Imagine this. You are about to start your second semester of physical therapy school. You get an email just a few days before the semester starts, notifying you that you will be given an introduction to dry needling in your first class at 8:00 am on Monday morning, and soon after you will begin practicing dry needling. You might think, “That’s insane!” or “There’s no chance that they are teaching dry needling to first year PT students.”, and you’d be right about one thing, it is insane, but that is exactly what happened in Peter Claver Hall on January 10th, 2022 for the Regis University DPT class of 2024.
This is monumental for the framework of teaching dry needling to physical therapists in the future, but this did not just happen overnight. This was a long thought out process and plan by the faculty of the Regis DPT program, headed by Dr. Stephanie Albin PT, DPT, Ph.D. and Dr. Cameron MacDonald PT, DPT. Not only did this involve reworking the curriculum to accommodate this new training, but it started with changing the Colorado legislature, not an easy feat.
“We’re better together!” – Dr Sharon Dunn PT OCS PhD, Past-President of APTA National
Dry needling was introduced to physical therapy practice about 20 years ago, with the state of Colorado recognizing dry needling as a modality around the year 2005. There was not a board at the time to regulate dry needling, so the continuing education instructors that taught dry needling were asked about how to safely regulate the use of dry needling in practice. In doing so, these instructors decided that the safest way to regulate dry needling was by not allowing physical therapists to integrate dry needling into their practice until they had two-years of experience working as a clinician. Changing this two-year gap regulation of dry needling was the “final hurdle” to overcome before being able to teach dry needling as a part of the DPT curriculum, according to Dr. MacDonald.
There was also a discussion between physical therapists and acupuncturists that had to be resolved before physical therapists could retain the right to implement dry needling into practice. While both professions are using a filament to evoke healing, there is a distinct and fundamental difference in the utilization of the filament. Dr. Dunn triumphantly said, “We’re better together!” It does not have to be a fight between us and them, and trust me, I should know, I am the daughter of an acupuncturist (but that’s a story for another time). In the effort to resolve this battle, dry needling became just as much a part of physical therapy as therapeutic exercise and manual therapy.
Once dry needling was defined as an integral part of physical therapy, and the legislation changed to remove the 2 year gap period between graduation and being able to incorporate dry needling into practice, the question became, “how do we integrate the teaching of dry needling into the DPT curriculum?” Well, 13 curriculum change proposals later, Cameron and Stephanie finally had the approval of the Regis DPT curriculum board and got the okay to begin teaching. Their plan has been built as a 3 year pilot program focused on the learning experience of the DPT class of 2024. By graduation, the students will have enough hours of experience in dry needling to practice dry needling level 1 immediately post-graduation.
While the original goal of this pilot program was to safely incorporate dry needling into the DPT curriculum, a longer term, national goal has arisen from this plan. The hope now is that this pilot program educates more practitioners that will then take this skill and this knowledge with them post-graduation. With students coming to Regis from all over the country, the assumption is that the students will return to their home states and push for changes in legislation that will allow for a more uniform practice of dry needling throughout our nation; that this pilot program will be incorporated in more institutions, so that more practitioners have access to the practice of dry needling, and more patients are able to access this intervention if it is deemed appropriate for their care.
From the class of 2024, thank you to Dr. Stephanie Albin PT, DPT, Ph.D., Dr. Larissa Hoffman PT, Ph.D., and Dr. Cameron MacDonald PT, DPT for pushing for this change to give us the opportunity to learn such a critical skill so early on in our careers, and thank you for your continued work and research in this field to educate not only us as students, but the entire physical therapy community on such an important intervention technique.
As a physical therapy program at a Jesuit university, the Regis DPT program is built on the foundation of serving others; it is one of our core values. When COVID-19 first emerged in our community, we were deeply saddened to not be able to serve in the way that we have in the past. Unfortunately, many of the partners that Regis serves, have immunocompromised members that were struck very hard at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was extremely risky to work with these populations, thus in-person service learning was put on hold. There was a period of time when only virtual service learning was allowed, and as a program, we did our best to adapt to the unknown and ongoing changes.
With the influx of a new class of students, and dwindling cases of COVID-19, Regis University’s DPT program was once again able to find ways to serve the community. More and more non-profit organizations started to welcome back volunteers, and we were excited to have the opportunity to participate in this meaningful work.
During the fall semester of 2021, all of the members in the class of 2024 participated with the 9Health Fairs in the Denver metro area. This was extremely impactful for the community as we provided health screenings that individuals in the community may not have had access to otherwise. During the spring semester of 2022, the individuals in the class of 2024 were able to select from a number of service learning experiences to determine which opportunity they wanted to partake in.
Service learning is threaded into the curriculum in order to create compassionate and thoughtful practitioners, and we are so grateful to have been given the opportunity to begin serving our community once again. We have compiled a few stories from members of our Regis DPT Class of 2024 to explain what service learning means to them.
I worked with children at the Anchor Center, which serves blind and visually impaired children. At the Anchor Center I was serving as a supervising play pal to provide one-on-one support and connection with a paired child during a respite night. The respite night occurs on Friday evenings and supports the families of the students by providing a night watch program for their children. During my second respite night with Anchor, I was paired with a one and a half year old who had experienced a TBI and cortical vision impairment and was given the opportunity to provide them this support, which was lots of fun and very rewarding.
I chose to participate with this group because I had never worked with blind or visually impaired children before and I knew it would be an extremely valuable experience for me and the children. I had heard about the Anchor Center on the news and was excited to see that volunteering there was an option for our service learning this spring, and I knew I had to get involved in some way; this was the perfect opportunity to do just that. Also, I would like to work in pediatrics in my future as a therapist, so I thought it would be beneficial to gain experience with this group of children and gain knowledge on what the PTs do within this organization.
Not only do I feel like I gained so much from this experience by getting to work with blind and visually impaired children, I was also able to help support families by giving them a night for themselves. It was also a great opportunity to learn so much information about blindness and visual impairments, specifically cortical blindness. The staff were very open to discussing the components of different types of blindness so that we could all become more educated on it. I learned that blindness is so much more than the inability to see. The Anchor Center is an incredible facility that provides so much to these children and their families, and I’m filled with admiration and optimism following my experience with them.
Our first event was actually rescheduled due to COVID. There were already a lot of safety protocols in place at the Anchor Center but with COVID, things were more strict, especially because a lot of the children are immunocompromised. For example, we always had to wear a mask and make sure to clean up thoroughly after the kids.
I’ve always tried to do my best to give back to the community around me, so being able to volunteer at the Anchor Center in-person for service learning was very special for me. It feels so rewarding to be able to support these children and their families and I want to express my gratitude to their families for granting me the opportunity to support their children during the respite night. I had such a great experience with Anchor and I hope to volunteer with them in my future!
For my service learning, I was at Colorado Easterseals Neuro Rehabilitation day program. This program provides physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychological therapy, music therapy, and art therapy for individuals who have suffered from neurological injuries. During my time there, all of the individuals in the program were recovering from strokes. My role varied based on the day, but generally I provided support for the workers by checking individuals in for the day, helping prepare lunches, or helping individuals with their therapeutic exercises. The flexibility of my role really allowed me to get to know the individuals involved in this program which was a remarkable experience.
I chose this service learning because neuro rehab is an area of physical therapy that I have not had much opportunity to observe, but also an area that I could see myself getting into following graduation.
This semester has been challenging and at times when we feel bombarded by assignments and exams, it is easy to forget why we are doing this. This service learning continually allowed me to remember why I chose this profession. The easterseals community was unlike anything I have ever experienced, the way they all support each other is truly inspiring. The participants are so thankful to have the opportunity to come to Easterseals to receive the care they need.
This organization has been extremely impacted by covid. The participants are an at-risk population. Luckily, the neuro rehab organization did not have any outbreaks. But they did close down the site to all non-essential personnel. We were the first volunteers allowed back. Before each shift we had a COVID health screening and we had to wear an N95 or KN95 whenever we were at the site.
Being able to be back in the community is such a valuable learning experience but it means so much more to me. I grew up in the Denver-metro area; this area shaped me into the individual that I am today. It is the reason why I am entering the healthcare profession. So being able to engage with the community each semester is almost like a mental reset for me to remember why I want to be a physical therapist.
I worked with Denver Adaptive Rec and Special Olympics as a volunteer coach for two basketball teams. I went to weekly practices during the season where we helped guide drills and filled into scrimmages when an extra player was needed. The season wrapped up with a state tournament which was an incredible event for the players. They got to show everyone what they had been working on all season and play in actual games. On top of that, we won 1st place at state!
I have always had a passion for coaching and sports and it had been years since I have been in a position to coach so I felt like it was the perfect opportunity. I also didn’t have much experience working with people who have varying intellectual disabilities so I knew it would be outside of my initial comfort zone and a great experience.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent volunteering with this program. It was meaningful to me to get out into the Denver community and be a part of something bigger than school. PT school can be tough at times and it helps to get out and do something different while feeling like you are making a positive impact on someone else’s life. Even if it is just being there to have a great time playing basketball. After this experience I plan to continue volunteering with Special Olympics in their upcoming sports seasons.
Because of Covid, the participants didn’t play in any real games against other teams until the state tournament at the end of their season. Halfway through their season instead of a tournament they had a skills competition. Masks were required at first and then the protocols loosened up by the last week; if the players were on the court, they no longer needed to wear a mask while playing. Everything during Covid was put on pause so it really has been years since I’ve been able to engage as a volunteer within the community. It is great to see everything opening back up and organizations getting back to normal again. I had such a positive experience that I was sad to see it end. It really sparked back up my interest in coaching and working with Special Olympics as well as working within the community again.
In today’s world, tattoos are more common than ever but there is a lingering sense of taboo around tattooed individuals in physical therapy and the healthcare field in general. As a professional, one is expected to look a certain, clean type of way. This stereotype does not include tattoos as they are still associated with lawlessness and impurity. Growing up, I also viewed tattoos in this light, but this all changed as I went through my undergraduate years.
Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of being a healthcare professional. My science background is ingrained with a dichotomous mindset of right and wrong, whether it was through multiple choice exams, lab skills, or clinical practice guidelines. As my undergraduate career ended, I felt trapped in a box based on objectivity. This is when I found comfort in the subjective nature of the art of tattooing. In the tattoo world, there are endless possibilities as there are countless styles, placements, subjects, and color palettes that one can choose from.
As I pondered in my academic box, I reflected on the way I viewed myself. I grew up with an intrinsic shame of my body weight. I never viewed myself as attractive or appealing to others. This is a dynamic mindset that is rooted in my socioeconomic status, single parent household, health illiteracy, and lack of consistent exercise and healthy eating. After graduating from undergrad at the age of 22, I decided to take control. I was unemployed as I was looking for a physical therapy tech position, so out of boredom, I joined a local gym. My weight started dropping and I started to feel stronger, more energetic, and started to take pride in my progress. There was this new sense of confidence as I saw the scales go down and weights get heavier. This was the first time I felt genuine control of my body.
This newfound control expanded to self-expression through tattoos. It started off with memorial tattoos to honor loved ones who had passed away. It then progressed to telling my personal story whether it was nods to my Filipino-American culture, NBA basketball, or even just appreciation for the work of tattoo artists that I love. The beauty of tattoos is that there is no one right way of getting them. Whether it is a collection of different styles, a small hidden tattoo, or entire body suit, one has freedom to express themselves. This does not mean everyone needs a tattoo as that freedom of expression is aligned with choosing to not get tattooed as well.
When applying to physical therapy schools, only one website had pictures of students or faculty with tattoos. As a tattooed individual, minority, and three years out of school, I felt stress, anxiety, and loneliness. In my applications, I did not mention tattoos and kept my sleeves rolled down during interviews. Two years later and in my second year as a Doctor of Physical Therapy Student of Regis University, I could not feel any more differently as over 49% of my current cohort have tattoos. My classmates and faculty have never made me feel self-conscious, ashamed, or any lesser because of my tattoos. I share a sense of storytelling, individualism, and pride with my tattooed peers.
The sense of autonomy and control that I feel with my tattooed body draws parallels to the patient experience in physical therapy. A part of being tattooed is sharing a piece of myself without words, thus being vulnerable to others. Vulnerability and acceptance are two key components of a proficient physical therapist-patient experience. Gone are the days of cookie-cutter style treatments, as plans of care are individualized to the specifics of each patient. This means granting patient autonomy and influence on their care, just as I have through the ink on my skin.
Tattoos are not a mark of knowledge or proficiency as a health care provider. Judge me on my character. Judge me on my clinical reasoning. Judge me on my critical thinking. Judge me on my bedside manner, my professionalism, my empathy, my commitment to learning, on my sincerity. Do not judge that my body is colored outside the lines. I vow to accept my patients as the individuals they are. Hopefully they can do the same and view my tattoos as an expression of my personal story, not a mark of wickedness. Just like physical therapy, tattoo collecting is a lifelong learning process. May the ink on my skin be as strong as the ink on my Doctor of Physical Therapy diploma.
Thank you to everyone from the Class of 2023 who shared a little bit of themselves for this.
Dr. Laurel Proulx first received her B.S. in Kinesiology from the University of Kansas (Rock Chalk!) in 2009. She then attended Regis University, where she was awarded her DPT in 2013. Most recently, she has successfully defended her dissertation and achieved her Ph.D. at Texas Woman’s University in 2021. Laurel then returned to Regis University prior to the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, this time, as an assistant professor in the Rueckert-Hartman College of Health Profession. Laurel, in her first semester of teaching, was tasked with coordinating DPT 703 Biomechanics and Kinesiology of the Extremities – a hefty course for a first-time professor. Laurel credits her tremendous support from other faculty members in her success in her first semester of teaching. Laurel also mentioned that she had a good relationship with the previous course coordinator, whom although no longer a Regis faculty member was more than willing to help support Laurel in many ways.
Laurel had not yet completed her Ph.D. program when she became Regis faculty and when she was teaching her first course, so you can imagine just how busy she was juggling everything on her plate. She successfully completed her physical therapy Ph.D. program in the fall of 2021. Currently, she is a faculty member in a supporting role in a few DPT courses in the Spring 2022 semester and is teaching biomechanics for undergraduate students at Regis University. Since she no longer has schoolwork of her own, Laurel has gotten some of her free time back. She has been making an effort to expand her network and integrate herself into her new community in Colorado Springs. She has recently begun working in her own private practice at a crossfit gym and is supporting the trainers that are a part of the BirthFit program which is aimed towards helping new or expecting mothers regain or maintain their pelvic floor function and control while exercising at the gym.
In her years practicing physical therapy, Dr. Proulx has taken what may seem like an unconventional path. Fresh out of DPT school, Laurel stuck with a very traditional route, outpatient orthopedics where she worked with mainly athletes. She still had an interest in pelvic health at that time. While she was working as a very hands on PT in the orthopedic clinic, Laurel started to notice her own health decline. She had to take a step back from her passion to focus on her health. During this time, she went into working in full-time research, which she ended up really enjoying. Her boss and mentor at that position was very supportive of her interest in pelvic health research, which led her to her decision to obtain her Ph.D. Her Ph.D. focused on identifying and quantifying musculoskeletal impairments in individuals with pelvic pain. She takes a high interest in connecting orthopedic physical therapy with pelvic health because orthopedic physical therapists can still significantly help patients with pelvic pain without specializing in it.
Her passion for pelvic health stemmed from learning about pelvic dysfunction during a course at Regis University. She took an elective course in pelvic health to gain a more in depth understanding of the material. She then went to Ethiopia through the global health pathway opportunity. In Ethiopia, she visited a fistula clinic where she was able to appreciate just how detrimental pelvic floor dysfunction can be to the individual. Laurel noticed how pelvic dysfunction can be ostracizing to the patient and by treating patients with pelvic dysfunction, we can help the individual rejoin society and gain back some normalcy.
As far as what Laurel likes to do for fun, she and her husband were avid travelers prior to March 2020. She has come back to Colorado with a goal to get more comfortable while skiing (aren’t we all?). When they feel safe enough to travel outside of the United States, Laurel and her husband are set on some breathtaking destinations: Ireland, Scotland, and Greece. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, then you might be a bit jealous to hear that Laurel has actually visited many of the sets in Croatia where Game of Thrones was filmed. She said that Croatia was one of her favorite places to visit, so make sure to add that to your bucket list. Other than that, Laurel enjoys working out in her home gym, exploring and adventuring around Colorado for weekend trips, and trying all of the food wherever she goes. She is happy to be back in Colorado. She loves teaching and she loves getting to see the students growing and envisioning where they might end up practicing in the future. If she had one piece of advice to give to the DPT students, it is to really practice the inter-professional skills and listen to feedback. She says that she wishes she had taken the opportunity to get the feedback from the experienced faculty to make the most out of her education.
Being a new mom while working towards my DPT was a daunting thought but the Regis support system has been incredible. There have been a handful of other women in the Regis DPT program’s history who have gone before me and walked this path, but it is a fairly rare occurrence. Both classmates and faculty have been supportive and interested in my well-being, as well as that of my daughter, Clare. It’s made a huge difference for people to be invested in how I am doing with my studies and my health, not just my baby. I’ve had a lot of support. A friend made me dinner during finals week which was wonderful, and faculty have been great when Clare needed to come to class when babysitting fell through. Everyone has been overwhelmingly positive about having a newborn in class. Even my research group has adopted her and asked to have her there when we would hold research meetings!
In terms of how having Clare has impacted my studies, it’s changed my mindset about grades mostly. I ask myself the question our professor Larissa Hoffman asks us, “Do I know it well enough?” I have new priorities now. I’m not willing to sacrifice Clare’s well-being for grades, and ultimately, I haven’t had to. I’ve come to realize that getting an A doesn’t necessarily translate to doing well for my patients in the long run so I’m trying to figure out how to balance that mindset.
Clare has brought even more compassion to my practice as a physical therapist. Whereas before she was here in my life, I thought waking up in the middle of the night would be such a chore, but once she was here and needed me, it came naturally. That has given me perspective on some aspects of physical therapy like documentation that I’m not as interested in but are for the benefit of that patient. They need to be done and I will do them because my patient needs that from me. Clare has also helped grow my empathy towards other people’s children. I was pregnant when we were discussing child abuse this past summer in Psychosocial Aspects of Healthcare and just lost it. I absolutely cannot imagine how anyone could choose to do that to another person. Clare has allowed me to put myself in the place of another parent.
Clare is also shaping my professional goals. I’m very much interested in neuro but I’m not sure how realistic pursuing that is since siblings for Clare are on the horizon. I’m still not sure where I’ll end up but right now. I’m leaning towards home health since it is a more flexible sector and would allow for me to care for my family as well as work. I also enjoy interacting with the older population and feel like it might be doing the industry a disservice not to pursue that interest. I love how honest and forthright older folks are. They’re either sweet or super grumpy, but even the grump one will open and then you’re in with them for good once you connect. I’m an old soul so I feel like it’s easier for me to connect with older generations.
Clare has been my angel baby – I’m just so grateful she sleeps through the night!
How to Be A Successful New Parent and PT Student
Written by Tanner Williams
Becoming a new dad has been the most meaningful, exciting, and joyous occasion of my life. It has also been incredibly stressful, tiring, and by far the hardest thing I have ever done. I always assumed that parenting would be both wonderful and stressful at all times, but the reality is that moments are often dominated by one emotion or the other. There are times where I’m up at 2 am before an important day at school and my daughter needs to be held; in these moments I’m incredibly tired, stressed, on the verge of breaking down emotionally and physically, and wondering what drove me to think I could handle raising a child during PT school. Then there’s moments when we’re playing together, and she’ll look up and smile at me or make cooing noises and I can’t imagine how I ever lived without her.
When I found out I was becoming a dad while in PT school, I knew I would have to develop strategies to stay successful in school while balancing being present for my newborn child. When I get home, I devote all my attention and focus on my family. This means that I need to maximize my efficiency during the day so I can still do well in school while also being present for the new and exciting moments in my daughter’s life, which is extremely important to me. I’ve listed some of the tips that have helped me succeed below and although I started using some of these after having a child, I believe they could help anyone in graduate school stay successful and maintain a healthy work-life balance:
Be fully engaged and present during class
This one seems like a no-brainer, of course you should be engaged during class! What I have found is that it is easy to get distracted and lose focus in class, especially the classes that you personally might not be the most excited for. I approach every class with the mentality that this time should be fully devoted to absorbing as much information as possible. This means removing distractions like phones and staying off websites that you habitually check frequently (I’m looking at you, social media…). I close all other programs on my computer except my notes and try to write or re-write the information I think is most important as a way to stay engaged in the material. By really focusing during class, I don’t have to spend nearly as much time outside of school studying.
2. Organization is key!
I add everything to my google calendar; this includes classes, workouts, study time at the library, and meetings. This way, I know what my day will look like, and it also keeps me accountable to follow through with the things I know I should be doing, such as weekly workouts and devoted time to study. I also use my lunch breaks to either workout or hold meetings so I don’t have to worry about these responsibilities later in the day.
3. Don’t ignore your mental health
You might be thinking ‘so you go to class, workout at lunch, end class at 4, and then study for an hour before going home to help take care of a baby…where’s the free time?’ Time spent for your mental health is not wasted time, it is EXTREMELY important to remember to take care of this part of your health. This looks different to everyone and your strategies might be very different than mine. For me, working out at lunch is a mental health break. I feel better when I consistently workout and find I’m more productive when I devote my time towards this. I also devote a large portion of my weekend towards a fun family activity. This could be getting out to play disc golf, hiking, or just walking to the park or watching a movie. It’s important to take time away from the stresses of school and do something that you enjoy because you will quickly experience burnout if you don’t.
By focusing on these strategies, I’ve been able to continue to do well in school while also spending plenty of quality time with my newborn.
If you see our brave new parents, be sure to stop them in the halls and ask for fresh baby pics – it will make everyone’s day!
Congratulations on being offered an invitation to interview for the Doctorate of Physical Therapy program at Regis University! With interviews quickly approaching, it is important to get all of your last minute questions answered, and calm any of those interview day nerves. Students from Regis Physical Therapy Class of 2023 and Class of 2024 have worked together to provide helpful information and tips to be successful on interview day.
Q: When will interviews be held?
A: Interviews will be held on Friday, January 21st and Monday, January 24th. There will be a morning and an afternoon session on both days. Interview candidates should have already received information on which interview session they will be attending. Please check your email if you are still unsure as to what time your interview is being held.
Q: What can I expect on interview day now that it is virtual?
A: Interview candidates should plan to check-in to their interview 30 minutes ahead of their scheduled interview time. Following check-in, there will be a brief introduction followed by either the group interview, or student led panels and a virtual tour. Following the completion of the activities of the day, the interview candidates will reconvene online for closing remarks.
Q: What should I wear for interviews?
A: Business attire is expected. A blazer or suit jacket along with a nice button up shirt or blouse is typical along with dress pants. With the interviews being online, it may seem like a good idea to only dress professionally from the waist up. It is strongly encouraged to dress professionally from top to bottom to ensure that there are not any wardrobe mishaps on interview day. Additionally, dressing for the part may help you feel more confident and prepared stepping into the interviews.
Q: How should I prepare for the interview?
A: You have already started! Reading this blog post and other posts is a great way to receive information on Regis’ DPT program. We would also recommend that you take a look at the program website located here and the Regis DPT instagram: @regis_dpt. It is also a good idea to become familiar with Regis’ Jesuit values as these values are integrated into our education as students of physical therapy.
Q: Will there be a chance for me to ask questions during my interview?
A: Yes, there will be a chance to ask faculty questions during the hour long interview. These questions should remain professional as it is still a part of the interview. There will also be a time during the student panel to ask questions regarding student life and any other topics that you would like.
Q: I still feel like I have more questions. What should I do?
A: There should be additional information in the emails that you have already received. That is a good place to start. You should have received an email with links to informational zoom presentations on various topics that will be held during the week before interviews. If you still have questions that have not been answered, please feel free to reach out to one of the amazing students on the admissions team. Sam Snyder and Jillian Schmidt are second year students in the program and have previous experience working on the admissions process from last years interviews. Adrianna Simmons and Ryan McIntyre are first year students and are new to the admissions team, but both went through the online interview process during last years interview. All four students are more than willing to help answer any of your questions regarding Regis and the interview process to the best of their ability.
Tips for Success
Give yourself plenty of time to wake up before your scheduled interview time.
Make sure that your audio and video setup works the night before your interview.
Do test Zoom calls with friends or family so you can get used to talking to a computer.
Be respectful of the other interviewees in the call. Be sure to make your statement, while not interrupting or overstepping the other candidates.
Review all the materials that Regis sends out prior to interviews, including Jesuit values! This may include doing your own research about the program.
ASK QUESTIONS. Show the interviewers that you care!
Make yourself stand out. It is important that the faculty get a good sense of who you actually are. Be true to yourself and feel free to discuss any unique experiences that you have had.
Use the setting of a virtual interview to ask any questions about the school’s response to COVID and how this has affected the learning process.
Have pen and paper nearby to take notes during the interview. This will not only help you stay engaged, but will also help later on when deciding on whether or not to attend Regis’ program.
Think of the interview as a conversation with the faculty and the other interviewees. Remember, the other interview candidates may be your future classmates and the faculty may be your future professors and colleagues!
On October 16th, the health professions making up The Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions, hosted a Diversity Day event for the GEAR UP Colorado program. The programs involved included the School of Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, School of Nursing, and the Division of Counseling and Family Therapy. The goal of this event was to introduce and inform the many high schoolers who are a part of the GEAR UP Colorado program to the various health professions available to them after graduating high school. The day also provides an insight into what it is like to be a student in the health professions at Regis University.
Back in 2011, I attended my first after school GEAR UP program in Washington. At the time, it was a great after school program where kids could gather to finish up homework, reading assignments, or receive tutoring. In the decade since I last attended, it has evolved into so much more. The federally-funded pre-collegiate grant program now aims to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. The program now includes one-on-one mentoring and advising, college preparatory curriculum, financial aid literacy, STEM programing, college-level examination programs, and college visits, such as the one that took place last weekend.
Diversity Day at Regis kicked off on schedule with students from Arvada High and Adam City High school stepping off the bus at 9:00 am. Upon entry, students dropped off their signed consent and waver forms to participate in various activities from each department. You could feel the excitement in the air. In particular, the students could not wait to get into the cadaver lab as they asked, “When do we got to see the bodies??” Before the day could officially begin, the students were greeted with breakfast and a warm welcome from the Assistant Dean of Undergraduate programs, and our very own, Dean and professor, Mark Reinking.
We began our educational activities with a game of Jeopardy, with questions categorized by health profession. With each question, students would learn more about each profession, the kind of work involved, and the education required. Following Jeopardy, the kids were broken up into groups to explore activities that each health profession had set up. Niko Rodriguez, another SPT from the Class of 2023, and I had the kids participate in an impairment race. They were briefly educated on typical gait and then took a practice lap around the room. Then, we assigned and taught each of them a gait impairment, such as gastroc contracture or weak quadriceps. When the race began, each student struggled to adapt to their gait impairment. Toes dragging along the carpet was a great demonstration of a weak tibialis anterior, along with hyperextended knees as the students attempted to shut off their quads. The result of the activity was a slower gait speed, but more importantly, a visceral insight on what it’s like to live with an impairment.
The afternoon had several great activities lined up as well, but students still asked, “When do we get to see the bodies??” Cliff Barnes, our renown anatomist, along with first and second year DPT students, did not disappoint as they educated high schoolers on human anatomy and the invaluable resource that the cadavers provide our program.
The day was concluded with an inter-professional skit: an anxious, hypertensive skier had broken his tibia and while maintaining a prescription drug dependence. This may have been the most enjoyable part of the day for faculty, the students, and me as the patient proved hilariously difficult to manage for the nurse, pharmacist, councilor, and myself, the physical therapist. From the onset of injury to beginning outpatient physical therapy, the students received valuable insight on the care each health profession provides along the line of treatment.
I had the chance to speak one-on-one to a few of the students who attend the event and hear what they had to say about their experience on campus. Lexi, a 16-year-old sophomore from Arvada High said, “I had fun and it was a really inspiring experience. I enjoyed getting around and being active with the impairment race. I may end up looking into physical therapy to help people with their disabilities because of this experience.”
Jorge, a 15-year-old sophomore from Adam City High said, “I play soccer and I’ve had an ankle injury in the past. The recovery was frustrating because it limited me, but physical therapy helped a lot. I really enjoyed this event and thought it was cool and insightful.”
Heidi Eigsti, our Director of Graduate professions gave her thoughts on the event, as well. “I love seeing that we can get kids from underrepresented minority population sand at-risk high schools into our building interacting with our students and seeing what’s possible for their future.”
Sung Yi, a second year DPT student summed up this experience very well: “I didn’t have the opportunity to have this exposure; neither did my friends. Maybe if they had had this exposure things would have been different for them…I think it’s interesting that they always talk about endless potential. They feed that to us and everyone who’s young. But the thing is, potential can only be endless if you have the resources. If you don’t have the resources, potential is very limited.”
On a personal level, helping put together this event was very rewarding. My hope is that each of us who participated in the Diversity Day had the opportunity to be a resource for this underrepresented and under-served community. My hope is that by being part of this event, I helped a kid realize his or her own potential.
The Class of 2023 returned from their first clinical rotation at the end of September and had some time to reflect on their experiences. A few of them are written up as short stories of lessons learned below. Take a trip to the Gila River Indian Community, AZ, Oregon City, OR, and Grand Junction, CO.
Carson Ariagno – Gila River, AZ
I was exceptionally nervous going into the beginning of my first clinical. I hadn’t prepared as much as I’d wanted to, I’d had to last-second book new housing as my original plan canceled on me the day before I left, and I’d gotten a speeding ticket while on my 13-hour drive down. Not my best start. But once I was welcomed into the clinic, all that fear and confusion melted away. I realized relatively quickly that I needed to be a face of calm confidence for many of these patients. This became a personal goal for myself in addition to the spread of more typical academic and professional goals I set with my clinical instructor (CI).
I spent my first clinical experience on Gila River Indian Community land just outside Phoenix, Arizona. This group of tribes have lived in southern Arizona since around 300 BC and have endured aggression and marginalization at the hands of the Spanish and American governments throughout history to this day. Most notably, their primary water source in the Sonoran Desert, the Gila River, was blocked off and dried up in the late 19th century by American farmers. The Gila River tribes were given federal aid in the form of processed and canned foods after almost 40 years of mass starvation on the reservation. These cheap foods may have saved lives from starvation but helped lead to widespread obesity and diabetes, two conditions which still disproportionately affect the community. As of a 2008 study, there was a 47% adult obesity rate, a 50% adult type 2 diabetes rate, and a 20 times higher rate of kidney failure than the general American population. This ongoing health crisis affecting the community creates more complex patient presentations, especially in PT.
Nearly every patient that my CI and I saw in my six weeks was diabetic and about three quarters of them were overweight or obese. A couple had had amputations related to their diabetes; more were threatened with the risk of needing one soon if their condition didn’t improve. This level of additional complication combined with relatively difficult presentations created cases that really challenged me for my first time in clinic. This difficulty and the endless support of my CI made this experience more enriching than I ever could’ve imagined. Along the way, I learned from our patients bits of their language and much of their history as well as many aspects of day to day life for those still living on the reservation. One patient in particular opened up to me with some personal stories on the third or fourth time I saw him. He’d lived a very difficult life growing up in poverty on the reservation, experiencing some tragic losses along the way. He had a variety of health problems begin to develop around the time he turned 30, diabetes and a torn knee ligament among them. He lamented to me about how difficult life had become in the nearly 20 years since then as he gained large amounts of weight while being unable to receive sufficient medical care for so many years. But now that he’d started PT, he felt like he was beginning to regain control. The relatively recently-opened outpatient center our clinic was in gave him access to so many services he really needed and was so thankful to receive. He has now lost his first 50 pounds and is well on his way to successful rehab of his knee and back.
This was a running theme with varying severity for many patients – this health system was their first and most consistent source of care in a long time if not ever. It was wonderful to see the progress many of them finally were able to make and the difference that truly attentive, available care can make for people in need. Every provider was interested in providing as much patient education as they wanted to hear to continue breaking down the barriers of healthcare hesitancy that exist in the older members of the community. Many of them had felt, seen, or heard stories from the not-so-distant American history of medical and governmental mistreatment of their people. Especially now as we tried to promote the COVID-19 vaccine, there were still walls of deep-seeded distrust to be broken down. Progress is being made and more and more people are getting the help they need. The Gila River Health Care organization is doing invaluable service for the community on the reservation and will continue to improve their health outcomes and relationship with healthcare as a whole. My time there was extremely well-spent and I cannot thank them enough for taking me in.
David Shaw – Oregon City, OR
This story is about an ongoing learning process that really took center stage during my first clinical experience. As a developing physical therapist, I am learning how to best utilize my time and attention while working with patients. Having worked in clinics as a physical therapy aide for 4.5 years before beginning physical therapy school, I understand the importance of maximizing time in the clinic. Furthermore, I have discovered the most valuable use of time is often patient education. Whether this entails educating patients about anatomy, tissue healing times, avoiding harm, and/or exercises to do on their own, all forms of patient education should empower people to take matters into their own hands.
I hold a large amount of pride in my work, and I know that a lot of people do; however, the amount of pride I have sometimes leads me to feel like I didn’t provide the best experience possible for a patient. In hindsight, I would like to reflect on one patient interaction that I will remember forever. (I will be leaving out a lot of information for the sake of patient privacy.)
Before seeing this patient, I was briefed by my clinical instructor (CI) of what his hypothesis was, and how to navigate the patient and their mother while in the clinic. However, my CI emphasized that I should try to create my own hypothesis as it would be great to have a fresh set of skills to provide them with another opinion. The child came into the clinic with their mother, who was curious about the existence of a motor tic disorder and had been seeing a neurologist about it. The tics were few and far between during my time with the patient. I was beginning to question what the real issue was. It seemed as though the patient was consciously producing the tics, and seemed to coincide with pain in their shoulder. I’m not convinced that the child shared this information with anyone before me that day.
After talking with the patient more and performing some examination measures, I conveyed my hypothesis for this patient to them and their mother. My hypothesis was that they were experiencing episodic shoulder pain due to inflammation related to overuse of a specific muscle in their shoulder. However, what this patient really needed was more stability and strength coming from other muscles so the affected muscle and its tendon wouldn’t inflame and cause the patient to be limited in their daily life. What I didn’t consider at that moment is the effect the words that I used would have on the patient, via their mother who works within the pharmaceutical industry.
The words “inflammation” and “inflame” caused the patient’s mother to believe that all they needed was anti-inflammatory drugs and rest. This took a rapid adjustment from me to educate them about working through comfortable motions in order to improve shoulder stability and strength overall, so that their shoulder problem doesn’t become a chronic issue. It took some attention to detail to attempt to change their mindset. Reflecting on how I went about what I said, I know I could have done a better job. When this experience came up with my CI, I was able to begin letting go of the related burden I immediately felt when they left the clinic.
Physical therapists (PTs) can help everyone, not everyone feels that they need help from a PT. It’s our job as PTs to contribute to healthy and positive healthcare interactions for all patients. We should always ask for consent and know when to treat or when to refer. We should always reflect on our approach and methods and continue to improve from within for the sake of others. Finally, we should want people to trust in our knowledge, experience, and honesty, so they may feel comfortable thinking of us as their primary care providers (PCPs).
Although healthcare is a large system, I have seen that a PT being someone’s PCP is possible. But just because it is possible, doesn’t mean it is necessary. After all, we should be advocates for people seeking to improve their health, physical therapy or not. We must continue let go of our burdens to learn from prior experiences and move on to help the next patient. For some this may require a regularly scheduled vacation, meditation, and/or further education. But one metaphor must remain in the back of our minds: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.”
Alan Scheuermann – Grand Junction, CO
In August and September of 2021, I spent six weeks at a clinical rotation working in the outpatient unit of Community Hospital in Grand Junction, CO. This was my first clinical experience and was full of so many unknowns and new and challenging experiences that parts of it feel like a dream instead of a formative professional and personal journey. While the overall experience was undoubtedly positive, there were certainly difficult and uncomfortable experiences, both anticipated and unexpected.
I spent the week leading up to clinical trying to review information I thought would be relevant in order to have as much information fresh in my mind as I could. My greatest anxiety in the days before my first shift was looking silly in front of my clinical instructor (CI) because I forgot what nerve innervates a specific muscle or couldn’t remember the normal range of motion values for a shoulder patient. What I came to realize fairly early on was that there is a chart for everything, and while there are certainly specific values and landmarks that it helps to be familiar with, the world would not explode if I had to look something up. Besides, I was happy to discover that I retained much more information that I thought I had from my first three semesters of PT school. I felt that I could carry myself in such a way as to give patients confidence that I had rationale for exercises I would ask them to do, and that they would ultimately benefit from my care, despite being a student. I found my CIs to be incredibly supportive, thoughtful communicators, and overall good people who I enjoyed spending time with and working under.
Apart from my CIs and patients at the clinic, I had relatively little social contact with other people during my clinical. I was in a town where I knew only one other person, a childhood friend’s brother, and felt so burnt out at the end of most days that more social interaction was the last thing on my mind. I usually consider myself to be someone who does fairly well being alone, but I had to admit to myself that by the end of my rotation, I was ready to be back in Denver with my girlfriend, cat, family, and friends. I found myself wishing for the comfort and ease of hanging out with old friends or having a quiet night at home that I was unable to recreate in Grand Junction. I took advantage of the world class mountain biking and trails in the desert surrounding Grand Junction and loved every minute of it but would find that there was a need for social support that was going unmet in the time between bike rides and work shifts. As I begin to rationalize what my second clinical will be like, I know that developing relationships in an unfamiliar city will be key to enjoying and growing from my experience to the fullest extent.
One of the highlights from my clinical rotation was working with a patient who I’ll call Cheryl, which is not her real name. She was an older patient who had fallen while out walking and broken both of her kneecaps, one of which required surgery to repair. Despite this significant trauma, Cheryl was generally upbeat, excited to be at therapy, and was very validating towards me as a student PT. Naturally, we were working on lots of balance work with Cheryl, and she frequently commented that she felt safe performing difficult balance tasks with me guarding her to prevent her from falling. She approached PT as a way to find things that she did not feel comfortable doing and working to improve in those areas. She was always eager to challenge herself. On my last day of clinical, Cheryl took several minutes at the end of her session to look me in the eye and tell me that she enjoyed working with me and truly believed I will go on to be a great PT. The sincerity and thoughtfulness of her comments acknowledged the professional transformation I had undergone during my first clinical and helped to push back the soft voice of insecurity lurking in the back of my mind, and I will forever be grateful.
Looking for more stories from CE I? Find a second year on campus and ask, there are so many more to tell.
trigger warning: this post contains descriptors of sexual assault
Thank you for taking the time to make your way here. This letter was a months-long process with much of that time being spent staring at a blinking cursor through my blue light glasses. I stepped away for a good while‒eight weeks to be more precise. While my classmates were hunkering down and crushing their practicals before our second clinical, I was wrestling with the heavy weight of my trauma. This was a familiar fight, and I felt myself succumbing to this monster that I grappled with for so long.
The journey of healing is harrowing. Some days I am climbing and distancing myself further and further away from the dark depths below me. Other days, the ground disintegrates beneath my feet and I tumble down into what I fought so hard to stay away from. This is when I feel the most alone…the defenseless. I am not alone though, and I do not want you to feel like you are alone. I am here too, and I want to share my story with you.
I’ll take you back to Fall 2019‒when the Class of 2022 was in the midst of anatomy group presentations. Five of my classmates were detailing the anatomy, physiology, and implications of the pelvic floor and perineum. With a topic as intimate as this, beads of sweat began forming on my hairline as a cold clamminess filled my palms. The tears lining my eyes morphed everything into blurry pixels, and one blink allowed my mind to focus sharply onto the slide detailing physical therapy implications: “sexual trauma survivors”.
As my classmate described the correlation between sexual abuse and pelvic floor dysfunction, I was shutting down. I trembled in my seat, and like a volatile fault line, the quake I felt caused the room to collapse around me. When the walls crumbled down, I felt scared and exposed. Everything I felt during my sexual assault bombarded me: panic, fear, confusion, and helplessness. Here I am learning to help others while desperately needing help for myself. Am I strong enough to be here? The doubt was overwhelming, but it was not forever.
Some mornings I wake up and invite the warm sunshine into my body and allow my spirit to be nurtured‒these are better days. Other times I feel as though the sun becomes a lighthouse‒salvation that is desperately seeking me out in the darkness overpowering me. These are days when I feel delicate and more susceptible to triggers. These are days when I feel just as paralyzed as I did during the night when I was nothing more than justa body.
Have you ever been somewhere that was so dark that you could see more light when your eyes were closed? Imagine an innocuous fly landing on your cheek and the sudden panic felt as your mind frantically eliminates the malignant possibilities for the unforeseen startle. Your brain swiftly concludes the threat as merely a harmless fly, allowing your body and mind to settle in a matter of minutes. This is the best analogy I can offer to illustrate the triggers for a sexual trauma survivor. Please keep in mind, every survivor’s story and recovery is different; however, a parallel can be drawn amongst many survivors for the petrifying dread accompanying a trigger. The mind is violently dragged into painful memories where trauma admonishes the survivor for seeking safety‒even if the initial shock following the violation has dwindled. But it is never truly gone, and that is where recovery resources for survivors of sexual assault is crucial.
Chanel Miller (courageous and compelling author of survivor memoir Know My Name) communicates the complexity of trauma recovery eloquently:
“Trauma provides a special way of moving through time; years fall away in an instant, we can summon terrorizing feelings as if they are happening in the present.”
It almost sounds like a super power, doesn’t it? But we never asked for this nor could we fathom possessing something so fickle and toxic in our bodies. You may need help mitigating the noxious jolt of trauma, and that is 100% okay. It’s normal, and the acknowledgement is powerful. Maybe you will find solace with a counselor, support group, or something else that works for you. Take it from me, healing is exhausting‒It is still exhausting. Remember to be patient and forgiving with the healing process, and be gentle with yourself. You have endured so much distress‒now, you will experience kindness and peace.
Physical therapy is a very hands-on profession. Chances are you have heard this a million times in physical therapy school. While it is certainly true, this statement has a lot more depth for trauma survivors. In my case and that of many others, that trauma stems from a touch influenced by violence and control. When the body is forcibly taken to be nothing more than something to pleasure a monster, the world changes. Author of The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel Van Der Kolk, articulates this devastating shift:
“After trauma, the world becomes sharply divided between those who know and those who don’t.”
Those who understand the pain and those who don’t. Those who live in the same nebulous shadows and those who don’t. Sometimes the depths are so deep and so dark, it’s nearly impossible to see the light that physical therapy can bring. Trauma-informed care is one tool we can use to shine our light for survivors of sexual assault and rape. With that, we have a responsibility to manifest the physical therapy profession as one embedded in our unparalleled ability to rekindle compassionate and benevolent touch. As Regis’s Blessing of the Hands ceremony draws near, we know our hands are the strongest tools we have to validate the distinguished value of our profession. Let us be the amazing healthcare providers we know we can be.
Arianna Armendariz, A 3rd year DPT student, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a survivor.
Thank you to our wonderful blog director, Suzanne Peters, for sharing my writing on this platform.
Thank you to my family, especially my mom and sister, for your endless patience and support as I heal.
Thank you to my boyfriend for your incredible patience and fortitude over the last five and a half years. The gratitude I feel for you is insurmountable. I love you.
Thank you to my current therapist and former therapists for helping me gain back my strength and self-worth.
Thank you to my friends for your graciousness: Camille, Alyssa, Lauren, Ashley, Shannon, and Jess.
Thank you to the many wonderful Regis faculty members who have shown tremendous kindness and understanding: Shelene, Mary, Heidi, Jean, Larisa, Mel, Rebecca, Amy, Wendy, Nancy, Rachel, Stacy, Drew, and Erika.
Finally, thank you to the entirety of my Class of 2022. You know you are ReSiLiEnT.
On June 16, Regis University Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students of the Class of 2022 and 2023 had the opportunity to introduce the physical therapy profession, in all its forms, to the students of Porter-Billups Leadership Academy (PBLA). The Porter-Billups Leadership Academy is an organization started by former Regis University Men’s basketball coach, Lonnie Porter, and NBA star, Chauncey Billups. This organization serves over two hundred and fifteen 4th-12th grade students with the intent of providing academic and leadership training to at-risk inner city students in Denver.
With the goal of introducing the profession of physical therapy to students of all ages from a wide range of racial and cultural backgrounds, Regis University DPT students spent two hours sharing their love for physical therapy with PBLA students through various physical therapy related activities. Students of every age group participated in activities designed to demonstrate the integral roles our muscles, brain, and cardiovascular system play in our day to day life and in our overall health. From getting their heart rate up during ultimate frisbee to receiving electrical stimulation to get muscles activating, students were immersed in all things physical therapy.
Fourth through seventh graders received instruction on how to apply kinesiotape and athletic tape to help reduce pain at different joints, how to measure grip strength and improve balance, and understand the important role our heart plays in our health. Eighth through tenth graders analyzed the different phases of overhand throwing, practiced with electrical stimulation to facilitate muscle activation, discussed strategies to manage mental health, and conversed with Regis University students about college life. Eleventh and twelfth graders were able to participate in a weight lifting session, participate in a guided activity in the cadaver lab, and discuss how to choose a college and a major.
Personally, this event furthered my pride in being a member of the Regis University School of Physical Therapy. Following a year of minimal interaction with our peers and the community, this event showed the value of gathering with the intent of furthering the good of our neighbors and ourselves. As students, we have a deep sense of gratitude for the opportunity to interact with the PBLA community and share our love for our profession. Regis University students reflected on the experience saying:
“I grew up in an area that would have benefitted from a program like PBLA. It’s heartening to see young people of color have the opportunity to thrive. I am thankful to have been part of this experience and hope to help out again next year!” -Sung Yi, Class of 2023
“Having lived in Denver for over 4 years now, I strongly identify with the greater Denver community. PBLA was a great experience for me to show up as a leader in the community, and represent Regis University and the DPT program. Getting the chance to interact with the students gives me great confidence that the students will become leaders in their life, in their own way. I hope they learned something of value from us, and I can’t wait to participate again!” -David Shaw, Class of 2023
“Volunteering in the cadaver lab for PBLA was such a fun experience! I loved being able to help the students discover the different parts of what their future could hold and show how unique of a learning experience the cadavers are!” -Sam Snyder, Class of 2023
“PBLA has been one of the most fulfilling service-learning experiences I have had at Regis. Being able to engage, play, and create with the students reminded me of how valuable such experiences are for young students. I am so proud of the team and fellow students who made this opportunity possible and looking forward to see our relationship with PBLA grow.” -Victoria Patton, Class of 2023
“It was so fun to work with the kids and learn about what they are excited about and interested in so that we could cater what we wanted to teach them to what they cared about. I loved having an opportunity to connect with and learn from an age group that I ordinarily wouldn’t have much opportunity to work with.” -Micah Boriack, Class of 2022
“It was so fulfilling and rejuvenating to share my love for physical therapy with the students and allow them to experience what our profession has to offer. Seeing the students get excited about modalities like functional electrical stimulation and start to think about ways to utilize modalities for various impairments was so incredible to see, and my hope is that we have planted the seed and have gotten the students excited about potentially pursuing a career in physical therapy one day.” -Brittney Martinez, Class of 2022
We want to extend our gratitude to the PBLA leadership, teachers, and students for allowing us into their community. We hope to further this relationship in the coming years and continue to share our love for physical therapy with the many talented and joyful PBLA students who experience Regis University each summer.
One of the mainstays of the Regis DPT program is the Move Forward 5k/10k race that is hosted every fall by current SPTs. It was created as a community outreach program and benefits Canine Companions for Independence, the puppy training volunteer organization the DPT program works with to help train future service dogs (read more about our newest puppy, Clover). Recognizing that not everyone is ready to jump up from their desk and run a 5 or 10 kilometer race, students have put together a couch to 5k training program that is free to the community to help prepare for the race and generally be more active. This initiative is spearheaded by Kelly Stevens and Tanner Williams of the Class of 2023.
The training program is a 9-week evidence-based training program developed by the National Health Service (NHS). This specific program was designed for beginners to gradually build up their running ability so they can eventually run 5 kilometers without stopping. The training program is embedded in the Couch to 5k website and has a free downloadable app to go with it on your phone. The team has also created a Strava community (run tracking app) where interested individuals can upload their run logs and interact with others who are in the same training program. There are even suggested routes to run if you’re unsure of where to start in the real world. And, starting Tuesday, June 22nd for three consecutive weeks, three 20-minute running workshops will be posted to the website to help get people into the world of running. Workshops will cover everything from nutrition to gear to warm up and cool down so you’ll have a good overview of how to train even beyond the running itself. The workshops will culminate in an hour-long live Q&A session with a panel of students running the training program on Tuesday, July 13th in the evening.
You might be thinking, “Wow, this sounds like a big commitment. I don’t know that I am a runner.” You’d be surprised by the number of people who share the same sentiment. Even Kelly Stevens, the program’s Outreach Chair, who plans to do the training program right along side you, wouldn’t call herself a runner, per say. She approaches running from a different perspective than the mile-counting, second-checking intense runners you see training for ultras on the side of 36 on the way to Lyons. Her plan for this program is to end it feeling like part of something bigger than she was before starting it; to feel like she accomplished something the days she does training runs; to meet people in her community. “Activity plays a large part in my own well-being and interaction with people.” She is excited to find a way to use technology to connect people to an activity that is inherently physical and thinks that the outreach portion of this operation will be a challenge coming out of the Covid-induced isolation we have all been experiencing. Now that the world is opening up again, she is hoping to connect others to running who have not seen themselves as stereotypical runners. Kelly believes running is not always about having to top your PR or win the next race, that it’s more than that. Her approach is less competitive with no expectations and just doing what you can where you are right now. It’s not about having the best shoes or the most aerodynamic clothing. “Some people don’t even run in shoes!” Kelly says. “People need reassurance that they can do it and it doesn’t have to be how they see other people doing it.” So if you’re looking for a reason to give this a shot, Kelly will be cheering you on the whole way from right next to you (virtually).
Tanner has taken a less running-centric approach to his role as part of the leadership of Couch to 5K. He doesn’t identify as a runner himself but understands how running can become a shared interest, which is where he intends to spend most of his energy. Tanner is big on community connection and finds exercise is a great way to make those connections. He is passionate about engaging community members and creating a healthy community in an organic manner through shared interest. He is hoping that people in the Regis community and neighboring areas will meet on their running journey and create new connections, expanding their social resources and getting to know their neighbors. Tanner’s plan for Couch to 5k is that families who are unfamiliar with others in their immediate area will have the opportunity to get to know each other and be active at the same time, creating sustainable long-term relationships. “Running is simply the vessel for bringing families together,” he says.
So dust off those trainers, check out the Couch to 5K training page, and let’s get running!
May is AAPI Heritage Month, a time in which we honor Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities.
However, it cannot be limited to a single month out of the year. As we acknowledge and celebrate the influence and contributions of AAPI leaders in this country, we also must call out the alarming rise in anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes. Given the history of this country’s failure to protect and stand with the AAPI community, these recent acts of targeted violence are neither new nor acceptable. According to Stop Asian Hate, there have been 6,603 hate crimes from March 19, 2020 to March 31, 2021 and these are only the incidents reported online.
Here I reflect on the incredibly diverse languages, cultures, migration stories, and multifaceted identities that make up generations of our AAPI community. One question that I kept coming back to was, what does it mean to be American? I was born and raised here in the United States, I pay taxes every year, I have a dog, I am married, and I speak English. Does this make me American? Do these characteristics earn me the right to feel safe in MY own country? At what point will I no longer be seen as an outsider and be accepted as an American? When will I or other AAPI individuals finally be welcome to be a part of this country, rather than navigating this society feeling like an “other”?
Documents show that the first Asian Americans arrived during the late 1500’s in present day California. Chinese and Filipino Americans fought for the Union in the American Civil War. Chinese Americans were the predominant labor force in building the transcontinental railroad. The Page Act of 1875, prevented Chinese women from immigrating to the United States, marking the first restrictive immigration law in this country. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prevented any individual of Chinese descent from immigrating to the United States, the only law in US history to exclude a specific group of people based on their ethnic/racial background. The Immigration Act of 1924 restricted all Asian immigration and Alien Land Laws prevented land ownership. Executive order 9066 called for the incarceration of all 120,000 Japanese Americans and approximately 75% of those incarcerated were United States citizens. The brutal murder of Vincent Chin by two white Americans only serving three years of probation. The LA Riots of 1992 which led to over $1 billion in destruction to Korean American owned businesses because law enforcement abandoned this community. The World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 led to the alarming increase of hate crimes committed against the South Asian Sikh community because of their turbans. These moments in history repeat itself until we as a collective can reckon with the harm caused, the healing that must be done, and the compounded generational trauma yet to be unpacked. The AAPI community once again fears for their safety, fights for the humanity of their elders’ livelihoods, and demands that this country confront this history of xenophobia and racism that continues to persist.
I share these examples to portray a common theme: a country with a deep-rooted history of scapegoating and dehumanizing Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. AAPI’s have been blamed for labor shortages, poor wages, poverty, and a threat to western values and the safety of all Americans. I became aware of the AAPI experience in the United States as an American Ethnic Studies (AES) major during my undergraduate studies. Up to that point, my education of American history did not include me or anyone else that looked like me in the textbooks. The first AES class I took gave me a sense of belonging that I had never felt before. I realized then the power and necessity of representation. Diversity is great but it cannot be all that we strive for; when we push for inclusivity, we give everyone a seat at the table to influence decisions that affect their communities.
There is an ongoing, concerted effort to ban AES in US education because they incorrectly believe that it promotes divisiveness and hatred toward white Americans. I saw this quote online that is true to my experience as an AES graduate. “Ethnic studies did not teach me to hate white people. It taught me to love myself. It didn’t instill anti-American values in me, it showed me that I had been a part of American history all along.” But it also showed me a history of atrocities rooted in discrimination and pitting communities of color against one another that has fueled the hatred we are forced to confront today.
I never thought that I would live during a time where I would have to relive the trauma of previous generations. I never thought that I would fear for the safety of my parents or my wife’s parents and grandparents for these reasons. I never thought that a family with roots in this country since the 1890’s would have to fear walking down the street to their dentist appointment. My wife is a 5th generation Japanese American as well as a 3rd generation Chinese American. My wife’s grandfather was placed into an incarceration camp at 12 years old, he served in the United States Airforce, and worked for Boeing over 30 years. For better and worse, he is a part of this country’s history. Yet, my wife and I felt immense pain having to inform him, as well as the rest of our family about the potential dangers of going outside – even in broad daylight. Could today be the day someone decides my family is less worthy to live a life free of harm than their own grandmother, mother, grandfather, or father?
I am not the reason there is COVID-19. China is not the reason there is COVID-19. The fault falls on incompetent leadership and an inadequate response that instead decided to once again put the AAPI community in harms way as evidenced by the 63 elected officials that voted against the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. Regardless, the passing of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is nothing more than a mirage, an empty promise that will not deter these attacks until these crimes are persecuted more severely. I can only hope that meaningful substantive change awaits the AAPI community in the near future.
So here I am again wondering what does it mean to be American? What can I do or say to no longer be blamed or pushed aside? Nothing. I cannot do anything more nor should I have to do more to prove my worth as an American. It is up to the members of society to fight with the AAPI community. I ask you to go beyond a month-long celebration and to see how you can show up for our AAPI students, staff, and the local community. Together, it is up to us to create the change our communities need and deserve.
You know her, you love her, but what do you really know about her? Here’s the inside scoop from our own Andy Littmann on life with his four-legged Clover.
Clover came to live with Andy this year on January 6th at the age of eight weeks old. As a first-time dog dad, Andy says the experience has been just as much about training him as it has been about training Clover. As a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independents (CCI), Andy went through a rigorous application and vetting process over the course of a number of months that included a home assessment and a whole year of waiting once he was approved. With five days’ notice, he was informed that CCI finally had a dog who needed a trainer and a home. And that is how Regis’s puppy training program gained its eighth puppy.
The Regis puppy team is made up of four HES undergrads and two DPT second years, led by Andy and mentored by Shelene Thomas. The two SPTs, Erin Brown and Joseph Shaffer, have previous experience on the puppy team working with Nubbin when they were HES undergrads. Nubbin is one of Regis’s success stories – she has grown up to become part of the Fullerton County Police Department in California (look her up under K9 Nubbin). It may come as a surprise, but only about 40% of all the dogs who enter the CCI program are placed as fully trained professionals. After 18 months with a puppy raising team, each pup goes to the CCI facility where he or she trains with a professional for an additional six months prior to testing for placement. The dogs are placed into one of four categories based on temperament and ability: a companion dog (not the same as an emotional support dog) like one of Regis’s first dogs who was placed with a young man in a wheelchair; a facility dog, like Nubbin, who works with families undergoing trauma (she’s laid back and great for loving on); a hearing dog, who can alert a hearing-impaired owner to alarms, phones, or sirens; or a full-on service dog who can perform tasks for an owner with impaired function.
While Clover is here with the Regis puppy team, she spends her weekdays primarily with her undergraduate trainers either in class or lab, or helping with homework. Clover lives with Andy most weekends, but wherever she is, she has daily training sessions. Training can be done in as little as two-minute bursts throughout the day, randomizing what she works on. As she grows older and more accustomed to her training, she is exposed to more open environments with greater distractions and variables so that she will be ready to stay focused on her task when she is working. Recently, Clover has started accompanying Andy to the store and to businesses, as well as public parks. Andy maintains that the same tactics he teaches in Movement Science are applicable to training a puppy.
When the vest is off, Clover is just a regular puppy. Andy describes her as “a 35-pound bowling ball doing laps around my house.” Andy reports she is very friendly with other animals, doesn’t chase squirrels or bark at other dogs, but is very excitable and playful when she meets new people or pups. She often plays with Juliet, the puppy Shelene is training, and other dog friends of the PT school. Clover enjoys going to the park, playing fetch, and generally “crashing around” like puppies do. Clover has also been the catalyst for Andy meeting more people when they’re at the park or out for walks.
Have you ever wondered what the pink lead around Clover’s muzzle is? It’s called a Gentle Leader and is a training tool. If Clover is pulling or needs a physical cue, the Gentle Leader puts a little pressure on her nose and redirects her head back around so that she can focus on her handler. Clover has other standardized cues like “Don’t”, “Sit”, and “Down” which everyone on the team uses for uniformity of training. Others have picked up on her well-behaved nature – some hikers Andy encountered one weekend while out on the trails said Clover was the best behaved puppy they had ever seen. Granted, dogs in the CCI program are bread for their temperament, intelligence, and obedience, so if you’re going to train a dog, Clover is a good bet (she’s half golden retriever, half lab).
Now that you know more about her, say hi to Clover and the team when you see them in the hallways or around Claver, but do make sure that Clover sits before you pet her!
Special thanks to Andy Littmann for the photos and interview.
There are a few brave souls in the Regis DPT program who have taken on the challenge of a doctorate program while also filling the role of parent. We reached out to some of them to hear how they balance training to be a physical therapist with home life.
My name is Emily Seidelman and I am currently in my second year of the DPT program at Regis University. My family includes our two children (ages four, Charlie, and seven, Noah), my husband, Jason, myself, and an eleven-year-old lab/border collie mix.
I started out mildly terrified at what I initially believed to be the daunting commitment of being a mom in grad school, but Regis students and faculty quickly connected me with another mom in the program. It helped knowing someone else had survived what I was diving into at Regis. I will forever be grateful to Sarah Spivey (from the Class of 2020) for all of her encouraging words of advice.
The hardest part has been adapting to the constant change that comes with having children (which is certainly amplified during a pandemic). However, I think parents are uniquely positioned to fielding grad school curve balls because they already have experience with navigating brand-new circumstances. Logistics are never particularly easy, but things always seem to work out with the right amount of planning and readjusting coupled with a strong support system.
I think the best part about being a parent in grad school is knowing my kids have been watching me work hard to achieve smaller goals leading up to my big goal of becoming a PT. I know this will instill the importance of work ethic and plant the seed for a love of higher education. The hard work for school never stops but I try my best to prioritize things so that my family always comes first. This typically takes a fair amount of pre-planning and creativity, especially when big exams are looming. Focusing on my priorities has helped me to always see the bigger picture. This means identifying key content that allows me to be the best PT I can be to future patients, doing “good enough” in school, and not sweating the small stuff.
This journey has taught me that I can continue to expand the depths of my flexibility and that change, which might feel scary, can be a really good thing. Throwing COVID into the mix has obviously been a whirlwind, but our current hybrid schedule (online lectures and in person labs) has been a game-changer for me. There are fewer days that I have to commute from Colorado Springs and this equals more time I can spend with my family. I know things are ever-changing, but I will take the breaks where I can get them and adjust again when the next change comes.
The biggest thing I learned about myself is that I have trouble asking for help. I am FINALLY learning how to do this! This sometimes looks like checking in with classmates to make sure I haven’t missed any assigned class prep work. Other times it means using a study guide a friend has already shared to direct my studies. Often it means frequent communication with faculty regarding any anticipated problems.
To any parent who is considering pursing a DPT—Regis is a fantastic place to do it! You will have a ton of work cut out for you, but I will cheer you on alongside the rest of the ENTIRE Regis family.
My name is Telisha Quezada and I am a first year in the program. I have one child, Landen, age 3 and a husband, David.
The hardest part of being in school is knowing that my child misses me based off his behavior and not being able to do anything about it. Often times I have to decide to have him be watched outside of our home or remove myself from our home in order to get work done in addition to being gone for classes when I know he misses me. He tells my mom that he wants to go home or that he wants to see me and it sucks because there’s not a lot I can do about it. I set aside Saturdays so that I can be 100% present with him but one day a week isn’t enough for a little guy. It breaks my heart, but I also know it will be a part of his growing up and becoming an independent, well-adjusted member of society.
The best part is having him see me be a “doctor” and wanting to emulate that. I think one of the most rewarding parts of being a parent is seeing your kids have good healthy habits and I think “doing homework” and “being a doctor” aren’t bad ones to have. Also, my husband took on the responsibility of doing the laundry and it is quite literally the best thing ever. I never want to do laundry again!
COVID was obviously unexpected but even more so was the blessing that it became in my life. It really helped me with the transition of being a stay-at-home mom to a student. I think it made the transition so much gentler for all of us and helped me figure out the beast that is childcare. I didn’t have to hire childcare until my second semester because of the way our schedules were which was a huge blessing.
I don’t know if I learned anything new about myself, but I definitely cemented the knowledge that I am not/was not made to be a stay-at-home mom and my experience has enhanced my ability to go with the flow, take things as they come and trust other people with my life and my family’s life. That can be challenging for a lot of people, but I believe it is essential to survival. I could not survive if I didn’t trust the people in my support system and relinquished my control over everything to them.
If we are being honest, cereal is my go-to week-night dinner. I don’t typically eat dinner which makes it hard for me to prepare it most of the time. So cereal and eggs are good choices. And my son often helps himself to granola bars. I know it’s terrible but again there’s only so much I can control or care to. On a good night (maybe once a week) it’s grilled chicken or steaks with Colombian rice (with a mushroom cream sauce).
My name is Sinjin Altobelli and I am a first year DPT student. My family consists of my wife, Zoie, my four-year-old daughter, Astrid, and myself.
The hardest part about being a parent while in the DPT program has been time management and adapting to a new environment. As an undergraduate I generally took 3-4 classes as a full-time course schedule and would do 1 class in every summer session but having 5-6 classes has been very challenging. I have much less time to prepare and content knowledge requirements increased. Workload increased and the COVID times have been a contributor as well. I really do not enjoy online learning in any form and would say that has also been a difficult adjustment.
The best part about the program has been all of the intelligent people I have had the pleasure of working with. It has helped me think about things in ways I normally would not and helped me grow both as a Student Physical Therapist and as a person. What has been unexpected about the program at Regis is that the level of difficulty increased from undergraduate studies to graduate studies definitely caught me by surprise. One thing that I have learned about myself is where my learning threshold is, and PT school has pushed me to it. My capabilities for learning are high when I immerse myself in something but PT school forced me to spread my self a bit thinner and make better use of my time. My go-to weeknight dinner is chicken and rice with broccoli.
One of the many great things about the Regis DPT program is its wealth of different students. We celebrate diversity in all of its many forms, including those who may have taken a less traveled route to getting here. Below is quick look at a handful of some of our non-traditional students in the Class of 2023 and their take on how they became part of the class.
Undergraduate major/minor/previous degrees: BFA Painting and Drawing
Former profession: Sign artist, clinic and surgery scheduler
I realized during my last year of art school that I really wanted a career working with and for people rather than by myself in a studio. I also realized that I spent most of my time and energy moving my body as much as possible and that I wanted to know more about the human body and how it moves. I spent some time in PT for amateur running injuries and was super motivated by that experience to help people find hope and healing in moving their bodies well for the rest of their lives.
I picked Regis because it’s in Colorado and I love to ski/run/be outside in the mountains as much as possible. I’m glad to be here at Regis because while they clearly uphold academics and excellent practice, they also care about the whole person, for us as students, and in teaching us as practitioners to think and care in a like manner.
Major: Biology Minor: Environmental Science Post-graduate degree: Master of Science in Geological Engineering
Former profession: U.S. Army Officer (Captain, Engineer)
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be an “Army doctor.” Before graduating high school I signed an ROTC contract, and my freshman year decided to major in biology. I wasn’t too far into my undergrade degree when I realized I wasn’t mature enough to go straight into a graduate program, so I commissioned and entered the active duty Army. I enjoyed my time in the Army, but when it stopped being intrinsically fulfilling, I started to explore options in the medical field. I chose PT because I enjoy learning about biomechanics and how the body moves. For me, PT is a career field where I feed my own interests, and use that to improve the lives of others.
Throughout the interview process, I felt that Regis cared about who I was, not just what I looked like on paper. By taking this approach building their student body, Regis is able to form a wholistic class rather than a group of individuals. The best part is, they take the same approach while recruiting their faculty. During my interview day, a first-year student commented that the faculty weren’t putting on a show to make Regis “look good,” but they truly were excited we were there and wanted to get to know the future student body. Now having started my second semester, I still feel the passion and excitement from the faculty in developing us to be future DPTs.
Major: American Ethnic Studies Minor: Diversity Studies
Former profession: I was a transit operator (bus driver) for a major metropolitan transit system for 8 years.
As a child, my parents worked labor-intensive jobs and in many instances, my dad would get injured and never sought treatment. Part of the problem was a lack of information but mostly a deficiency of equitable healthcare representation in our neighborhood/area. It wasn’t until I was injured in a car accident at 16 and subsequently received treatment at physical therapy that I realized I wanted to join the profession. Fortunately, I saw a significant reduction in symptoms but also realized why my parents never sought physical therapy, the lack of accessibility in the profession (culture, language, geography, socioeconomic, etc). My experiences since that time have been dedicated to strengthening communities and acknowledging the unique individual needs of each member. Physical therapy is one of the few fields in healthcare that gives the patient the skills, knowledge, and confidence necessary to uplift themselves. Ultimately, as a bilingual first-generation American, I hope my presence will help people overcome this barrier and encourage more folks to seek out physical therapy.
I lean into growth opportunities and I felt that Regis University was the best option for several reasons. I had never lived outside of the Pacific NW so having the opportunity to get away from the dreary cloudy days of Seattle was a huge motivation. As an older SPT, I wanted to join a program that cherished individuals that may not have taken a linear path but paths that offer richness and diversity to a program, something I believe Regis DPT strives to accomplish. In my experience, Regis was most adept at welcoming prospective students in comparison to other programs. I was most impressed with the continued communication from current students and faculty after my interview. I did not experience this with any other program and it was this level of follow-through that led to my decision to attend the Regis DPT program.
Age: The Big 4-0.
Major: Dance Minor: Education
Former profession: Pilates and Gyrotonic Instructor primarily, Dance Educator in elementary schools, nonprofit administration
I’ve thought about PT since my undergraduate degree, and chose the more affordable path of Pilates instruction at the time because it fulfilled my desire to teach movement. Over the years while working alongside PT’s, I’ve continually come back to wanting to pursue this career and gain a deeper knowledge base. PT also opens the door to working with a more diverse population than I’m typically able to reach in studio settings. After the birth of my second son, there didn’t seem any better time to work toward these goals! (half sarcasm and half true)
My experience at interview day at Regis felt so welcoming, faculty were open and communicative, and I was able to connect with another non-traditional student. I resonated with the concepts of serving people holistically as well as the opportunities for self-reflection embedded in the curriculum. My family is here to stay in the Denver area for the foreseeable future, so I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the Regis community. It’s been a wild ride to get to this point, but I can’t imagine a different journey for me.
Majors: Earth and Environmental Sciences, Studio Art Minor: Economics Post-graduate degree: Master of Science in Environmental Sciences
Former profession: Environmental consultant
I studied geology because I loved natural sciences and being outside; I became a consultant because I didn’t want to get a PhD. After a short time into my five years in industry, I became disillusioned with the way things worked. I wanted to be saving the world one bad patch of land at a time, when really, that’s not at all what we were doing out there. One of my life goals has always been to have a profession that goes beyond the paycheck, to bringing good into the world. Physical therapy had done so much for me as a young adult, on and off other DPTs’ plinths, that I wanted to be able to bring that kind of healing to others. In the end, it was a matter of logistics because I knew where my heart was.
Regis has heart and it is abundantly present in so many of the things that happen in the DPT program. I love the idea of approaching patients with cura personalis, caring for the whole person, which is one of the five pillars of Regis’s Jesuit teaching. I instantly connected with a number of the SPTs I met on interview day and what they said about the faculty and their fellow classmates resonated with me. I met people who had the same ideals and interests – I was able to see myself as part of this body.