Staying Grounded in PT School, Method 42: Silence

Name: Blake Miller, Class of 2019
Undergrad: 
Whitworth University
Hometown: 
Missoula, MT
Fun Fact: 
I grew up 20 minutes from a ski resort but never downhill skied until moving to Colorado this year.

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It’s an age-old story: a small-town boy moves to the big city to pursue his dreams of fame and fortune, only to face trials and challenges that test him more than he’d even imagined. Alright… maybe that’s a little sensationalized, but all the parts are there. Here’s the real story: I grew up on the outskirts of Missoula, a lovely town in Western Montana where the only thing that could cause a traffic jam on the Interstate was a herd of rogue cattle. As fate would have it, I decided to venture south to the land of altitude, and more importantly, the city of the prestigious Regis University. As you’ve probably guessed, I moved here for PT school, a 3-year endeavor where excitement and challenges abound. While school has been hard (insert cliché reference to Anatomy and Neuro), there has been another large and unexpected challenge: finding silence and calm amidst the whirlwind of school and obligations.

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Missoula, MT

Growing up in an area of the country that is relatively isolated, it was easy to take the absence of noise for granted. I was guaranteed to find at least 5 mountain trails with no one else on them within 10 miles; if I was feeling lazy, I could simply walk outside and find that same noiseless environment in my backyard. But that all changed when I moved to Denver. The first hike I did was a 14er (not the brightest idea), and I was shocked by how many people could find their way to a mountain at 6:30 AM on a Tuesday. My new apartment wasn’t any better, as the sounds from the traffic were always present (in contrast, my roommate from Chicago was just happy to not hear gunshots at night anymore).

It’s amazing what happens when you lose something you take for granted. At first, I didn’t realize it had happened; I thought my newfound low-level agitation was due to my obligatory grad school coffee addiction. But, after about a month I figured it out: I had not found a single moment since moving to Denver where I had felt the silence that is only found by being alone in nature. So, I changed a few things. I began making space for myself, and as a result I slowly became less anxious, more productive, and much more present in everyday situations.

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Enjoying some solo time on Mt. Quandary

Here are my tips to help you find silence during PT school–both in nature and in everyday life:

1. Make time for yourself when you’re in nature

I’ve developed the reputation among my hiking classmates of getting 80% of the way to the top of a mountain and then flying ahead, not to be seen again until I’m sitting on the edge of the summit. While they might attribute this to my eccentric personality (fair enough), the main driver of this behavior is that there’s an uncanny stillness atop a peak that is only disturbed by the occasional chirp of a bird and, once they catch up, the laughter and musings of my friends. So, next time you go hiking, biking, or climbing, take a second for yourself to simply be still and relax in the wonder around you.

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Team picture!

2. Utilize your car time

Take one of your weekly drives and turn off the radio. I prefer to study alone, so most of my go-to coffee shops are 20 minutes away (Stella’s, Steam, Nixon’s, but that’s a whole different blog post), and assuming you don’t go there during rush hour, you’ll have a relatively peaceful drive when you turn the music off. Or, next time you make the 90-minute drive to Estes Park or Vail, try it in silence and see how it affects your mood and the way you interact with others.

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Getting some silence at Wash Park

3. Make it a daily practice

If you’re pinched for time, Regis has many good spots that are removed from the noise. If you want to watch the sunset in silence from an unobstructed view, try the chapel; if you just need a break from studying, find an empty classroom in Claver – there are plenty!

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Sky Pond

4. Become comfortable with listening to your thoughts.

I write this as finals are creeping up, and it is a common sentiment among my classmates that we feel overwhelmed and bombarded with constant thoughts that demand our attention. Instead of tuning them out, listen to them; give them the attention they deserve. One way I sort out these thoughts is to take 15 minutes every day to sit in silence in my room with all distractions, especially my phone, removed. Set a timer, and just sit in your thoughts until it goes off. These 15 minutes might feel like an eternity at first, but after making it a daily practice for several weeks I’ll bet you will find it to be a very peaceful and life-giving way to end your days.

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On the hike to Mt. Evans

5. Translate your comfort with listening to your own thoughts into comfort with listening to others.

It’s difficult to listen to others when you’re busy trying to take care of your own thoughts. Once you have sorted out yours, try using that same approach in conversation with others: listen without interrupting, and see if you are more able to actively engage in their story now that you have dealt with your own distractions.

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Up on Mt. Elbert

A quote I often come back to is this:

“Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a misunderstanding.”

Of all the coping mechanisms I use to excel in school, none is as important or as beneficial for me as creating time to be alone and remove myself from all the distractions that so easily surround me. If you make time for yourself, you will create space to add time for others and school as well.

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Chasm Lake

What to Do When You Get Into PT School

 Name: Davis Ngo, Class of 2020!
Undergrad: 
University of California, San Diego
Hometown: 
San Jose, CA
Fun Fact:
My favorite animals are manatees because they’re just the chillest.11071038_10204929466588479_4501112845883243502_o.jpg

You’ve gotten into PT school! Now What?

This is it. You’ve done it. You were accepted into Regis University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

It makes sense you got into a few of your other top schools as well (who knew having choices could be so stressful?!). But now you’ve done the research, toured campuses, spoke to all pertinent parties, and finally you’ve come to your decision. A bit anticlimactic, don’t you think? The countless hours of hard work, stress, and uncertainty that lead up this pivotal moment…Funny that the culmination of all this—and the decision that would shape the course of your next 3 years (not to mention the rest of your life)—could come down to just a couple of mouse clicks.

Click.

Click.

Deep breath. What next?

Step 1: Take a moment.

There is no elaborate display, no grandiose announcement, no surprise party.

Just those tiny triumphant mouse clicks (and a hefty hole in your bank account from the deposit).

Anticlimactic? Perhaps. Fitting? Definitely.

You are the reason you’ve gotten this far. You are the one who accomplished all of this. YOU did this—it only makes sense that you get to experience this minuscule moment— all on your own.

You’ve been accepted by one of the finest DPT programs in the nation, and with your click-click of intent you’ve officially committed yourself to a fulfilling and rewarding life of service and learning in the field of physical therapy. The veil of uncertainty cast over your future has been lifted and you know exactly where you’re going to be. Take a moment to think back at all you’ve accomplished: anticlimax aside, this surely was no small feat.

You are intelligent. You are well-rounded. You are hard-working. You are determined and resilient and strong. You are exceptional. You are kind.

This is your moment. You deserve this.

Step 2: TREAT. YO. SELF.

After you’re done patting yourself on the back, here comes the time we’ve all been waiting for… In the immortal words of Tom Haverford, TREAT YOSELF!

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Take yourself shopping. Buy yourself a drink. Go on your favorite adventure. Eat your favorite meal. Take yourself to a movie. Sit in and binge watch your favorite show and, when you’ve finished that, binge watch another. Spend time with your loved ones. Have them shower you with compliments. Buy that thing you’ve always wanted to buy. Do the thing you’ve always wanted to do. Have that cake, and eat it too. At this point you might be thinking: do I really NEED all that? The answer is TREAT YOSELF. YOU ARE AMAZING.

How did I treat myself? One of the first things I did was go on the Patagucci website and buy myself an overpriced, super gaudy fleece. I call it my “treat myself” sweater, and I love it.

After that, I took some time to travel the East Coast (I had never been). I ate, drank, and danced my way around the major cities there, and experienced my first “real” winter ever. It was awful, and beautiful, and just the grandest adventure.

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Brooklyn Bridge!

I came home and decided that I wanted to spend the months before school doing the things I love most: mainly climbing, adventuring, traveling, and being with my loved ones. I put in my two weeks notice at the physical therapy clinic and hit the road.

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Soaking up the sunshine in the Mammoth, CA hot springs.

In the weeks that followed, I spent much of my time climbing and soaking up the Eastern Sierra sun in my favorite place on Earth: Bishop, California. I even got to met up with fellow DPT Class of 2020 student, Annie Govig, and took her on an adventure out in the mountains!

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Met up with Annie Govig on her spring break road trip!

I was lucky to be able to save my money while living at home so that I could take this time off. I also specifically planned to work hard during the application period so I could play hard. If you don’t have this luxury of time, I still hope you find a way to treat yoself. It only takes a few seconds to buy yourself a treat yoself sweater. That cake is just a trip to the store away. Treat. Yo. Self.

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Step 3: Back to business.

Alright, alright. We knew it couldn’t all just be fun and games. You’ve got business to attend to.

By now, you should’ve received an email (or several) from Regis Compliance with detailed information on your list of compliance tasks (shots and immunizations, background check, CPR requirement, etc). These things are important and must be done or in progress before your start date, so get started early! Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time as long as you stay on top of it.

This is also a good time to think about your financial situation and figure out how you’ll be paying for your time at Regis. Look into applying for financial aid, research loan options, calculate your budget and cost of living, etc. It’s best to stay well-informed and have some sort of budget in mind before jumping into the world of grad school loans; start thinking and planning now!

Finally, it might be a good time to start thinking about your upcoming living situation. Do you want roommates, or do you like having your own space? Where in Denver do you want to live? For those coming from out-of-state, the process of finding proper accommodations remotely may be daunting and difficult, so try to get started early to get your bearings.

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Step 4: Freak out…But only a little!

“Wait, but I’ve never lived outside of California before. What will it be like to leave my home and my comfort zone? Wait, where are my immunization records? A CPR class costs how much? Do I REALLY need a new laptop and iPad? Holy moly how much money am I going to have to borrow? I haven’t been in school full time for years; am I even ready for this? Where am I going to live? How do I find a place close to school that is also nice that is also cheap and also has great roommates? Oh my goodness; there are only six weeks left before I leave. What about all the things I wanted to do? Who will I be able to see before I leave? How will I get all this done in time? Am I just going to live out of my car? Will I even have friends? AHHHHHHHH!”

It’s okay! Cálmate! Tranquilo! Take a deep breath! It’s okay to freak out a little. Lots of big changes are about to happen and it’s natural to be anxious. Try not to stress too much, though. I know it all may seem a bit overwhelming, but try and take things as they come.

Get things done slowly, one thing at a time. Remember that you now have a whole new support system at your disposal. The counselors and administrators at Regis University are there to help you, so don’t hesitate to call or email with any questions you may have. You also have a whole list of classmates, entering and current, who are eager to help so reach out to them as well! You are not alone in this.

You’ll be okay. I promise.

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Step 5: Breathe, relax, and GET PSYCHED!

You’re about to begin a rigorous academic journey that will eventually lead you to the rest of your career in physical therapy. Soon you’ll be in school full time, five days a week—not to mention the hours spent practicing and studying outside of class and lab.

So, be kind to yourself. This is your time to relax. To breathe. To fully enjoy the calm and the free time you have before becoming a full time graduate student.

Go soak in the sweet sunshine of your last summer. Go play hard and be joyous. Spend quality time with your family and friends. Daydream about the future. Think of all the beautiful and wonderful new opportunities and possibilities that lie ahead. Connect with your new classmates. Be happy for yourself. Get psyched.

This is the beginning of the rest of your life. 

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7 Reasons You Should Take a Gap Year Before PT School

Name: Courtney Hardin, Class of 2018
Undergrad: Washington State University (GO COUGS)
Hometown: Spokane, WA
Fun Fact: I’m obsessed with my dog.

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If you’re currently reading this blog asking yourself, “Is it a good time to go to school right now? Should I take a year off before I apply? Should I even take 2?” Well, this blog is for you! I took a year off before going to PT school, and it was the best decision I could have made for my soul and–of course–for my professional career.

Here are 7 reasons why taking a year off could be the right choice for you:

1. Make Sure PT is the Right Career Choice

I didn’t have enough experience with multiple disciplines of PT, so I volunteered at an inpatient rehab facility for a few months and got a job as an outpatient PT aide. I ended up getting a lot of experience and gained a passion for PT that I didn’t have in my undergraduate pursuits.

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Halloween at the clinic

2. Polish Your Application

I needed to bump up my GPA a little before applying. So, I ended up retaking a couple of the core classes at a local college (anatomy and physiology… #amiright). Whether you need more hours in the clinic or that pre-req grade, taking a year off will help you be the best applicant possible!

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Taking some time to reflect in Peru during my year off

3. Explore

I’d always wanted to travel abroad in undergrad, so I decided to backpack through South America. I went to Peru and hiked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, then to a ski mountain in Chile, I toured the Wineries of rural Mendoza, cruised through Argentina by bicycle, explored the city of Buenos Aires, and hiked through Iguazu Falls. This trip changed my life and my viewpoint in so many indescribable ways. So, before you enter graduate school and a full-time PT gig, take the time to explore the world now!

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Machu Picchu!

4. Be There for Family and Friends

I wanted to spend some time with my family before heading off to grad school because hey—my family is pretty rad! If you’re considering PT school, sometimes taking a year to visit home, reconnect with friends, and get some quality family time in is key before you sign up for 3 grueling years of work.

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5. Give Your Brain a Break

I needed a break from the school books. I wanted to enjoy a good book (of my choosing), take time to run a few races, and live a bit more “stress-free” before embarking on the next school adventure. Regardless of if you take a year off or not, you will eventually get burned out in PT school from all the studying with no breaks. Many of my classmates agree that taking a year (or more!) before PT school helped delay that burnout onset.

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6. Do Some Things for YOU, not for your Application

I needed some relaxation time up at the lake cabin. If you take a year off, don’t spend every second on your PT application: have FUN!

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7. Grow as a Person

At the end of the day, I simply needed to just be me for a year.  Taking a year off doesn’t mean you’re putting your life on hold; it means that you get a whole year to find out more about yourself and fine tune what you want in life.

Without taking that time off, I wouldn’t have done all the necessary things to improve my application, my confidence, my PT experience, and—of course—my life experience. There is no specific time you have to apply! Schools don’t look at how much time you take off between undergrad and applications; they look at the person you are when you apply. And hey, if you’re ready to apply now, go for it—I know plenty of people who did that, too.  Bottom line: do what’s best for you, not what’s best for everyone else!

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at chardin@regis.edu.

Let’s Talk About Mental Health

Name: Amanda Rixey, Class of 2018
Undergrad: University of Kansas, KS
Hometown: Overland Park, KS
Fun Fact: My massive bear dog, Sherlock, has over 7,000 followers on Instagram.

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I think most of my classmates would view me as the hyper, kind-of goofy, and giggly one in the class.  It’s easy for me to hide under that personality— especially after having suffered from generalized anxiety and PTSD.  Both inside and outside of PT school, mental health is my passion.  In 2012, I lost my dad to suicide; ever since, awareness and treatment of mental health has been the biggest thing I’ve ever advocated for.  Mental health and physical therapy go hand-in-hand.  However, mental health issues can sort of creep up on you as a busy physical therapy student when you least expect it.

There are days when I never want to get out of bed.  There are days when I come home from school and all I do is lie in bed.  There are days when I don’t study because I’m too nervous about not knowing all of the material for school.  There are days when all I do is study because I’m nervous I don’t know enough.  Regardless of the day, I have to keep reminding myself I am not crazy.  Graduate school is stressful and it is normal to have these feelings of anxiety.  The biggest key, however, is to seek help and do something about it.


Here is my list of how I “keep calm and carry on” during PT school:

1. Get help when you need it

The longer you wait to seek medical guidance, the harder it will be.  I sought out a counselor and take medications for my anxiety and depression.  Regis is awesome and offers free counseling to students—take advantage of it!

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Sharing hugs and thoracic manipulations during MMII lab

2. Don’t be afraid to take medications if that’s what’s right for you

I take an SSRI every day. I find that there is some sort of stigma regarding medicating for depression and anxiety. Overcoming this stigma allowed me to experience life to the fullest for the first time. Talk to your primary care physician or counselor; they can help.

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Spending Thanksgiving with the Class of 2018 and our puppies

3. Find a network of support

 Be open with classmates, professors, family members, friends, or even your dog about what you’re going through.  Let them know when you feel anxious or down and talk to them about it.  I text my friends when I don’t feel like myself.  They are there to help.

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My sisters and friend at the University of Kansas Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walk with AFSP where I served as Chairperson in May 2014

4. Take days off from schoolwork

I know that school can seem overwhelming, but it is acceptable to take one or two days off during the week for yourself.  Do what you love: workout, hike, do some Pilates, lay on the sofa and watch Bridesmaids for the 50th time, walk your dog!

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Enjoying a beautiful day off in Vail with my best buddy, Sherlock and my boyfriend, Joe (not pictured)

5. Get involved in the community  

Through Regis, I was able to get involved with Spoke n Motion, an integrated dance company.  Sharing my experience with dancers of diverse backgrounds helped me feel wanted in a very close community and enjoy dance from a beautiful perspective.

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Dancing with my fellow Spokes during our May 2016 show at the Colorado Ballet. PC: Spoke N Motion

6. Believe in yourself

When I doubt my abilities in school, I notice that I often find myself in a rut.  Accept what you know and what you don’t know.  Cherish the moments your classmates compliment you and when you succeed.  These little moments add up and you will realize that you are a capable student in this profession.

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Enjoying a Friday night with classmates

7. Remember that mental health doesn’t have to take over your life

Taking the proper steps and finding the right help will put you on the pathway to overcoming it. Please feel free to email me with any questions at arixey@regis.edu.


If you or someone you know needs help contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK

Regis Counseling Services: 303-458-3507

 

How to Make the Most of Your Clinical…in ITALY!

 

Name: Lydia Hamstra, Class of 2018
Undergrad: Gonzaga University, WA
Hometown: Tucson, AZ
Fun Fact: I am a huge Harry Potter nerd and to help prep for Italy I read Harry Potter in Italian (since I’ve read it so many times in English, I was able to figure out the gist—it gave me ideas for how to say certain phrases that I liked and thought I could use. I also believe reading in any language is the best way to learn new vocab!).

Lydia Hamstra is currently in Umbertide, Italy for her second clinical rotation. She advocated for and helped set up Regis’ first entire clinical rotation in another country.

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Ciao, mi chiamo Lydia Hamstra e sono una studentessa di fisioterepia di secondo anno a Regis University. I have a passion for neurological rehab and travel and my goal is to combine those in my future career. One of the reasons I applied to the DPT program at Regis is because of the global immersion and service they do. Traveling off the beaten path has been a value instilled in me by my parents from a young age. Immersing myself in different cultures helps me grow as a person and as a clinician; it also enables a different kind of learning. By being present, helping others, exploring, and embracing what and who you find, you can create durable bridges that connect you to the world. It also illuminates parts of yourself you may not have known about and fosters reflection. We all want to have a positive impact in some way–I find that I grow the most when I’m out of my comfort zone and helping others.

Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to travel is by combining it with education. Why Italy? Honestly, it is difficult to say where I got the idea. I thought the country was romantic and charming, and more approachable than other countries. I actually picked my undergraduate school because they offered an Italian degree and had a second campus in Italy. In 2012, I was fortunate to study and live in Italy with a family from Florence (I’m actually meeting up with them during clinical!). My experience in undergrad made me realize that despite it being a first-world country, there is still a lot of need and hardship. I experienced it from the student perspective and I wanted to give back from the clinician perspective. I also wanted to learn about a different healthcare system and the pros and cons of socialized medicine. The clinical education team at Regis is one of the best in the country, if not the best. They worked diligently to create this opportunity–not just for me ,but for all future DPT students. The DPT program at Regis now has a partnership with Eduglobal and I am doing in-patient neurological rehab at the Instituto Prosperius in rural Italia.


If you’re heading abroad for a clinical experience, here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your time!

1)    Find Ways Around the Language Barrier

First off, you don’t need to get OVER the language barrier—you don’t have to speak the language fluently (or even well) in order to communicate with your patients.  It is, however, helpful to learn simple commands in Italian; these are great to take back home and use in English if you’re someone like me who tends to be wordy (beware the rest of my post!).  Beyond that, focus on teaching by example and using non-verbal cues to get on the same page with your patient.

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Stander at the Institute Prosperius: she does not have voluntary control of her lower extremities.

2)    Learn to Go With the Flow

Yes, a global immersion or clinical is going to be different, and like any clinical out there, there will be things that you like and things that you don’t like about the system. Remember that Italian physical therapists, too, will be frustrated by certain parts of practice–be it communication, lack of resources, or decisions by doctors, to name a few.  Remind yourself that professional frustrations and problems are universal. And remember that you are there to learn about physical therapy and to embrace the culture as much as you can. Learn to breathe and be patient—both with yourself and with your colleagues.

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Home sweet home! @vignedipace

3)    Go Above and Beyond

Just like any class or clinical, the time and effort you put in will transfer to what you get out of it. I believe this is true with regards to patient management, the language, and your rapport with your CI, the other students, and the other Italian physical therapists. One of the biggest differences in Italy is that they do not document every session…or even every day. This has to do with healthcare being a constitutional right for Italians, whereas we practice defensive medicine #CYA. Even though that is the case here, I am documenting certain things because I want to know how my patients are progressing. In general, Italians have an expectation that you hold yourself accountable. They expect you to push yourself; don’t fall into the trap of doing only the minimum.

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Positano on a sailboat on the Almalfi Coast

4)    Exchange Ideas with Colleagues

Going to Italy is unique, also, because you are placed with other students from a variety of schools. They are all at different points in their schooling, which provides quite the mix of ideas and understanding. Take advantage of this to exchange ideas and techniques with other students. For example, one SPT from Shenandoah taught us how to do a CT manipulation in prone.

Side bar: It is awesome to have a group to explore Italy with.

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In Venice for the weekend!

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Venezia-social commentary on global warming and human efforts to maintain our structures. Venice is not actually “sinking”, rather the water is rising because of the human impact of warming the earth and melting the ice caps.

5)    Take Advantage of the Slow Internet

You may find you have extra time here, especially because the internet is not as fast or reliable as in the US and certain websites *ahem Xfinity ahem* are unavailable. (You can get Netflix and Spotify, though, so I can promise you will survive.)

Gripe about it for a day…and then let it go and be in the moment. Journal, walk around town, engage with the locals, practice Italian, talk to your peers, learn how to make pasta, or study for the comp exam. You’ll feel less dependent on technology and it’s actually been amazing to unplug. It has given me more time to reflect on what I’m learning about myself, our practice, the meaning of life, etc, and always with a glass of wine in hand.

Ciao bella,

Lydia

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Lovely day at Agriturismo Tenuta I Colli del Trasimeno!

10 Tips to Get You Into PT School

So, you’ve decided you want to be a physical therapist? Congratulations! That means you’ve decided to pursue pretty much the best career the world can offer. Unfortunately, the idea of actually applying to PT school can be pretty daunting, but I’m here to help! Hopefully I can make the process a little easier by passing on a few pieces of advice I found helpful back in my application days. These are either things I wish I had known when I was applying or tips I heard firsthand from professors, PT’s, previous students, etc. I hope they’ll be useful for you as well:

1. Think about what you want out of a school

One of the most difficult parts of applying to PT school is figuring out how you’re even going to start narrowing down the 220-something schools to just a handful that you are interested in. Before you dive in, make a list of characteristics you want your school to have. Some things to consider might be:

  • Location
  • Cost of tuition
  • Class size
  • Research opportunities
  • International opportunities
  • Clinical schedule/requirements
  • APTA Involvement
  • And many more!

Do some research and don’t apply to any schools that don’t fit ALL your criteria. If you want a large class, don’t apply to a school that will only admit 20 students. If you don’t want to move to Texas, don’t even look at the schools in Texas. Also, make sure you know why you are applying to each school—If you can’t explain specifically what jumps out to you about a particular school, you probably shouldn’t be applying there. The PT school application is just as much about you figuring out which is the right school for you as it is about each school figuring out who is best for them.

Some first years at the top of Estes Cone in October–funny how long ago that seems now!

2. Be honest with yourself as an applicant

Be a well-rounded applicant! Know where your weaknesses are and make up for them by being strong elsewhere. For example, if you don’t have the highest GPA, then you should take the time to study for that pesky GRE to boost your academic profile. Don’t make excuses about your weaknesses, but instead be able to articulate what you’ve done to overcome those setbacks. Find other ways to strengthen your application outside of academics: volunteer, get observation hours in a variety of PT settings, take extra time on your essays, or rack up some more extracurricular activities. Here are a few more things you can do if you feel like you might not stand out next to someone with a 4.0 who was president of 17 different clubs:

  • Apply to schools that conduct interviews so you can sell yourself in person.
  • Do a little extra research to find the schools that are going to look at you as more of a whole person rather than primarily emphasizing GPA and GRE scores.
  • Apply to schools with less applicant volume so you have less competition.
  • Look at the school’s acceptance statistics (e.g. what percent of in-state vs. out-of-state applicants they accept) to see what your chances are of getting in.

Survivor contestants and Jeff Probst: we take Halloween very seriously.

3. Don’t apply to too many schools

It might seem like applying to 20 different schools is playing it safe, but here’s the catch: not only does it take a lot of time to complete all those supplemental applications, but every school comes with a fee of its own and you have to pay to send your GRE scores to each one. Think about it: say you get into all 20 schools. You are probably seriously considering less than half of them, so you’ve already wasted time and money by just submitting an application to the schools you don’t really want to go to. My point is, only apply to schools you know you can see yourself at. You also need to take into account the cost of visiting each school, which brings me to my next piece of advice.

A post-finals ski trip to celebrate surviving our first semester!

4. Visit a school before you make a decision

The best way to get a feel for your fit in a DPT program is to go to the school and see it for yourself. You can email current students and professors all you want, but it’s not the same as actually seeing the campus and talking to those people in person. You would hate to show up for your first day of class and realize you don’t want to be there! On the flip side, you might be on the fence about a certain program and then fall in love with it once you’re there. If a school requires an interview, obviously you have to visit. That’s how I knew I wanted to go to Regis – everything about the interview day made me feel welcome, and I felt a better connection with the program than I had with either of the other two schools I had already visited. I had also gotten accepted into a program that didn’t have interviews, but when I visited the school on my own time, I realized I did not see myself there at all. So even if you get accepted to a school that doesn’t do interviews, you should definitely take the time to visit on your own before choosing it.

Trekking up waterfalls on the Subway hike during our summer break trip to Zion National Park

5. Location matters

You may be thinking, “PT school is only 3 years, so I don’t really care where I live as long as I’ll be at a good school.” Although location might not be a top priority for everyone, it’s still something to consider. Remember that PT school is hard, so you are going to need a sanity break every once in a while. That means you want to be in a location you know you would enjoy when you need to escape all the studying. (For me, and for a lot of us at Regis, having the mountains nearby is perfect.) Moral of the story: make sure wherever you end up, you have access to something you like to do for fun.

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Some of the first years took our service dog-in-training, Zuma, to Estes Park this summer!

6. Rankings DON’T matter

While it might feel pretty cool to get into the top ranked PT school in the nation, remember that every accredited program is going to teach you the skills you need to be a good physical therapist. Sure, you should look at academic statistics such as first-time pass rates, but what else about the school stands out to you? (See tip #1.) Don’t feel bad about yourself if you are not applying to super highly ranked schools—they will all ultimately get you to where you want to be! 

Trampoline parks aren’t just for little kids’ birthday parties

7. Student debt is real

They say ignorance is bliss, but you wouldn’t want to ignore all your loans until graduation and then find out you’ve racked up a ton of debt. This is, by no means, a lesson in finance, but you do need be realistic with yourself. Consider the cost of attendance of the schools you are applying to and figure out this will affect your financial planning. Also, try to have a basic understanding of how financial aid works so you are prepared to manage it while you’re still in school. That being said, you should still go with your gut when choosing schools and don’t base your decision on money alone. Remember, your education is an investment for you to pursue a profession for which you are passionate.

Giving snowshoeing a try at Dream Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

8. Don’t procrastinate

This seems self-explanatory, but coming from personal experience, it is really easy to put things off and end up submitting your applications a little too close to the deadline for comfort. Give your references plenty of time to write their recommendations, but more importantly, give yourself more than enough time to write your essays and personal statement. Know the individual requirements for each school so you aren’t scrambling to get things together at the last minute. If you’re like me and you can never seem to kick the bad habit of procrastination, make your applications like homework or a job. Set aside a few times per week to work on them, and assign yourself deadlines (that you will actually stick to—be realistic and make manageable goals!) to hold yourself accountable.

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And that’s a wrap on semester 2!

9. Be able to explain why you want to be a physical therapist

Your personal statement is one of the most important aspects of your application. It is every admissions team’s snapshot into who you are as a person. Before you start, you should write a mini essay about exactly why you want to be a PT (this was a requirement for me in an undergrad class, but I would recommend doing it because it was extremely helpful). Go below the surface-level answer, of “I want to help people” and instead make it personal: add your own anecdotes, style, and voice. Also make sure your reasoning isn’t too general; describe specifically why you were drawn to PT, and don’t allow the same reasons to be applicable to other careers. Make it clear that you understand what a PT does! It’ll be challenging, but once you are able to put all that into words, you will be able to transfer a lot of it to your real personal statement, no matter the prompt. Then you should get it proofread as much as possible. Ask a PT, your favorite professor, your high school English teacher, your neighbor’s son’s girlfriend’s uncle—whomever you think would provide good feedback and help you make your statement as strong as possible.

Learning new skills at the APTA Colorado Chapter’s spring conference

10. Take a risk and be adventurous!

Finally, this is my own personal piece of advice. The closest PT school to my home in Portland is only 19 miles away. The closest school I actually applied to is a whopping 996 miles away. Why? Don’t get me wrong, I love the Pacific Northwest and I by no means wanted to “get out.” It’s just that I stayed in Oregon for undergrad (go Beavs) and I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and try somewhere entirely new for a change. Maybe that mindset isn’t for everyone, but whether you’re coming straight from undergrad or starting a whole new career, taking on PT school is life-changing no matter how close you are to home. It was definitely scary moving away from all my friends and family, but I love having this new home with new friends and new hobbies all separate from that other part of my life. So just consider stepping a little further outside of what you’re comfortable with; it might be fun to take on a little extra risk and you will be all the more stronger for it.

Taking in the views at our campsite in Zion National Park

I hope these tips ease some application anxiety and help you feel a little more prepared for the fun that is PTCAS. If you stay organized and keep this advice in mind as you tackle your applications, the whole process will be a lot less stressful. Good luck!

Kelsie Jordan graduated from Oregon State University and is currently finishing her first year at Regis. Kelsie loves to line dance, the outdoors, and is the admissions representative for the Class of 2019.

 

 

 

Regis DPT Summer Semester: How to Stay Motivated and Have Fun

When most Coloradans flip their calendars from April to May, they smile and ponder the period of peaceful transition that lies ahead: flowers bloom, the sun warms the pristine mountain lakes, spring turns to summer.

First year physical therapy students, likewise, anticipate a time of transition—albeit a bit more abrupt! Regis PT students undergo finals in the first week of May, and once that is conquered, one glorious week of break ensues. Many students take advantage of the time off by visiting family, traveling, or enjoying the many pleasures of Denver while allowing their usually overflowing minds to be idle. They return a week later to a relatively bare campus (3rd years are graduated, 2nd years are on clinical, and undergraduates have scattered) as true rulers of the roost.

The 3rd semester of PT school is—dare I say—a time of reprieve. Courses shift focus from foundational sciences to instead hone in on management. Although this involves much more time spent in class/labs, students are expressing joy in finding more time out of class to devote to recreational pursuits…and no better place exists, in my humble opinion, than beautiful Colorado for making a memorable third semester! I could probably write an entire brochure on the prodigious amount of adventures to be had in the Denver area, but below I’ve highlighted just a few activities for Regis students seeking to make the most of their budding summer.

1. Survive spring finals.

Stay passionate, study for neuroscience, and victory is assured.

2. Take advantage of your break.

In the first 2 semesters, PT students put their hearts into every academic excursion they undertake (anatomy dissection, manual skills checks, service learning, etc.), so by the time summer rolls around, they’ve earned every second of their time off. I urge students to use that time to be self-serving. If you miss your family, go home. If you long to travel, rally your buddies and hit the road. If you need to sit on the couch and eat donut holes, start researching TV series to binge watch now.

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Regis SPTs strike a pose on their vacation in Zion National Park.

3. Relax at Coors Field.

Rockies games are shockingly affordable, and you can’t beat the baseball park atmosphere.

4. Camp.

Gather your classmates on Friday after class and head for Rocky Mountain National Park. Physically getting away on the weekends is an ideal way to recharge (plus: s’mores).

5. Check out the brewery scene.

Denver is a beer lover’s wonderland. Enthusiasts can walk among 20 breweries in LoHi alone: Denver Brewing Co., Great Divide, Wynkoop, Vine Street Pub, and Breckenridge are just a few favorites.

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Once you graduate from brewery tours, get a history lesson at Stranahan’s Whiskey Distillery.

6. Take regular night hikes.

As nights grow balmier, head out to Boulder to traverse the trails in Chautauqua Park and get a stunning view of both the stars and city lights.

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The mountains are a prime location for appreciating some moonscapes.

7. Reflect on the past year and what lies ahead.

The life of a student physical therapist is a beautiful struggle. After your first year, don’t forget to take the time to consider everything you’ve learned, how much you’ve grown, and the divine opportunities that await you.

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Blogger: Meg Kates

Apart from blogging, Meg (Class of 2019) is a member of the social media committee for the Move Forward race, a member of the Foot and Ankle Special Interest Group, and was Boss of the Applesauce in April (this is a big deal). Her current goal after graduating is to work in an outpatient neuro rehab facility.