program, and the physical therapy profession as we share our passion for promoting health, involving community, and raising money for Canine Companions for Independence and the Foundation for Physical Therapy. Canine Companions is especially meaningful to Regis, as we have annual teams of students who assist in puppy raising before they are sent to train to become a fully-fledged service dog. The Foundation for Physical Therapy helps support research in physical therapy for our future profession.

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Wether you are a running machine or are looking for a fun casual time we would love for you to join us. Early morning bagels, fruit, and coffee will be provided to give you that pickup before the race! Stick around after the race to enjoy burgers, hot dogs, and last but not least…beer! There will also be yoga, music, vendors, and Canine Companions for Independence dogs to keep you busy! Also remember to bring your kids! This is a family friendly event and the kids run will be a fun event around our beautiful quad area! 

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We are still looking for sponsors–this race is a non-profit and all proceeds go to the aforementioned foundations. If you or you know someone who would like to sponsor this race, the Regis University School of Physical Therapy and our foundations would be extremely grateful! No donation is too small, a little goes a long way! You can find more information or sign up for the race at https://runsignup.com/Race/CO/Denver/MoveForward5K10K . There is also a donation button listed on the website for donations. 

 

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this race, please email our sponsorship team at gdaub@regis.edu or jolden@regis.edu for more information. 

Please join us for this amazing event! Again, the race will be held at Regis University on Saturday, September 21, 2019 starting at 7:30am!

If you have any further questions, please contact me at mlombardo@regis.edu

Hope to see you there! 

~ Mark Lombardo, Class of 2020 Move Forward Representative

 

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Ira Gorman discusses healthcare policy and PT advocacy

Like most physical therapists, my passion for PT arose from the desire to empower people to achieve their greatest state of well-being and functional independence. However, as I progress in my education, I am learning that the simple goal of helping people can be far more complex in our convoluted healthcare system. Furthermore, if I want to truly serve society, I cannot simply treat individual patients. I must advocate for larger changes through public health.

To elucidate some of the confusion around healthcare,  Dr. Ira Gorman speaks today about the current healthcare system, the need for awareness and advocacy to advance public health policies, and recent changes in the practice of PT.

-Priya Subramanian, SPT- Regis University

Regis DPT Global Health Pathway Immersion trip to Huancayo, Peru

This past spring, 8 students from the Regis DPT Global Health Pathway attended a 3-week global immersion trip to Huancayo, Peru, led by Regis DPT faculty member Dr. Heidi Eigsti and Regis DPT alumnus Dr. Amber Walker.

entire group

“We were fortunate to have the expertise of Dr. Heidi Eigsti and Dr. Amber Walker. This was Dr. Eigsti’s third trip to Huancayo and it took about 5 seconds after our plane landed to realize how popular she is in Huancayo. It was quickly evident how much genuine compassion she invested into her relationships on previous trips. She developed trust, and what I realized is that when you care that deeply about others, they don’t forget. The foundation that Dr. Eigsti and past students built on previous trips allowed us to quickly build relationships with these individuals as well. As a result, we were able to hit the ground running with our purpose there in partnering with them.” -Dr. Jessica Kirkwood, Regis DPT Class of 2019

Family Nurse Practitioner and DPT students collaborated with the Catholic Medical Mission Board Community Based Rehabilitation program to provide inter-professional support and services to children who have disabilities and their families. Students had the opportunity to provide physical therapy services in a collaborative model of care at Carrion hospital outpatient physical therapy department.

“These experiences help both students and faculty more clearly define personal and professional values, acknowledge what we can learn from others, and ask us to expand our perception of how we can have a greater impact on the health outcomes of all members in our communities specifically those members who live on the margins.” -Dr. Heidi Eigsti.

 

Student Perspective on the value of the Global Pathway Immersion Trips

 “It was incredibly valuable to experience another culture in such an immersive way. We spent much of our time learning about the healthcare system in Peru while providing free health fairs and working at Carrion Hospital and CMMB, a non-profit organization that provides therapy for children with disabilities. I will never forget the people I met, the places I saw, the food I ate, and the lessons I learned during my 3 weeks in Huancayo.

I came into the trip with a very go-to attitude and I wanted to help as much as I possibly could. However, during this trip I realized that sometimes more important than doing is watching, listening, and going with the flow. This is something that I feel we’re taught in our global health pathway as a whole. However, the concept really hit home for me in Peru and I left with a humility that I had not expected to come away with. I realized that we weren’t there to “do it all”; we were there to learn and to do some good while we were at it. Sometimes our impact is big, like providing adaptive equipment to a child with cerebral palsy. Sometimes our impact is smaller, like putting a smile on someone else’s face for 0.5 seconds. I realized that sometimes the biggest impact is just showing up, learning, listening, and showing love.” -Dr. Amber Bolen, Class of 2019

 

“My experience in Huancayo, Peru was filled with endless learning. It did not take long for me to realize how often I take my resources for granted. As our trip coordinator Natalia reminded us, “You have amazing teachers, you have amazing resources, you have amazing opportunities. Take them.” This trip was a much needed reminder that I have been given endless privileges that others are not as fortunate to receive. It is my duty to consistently use these privileges to help others. Working with our community partners in Peru- Carrion Hospital, Continental University, and CMMB- taught me a lot about the differences in our healthcare system and how deeply limited resources acts as a restriction to outcomes. Navigating these relationships was also very impactful, as it taught me how to balance respect with education to work on both nurturing relationships while also promoting health in our profession. The change we made in those quick 3 weeks is really minimal in the big picture, but taking the lessons I learned and applying it to my future practice is what will make a difference. Witnessing the social injustices experienced in Huancayo firsthand has lit a fire inside of me- to open my eyes a little wider, listen a little clearer, and to act with more intention.”– Dr. Jessica Kirkwood, Class of 2019

 

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2019 APTA Federal Advocacy Forum – “Day on the Hill”

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Colorado members at the Forum representing and advocating for the #ChoosePT campaign.

Last week,  the APTA Federal Forum in Washington D.C. took place to advocate for important topics to physical therapists. The Forum brought together APTA members, speakers from the field, and stakeholders on the discussion of regulatory affairs and federal priorities that impact the physical therapy profession and its patients, as well as on learning about new information that comes with a new Congress. Attendees had the opportunity to speak with their representatives in person about issues facing their state and the profession as a whole. Among those in attendance were our very own Regis DPT students and faculty members. Second-year DPT student Hannah Clark reflects on her experience on the Hill and why it is crucial to not only advocate for our profession, but to be involved as a student, in her following essay:

“Issues Discussed at the Capital”

Hannah Clark, SPT – Regis University

To fundamentally agree with the policy positions held by the APTA is an exceptional feeling. As a DPT student who is hoping to delve headfirst into pain management and advocacy for marginalized communities in healthcare upon graduation, my decision to pursue this profession has been deeply validated by attending the Federal Advocacy Forum (FAF). Witnessing leaders within the APTA address topics related to population health, patient choice and access, value-based care and practice, and research and innovation helped me to fully recognize the crucial role the APTA has in influencing the policies that impact our ability to serve society. For these reasons, it felt important for me to join the GAC team advocating at the capital and I was deeply honored to be selected.

Due to the recent success regarding the removal of the Medicare cap, we were able to spend more time becoming educated and advocating for the field of physical therapy in a broader sense. On Monday, we spent the entire day learning about the current political climate in congress from Nation Gonzalez at CNN, the societal impact of healthcare policy from Sarah Kliff at Vox, and attended breakout sessions that detailed information regarding federal policy, payment, the ACA, Medicaid, and IDEA. One of the most emphasized topics throughout the day involved the #ChoosePT campaign. The APTA reminded those attending the FAF of the real impact physical therapists can have on the opioid epidemic through offering vulnerable populations access to non-pharmacological pain management. Clear objectives were presented that tackled this issue in addition to intra-professional issues such as student loan repayment. Several policy priorities were presented for every state to choose from when planning their congressional meetings.

The following topics were addressed by the Colorado GAC team when meeting with legislative assistants:

  • Our geriatric specialists spoke to the vital role in we play in exercise promotion and fall risk reduction in the community. Conversations were also had in the valuable perspective physical therapists can bring to park and recreational center design.
  • Our pediatric specialists asked congresspeople to consider expanding the budget for IDEA as they have witnessed the impact this program has on the lives of children.
  • Our outpatient clinicians provided examples of how they have successfully treated patients experiencing chronic pain and assisted them in weaning off opioids. These individuals also spoke to the measurable reduction in opioid use they have made in their local hospital system by implementing early access to physical therapy services.
  • Our students asked our congresspeople to cosponsor SB970 (and eventually the same bill when it is brought to the house) that would add physical therapists to the National Health Service Corps. This would allow graduates to serve rural populations, often most impacted by opioid addiction, and would offer student loan repayment as an incentive.
  • Our long-time advocates requested that physical therapists be added as community health center providers, as we are a vital element of the primary care team.

In addition to the invaluable time spent at the FAF learning about how physical therapists can impact healthcare quality and access in the U.S., one of the most important aspects of the weekend for my professional growth was getting to know the GAC members I accompanied. The people I spent time with exemplified everything I love and respect about our profession. They spoke with genuine care for their patients, integrity in leadership opportunities, intelligence in considering the complexity of pain, passion for their interventions, and commitment to social responsibility. Our conversations had a large impact on my personal development.

I returned to class following the Federal Advocacy Forum with a fresh perspective. I felt focused and calm as I approached coursework and simulation labs. Attending FAF granted me the opportunity to further shape who I aspire to be as a professional and world citizen. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and truly believe that if any student were to have the chance to participate in this event, they would foster a deeper appreciation for the APTA and for healthcare advocacy at large.

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Hannah (pictured second from right) was all smiles with fellow members of the Forum at the 2019 APTA Federal Forum in Washington D.C.