From Practicing Clinician to APTA Employee: an Interview with Anne Reicherter

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Blogger: Katie Baratta

My name is Katie Baratta and I just graduated from the Regis University School of Physical Therapy. I had the opportunity to spend two weeks at the APTA doing a student internship. I was able to talk to many different members of the APTA, attend the Federal Advocacy Forum, and learn more about what the APTA has been doing to move our profession forward. I’ve written a series of essays about my experiences here at the Association.

Interview with Anne Reicherter PT, DPT, PhD, OCS, CHES

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What do you do at the APTA?

Anne was hired by the APTA last spring (2015) and works as a Senior Practice Specialist. In this position, she oversees the PTnow website, which provides practicing therapists with tools for evidence-based practice and includes access to current research and other clinical resources. A good portion of her workweek is dedicated to improving the services offered by PTnow* and working to facilitate access and utilization by APTA members.

Practice Specialists at the APTA are all licensed PTs and also work as consultants on whichever issues are current hot topics regarding our scope of practice. For example, dry needling is currently being discussed and spinal manipulation has been a historically important issue.  As one of the few PTs on staff at the APTA, Anne and her colleagues in the Practice Department review products created by the APTA marketing team or other departments prior to publication to ensure that they are accurate from a clinical and research perspective. She says she will sometimes look at a photo and say that “a PT wouldn’t perform that intervention,” or  that they “wouldn’t stand that far from the patient.” Another current project of Anne’s is a collaboration with APTA researchers on an article for the Journal of Health Policy and Administration about obesity. One of her other areas of focus is the importance of work-life balance within the profession.

How did you come to work at the APTA?

Anne graduated with a BS in Physical Therapy at University of Pittsburgh and then worked in a mixed inpatient and outpatient setting at a hospital. She describes that this was fairly common at the time, and that–with few exceptions–PTs were given a lot of autonomy from their referring providers, and that there was not yet a fee-for-service model at the HMO for which she worked. After ten years in that setting, she wanted to progress her career and knowledge, so she attended night school to obtain her Masters of Health Education. In subsequent years she held a variety of jobs in the educational setting (working for Howard University in DC and the University of Maryland, Baltimore) as well as in other clinical settings, including orthopedics and home health. During this time, she obtained her PhD in Educational Psychology, as well as her transitional DPT. She has also performed some educational consulting for various DPT programs.

The position at the APTA for a PT Practice Specialist opened up at the same time that Anne was searching for something more. She wanted a job that fit with her interests and values: the ability to participate in  writing and publishing, advancing the profession through APTA initiatives, and expanding her own knowledge made the job an excellent fit. She says that these meaningful components–including continuing education–were built into her practice as a new clinician (for example, if there was a “lunch and learn” on a given day, the clinicians would leave a bit early that day), as well as into her work as faculty. Today, however, there is an increased emphasis on productivity and fee-for-service; thus, there is limited time and resources allocated to the pursuit of continuing education that distinguish us as professionals. Anne described the difference between professionals and technicians: professionals design a plan of care and add value to the system with professional discernment, and technicians simply deliver a procedure. To maintain the high expectations set of PTs as professionals, most PTs today must spend time beyond their paid workweek to pursue continuing education, APTA involvement, and evidence-based practice.

Where do we plan to see change in the typical PT’s work-life balance?

Anne replied that one of the biggest initiatives currently is the push to change from a billing system with a procedural focus (for example, billing for “therapeutic exercises” x15 min or “therapeutic ultrasound” x15 min) to one based on value. Current reimbursement accounts merely for the delivery of a procedure or modality for a set unit of time, but it does not account for our clinical judgement as professionals. I’ll go more into this initiative in next week’s blog post.

Any advice for new clinicians starting out in their career?

Anne’s advice to new graduates is to consider whether a job or position allows for and encourages professional development: do they fund continuing education? Do they have on-site mentoring programs you can participate in? She also advises new graduates to not allow mentoring to be limited to colleagues within your particular clinical setting but to continue to seek out a supportive network of clinicians for support as you begin to navigate your professional career.

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*PTnow is a valuable resource for us, as new clinicians, to perform literature searches after graduation (as we’ll no longer have access to the school’s library search function) as well as to access clinical reviews, clinical practice guidelines, and clinical summaries prepared by respected experts within the field of physical therapy.

If you haven’t visited the website, you should definitely check it out: ptnow.org

 

Class of 2017 DPT Student Lindsay Mayors Reflects on Her Clinical Rotation

Name:  Lindsay Mayors

Hometown: Akron, Ohio

Undergrad: University of Dayton

Fun Fact: My first experience skiing was on my third birthday in Keystone, Colorado!

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Today, the Class of 2017 has reached the halfway point of their 8-week second clinical rotation. The past two semesters have been filled with management courses, case studies, exams, practicals, and research. In April, we completed all three management course series; needless to say we were ready to get out into the clinic! Students are working in a variety of settings including acute care hospitals, inpatient neurological rehab, sub-acute rehab, long-term acute care, home health, outpatient orthopedic, outpatient pediatric, and school-based therapy from Virginia all the way to Alaska. We are applying our freshly developed clinical reasoning skills and continuing to learn immensely from our clinical instructors.

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Lindsay and her first year mentor, Vickie

Many of my classmates will tell you that I am one of the “peds people.” I started the program in August 2014 with my mind set on becoming a pediatric physical therapist. I would be nearly skipping in the hallways on the way to pediatric-based labs or lectures. So, when it came time for me to start my second clinical rotation at a skilled nursing sub-acute rehabilitation facility, I did not know what to expect. It seems to be a common theme among students to not prefer to work with the geriatric population. I know that I even had my doubts. Would I know how to relate to the elderly population? Would my 5’2 stature have the body mechanics to help patients transfer in and out of chairs or their hospital beds? Would I get bored doing seemingly the same exercises with patients day after day? Will this type of rotation be helpful for me if it is not the setting in which I ultimately would like to work?

Within just two days of the clinical rotation I had my answers. I am overjoyed when I get to connect with the elderly population. I remembered and have safely applied the transferring tips from a faculty member with my similar stature (Thanks, Christina!). The exercises that I perform with patients are all but monotonous. I have had the opportunity to apply skills from all three of the management course series with patients. Sure, many of the patients have similar physical therapy diagnoses, but beyond the diagnosis each is incredibly unique.

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Liz, Lindsay and Carol at the Class of 2016’s research night in April

Each has their own personal story, their own medical history, their own family dynamic, their own goals, and their own hobbies. Not one personality resembles another. This is what makes this setting so exciting for me. Learning about what has molded a particular patient into the individual that they are now is the highlight of my day. Shaping treatment plans to match a patient’s personal goals and find the highest level of independence for them allows me to use my creativity in a new way with every patient. We walk (a lot), stand on foamy surfaces and toss balloons, and maneuver wheel chairs around obstacle courses. We talk about the joys, challenges, and hilarities of life. I have recognized that the age of a patient–whether 3 or 93 years young–is not a barrier. We are all human. We enjoy being heard, feeling validated, feeling empowered, and having our days be brightened by a smile.

So, I would like to challenge any student who has similar doubts as I did a mere month ago to take a step into the unknown. Unravel your pre-set plans and experience something on the extreme opposite spectrum from the setting in which you think you want to work. Sure–I am still interested in being a pediatric physical therapist, but at the very least, my mind has been opened to new considerations. No matter the population I ultimately end up working with, I now have a broader understanding, appreciation, and passion for the field of physical therapy because of this rotation.

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Lindsay and her classmates are currently all at clinical rotations across the country

Global Health Immersion: Students in Peru

In preparing my capstone presentation and reflecting on the last three years in physical therapy school at Regis, I began to see a theme linking all of my most rich experiences from which I learned the most: discomfort. From patient labs and practical exams to clinicals to presentations to service learning, we are constantly thrown into situations where we do not know exactly what to expect, are not sure of our abilities, and have to be willing to be flexible and a little bit vulnerable. These are the times we grow and learn the most. The global health immersion to Peru this spring was no different, and it even amplified those familiar feelings of unease. But I have found that those times of the unknown, unexpected, and unsure are the times when the most growth occurs. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the global health program at Regis, to learn from the people of Peru, to challenge myself to practice with cultural sensitivity, and to gain a better understanding of a culture different from my own.

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Third year students Allie Smith, Elena Absalon, and I traveled with Dr. Heidi Eigsti to Peru where we spent three weeks working with therapists and patients in the city of Huancayo. We spent much of our time with the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), which is a Non-Governmental Organization that serves primarily women and children.

CMMB has two programs in Huancayo. The first is CHAMPS, which focuses on promoting health, hygiene, nutrition, prenatal care, and access to health care providers. The second, with which we worked, is Rehabilitación Basado en Comunidad (RBC), or Community Based Rehabilitation. The program focuses on serving children with disabilities and their families in the most impoverished neighborhoods in Huancayo, Chilca, and Azapampa. Two physical therapists, Carmen and Loreley, and one psychologist, Lucia, care for 40 children and their families with both home and clinic-based treatment. The goal of the program, in keeping with the World Health Organization’s initiative to improve accessibility for people with disabilities around the globe, is to provide community-based rehab that is relationship focused and incorporates functional activities into everyday routines to improve patients’ participation in their homes and communities.

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The impact that RBC was having on the community in Huancayo was evident. The families with whom we worked were well educated on goals of therapy, extremely involved in home exercise programs, and motivated to do whatever they could to help their child improve. The therapists focused on all aspects of the child’s well-being and had developed strong relationships with them and their families. The Jesuit value of cura personalis was definitely at work, incorporating mind, body and spirit into care. The therapists put together events to connect the families, and they were working to develop of community of support. It was a valuable learning experience to see such a team-based, holistic approach being implemented in an underserved community. CMMB is definitely working to create a sustainable solution to removing the barriers to health and participation faced by the women and children of Chilca and Azapampa. That sustainability is imperative in making a lasting difference in the area, and I am excited for future Regis students to have the opportunity to continue to develop this new relationship with CMMB.

I should mention the whole immersion wasn’t all work. We went on an artisan tour in the mountains surrounding Huancayo where we learned about gourd painting, silver jewelry crafting, and textile production. We hiked to the glacier on Huaytapallana mountain at around 16,000 feet and completed a three-day trek to Machu Picchu City. These experiences introduced us to more of the beautiful landscape and culture of the country, and we were welcomed everywhere we went by warm people of Peru.
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Blogger: Abby Burger, Class of 2016

 

 

Regis University hosts the Denver National Advocacy Dinner

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The second annual National Advocacy Dinner was hosted at Regis University this past Wednesday, April 13, 2016. These dinners are going to be held all over the country between April 13th and May 4th, and are a great way to learn the top legislative issues affecting the PT profession. Furthermore, it’s a great (and easy) way to find out more ways that YOU can make a difference in furthering the profession. In case you missed the event at Regis and were wondering what topics we covered, read on for the recap!

In terms of national legislature, the Federal update was presented by Regis’s own Ira Gorman:

  1. Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act of 2015 (“Repeal of the Medicare Cap”)

This bill would eliminate the cap on therapy services for those patients with Medicare. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this idea, as PTs, we only get $1960/year for therapy services. But wait—that’s shared with Speech Language Pathology Therapists too! This would help patients with complex cases (ie. TBI, CVA, hip fractures/replacements, etc.) get more of the services they really need. Check this bill out: HR 775/ S 539

  1. Physical Therapist Workforce and Patient Access Act of 2015 (Loan Repayment)

THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR STUDENTS! In other words, this bill is all about student loan forgiveness. Currently, PTs are not a part of the National Health Service Core, and therefore cannot earn the loan forgiveness that many other health professionals can. With the passing of this bill, PTs would be granted access to the plan when they worked in rural and/or medically underserved areas. This could mean up to $30,000 in two years. As an extra benefit, it’s been shown that when health professionals work in these areas, they tend to lay down roots and stay. This helps to improve communities by keeping quality health care in the area. Check this bill out: HR 2342/ S 1426

  1. Prevent Interruptions in Physical Therapy Act (Locum Tenes)

This bill was explained as a “technical fix,” in which PTs will have an easier time working with Medicare when a staff goes on a leave of absence (ie. Maternity, travel, etc.). Currently, clinics cannot bring temp PTs in unless they are Medicare certified at the specific clinic. Overall, this is a logistical nightmare when you only need a temp for a week or two. Check this bull out: HR 556/ S 313

 Gorman emphasized these three, but also hit on three more important bills. The Safe Play Act would allow PTs medical decision-making abilities in return-to-sport for youth athletes; this bill also promotes safety in youth athletics (with provisions about concussions, heat stroke, and sudden cardiac arrests). Next, the Medicare Opt Out bill is a physician bill that PTs joined in order to work with patients who may have their own private insurance and do not always want to follow through with sole Medicare payment. The bill would allow providers to avoid billing to Medicare and, instead, just bill the patient’s private insurance. The NIH Bill would help fund more rehabilitation research and create a larger focus on rehabilitation topics. Finally, the Telehealth bill would be one step closer for PTs to have a compact license (i.e. One license would allow a PT to practice in any state). Currently PT’s have to have a license for any state their patients may reside in. For example, if your clinic was near state boarders—say, in Colorado but close to Wyoming—you would have to have a license for both Colorado and Wyoming to treat the residents of Wyoming coming to your clinic. The telehealth component plays in when treating patients in other states via an alternative form of communication. (Check out these bills: HR 829/ S436, HR 1650/ S 1849, HR 1631/ S 800, and HR 2948 respectively)

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The other top speaker at the dinner was Colorado State Senator, Irene Aguilar, MD. She presented on a state issue regarding the insurance plan Colorado Care (Amendment 69). This measure will be on the ballot in November 2016 and will improve health insurance coverage in the state by creating a single-payer system. Colorado Care would be resident owned, non-governmental healthcare for any Colorado resident. Individuals could still purchase their own private insurance similar to supplemental Medicare, but would still pay for Colorado Care. Premiums would be collected from residents and employers based on income, effectively reducing costs through the elimination of third party administrative costs. However, this means a 7% tax for employers, a 3% tax for employees, and a combine 10% tax for the self employed in order to cover the budget, which is estimated at $25 billion. (Read more at http://coloradocareyes.co/ and http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/12/19/458688605/coloradans-will-put-single-payer-health-care-to-a-vote.)

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 Now what? Well, as an incoming student, current student, new grad, or current practitioner, it is important to start spreading awareness. The easiest way to do this is check out the APTA take action center (http://www.apta.org/TakeAction/). As a member of APTA, you get access to support any of the current issues with easy, pre-made letters to send to your Congressmen. This is helpful because research shows that Representatives want to know you’re knowledgeable about the bills you’re asking them to support. Heads up, though—they want: to have a constituent reason for your stance on the bill, the specific legislation cited, the bill number, the impact of the bill, and your full name and address.

If you’re looking for a little more action, join PT-PAC (political action committee) or donate money in their name for a more focused contribution. There’s even an app for that! Search APTA Action.

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Upcoming Advocacy Events:

June 8-11, 2016                 NEXT Conference (Nashville, TN)

Oct 27-29, 2016                 National Student Conclave (Miami, FL)

Feb 15-18, 2017                 Combine Sections Meeting (San Antonio, TX)

Spring 2017                           Federal Advocacy Forum (Washington, DC)

 Important Links:

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Keep an eye out for our student spotlight on Cindi Rauert, Regis DPT Class of 2017, who spearheaded this event as the SPT Delegate on the Student Assembly Board of Directors.

Blogger: Sarah Campbell, Class of 2017

2nd Year Regis DPT students preparing to head off to clinical: Meet Adam Engelsgjerd

Name: Adam Engelsgjerd, Class of 2017

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

Undergrad: University of Arizona

Fun Fact: I am unabashedly 0/2 in the Palmaris Longus department

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After these final two weeks of the semester, Adam will be heading to Orland, CA for his summer clinical.

The goal of PT Exam Lab in our first year was to begin teaching our hands how to feel and assess what our brains knew to be there. For example: we studied the knee from texts, dissection, and lectures and then used our hands to palpate a classmate’s knee with our new, more clinical, perspective. The concept of our hands being “dumb”—or unable to differentiate what was beneath them—soon became all too familiar. Did we feel how there was a slight swelling of tissue on the medial aspect of the knee’s joint line that was the MCL? Sure we did.  Maybe. I mean, it has to be there, right? Let’s look back at our textbook again.

As the first year of the DPT program faded into our first clinical experience, we had the opportunity to translate our education into a real-world setting. Interacting with patients suffering with a myriad of different pathologies, varying levels of cognitive function, and real pains and concerns presented a new challenge: how to conduct PT evaluations. No longer volunteers or PT Techs hoping to one day be admitted to a program, we were now Student Physical Therapists and patients were looking to us for answers. We needed not only to know how the body worked, what normal and abnormal felt like with our hands, but also how to relate relevant information to a patient who may have little understanding of their body except that it hurts when they move.

 

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As my class draws near the end of our last full semester of classroom education, we are preparing for 30 weeks of clinical rotation—seasoned with a few more classes, a comprehensive examination, and the NPTE. Most of us can now all too clearly hear Dr. Tom McPoil’s words echoing back to us: a key challenge of being a good PT is not memorizing a list for a test or performing a skilled act for a practical, but being able to recall the massive amount of information we learn when you need it.

The goal ahead of us is the same it has always been: being able to put together the foundational information about how the body should work, overlay possible pathologies, identify red and yellow flags, conduct a concise but thorough evaluation, and accurately prescribe interventions. Yet, for many of us, it is now that the full scope and weight of that task is being felt.

And so, off we go around the country for the next two months where we anticipate being challenged, exhilarated, and scared all over again. We will once again surface from the classroom to rediscover why it is we’re here at Regis: to help those around us move better and for ourselves to get one step closer to becoming movement experts.

Injury, surgery and rehab during PT school: Meet James Liaw

Name: James Liaw, Class of 2018

Hometown: San Jose, CA

Undergrad: University of California, Davis

Fun Fact: Climbing! More Climbing, snowboarding…let’s go climb.

 

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Getting injured is always going to be hard to deal with, but you never realize how much it will affect you until you’re experiencing it firsthand. The summer after my senior year of high school, I hurt my left wrist; I did not find out until this semester—six years later!—that I had broken the scaphoid and it had never healed. Deciding to get it fixed in my second semester of PT school was tough, but necessary: as we will be learning many hands-on tests and measures this summer to use for our first fall clinical, I figured now was the best time for the surgery. Since I’ve always been interested in hands, I did a lot of my own research. A vascularized bone graft over my scaphoid would normally be the best option, but, because my fracture was practically ancient, my surgeon and I decided that the best option was to get a four-corner fusion.

After waking up from surgery, though, I learned that there was a complication. The goal had been to fuse the carpels and have my lunate articulate with the radius instead of the scaphoid; when my surgeon began, though, she found that there had already been damage to the surface. She decided that it was best for me to get a proximal row carpetomy (PRC) to preserve as much ROM as she could. So, essentially, the surgeon took out the scaphoid, lunate and triquetrum in order to have my wrist articulate at the capitate.

It was only after undergoing my PRC that I realized how much I utilized both my hands for everyday activity—and, particularly, that I could no longer climb. Losing my main source of both stress relief and fun hit me hard. I tried to find other things to fill the time and to burn off the excess energy that I had from sitting in class all day, but, to be honest, nothing really worked. Not climbing made me restless and unmotivated to study. My life had been built around climbing and school, so losing half of that was devastating. Everyone was extremely supportive and assured me that I would get back to climbing in no time, but this “short” stint of five weeks of immobilization felt like forever—and, almost just as paralyzing as the cast was the constant worry that I would lose the climbing ability I had worked so hard to attain.

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James created his own customized walker to practice in the Class of 2018’s transfer and mobility lab

That time in the cast gave me more insight into what my future patients will be feeling:  I felt helpless as I sat in lecture, hand over my head to reduce swelling, and thinking about my four years of climbing work slipping out from my fingers. This is the kind of thought that we will have to deal with. Patients will come in with an injury and with goals and fears of never reaching them, and I can see more clearly now that it’s going to be my job, as a clinician, to assist with both physical rehabilitation and help motivate them to push past their fears.

Dealing with an injury can be large distraction from school. Luckily (or unluckily), I have other classmates that are going through a similar process with their injuries, and we have formed a support group to talk about our experiences. All the professors have been very supportive, and I’ve also learned a lot about wrist and hand injuries in the last month through obsessive research (it’s reinforcing Regis’ emphasis on evidence-based practice!). I will be starting physical therapy soon and I’m looking forward to getting back on track—and, hopefully, more energized than I have been in the last month. Even though I have a long way to go, I can’t help but be excited about healing up and enjoying the beautiful Colorado climbing!

Students take on CSM: Nolan Ripple on attending the national PT conference

Name: Nolan Ripple

Hometown: Peoria, AZ

Undergrad: University of Portland, OR

Fun Fact: Lacrosse player freshly converted to marathon enthusiast.

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Hello all!  My name is Nolan Ripple and I am a first year PT student.  About two weeks ago, the national PT conference for students and professionals—called the Combined Sections Meeting—was held in Anaheim, California.  During our three years at Regis, each one of us is expected to attend one national conference.   And—since this one was so close and we had class time off—many students chose to go, including myself.

Going into the experience as a first year student, I wasn’t expecting to receive much more than the credit of actually going and checking it off the list.  However, I can say that despite being relatively new in PT school, CSM was a positive experience both professionally and personally.  First, imagine sun, the beach, good food (In N Out included!), time off of a grueling second semester, and a bunch of classmates hanging out.  It was impossible not to have a good time…Needless to say, there was plenty of fun mixed into the week, and students enjoyed time at the beach, local restaurants and breweries, and mingling with the PT students and professionals from around the country.  It was invaluable to build that camaraderie amongst one another and within the PT community as a whole: it was refreshing to take a step back and see how other schools and clinics operate than the ones in the immediate Regis community.

 

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Anaheim, CA hike

In regards to the actual conference, I thought it was well organized and there were a plethora of talks to attend.  The lectures I attended ranged from topics of trunk stability and pelvic performance, running mechanics, concussion rehab in pediatrics, and even one concerning “burnout” in the PT profession.  It was super cool to engage in a number of topics, especially ones that are less emphasized in our own curriculum.  To put it bluntly, some speakers were better than others.  In that sense, I definitely had my favorite talks.  But, overall, being able to learn and engage in a variety of specialties was an extraordinary opportunity.

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With so much time off, I also got to see a lot of family.  I stayed with my grandparents and visited my aunt, uncle, and two cousins out there. The majority of students crammed into hotel rooms together, but as part of the Regis PT family, that is no weirder than a normal palpation lab.  Overall, this was an excellent opportunity to step back from the daily work of school, learn from professionals, and spend quality time with friends and peers.  A- experience (if it hadn’t rained the first day…then A+).

PT School: No longer a pain in the neck

Sitting, studying, stress:  we’ve all felt tense around the shoulders and neck before.  First years, in particular, would attest to some serious cramping after so many hours of studying first semester.

Luckily, one of our second semester classes focuses on the biomechanics of the spine.  And, with that, we get to learn how to test ligaments and facilitate movement between spinal segments.

In our lab yesterday, we focused on the lower cervical spine and were trying to incorporate concepts of biomechanics with learning how to work gently and professionally with other people’s necks.

Although we had to understand the proper movement of each vertebrae, I think the most important take-away from this first exposure was learning how to be comfortable and confident when handling someone else’s head.  I think we all enjoyed taking turns getting different segments of our neck isolated; it felt like a massage after all that sitting!

Blogger: Carol Passarelli

Weekend study breaks and 14ers: Meet Chris Aguirre

IMG_4621Chris Aguirre

Hometown: Chandler, AZ

Undergrad: Arizona State University

Fun fact: I can eat an entire Costco pizza faster than I can run a mile.

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When I first moved to Colorado, I was overwhelmed with how many new things this state had to offer and couldn’t wait to start trying things. Top of my bucket list: to summit one of Colorado’s 53 fourteeners.

I was born and raised in the hot-basking blaze of Phoenix, Arizona where the highest peak in the valley is an enormous 2,610 feet. Just imagining being over 14,000 feet above sea level has a certain “aww” factor to it. So, one October weekend some of us 2018ers headed out to the wilderness (just outside of Breckenridge) to camp out and then climb Quandary’s peak.

Our trek began around 8am and the steep ascent began almost immediately. The path was well traveled and very easy to follow up; with the little hiking experience I had, I began thinking that if the whole way up was like this, I was in for an easy morning! The sun was shining, the temperature was awesome, tall green pines surrounded me, and my brand new hiking boots were feeling great. This feeling lasted for about 30 minutes. The elevation quickly got to me and I found myself feeling out-of-breath like the out-of-shape college grad I was.

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All morning, our classmate, Paul, had been leading the group super fast. It was pretty perfect that we started calling Paul a mountain goat and, after we reached the saddle, we saw an actual mountain goat chilling on the mountain.IMG_4627

The great thing about being so high up was that the view kept becoming more and more unbelievable as we continued. This meant many “scenic breaks” and I was a-okay with that—it gave me a chance to catch my breath.

As we ascended above the tree line level the trail became very rocky. The wind had also started to pick up; it was getting pretty cold and hard to climb. We reached the saddle and all gathered around to talk about if we should continue with the hike. There were numerous people coming back down from the summit who were saying the winds at the top were 60+ mph and pretty dangerous. None of us really wanted to end our first 14er early, though, so we continued trekking.

The last 300 feet to the summit was difficult, but as soon as we reached the top, the view was remarkable…remarkably cold and windy. We quickly jumped into a divot surrounded by rocks to try and break some of the wind around us and avoid being blown off the mountain. Luckily, there were two other people at the summit who were nice enough to take the typical candid picture of our group at the top.

We almost immediately started to descend back down the mountain after a few great pictures so we could escape the wind and start to feel our faces again. On the way down it dawned on me that we had just made it to 14,265 feet!  We got back down to our cars and then—of course—had to stop for celebratory pizza and beer on the way home.

It is so surreal that these gigantic mountains are now right in my backyard. I think the coolest part about moving to Colorado (besides the great PT program, classmates, and faculty) is how many different places there are too explore.

What makes it even better is having classmates who share similar interests in and outside of the classroom and are always excited to try new things. Good luck to all of you on your interviews! Relax, be yourself, and hope to see you next year!

 

Commuting, anatomy groups, and transitions: Meet Amanda Rixey

Amanda Rixey

Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Undergrad: University of Kansas

Fun fact: I used to be a ballet dancer.
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Transitioning from life as a dance major in undergrad to life as a physical therapy student was a challenge.  I used to spend eight or more hours a day in dance classes or rehearsals with a few science classes interspersed. The switch to a mixture of lectures and labs throughout the day was difficult to get used to; as someone who needs to constantly be active, I found my biggest challenge of first semester was sitting in my chair during lectures!  Luckily, because the faculty similarly love movement, we get 10-minute breaks every hour to move around and stretch.

Another challenge I found was getting used to city life.  As someone who previously would do anything to avoid driving on highways, I had to brave rush hour traffic in order to get to school on time.  I tried taking side roads, but it took me almost 45 minutes!  I think it’s safe to say I’ve mastered driving them after a few months of living here (even though my car did die on the side of the road on the first day of school).

Regis does a fantastic job making sure their students feel comfortable. At the beginning of the semester, our class was divided into anatomy lab groups based on our personality and learning types.  This was the most beneficial part of first semester—I was able to take the data from my results and use this to understand how I learn and how I communicate with my classmates and professors (they are surprisingly accurate…and I love personality tests!).  Also, our groups were formed with students of different learning styles; this worked out wonderfully, despite what you might think.  I am a student who doesn’t necessarily like to take on leadership positions.  Luckily, I was in a group where a few students would facilitate how we would go about dissecting or starting a project.  A bonus of spending an inordinate amount of time with a cadaver and my group is that now I have five other students I can go to for anything and feel comfortable working with.

Because of the relaxed learning environment we had in my anatomy group, anatomy became my favorite course of first semester.  The intricate detail and vast amount of material from Cliff, our professor, made it a fun challenge for me and made me determined to work hard to learn as much as I could.  Dissecting was also a new challenge; I think working in groups made it much more doable, though, and we were able to learn from each other.  My biggest piece of advice is to figure out your strengths within the group are and to stick to them when you work together.

Overall, first semester had some kinks in it, but the professors and fellow students really helped out.  I’m looking forward to going to classes with my classmates and learning new material that will build on the fundamentals we learned last semester.

Coming from another career: Meet Katie Ragle

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I used to doubt whether or not I could hack it in PT school. I have a degree in broadcasting and digital media with minors in editing and publishing and theatre. I once had the hopes of a career in public relations and worked for a few years before realizing that I need to do something that I’m actually passionate about. I quit my job, took the prerequisites for PT school, and applied to several schools around the country. I was born and raised in Orlando, Florida, and attended undergrad in Ohio, and my husband and I were ready for a new adventure.

When I arrived on campus at Regis for my interview, I could tell that it would be different than other interviews I had encountered. Faculty and current students welcomed all those who were interviewing and encouraged us to ask our probing questions that the website doesn’t reveal. The entire interview day was incredibly people-focused. Everyone with whom I spoke emphasized how much people matter at Regis. They continually stressed that faculty do everything they can to help students thrive. I heard many times, “We start with 80 students in the class, and we want to finish with 80. We don’t want to weed people out. We want them to succeed.” As someone who has never taken advanced science classes and only took the minimum prerequisites to apply to PT school, I reveled at the thought of having people who would come alongside me if I needed additional help with classes.

After my tour of the campus and discussions with current students, I started to picture myself at Regis, but I wanted to see how my faculty interview went to verify all of the wonderful things that the students claimed about them. It didn’t disappoint. When I sat down in my interview with one of the predominant faculty members in the program, her first question didn’t deal with my GRE score or observation hours. She looked at me and asked, “So, how does your husband feel about your going to PT school? You’re going to need his support over the next few years. We don’t want to break up marriages.” We talked more about school-life balance, and she encouraged me that it would be worth it. She wasn’t trying to sell me on Regis, but she sure did.

After I was accepted to Regis, I wondered if the program would be as people-focused as the interview. It was. It terrified me to think that I would be a fish out of water surrounded by exercise science and kinesiology majors, but around 40% of the students in our class are career changers like me. Those who do have more of a science background are more than willing to help fill in the gaps for those of us who need it. Our class is more collaborative than I could have ever hoped for. Rather than competing with each other, we share study guides freely. We call our nationally recognized professors by their first name. Are the academics rigorous? Absolutely. PT school is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I know that I’m not alone, and that’s how I know I made the right choice in Regis.

Good luck in all your applications and interviews! Don’t be nervous; you’ll do great!

Katie

P.S. On my first day of class, the professor who interviewed me ran up to me, gave me a hug, and told me how happy she was to see me. I get to have her for a class this semester. How cool is that?

Transitioning to PT school: Meet Chris Lew

Christopher Lew

Hometown: Eugene, OR

Undergrad: University of Portland

Fun fact: I have a whistle reminiscent of various fairy tale soundtracks…or so I’m told.

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On the first semester and transitioning into graduate school:

First semester of PT school: check. Reflecting on how PT school has been thus far will now, hopefully, be more objective following a month of winter break and relaxation (thank goodness no one asked me how it was going in the middle of finals week). To sum up how the first semester was, I would say that it was definitely challenging and frustrating at times but, overall, it was better than expected. Despite the initial fears that I –as well as many of my peers– had at the beginning of the semester of having to remediate classes or, even worse, failing out of PT school before even really getting started, I survived with a little bit (read: a lot) of hard work, determination and nights far below the recommended hours of sleep.

My favorite class of the first semester was our Biomechanics and Kinesiology class; it consisted largely of applied anatomy and I could easily see how it related directly to our practice as physical therapists. I would talk to second and third years who would mention roll and slide when doing manipulations so I knew what we were learning was valuable. However, the great thing, in my opinion, about Regis is that all of our classes, in one way or another, directly relate to our practice. Whether it’s learning how to measure vital signs in MAP I, review PT literature in Critical Inquiry or palpate the piriformis in Anatomy, it’s all relevant. It’s remarkable, really, to look at how much we’ve learned in three short months of PT school. I remember practicing palpation on my boyfriend the day before our exam and thinking how cool it was that I could name practically every bony prominence and major superficial artery, vein and nerve on the human body. Just thinking of how much we are capable of learning in such a short period of time gives me motivation and the desire to want to learn and do more so that I can become a better physical therapist.

For those considering PT school, I’ll say that it’s similar to undergraduate education; however, there are a few pretty significant differences. To start off, you will be in class a lot more than you were in undergrad. As a double major in college, I mostly took the maximum number of credits allowed and still managed to have whole or half days off each semester. In PT school, be prepared for long days of lectures and labs from 8AM to 5PM at least a few times a week. As far as workload/intensity, I would say that PT school is definitely more difficult—although not unbearably so—than undergrad. Given that it’s a doctorate program, a lot more is expected than simply skimming the surface of the material. You will spend entire days studying and preparing for exams and assignments, and oftentimes will have to begin preparing days or weeks in advance, rather than hours. However, in the end, the formula for survival/success is essentially the same: dedicate yourself to your education, be and stay motivated and routinely give yourself a break to prevent burnout and preserve the aforementioned qualities.

Just like any new major endeavor in life, there will be some bumps in the road when starting PT school. I think one key thing for anyone starting PT school is to acknowledge and appreciate what method of studying works best for that individual. It took me a couple of weeks to get into the groove of being back in school, and those first few weeks were some of the roughest I’ve had in a long time. Nevertheless, once I learned how to study for Anatomy, prioritize my workload and juggle multiple classes and commitments at once, things got a lot smoother. Oh, and one last thing: be kind to your classmates and help each other out. These are people you will be spending practically every day with for the next three years, so you might as well be friends. I’m grateful for the fact that I (objectively) have some of the kindest and most genuine classmates I could ask for. I can count on multiple people sharing their study guides before an exam as well as being willing to help teach me something I’m struggling with in one of our classes. Having a community of peers who experience the same joys and pains of school is probably the most valuable thing for me in times of distress as well as celebration. And it’s pretty awesome to think that in a short 2.5 years we’ll be walking down the same aisle as all we graduate from Regis  together.