How to Avoid Burnout in PT School

 

Name: Brad Fenter, Class of 2019
Undergrad: University of Texas at Tyler, TX
Hometown: Vernon, TX
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Burnout is an interesting thing, mainly because it only happens with things that we love. No one gets burned out on things we hate or even things we just feel a little “meh” about. The concept that we no longer want to be around or indulge in something we love is very unsettling . No one has ever gotten burned out on onions; no one loves onions. We tolerate them and can even enjoy them, but love them? No. And if you’re thinking to yourself, “I love onions!” Then you’re most likely an alien trying—unsuccessfully—to assimilate with human society.

No, burnout is only possible with something we love. For me, I love Clif Bars—specifically the white chocolate macadamia flavor. If you think another flavor is better, that’s completely fine. Just know I’ll be judging you until the end of time. Unfortunately for me and my love of Clif Bars, I went on a backpacking trip a few years ago with an entire case in tow. Every day I crammed those delicious little bars in my face until, one day, I just couldn’t eat them anymore. I wanted to eat them, but I just could not do it. I was burned out.

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My sadness is palpable.

After the trip, I had just one bar left and it has stayed in my pack as a sad, dilapidated reminder of what once was. I want you to learn from my mistakes and avoid burnout. Since this is a PT blog, here are 3 ways to ensure your time in PT school does not become a macadamia Clif Bar.

1. Pace Yourself

This is most important for when you’re first starting out in PT school. That first semester you tell yourself you’re going to read all the textbooks, watch all the online videos, and take excellent notes. If you do everything at top gear, you’ll be out of gas by October. Then what will you do? There are approximately…all of the semesters left at this point. Instead, take the time to learn good study habits and you won’t have to worry when you feel a little fatigued halfway through a semester.

When we discuss long commitments, the analogy of a marathon is always used: “Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint!” When I ran my marathon, though, it took only part of 1 day and I was finished by noon. To contrast, PT school is 8 semesters—which is around 3 years—which equates to…A lot of days. A better saying would be, “Remember it’s a 3-year commitment.” It may seem long right now, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not a long time. If you start with the right pacing in mind, then you will be better off. Do not be the brightest star for the first month only to flame out spectacularly for the next 32 months.

Had I paced myself a little better, Clif Bars and I would still be going steady and I would have my first love second love. My wife, of course, is my first love (as the bruise on my ribs proves after writing that previous sentence).

2. Get Involved (but not too much)

This point may seem to run counter to my previous one, but it will all make sense in the end (just like neuroscience except for the sense-making part). There are many opportunities to get involved with things outside of the main curriculum. You can run for a position as class officer, you can be a part of the puppy program, you can join a student interest group. You can go to conferences (quite handy since some of them are required, anyways) and get to know practicing PTs. All of these things are important. Getting involved in more than just schoolwork can remind you of why you started PT school in the first place.

The way I stay involved with my classmates is through Ultimate Frisbee. If there’s a pickup game going on after class, I’m there. I get to interact and stay engaged with my classmates outside of the lab or lecture hall; it’s great. I enjoy the exercise, competition, and group aspect of the whole thing. But all of those other things I listed before? I do exactly NONE of those things because I’m antisocial and don’t like new situations. Now, that may sound like the ramblings of an angry old man who wasn’t hugged enough as a child, but it is actually a larger part of my point. I have time to play a pick-up game of Ultimate Frisbee and enjoy a drink at the brewery afterwards. I don’t have time to attend the fellowship meeting after class, play frisbee, participate in the puppy program, volunteer to pass out flyers at commencement, and also do well on my finals.

You may be thinking, “I can do all of those things and still be successful!”

Is it possible to do? From a strictly physical standpoint, sure. If you want to end up like this:

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The point is not that all of these things are impossible. But, you will be drained by the end of each semester—just in time for finals.

3. Keep Perspective

This is, I believe, the most important point. I put it last to weed out the unworthy people who get scared of words milling about in groupings of greater than 140 characters. Now that they are gone, we can discuss the most important tool we possess to avoid burnout.

Perspective goes both directions in time. It’s important to remember the future we are working towards as practicing clinicians, but it is also important to see where we came from. If I were not in PT school I would still be plugging away at my old job with little satisfaction and a feeling that there is something more I could be doing. Anytime I feel a little down on myself, I think about how stressed I was beforehand; this serves as great motivation for the present. If you’re one of those young folks and have not had a previous career, then your perspective should be forward. Most people in life will never have the opportunity to work in such a fulfilling field as physical therapy or even get into PT school! When we zoom out from our studies, case assignments, skill checks, and lab practicals, we can see just how great we really have things.

You may be thinking, “I know this is important! But how do I actually accomplish this?” My most important tool for keeping perspective is to prioritize time for myself. Whenever a day is available, I will try to get outside and hike. Or bike. Or camp. Really, anything outside will do. Even when it’s just a weekend and there are exams on Monday, I will take a long bike ride to a coffee shop to study. That way I get to study with the addition of sunshine and exercise thrown in. If you hate all of these things for some unfathomable reason, there’s still hope for you. Maybe you like going to the movies or reading books. That’s great. Make time to do those things because if you do, you will be more successful.

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Making time for myself on a hike to Handies Park

 

For me, outdoor activities allow me to see the wider world and keep perspective on how insignificant many of the major stressors in my life really are. Regis’ DPT program is very good at pushing you to the edge and then pulling back just in time. But what happens when you feel like you’re going over the edge? What happens when you feel you’re on the road to burnout? Do you have the tools to pull back from the bleary-eyed, emotionally drained abyss? If you can pace yourself and get involved (but not too much) and keep perspective, you will be better equipped to avoid burnout. Remember, life doesn’t get easier once we are done with school, but this experience will prepare us to handle the difficulties that come our way.

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Here’s me, fellow student David Cummins, and more friends after tackling another one of life’s difficulties

 

5 Ways to Impress During Your Practical Exams

 

Name: Abbey Ferguson, Class of 2019
Undergrad: Westmont College, CA
Hometown: Sacramento, CA
Fun Fact: I absolutely love to dance! If any of you out there are dancers in need of a new dance studio here in Denver, I can definitely hook you up!

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Lab practicals are often the most terrifying and anxiety-provoking parts of physical therapy school. It is the chance for you to show your skills as a developing clinician in the most realistic setting possible, and they’re some of the only opportunities we get to practice being in the clinic before we get there. As a student who has only been in PT school for two semesters, I especially feel this weight due to our lack of clinical experience so far. However, while it may sound daunting, I have grown to love practical exams. As crazy as it sounds, I find it exciting to walk out of an interaction with a faculty member and feel like I could possibly interact with a real patient in a professional and capable way. While it took me a few exams to get there, I think I have found some ways that have made the tests manageable and exciting rather than threatening. I hope that these tips help, and always feel free to email me if you have more questions!

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We finished our first year of PT school! Class of 2019 Cinco De Mayo party

 

  1. Take deep breaths.

Prior to taking a practical exam, you will be given a time slot and an assigned room where you will perform your skill for a faculty grader. These time allotments begin at relatively short periods of 20-40 minutes, but as you take more classes, these can last for up to an hour or more. I’ve found that, to calm myself down before entering the exam room, taking the time to close my eyes and take a few deep breaths to simply slow my heart rate and clear my head is extremely helpful. For some reason, many of us students all cluster outside the rooms before our assigned times and stress each other out about the unknowns of the exam, and this not only invokes fear, but it makes us question our own abilities that we have developed. By simply pausing for a couple seconds before entering the room, I am able to remind myself that I am capable enough to perform well.

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Sky Pond hike with my classmates

 

  1. Speak slowly and confidently.

As you enter the exam room you are often given a case study or a patient problem to solve, and you only have a few moments to think through a solution and then employ your plan of care. This rushed feeling can lead to stumbling over words and key phrases that need to be communicated with the grader to show them you have reasonable rationale behind your interventions. What I often do is continue to take deep breaths and think through exactly what I am going to say prior to saying it. A skill I learned when I was in high school drama class was to speak my lines in a ridiculously slow manner. While the words sounded incredibly slow to my anxious brain, what was actually communicated to the audience was a line that in a normal, even pace. Because our brains are trying to process so much at once, by consciously thinking about slowing down words and thoughts, it can come across to the grader that you are confident in what you are saying. By instilling confidence in your grader, you are much more likely to get positive reviews. You have the knowledge from the classes to perform the skill well, so show them that you believe in yourself!

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At our Welcome BBQ the first weekend, I met my twin, Sari!

  1. Mental AND Physical Rehearsal.

I am the kind of student who does not love to practice the same skill over and over again prior to an exam. It often becomes monotonous and boring, and I feel like I start making new mistakes every time I practice. HOWEVER, I am convinced that the more you physically practice, the more automatic the skill becomes, and the less likely you are to fumble through your skill during the exam. As reluctant as I was to practice, I was very fortunate to have fellow students who convinced me that practicing was vital to performing well, and I believe it made a difference during the exams. But this does not mean that mental practice can not be helpful as well. I found that by taking the time to sit with the material and rehearse in my head what I would say and do during the skill, I was still able to feel more confident than if I had done no sort of practice once I entered the exam. These skills can feel tedious, but I think that is the point of physical therapy school! As the skills become automatic (after they are practiced correctly), we can be more confident in a clinical setting that the interventions we are performing are done well and will benefit our patients.

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My first 14er, Mt. Bierstadt!

  1. See your grader as a human, not an intimidating figure.

Perhaps it is just because I haven’t been in graduate school for that long, but I was honestly scared of my graders prior to actually being in a practical exam. Performing skills in front of experienced clinicians can be intimidating, and it becomes easy to expect them to be hyper-critical and harsh. But this misconception was debunked fairly quickly. Yes, our graders and professors are incredibly smart and know what they are doing, but they are also humans who believe in you and want you to do your best. By entering an exam setting with the mindset that your grader is there to support you and make you the best PT you can be, the fear and anxiety will be eased.

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Move Forward 5K

  1. Believe in yourself.

Confidence and believing in yourself may seem intuitive, but it really can make the difference when you are entering the exams. I know I tend to get pretty down on myself when it seems like an overwhelming amount of information is being thrown at us. However, I have realized I must have confidence in my program and professors that they have taught me well and I am prepared to show my skills in a practical exam. If you have practiced, studied, and listened in class, you know what you need to know to excel, and you can trust in yourself and in your abilities.

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Rocking our 90’s cartoon costumes for the annual Halloween contest

While these tips don’t stop my pits from sweating profusely prior to a practical, they have helped me get excited for the opportunity to show off what I have been trained to do. It keeps me from becoming overwhelmed and allows me to perform as best as I can, which is all I can really ask of myself. You will all be successful, and I’m sure you will find more strategies to add to this short list of how to survive practical exams. When you discover new things that help you, let me know, because I will always take the extra help:)

Email: aferguson002@regis.edu

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Weekend break at Grizzly Rose for some line dancing!

 

Congratulations to the new Puppy Raising Team!

Every year, the first years can apply to be a member of the DPT service dog training program.  Congrats to the newest Class of 2019 members! We can’t wait to see Zuma grow up with you in the program. For more information about the team, check out Tiffany’s blog post from December.

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From left to right: Elizabeth Johnson, Kiki Anderton, David Cummins, Alex Lubahn (back), Daniel Griego, Jessie Kirkwood, Kim Bjorkman, and Kassidy Stecklein (front right)…and, of course, Zuma front and center!

How to Conquer Time Management

Name: Sarina Tamura, Class of 2018
Undergrad: University of Colorado at Boulder
Hometown: Aurora, CO
Fun Fact: I won 2nd place at the World Cup Stacking Championships in 5th grade!

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Sarina is a full-time student and competitive dancer

You dance. Why?

My life has always been an endless mixtape of dynamic tracks. Two days after graduating from CU Boulder in 2014, I started work as a full-time PT aide, travelled Europe for 3 weeks the day after moving on from that position, and returned home literally the day before I started PT school.

My childhood was no different. I was completely engulfed with dance, gymnastics, and the violin. I trained in both dance disciplines (dance styles including ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, and Irish) from age 3 until 13, then I decided to pursue gymnastics instead. I competed, coached, and judged until I tore my ACL at 17, then returned to dance, where I fell in love with hip-hop and breaking. It seems like my life is perpetually skipping from one track to the next.

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I normally hesitate to tell people that I’m a breakdancer because I feel that breakdancing has a great deal of negative stereotypes associated with it. We aren’t “hood,” we don’t live on the streets, we aren’t violent and aggressive people, and no, we don’t all spin on our heads. It’s actually quite the opposite–the hip-hop culture is all about peace, love, unity, and having fun. In fact, I’ve met some of the most influential people through the world of dance and have brothers and sisters all over the world now thanks to this culture. Dance has provided me with so many cool opportunities that I could have never imagined. For instance, I’ve opened for the Jabbawockeez, performed for the NCAA Final Four Opening Ceremony, performed at the Buell Theater, and performed/competed nationally and internationally in Japan. Not to mention, I get to travel all the time with my closest friends!

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Sarina competed in Japan over the winter break

What does your typical week look like?

I wake up at 5:30 and leave the house by 6:30. I commute to Regis from SE Aurora (roughly 45min-1hr commute) so I try to beat the morning traffic. Having a long commute is both a curse and a blessing: it forces me to get to school early and study before class, yet it’s also my ideal time to listen to music and relax. After classes, I stay at school to study until it’s time to teach and/or practice in the evening. I teach 3 days/week at 2 dance studios and teach privates some weekends (this is how I manage to fund my dance travels). I usually practice 4 days/week for 2-3 hours per session. I get home around 10 or 11, fit in some more studying, then repeat it all again the next day.

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Sarina in Downtown Denver

While being out all day sounds exhausting, it forces me to be productive. It prevents me from taking naps, watching movies, and snacking on junk food – all things I would probably do if I were home. I typically compete or perform almost every weekend (some months are busier than others). I sometimes get hired to perform at events and that brings in some extra cash, which always helps. I’m a weekend warrior in that I take short weekend trips to competitions quite often, so studying on planes have become a regular requirement. It can be exhausting, but it’s super rewarding. On weekends that I’m not out of town, I like to leave Sundays open for studying, spending time with family, or going hiking/snowboarding. While this is what my typical week looks like, I often have to make sacrifices to study (this was especially true during the rigorous 1st year!). Having a schedule is important, but you also need to be open and flexible – things don’t always go as planned.

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Sarina with some of her Class of 2018 classmates

Being in PT school has made me realize the true value of time. Having so little free time encourages me to focus primarily on the people who are most important to me, and that’s been invaluable to my quality of life. My planner is my bible. I try to plan out my days in advance so that I accomplish everything that needs to get done. This is especially important on weekends that I’ll be competing or traveling so I don’t fall behind. Mental image training has also become a skill I’ve refined over the years; on the days that I just can’t make it to the studio, I can sit and choreograph or think of new combinations as a study break. I’ve found that mental practice can often be just as effective as physical practice.

What are the biggest tips you can give to an incoming DPT student?

  1. “I don’t have time” is just not an excuse—if something is important to you, you’ll make time for it. My biggest worry going into PT school was that I wouldn’t be able to dance anymore, but that didn’t end up being true at all. In fact, I’m entering more competitions and traveling more now than I ever have! (I actually counted out of curiosity and I’ve done 34 competitions/ performances since starting PT school–10 of which were out of state and 4 of which were international!) If anything, having a life outside of PT school and having dance as an outlet to relieve stress has been a huge asset. It’s nice having an identity outside of just being a physical therapy student.
  1. Learn to say “no.” This is also advice for myself because it’s something I still struggle with. There’ve been many times I agreed to do a gig or sub classes at the studio when I shouldn’t have and broke down because I was so overwhelmed. Life is all about balance. Always ask yourself what your priorities are. If it interferes with your priorities, say no. Respect your time and take care of yourself!

Now, granted, I’ve structured my life in a way that allows me to do all of these things. I’ve put dating aside for now to pursue my passions, and I don’t have a family to take care of unlike a lot of my classmates–so I have the freedom to live the lifestyle I do while still excelling in school. I can get burnt out and frustrated, but there’s nothing a little ice cream can’t fix! 😉 Structure your life in a way that works for you. PT school is tough, but it’s definitely doable. Pursue your passions and do the things that enrich your life. In this world full of temporary things, it’s a dangerous mentality to believe there’s always next time. It’s our last few years of being a student—it’s the best time to do whatever you want, so take advantage of it! Good luck!

 

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Why Become a Physical Therapist?

 

Name: Nathaniel Pryor, Class of 2019
Undergrad: Regis University
Hometown: Deposit, NY
Fun Fact: I love completing ruck marches of ridiculous lengths for charity. Longest to date is 32 miles.

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After a 48-hour mission in Afghanistan

       It was the second day of a 3-day air assault in Afghanistan. Our platoon was busy searching houses in 120-degree weather. The sun was beating intensely and we were running deadly low on water. We decided to set up a defensive position in a house while waiting for an airdrop of water and ammunition. During this lull in activity, a command came down to search the village across from our stronghold. My squad was slated to complete the next clearing mission, but everyone had their gear off and was not prepared. One of the fellow squads, led by my best friend, decided to take this mission. This decision would end up becoming one that I will forever regret. My best friend stepped on an IED and lost his life along with the lives of two of our other platoon mates.

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2nd platoon, Charlie Company, 1-12 Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 4th ID

That day caused a fundamental change in my thinking and purpose on this earth. It was that day I realized I needed to do something greater with my life–something that wouldn’t allow the deaths of my brothers to be in vain. It wasn’t until we returned from Afghanistan that I figured out what that higher purpose was; I entered the medical retirement program with a fellow soldier from my company who had an above knee amputation sustained from stepping on an IED. The lack of care and meaningful treatment was repulsive. It was like a light bulb went off and I finally realized what my life mission was. This newly found insight led me to the decision of becoming a physical therapist. This would allow me to still serve “with” my fellow brothers and sisters, all while providing a level of treatment and understanding they aren’t receiving on a consistent basis.

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On patrol in Afghanistan. Sometimes in the most horrible situations, all you can do is smile.

I was stationed in Colorado at that time, but am originally from upstate NY. The plan was to go back to NY to complete my undergraduate degree and then apply to a DPT program. However, after talking with a few peers at the VA, I ended up contacting Dr. Cliff Barnes (anatomy and neuroscience professor) at Regis University. I talked to him about my past experiences in the military, why I wanted to become a PT, and what my future goals were. He suggested I apply to Regis for my undergraduate degree. I can honestly say that attending Regis for my undergraduate degree was one of the best decisions of my life. Regis is not just a school—it’s a family of like-minded individuals who do everything in their power to help you become successful and realize your full potential.

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Planting trees in the Costa Rican rainforest after a month of primate research

Being a Jesuit University, Regis is very focused on the core Jesuit values. Two of these are particularly important to me: service and care for the whole person. While in undergrad, I participated in many service opportunities ranging from flood cleanups and judging sixth grade science fairs to being an advocate and speaker on issues facing veterans. These service opportunities showed me the importance of taking an active role in your community and helping people heal in whatever way you can. These values have become engrained as part of who I am as a person and how I want to practice physical therapy. The DPT program has further shown me how essential these values are for increasing the impact we have as PT practitioners. Regis’ focus on holistic care and looking at each patient as an individual has changed my perspective on how to care for the whole person by considering their individual goals, needs, and wants when determining proper treatment prescription.

Good luck everyone on finals and to the incoming first years on your housing hunt. Pura Vida!!!

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Diesel, my service pup, learning how to palpate vertebrae

 

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Sarah, Steph and me checking out the Christmas lights at the botanical gardens

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Anatomy lab group celebrating the end of our last final of our first semester with a trip to see the Nutcracker

 

 

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Thanksgiving: DPT style

 

 

How to Find Your Work-Life Balance in PT School

Name: Tom Sears, Class of 2019
Undergrad: Wheeling Jesuit University
Hometown: Moundsvill, WV
Fun Fact: I once gave a ten minute impromptu (and decidedly silly) speech about apples for an undergraduate class.

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The ultimate question for me once I found the perfect PT school (Regis) was:

How do I balance the rigors of PT school with my family, friends, and all the responsibilities that accompany everyday life?

This is the question. So, what is the (your) answer?

Well, to begin… I am fortunate enough to be blessed with a beautiful wife, a dog and cat (the cat is temperamental and bites for no apparent reason), and a house (and the lovely mortgage and maintenance that goes along with it). Oh, and my wife and I are in the process of adopting a child! And, well, I have friends and hobbies and I even like to workout on a regular basis.

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My dog Rufus’ puppy graduation

So, how does one achieve this so-called balance? The most important piece of advice I can give you is to surround yourself with a good support system. Let your friends know that your life is changing (for the better) and you will need them to be patient with you. Ask them to check in with you on how studies are going, to celebrate with you when you do find the time (celebrate that anatomy lab practical being over!), to understand when you have to turn down their invite to try line dancing at the Grizzly Rose, and to be there when you need to decompress.

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Tom plays music with his brother to de-stress

My wife has been SO supportive of my endeavor, and for me this was imperative. Be sure your spouse or significant other is forewarned of the change that’s about to take place. If you don’t have an “other,” let your family and closest friends know. They likely cannot fully appreciate what the experience is like, but have this talk…Let them know you will need them by your side. You will be in school much of the day and studying more frequently than you ever have before. You won’t always be as available as you would like. Get them on board! And perhaps best of all, be prepared to meet some truly awesome new people. These are perhaps the only people in your life that will truly understand what this experience is like. You may be amazed to see how quickly you become close with your classmates. Lean on them!

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Service learning with my classmates

The other essential part of work-life balance: develop a routine—a routine that fits with your needs. This, of course, will be difficult to determine at first. But alas my young apprentice, it will come. This may mean planning your days out to allow for your studies or for time to relax/decompress. Think forward to your assignments that are due and allot enough time to finish them.

I have talked with 2nd and 3rd years (much wiser and more experienced than I) and for a few of these folks their answer revolved around boundaries and separation. They would arrive to school at 7 AM and leave at 5 or 6 PM. During this time they would study with absolute focus. You know, the kind that doesn’t involve watching Youtube clips, posting tweets, or watching a ball game in the background (okay—guilty as charged!). And when they came home, they were with their family and friends. Truly with them. This was not my answer, but it could be yours.

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Professional Ceremony with my family

My answer was not so easily developed at first. I have a dog at home who had not been out for 8+ hours, and thus I feel the need after class to return home to let my beloved furry friend out for a long walk. I then return to my studies before joining my family for a nice conversation and an episode of Game of Thrones.

Whatever your familial and personal needs are, plan accordingly and give time to them.

The next key to work-life balance: build into your routine a time for rest. Whether you’re parking your gluteus maximus, medius (and other various muscles) in your most comfortable seat to watch the weekly Steelers game, checking out one of the local breweries with your peers, or enjoying the wondrous outdoor activities that Colorado has to offer, find the mental and physical space you need to completely unplug from schoolwork.  No matter how much time you spend on studying, you may never feel like you are as on top of the material as you would like to be. But trust me: this time will refresh your mind, reinvigorate your resolve, and ultimately help you to perform optimally in PT school.

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Fireworks night with the Colorado Rockies!

Oh ya—and there is this thing called exercise. Chances are you’re a fan (or will at least be soon). Some of my peers elect to put this on the back burner. I would strongly suggest keeping exercise in your routine. For me, blasting some 1975, John Legend, or Tool and going for a run is the perfect way to clear my mind and prepare me for a night of studying.

It is well worth an hour of your time to keep your routine, practice what you preach, and prepare your mind not just to cram, but retain the material at hand. This will bring you closer to your future success as a PT.

Your routine may take time to develop, but that’s okay. If you had all the answers to achieving optimal balance for success in your new PT career right now, you would be the first! Be steadfast in your resolve and be flexible. Prioritize your needs and you will find your answer!

Welcome, Zuma!

The newest addition to our DPT program has arrived! Zuma will be trained by our service dog team of students.  We’re looking forward to seeing her learn and grow; she has a big vest to fill!

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…Oh, and isn’t she ADORABLE?!

Why Regis DPT?

Name: Chris Cook, Class of 2019
Undergrad: University of Colorado – Boulder
Hometown: Tustin, Ca
Fun Fact: I got paid to sail in the Sea of Cortez for 3 and a half weeks.

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Life is full of choices. Whether or not we realize it, we’re perpetually deciding between A and B–or C, D, and E for that matter. Choosing a PT program happens to be a monumental choice that at the very least will determine where you live and the people you will spend the next 3 years of your life with. That being said, I was already sold on the location (gorgeous campus in Northwest Denver?? Yes, please!), but I chose Regis because this program seemingly offered more than just an education and a desirable location. Before the interview, I didn’t know much more than what the website could offer and frankly, Regis wasn’t at the top of my list. I sought advice and counsel on how to choose a PT school from many DPTs and SPTs throughout the year-long application process. A common theme surfaced: go to the cheapest school because it doesn’t matter in the end. Naturally, I took this advice to heart and ranked my school list based on tuition and cost of living. While I respect this advice and understand its reasoning, I now wholeheartedly disagree. I believe these 3 years are more than just learning how to pass the NPTE; they are critical to my development as a well-rounded and mindful PT.

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Spectacular study breaks that never cease to amaze #NoFilter #ThisIsRegis

My first impression of Regis occurred on interview day. I can’t speak for many other PT programs, but from my experience I can say that Regis values applicants as a whole and this becomes evident the moment you arrive on campus. The interview process was less like an interview and more like a first date: the interviewers just wanted to get to know me and have a good conversation. As a result of this admissions strategy, the people who choose to come here become more than just fellow students, they become friends you look up to and respect, and individuals you seek help and advice from. These are the people with whom you’ll look forward to exploring the many pubs and breweries of Denver, or playing in and around the beautiful Rocky Mountains despite spending countless hours indoors suffering together through mind numbing statistics and anatomy study sessions. We chose Regis and Regis chose us not because of a few words you happen to string together into an essay or an infamously two digit number that somehow only goes up to 4.0… We chose Regis because the faculty and staff are unimaginably supportive and display a vested interest in each and every one of us. Instead of calling our faculty “Dr. So-and-So”, they prefer we call them by their first names because they respect and interact with us as future colleagues rather than subordinates.

Believe me, Regis is not for everyone. We are expected to become leaders in the field of Physical Therapy and we are constantly reminded to reflect on every aspect of our lives including our own personalities and how it may affect others. At Regis, building a foundation for a career as a PT is more than learning anatomy and biomechanics: it’s about continuing to develop character, compassion, and empathy for others. Serving our community and global health are integral parts of the curriculum and work-life balance is a daily encouragement from everyone including faculty and staff.

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Celebrating the completion of the first semester at Local 46

Sure, a relatively low cost private school education with great facilities at the base of the Rocky Mountains is undeniably appealing. But more importantly, I chose Regis because of the individuals: faculty, staff, and students alike. This is a community of like-minded people willing to go out of their way to ensure everyone feels supported and that we are given every opportunity to succeed in this journey to becoming a physical therapist. I chose Regis because I believe we’re all called to become more than just PTs, and the Regis community fosters an environment that enables and challenges us to strive for more than what is expected of us.

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Takia, our service dog (in training)!

P.S. They give you a well-behaved dog that you get to take to class! What’s not to love about that??

A Typical Day as a DPT Student in Colorado

Name: Alex Lubahn, Class of 2019
Hometown: Winona, MN
Undergrad: University of Minnesota
Fun Fact:I won my elementary school’s cursive handwriting contest 3 years in a row
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What to do in Colorado…such a simple question but so difficult to answer. Why? There are about a million different amazing things (give or take) to do in this beautiful state. Do you want to climb a mountain? Sure! Golden, CO has gorgeous hikes and views only a 15-minute drive away.

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Want to climb bigger mountains? Sure, a 90-minute drive and 9,000 feet up will bring you to the top of Mount Evans, one of Colorado’s 53 14’ers.

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Not into the outdoors? That’s all right because Denver’s city life has everything: breweries (154 of them), a botanical garden, a tremendous zoo, the historic Union Station, trampoline parks…Let’s be honest—what more could a person ask for?

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Since moving to Colorado for PT school, I cannot get enough of the outdoors. Although my first semester at Regis felt like I spent years in the library studying what the heck that brachial plexus thing consisted of, every study break I had, I was headed west to the mountains. As much work as school is, you have to give your brain a break; the outdoors is the best way for me to de-stress.  For me, it’s usually a toss up to decide if I want to go for a nice easy hike, climb a 14er, or camp up in the mountains.  It’s all unbelievably close and easy to access.

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Even in January when the weather gets a tad too chilly to hike, there is still fun to be had. With the cold comes snow, and with snow comes 30+ world-class skiing resorts (not to mention all the backcountry skiing opportunities).

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Although the mountain ski resorts are covered in 60+ inches of snow to play in in the winter, Denver still manages to bring warm weather blessings. At the start of the spring semester near the end of January, it was a ridiculous 62 degrees in Denver…yeah, sunny and 62 degrees?  I’m from Minnesota.  Imagine how I felt. 

Here’s my ideal weekend day in Colorado:

  1. Wake up bright and early
  2. Meet your half-asleep friends at Burrito Giant for a breakfast burrito before heading up to the mountains (Fun fact: Denver is basically the breakfast burrito capital of the world).
  3. After one of the most beautiful drives you’ll ever experience and the best tasting burrito you’ll ever eat, you arrive at the base of Mt. Bierstadt. The 14,065 foot mountain looks daunting as its peak pierces through the bright blue sky. The only thing you can think of is what the view will look like from the top.
  4. Hike! The fresh mountain air fills your lungs and with each step you can feel yourself getting closer to the summit.

Side note: hiking up the mountain is exhausting; remember that you’re a PT student and exercise is good for you, so suffer/enjoy your trek up the mountain.

  1. Make it to the top!

After crossing mountain streams and hiking through massive valleys, you’ve made it. The view at the summit makes you feel like you are on top of the world–an extremely unique and fulfilling feeling. 

  1. You whip out that delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich you artfully prepared at 6:30 that morning and enjoy the majesty that is the Rocky Mountains. I can’t think of many things better than awesome views and even more awesome classmates to share them with.
  2. After soaking in the beauty for a bit it’s time to head down the mountain.
  3. Finish off the day with a short (or long) stop at the Crooked Stave Brewery back in Denver!

There you go: a beautiful (and typical) day in Colorado.

I cannot express how blessed I am to be a part of such an amazing school in such an amazing place; I look forward to all of the adventures yet to come!      

What is the Regis DPT Interview Like?

Name: Monika Teter, Class of 2019
Hometown: Los Alamos, NM
Undergrad: Colorado State University
Fun Fact: I had a 5th wisdom tooth that had to be removed in 5th grade!

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            We all remember sitting down for hours at a time: filling out PT school applications, finally hitting the daunting submit button, and then that overwhelming joy we felt when we got our first interview invitation. I can’t believe my interview experience was already a year ago! The entire application process is a rollercoaster of emotions, but my experience with Regis’ interview put my nerves at ease and stood out from the rest of the schools I applied to. From the moment I stepped onto campus that snowy Monday afternoon, I felt a sense of belonging that I hadn’t felt at any other school. The interview process exposed unique facets of Regis’ program including the sense of community, the school’s dedication to the PT field, supportive faculty and students, unique involvement opportunities, and the program’s adaptability to unpredictable situations.

            My interview at Regis was one of the most memorable of my interviews—not only because of the people I met and conversations I had, but because of the blizzard that ensued that day. Though Regis provided the option to do a phone interview if we thought it was too dangerous to travel, I decided to attend the interview anyway since I was in Colorado at the time. I braved the drive from Fort Collins to Denver in my suit and red plaid snow boots armed with four-wheel drive and going over potential interview questions in my head. I was unbelievably nervous! The storm inevitably resulted in the early closure of campus and a shortened interview day. This could have caused mass chaos, but I was impressed by the adaptability of the Regis PT community to expedite the interview process without jeopardizing our time and experience. The organizers made sure every applicant had a fair chance regardless of the barrier Mother Nature concocted. They were able to calmly adapt to an unpredictable situation, which is a valuable skill in this field. Additionally, the current Regis PT students offered up their homes for interviewees to stay until they were able to safely get home. This kindness expressed by current students and the flexibility of the program spoke volumes to me, and I knew this was a program I wanted to be a part of.

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Enjoying the CO sunshine on days off!

            Weather aside, the interview process was a wonderful representation of the program. I was able to get a sense that this was a PT family and everyone was here to support each other. The students spoke nothing but good things regarding the faculty, and I understood why when I met several of them. Each and every one of the faculty radiated dedication to the field as they talked about their passions and areas of research during the faculty-interviewee mixer. We talked about the Peru trip Heidi was preparing to take students to as part of their global immersions trip. We chatted with Marcia and learned about her breadth of research in leadership, clinical development, and management of neurological disorders. I talked with Larisa in my interview regarding my love for volunteering and how the service learning here at Regis would fill that particular passion in my life. Talking to the faculty here at Regis was surprisingly easy in the stressful environment interviews can create. They were attentive and were interested in getting to know me as a person deeper than just my academic accomplishments.

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My mentor, grand-mentor and me at the welcome BBQ

          Regis also wanted to give us a peak at what our daily lives would look like as a PT student by taking us into the anatomy lab and having us sit in on a class. I remember walking into the anatomy lab where students talked about their experiences with cadavers as they pointed out structures on the brains. We also had the opportunity to participate in a postural assessment and wheelchair transfer lab in PT Exam. I remember looking at the students in awe thinking that I would hopefully one day be doing the exact same lab. These two unique experiences set Regis apart, and I was sold!

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Some of us first years enjoying our day off

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9thHealth Fair for Service Learning

         I went home that day bubbling with excitement. I had found my ideal program that matched my values, and I was hopeful they saw something in me that would complement their program. The day I got my acceptance letter, I was elated to call Regis my home. I have become part of a class full of brilliant minds and kind souls. These incredible people push me to be better, to stay that extra hour after class, to help maintain my sanity by going on a hike, and keep me motivated during hectic weeks. I have made some incredible friendships and have had some amazing experiences so far.

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Friendsgiving with the PT Fam!

         There are several wonderful programs out there, but something resonated with me the day I left the interview at Regis. It is truly an amazing community composed of unique perspectives nestled in the most supportive environment. I am happy to call Regis my home and my PT family.

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The Professional Ceremony inducts us into the Regis DPT program at the beginning of the semester.

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Our anatomy lab group–celebrating the end of the semester at the Nutcracker!

Interview FAQ for the Incoming Class of 2020

Now that we’re nearing the end of January, interview weekend is almost upon us! I can’t wait to meet this year’s prospective students, and I know everyone else in our Regis DPT community is excited as well.

For everyone about to interview, I know the next few days can be stressful to say the least.  If anyone is having trouble ignoring that nagging fear of bombing the interview and never being accepted anywhere, I was in the exact same boat last year! I know the nerves are hard to shake, but looking back, that was an unrealistic fear and there was really no reason to worry. I got the sense that everyone at Regis wanted me to feel welcome and comfortable, and I hope everyone this year feels the same way. My interview at Regis ended up being fun and exciting—and it put some of my worries at ease.

I’ve gotten some questions from prospective students, so Carol, Lindsay (the Class of 2018 and 2017 admissions representatives) and I compiled these answers to some of the most repeated inquiries.  I hope this helps you assuage any concerns you may have!

Q: Should I bring anything to the interview (pen, portfolio, resume, notepad, etc.)?

A: No need to bring anything. You will receive a folder and pen, information about Regis, and a water bottle.  Of course, you’re welcome to bring your own paper and pen, but there’s no need.  Some people like having a notepad to jot down questions for the faculty or interesting things they learned throughout the day, but it is completely your own preference.

Q: Are there any questions that stumped you or caught you off guard? What types of interview questions should I expect?

A: Though I don’t remember specific questions, I do remember the feeling I got from the interviews. It seemed like a fluid conversation. In other words, I did not feel like I was being drilled with questions at all.  I really mean it when I say to be yourself as much as you can be. Regis is unique in the fact that they really look for people’s character during the interview, rather than solely admitting people for grades and GRE scores. When the faculty asks you questions, they are not seeking a right or wrong answer. They are seeking to learn who YOU are and how you communicate.

Q: What should I expect from the group interview format?

A: The group interview will consist of 2 faculty members and 3 candidates. It is set up to be a fluid, facilitated discussion.

Q: What will the whole day be like?

A: Everyone will go through five different “stations,” so to speak. You will have your interview, a campus tour, a chance to ask current students your questions, a skills lab observation in one of our classes, and an anatomy lab presentation. The whole interview day will conclude with lunch. You’ll also stick with the same student-led tour group between each part of your day, so you’ll have plenty of time to get to know the student ambassadors and ask them questions.

Q: How can I prepare for the interview?

A: Some advice is to look at the Regis website and see where the values of Regis fit into your life and how you can express that during interviews.  It is also a good idea to do a little bit of reading about our faculty on the website to learn about the work or research they do so that you can ask them any additional questions.  If you do feel stumped at any point, don’t be afraid to take a minute to gather your thoughts because they appreciate that a lot more than a made-up answer. It also helped me to look up some common PT school/traditional interview questions and brainstorm answers. If you can have some solid examples on your experiences, you’ll be able to adapt to wherever the conversation goes. Finally, make sure you research the topics you’ve been given ahead of time so you can prepare and get your thoughts together.

Q: Is there a chance to meet current students?

A: YES! You will have multiple opportunities to interact with various students throughout your day. Also, from 4:30-6:30pm on both interview days, we will have a meet-and-greet off campus for candidates to meet with current students. I hope to see you all there! That being said, this is by no means mandatory and your attendance will not affect your admission to the program.

Q: What should I wear?

A: I would err on the side of business formal. Most men typically wear matching pants and jacket, a button-up collared shirt, and a tie, while most women wear slacks or a dress skirt, a blazer, and a blouse. Cropped dress pants would work too, and if dresses are your thing, go for it. It is really important that you feel comfortable in whatever you end up wearing! That being said, when it comes to shoes, heels are great, but as long as you’re really comfortable in them. Flats are perfectly fine—in fact fact, if you opt to wear heels, I would bring a pair of flats along with you so you can change into them while you go on your campus tour. Also make sure to bring a jacket in case it’s cold (you never know with CO weather!)—there will be a coat rack available to everyone to store your belongings while you are inside.

Best of luck, interviewees! Feel free to reach out if you have anymore questions. Looking forward to meeting you!

Kelsie, Carol and Lindsay

 Colorado is awesome! We can’t wait for you all to experience it.

 All photos were taken from past blog posts and are pictures from current students’ experiences.

What is the First Year of DPT School Like?

Name: Meg Kates, Class of 2019
Hometown: Herscher, IL
Undergrad: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Fun Fact: I was the Spanish Student of the Year at my high school. ¡Me encanta Colorado!
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“I can’t believe you’re actually leaving.”

“I know, but it’s okay. I’ll be home soon.”

I hugged my best friend goodbye underneath a star-dotted sky. They shine brighter in Herscher, Illinois, which is a farming community in the middle of the state where the lights of Chicago are but a faint, pink spot in the northern distance: in fewer words, home. That was the day I packed up everything I owned and moved to Denver to embark on my grand physical therapy school adventure. I look back at that time and consider the expectations I had for Regis University and how they have been exceeded many times over.

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Meg and her classmates at the beginning of their semester

To begin, I knew starting PT school was going to change my life, but I didn’t realize the extent to which it was going to change my mind and how I perceived the world. When Regis students begin the first semester, classes last about eight hours. I think it’s safe to say that none of us were accustomed to such a heavy intellectual load—both in breadth and in depth. At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with sheer amount of material (i.e. the origin, insertion, action, and innervation of every muscle in the human body). However, Regis students will tell you that a day comes when our passions combine with our teachers’ lessons, and, by the magic of neuroplasticity (to be discussed more second semester), our brains have been primed to absorb information like those ridiculous towels you see on the infomercials. I feel like I learn eighty new things every day, and, even wilder, I have the intellectual capacity to accommodate it all. Regis creates the most competent professionals by challenging its students to elevate their caliber of thinking.

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Participating in the Professional Ceremony at Regis initiates all students into the DPT program.

Even though Regis’ DPT program can be dense, professors are there to ensure that we persevere through the lows, and they celebrate with us during the highs. Never have I been surrounded by such a reputable group of physical therapists and scientists. I would believe that Dr. Cliff Barnes, the anatomist, created the human body himself if I didn’t know any better. I want Dr. Mark Reinking to talk to me about the shoulder forever. I will never fangirl as hard as Tom McPoil makes me fangirl when he explains the biomechanics of the ankle. Beyond their intellect, Regis DPT faculty have made me feel immensely supported in my first semester. Professors are just as eager as students to discuss individual goals, explain difficult concepts, and offer resources to aid in understanding. It has been emphasized to us time and time again that Regis selects students that they believe will succeed in becoming accomplished, holistic practitioners. Their faith in us inspires me to be an excellent—yet humble—student and future physical therapist.

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Meg and some of the Class of 2019 take a study break in the mountains

Yet, the most earth-shattering surprise about PT school is the relationships that I’ve formed with my classmates. I expected to make friends when I moved to Denver; I didn’t expect to be inspired by every interaction I have with one of my peers.  They’re the people with whom I climb both literal and figurative mountains. They challenge me to be a teacher when they cannot find answers, and they shed light when I’m confused. I spend every day with the same eighty-one people and I know they watch over both my academic and spiritual wellbeing, as I do for them.

When I think about going back to Illinois, I cannot wait to show my friends all I’ve learned. When I look to the future, I cannot wait to show the world the physical therapists and human beings my classmates and I will become.

 

Wrapping Up the Fall Semester

Michael Young, second year Regis DPT student, writes in about his shifting perspective on the world of PT and reflections on this past year.  Michael serves as the Vice President for the Class of 2018 and hosts phenomenal game nights.

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Name: Michael Young, Class of 2018
Hometown: Madison, WI
Undergrad: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Fun Fact: When people tell me to put my money where my mouth is, I tell them I already have. I’ve had 16 teeth pulled(some baby, some permanent), braces 3 times, and reconstructive jaw surgery!

As a first year Regis DPT student, life was an anxious blur of due dates, exams, group meetings, and basically doing my best to hold on to the wild ride that we call PT school. As a second year student, I’m sorry to report that PT school is still a blur of due dates, exams, and group meetings. However, I no longer have to hold on quite as tight. I discovered over the last year that I am capable of learning at a graduate level. That knowledge alone takes an incredible amount of stress off my shoulders. However, now that I know I can make it through the struggles of the short-term, I’ve gotten to worrying about my long-term future. The stakes feel higher, and now I’m more concerned with who I will be when this graduate program spits me out into the real world.

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Michael takes a break from school and explores CO

That “real world” of physical therapy is starting to make more sense to me every day. It’s not that I have eureka moments with every lecture or lab; it’s actually the opposite. The amount of information in every lecture is overwhelming, the concepts are more difficult, and the clinical reasoning is not as straight forward. However, this year, I’m not worried about all those things. I understand that I am going to be overwhelmed by information in my classes and what is asked of me, but you know what? I’m going to pass my exams, I’m not going to fail out of school, and I’m going to be a certified PT in a year and a half. The light, however dim, is at the end of the tunnel.

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Michael and Alison got married over the winter break last year!

As a second year student, I don’t worry about school anymore. Instead, I worry about grown-up things. Where will my wife and I live after I graduate? What sort of setting will I practice in, and will it be the right fit for me? If I stay and practice in Denver, will high prices in the housing market and relatively low PT salaries allow me to buy a house while simultaneously paying off student loans? These are the questions that I get to worry about this year. True, I don’t have anatomy exams or human physiology practicals to worry about, but just writing about my newly found grown-up questions makes me anxious.

What else do I know as a 2nd year DPT student? I know that I am about to earn a doctoral degree, which according to the 2012 US census puts me in a category I’ll share with fewer than 2% of all Americans. I also know that there aren’t many better ways to isolate yourself from the general population than by being a student for 25 years of your life. I know that the community members I meet through my upcoming clinical experiences and patients I will treat as a future physical therapist will profoundly change the way I see my community, myself, and my nation. I cannot wait to surround myself with the people I have trained my whole life to treat, yet have met only briefly.

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Michael has had adventures both in school and out of school in the past year.

So here I am: a second year DPT student just realizing that the real world is coming, and I finally get to be a part of it. I am more excited than ever to get back into the clinic to meet a slice of this nation that I have been isolated from over these last years in academia. As I continue to study as a student and learn as a clinician, I hope to grow as a person. And, if the rest of my time at Regis is anything like what I have already experienced, I am confident that I will have success as a physical therapist and success in life.

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From the Office of Admissions:

In the upcoming weeks, you will periodically be receiving information and insight into our Doctor of Physical Therapy program. These blog posts contain great information to help you to learn about Regis, what makes our Physical Therapy program unique and why our graduates are sought-after professionals.

Regis University is known for developing learners as leaders in field of Physical Therapy. Meet the leaders making our DPT program one of the best in the nation!

Dr. Mark Reinking – Ph.D., PT, SCS, ATC – Dean of Physical Therapy & Professor

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            Dr. Reinking brings almost 30 years of experience in PT and Athletic Training. Besides being a licensed physical therapist, Dr. Reinking is also a certified athletic trainer and clinical specialist in sports physical therapy. Dr. Reinking’s primary teaching is musculoskeletal examination and rehabilitation and sports physical therapy. Dr. Reinking also has over twenty peer-reviewed publications and is fascinated by research on risk factors for overuse injuries in athletes. While Dr. Reinking continues to serve in multiple leadership roles in organizations such as the ACAPT and APTA, he has always been a teacher at heart.

Dr. Cheryl Burditt Footer, PT, Ph.D. – Assistant Dean & Associate Professor

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            Cheryl Burditt Footer brings over 26 years of physical therapy experience to the program.  Dr. Footer plays an integral part in teaching her areas of expertise in neurological management courses and in our global health program. Dr. Footer’s scholarly interests are deeply rooted in examination and intervention strategies for children with neuromuscular disorders, evaluating models for student decision making for the client with a neuromuscular condition, and evaluating outcomes of global health immersion programs. Not only does she continue this research with Regis, but she is also engrained in the Global Health Committee working to foster sustainable community partnerships in Ethiopia, Peru and Nicaragua.

Dr. Ira Gorman, PT, Ph.D., MSPH.  – Assistant Dean & Associate Professor

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            Ira Gorman came aboard in 1994 and has been an asset to Regis University since the beginning. Dr. Gorman has been driving the field of PT forward by being one of the first APTA-credentialed clinical instructors in Colorado as well as owning and operating an outpatient practice. Dr. Gorman has progressed healthcare reform and injury prevention with his research on the effect of built environment on childhood physical activity and obesity. Dr. Gorman is the clinical director of the DPT program’s on-campus faculty practice, a part of Regis Neighborhood Health as well as many roles throughout the APTA. Dr. Gorman has also been recognized by the Colorado chapter of the APTA as an Outstanding Physical Therapist (2005) and by the national APTA with the Lucy Blair Service Award (2012).

Stay tuned. More great Regis information coming your way soon!

Recent Physical Therapy News: HERE.

P.S. We expect interview decisions to be sent next week.

Blog post from Zachary Lundquist, Admissions Counselor

 

Meet our Service Dog Training DPT Team!

Name: Tiffany Cardenas, Class of 2018
Hometown: Aurora, CO
Undergrad: Colorado College

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At my interview in January of 2015, my nervousness was mitigated by an adorable puppy named JJ who would influence my decision to choose Regis’ DPT program. As physical therapists, we serve people in incredible ways. Coming to Regis gave me the opportunity to serve people in an additional way: by raising a service dog to help future individuals become more independent in their lives. The puppy raiser team is made up of 8 students in each class, with first years joining the team late in their first year under the guidance of Associate Professor Wendy Anemaet, PT, DPT, Ph.D.

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Class of 2017 Puppy Raiser Team

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Class of 2018 Puppy Raiser Team

Meet Takia, a Labrador-Golden puppy who is currently 1 year and 4 months old. She is a Canine for Independence (CCI) assistance puppy-in-training. CCI is a non-profit organization that provides highly trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities to enhance their lives. Volunteer puppy raisers—such as our team here at Regis—help to train the puppies before they go off to be paired with their person and learn more advanced commands when they are about 1.5 years old. She is NOT a therapy dog who provides emotional support; she is training to become a skilled assistance dog who can one day help her person open doors, get items, and even press elevator buttons.

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Time flies: Takia and me in November 2016 and back in October 2015 when she was 2 months old—before I was on the team that trains her!

Takia is the third puppy to be raised by a team of students from the Regis University School of Physical Therapy. Just like her physical therapy student trainers, Takia has her own classes to attend. It is at these classes where we show off what she knows, teach her new commands, and learn tips for training a CCI puppy. One of the most important parts about her classes is letting others work with her (and us work with their puppies). Takia spends almost every hour of every day with us and she picks up on what we expect of her. At class, we can see if she understands the command–and not just our gestures–by working with new people.

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So many puppies; who’s who? (Takia is 2nd from the left)

What kind of commands does Takia know? A whole bunch! Puppy raisers are provided with a handbook that lists all of the commands and around what age the puppy should learn them and be proficient in them. Many of these commands will become part of more complex tasks that she will learn once we send her off for more training. Takia gets lots of positive reinforcement with treats when she is learning commands. As she gets older and has mastered some of the more basic commands, she gets fewer treats and simply “good girl” as a reward. When giving commands, it is important to stay tall and use a commanding voice without inflections.

In the first few months she was taught commands such as “sit,” “down,” and “here.” As she has gotten older, she has been learning more advanced commands that have very specific details to them. “Heel” tells Takia to sit on her handler’s left side facing forward. This does not mean slightly at a diagonal or facing her handler— the command means facing forward left of her handler. “Side” is a similar command, but on the right side of her handler.

Some of our favorite commands to get Takia’s love include “lap” and “visit.” With “lap,” she should place her front legs with elbows relaxed across your lap. “Visit” tells Takia to rest her head on your lap. When given a command, she should be able to maintain the positions until given a new command or given the commands “off” (of something) or “release” (from a position).

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Takia (right) staying focused on her “heel” in puppy class with Karlee, Class of 2018

So what should you do if you see an assistance dog? I would say you should smile at them; they are such cuties! But, remember that they are also on duty—even the ones in training. If you really want to interact with the dog, talk to the person holding the leash. They can then tell you if it is okay or not to visit the dog. If you see Takia with her vest on around campus or in your class, know that it is okay to pet her as long as she is sitting or lying down. As tempting as it is to pet her when she comes walking by, we ask you kindly to please refrain; if you really want some puppy love, say “sit” or talk to one of the puppy raisers.

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To learn more about Takia’s life as a CCI puppy and what she does in her free time, you can follow her on Instagram (@takiaregisdpt) or talk to one of the Class of 2018 puppy raisers: Tara Businski, Sophia Fuller, Kayla Jurrens, Chris Lew, Karlee Nordstrom, Zach Taillie, Ryan Tollis, or myself.