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

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

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

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

This Pandemic… Has established fierce leaders

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Hey Class of 2022, Why Regis?

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

Brittney Galli

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

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

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

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Our youngest companion in training, Garin

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Hope to see you there! 

~ Mark Lombardo, Class of 2020 Move Forward Representative

 

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

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

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

-Priya Subramanian, SPT- Regis University

Regis DPT Global Health Pathway Immersion trip to Huancayo, Peru

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

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

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

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

 

Student Perspective on the value of the Global Pathway Immersion Trips

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

“Issues Discussed at the Capital”

Hannah Clark, SPT – Regis University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practice What You Preach: Modeling a Lifestyle of Movement

Name: Tara Dirocco, Class of 2021

Undergraduate: UC Berkeley

Hometown: Santa Barbara, CA

Do you find yourself needing PT from being in PT school?

Is this the most you’ve sat still in a long time?

These questions consumed me on my first week of PT school. I could not handle (or believe!) all of the sitting, after being a PT aide at an aquatic center where I spent the past year moving around all day in a pool.

Feeling the ironies of my situation, knowing that a sedentary lifestyle is the reason many patients will come to see me in the future, I decided to make my PT school experience a challenge.

How much could I move in a sedentary environment?

How could I remain physical?

How could I find my own therapy, all day long?

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Standing desk set up with computer/books at eye level

With some help from biomechanist and movement advocate Katy Bowman, I hit the drawing board.

Katy Bowman notoriously says, “Don’t just sit there, but don’t just stand there either.” Stagnancy is the problem— not sitting, not standing. A lack of movement is the root of many health ailments. We sit all day, move intensely for an hour, and expect our tissues to be compliant. Poor tissues.

Movement is linked with increased productivity and just about every health benefit…so as movement experts, why isn’t movement woven into the very fabric of our learning regimen? Why aren’t we innovating every day to find new ways to help those in stagnant jobs improve their situation? Why aren’t we modeling the way?

We have a duty as physical therapists to model the way out of stagnancy and into an embodied society. Can we practice as we preach? Can we create new movement positive environments together?

We can move all day long. I dare you.

Here are my tips to all the students and human beings out there.

In class:

  1. Sit in different ways.
  2. Take your shoes off.
  3. Roll out your ankles.
  4. Stand up and take notes while standing.
  5. Do calf raises. Do calf stretches.
  6. Do squats— mini ones if you’re embarrassed.
  7. Go on a walk or climb some stairs whenever you have a break.
  8. Roll out your wrists. Stretch your wrists against the wall.
  9. Switch how you are sitting again.
  10. Cross your ankles. Uncross your ankles.
  11. Sit in a figure 4 stretch.
  12. Sit on the edge of your seat.
  13. Sit on your feet.
  14. Practice diaphragmatic breathing.

When studying:

  1. Stand! Make a fun standing desk set up out of your many textbooks.
  2. Make your computer at eye level.
  3. Lay on your belly for a while.
  4. Lay on your back and study for a while.
  5. Lay with your legs up the wall and study for a while.
  6. Lay in a hip flexor stretch and study.
  7. Perform hamstring strengthening exercises while lying on your belly.
  8. Switch the position of your legs often.
  9. Switch the arm you’re leaning on… in fact maybe don’t lean on any arm!
  10. Take movement rewards every 30 minutes.

(Please note: if you have any recent injuries, conditions, or limitations, consult with your healthcare provider team before attempting these positions, especially for a prolonged period of time)

-Tara Dirocco, 1st year student

 

Presenting At CSM 2019, Washington D.C.

It was a cold, rainy national Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) this year in Washington D.C., but that did not stop almost 17,000 people, including several from Regis University, to attend! Regis students and faculty not only learned the latest happenings from others in our field of physical therapy, but also took roles in presenting their research and/or speaking during educational sessions to inform our profession. Below are some highlights of their experiences.

 

 

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DPT students Amber Bolen and Grace-Marie Vega with Dr. Andrew Littmann

“Going to CSM as a student researcher was a wonderful experience! Discussing our narrative review with PTs, students, and other researchers who shared our passion for regenerative medicine will always stand out as a highlight of my time at Regis.” — Grace-Marie Vega

“I loved working as a team with my research partner on our narrative review (the PT’s role in stem cell research for spinal cord injury). Presenting research at CSM was something I never expected to do when I first entered PT school, but Regis faculty encouraged our class to submit for review. We decided to give it a shot and we made it! Being able to speak with people interested in our field of research was an amazing feeling. We even attended a lecture in which one of our cited authors was present. It was also humbling to see how many research posters and lectures came out of Regis and its faculty and students. I look forward to seeing more as a proud future alumni!” — Amber Bolen

 

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DPT students David Cummins and Katherine Heller with Dr. Andrew Smith and Dr. Denise O’Dell

“Attending CSM in Washington, D.C. was an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to share my team’s research, chat with leaders in the profession, and meet dozens of potential employers. The energy and passion at the conference was infectious and I left feeling reinvigorated and excited about the future of our profession.” — David Cummins

 

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DPT students Hannah Clark, Vivian He, Felix Hill, and Erin Lemberger with Dr. Karla Bell, Dr. Melissa Hoffman, and Dr. Nancy Mulligan

“I think that getting to present an educational session at CSM is a fairly rare opportunity, and our team definitely bonded through the intimidating experience of presenting to almost 300 people! In presenting our research on LGBTQ+ related cultural competency, we were also able to identify barriers and build broader awareness of LGBTQ+ issues in our profession. I feel so grateful to our lead researcher, Dr. Melissa Hoffman, for getting me involved in research and making it possible for us all to have this experience!

In addition to the educational session, many members of our research team are involved in PT Proud, an LGBTQIA+ committee in the Health Policy Administration Section of the APTA. As part of that group, we held a membership meeting and happy hour event, which provided a powerful space for LGBTQ+ people and allies in our profession to come together.” — Felix Hill

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Pam Soto, a third year DPT student, presented a platform on “The Impact of Leadership Development Curriculum Through the Eyes of the Physical Therapy Student.”

 

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Class of 2018 graduate Dr. Amanda Rixey presented on preferred method of feedback after simulation experiences for DPT students.

 

And even more!

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Why We Chose Regis: Reflections From Current DPT Students

I interviewed at Regis roughly one year ago, and as I look back on that day, I realize my decision to accept my spot in the DPT Class of 2021 was an easy one.

I decided I wanted to pursue physical therapy when I was 18 years old. I spent over 200 hours in observation, determining the kind of PT I aspired to be. It was during that reflection that I began to understand how important my choice in schooling was. This was not because of job security or the ability to pass the NPTE – there were dozens of programs that would give me both. My priority was the environment in which I began to develop my clinical eyes, ears, and hands.

I feel that I would have received a great education at several other places. However, Regis offers so much more than competency. When I left my interview a year ago, I felt a strong sense of belonging. Not only did I feel encouraged, wanted, and supported, but I also felt inspired. The faculty and students in that room were people who I knew I wanted as my colleagues and friends, challenging me and supporting me to be more in every way. They were some of the proudest advocates for PT, wanting to push the profession to excel and improve community health in any way possible.

Although I have only been in school for one semester, I feel this sense of belonging intensify every day. School is often difficult and emotionally exhausting, but I have never felt more inspired by my surroundings than I have at Regis. I truly believe the quality of people this program attracts is its greatest strength. This unique community of support, empathy, thoughtfulness, intelligence, creativity, innovation, camaraderie, and compassion is one that I dream of replicating in my own professional practice.

But, I am only one person in this community. Below are some perspectives from current students.

— Priya Subramanian, 1st year student

Perspective from 1st year students

“One of the reasons I chose Regis was the school’s focus on reflection. I absolutely believe reflection is an important clinical tool, and Regis is the only school that I know of that weaves this value into their curriculum. Additionally, Regis has an extremely diverse faculty with individuals specializing in areas such as home health, wound care, and chronic pain. I was confident that if I attended Regis, I would have the tools and resources necessary to explore any and every facet of the physical therapy profession.

Looking back I am completely confident that I made the right decision. Never before have I been part of a such a collaborative and supportive learning community. My teachers and peers genuinely care about my success, and likewise I earnestly care about theirs.”– Sam Frowley

 

“When looking for PT schools, one quality that I was really looking for was a strong sense of community.  As soon as I interviewed at Regis, I could tell that the PT department had that community that I was looking for.  A year later, I couldn’t be happier with my decision.  The environment at Regis PT is one where everyone genuine helps each other to succeed to create well rounded professionals.  I’m lucky that I get to be part of such a great family, and can’t wait to see what future holds!”   — Quincy Williams

 

“’I’d probably say the reason I chose Regis was because of how they made us feel during interview day. Besides feeling welcome and at home, they made me feel like I could truly change the profession and put my stamp on it if that’s what I longed for. As of today, I’d say the greatest thing about Regis is the never ending support system that is around us. Faculty, staff, classmates, and even those from classes above us are always going out of their way to make sure we’re doing well and have all the resources we need to succeed and give our best every day. This truly makes you feel like family, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”—Johnny Herrera

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1st year students at the Move Forward 5K!

Perspective from 2nd year students

“I wanted to come up with something other than “I chose Regis because of Interview Day,” since I’m sure so many others have that answer… but I couldn’t… because it’s the truth. I actually almost did not come to Regis University’s interview day because I had already been accepted to a couple of my top choices back home in California, and had always intended to stay in California. Fortunately, I decided to come because it allowed me to experience the amazing culture that both the faculty and students at Regis cultivate. I immediately felt this sense of closeness, of family, of caring, and of balance from the students at Regis that I had not felt at the other schools I had visited. In addition to expressing their excitement about the curriculum, the students here had so much to say about the time the spent outdoors, the friends they had made, and all the fun activities to do in Denver. Two years later, I am so glad I chose to come to Interview Day, because now I have the immense pleasure of sharing all those incredible experiences with the incoming classes.”          –Davis Ngo

 

“It was easy to choose Regis after interview day. I remember during the interview just feeling like I was being welcomed into a family I wanted to be a part of. The best part has been that this support has never stopped. I reach out to faculty when I need advice, and each and every time they have been there for me and my classmates. Our faculty support us with injuries we have ourselves and act as our PTs more often then I’d like to admit. I have more leadership training at Regis and am encouraged to be a knowledgeable but also a thoughtful and empathetic practitioner. So I chose Regis and I still choose regis because there is no place with better faculty, no place with more diverse opportunities, and no place that I would rather be to grow into a physical therapist.” –Erin Lemberger

 

“I chose Regis for PT school 2 years ago because I was interested in the global health pathway and was drawn to their Jesuit values and desire to care for the whole person. After meeting students and faculty at interview day, I was amazed at how welcomed and accepted I felt in this community. Now in my second year of the program, I feel even stronger that I made the right choice for PT school. I know I am receiving a well rounded education that will mold me into the competent, caring practitioner I wish to become.”–Rachel Garbrecht

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2nd year students after weeks of collecting dry needling data with Dr. Stephanie Albin, Dr. Larisa Hoffman, and Dr. Cameron MacDonald!

Perspective from 3rd year students

“In the middle of a snowstorm three years ago, I interviewed at Regis and knew that day I would come back in August for the beginning of a grueling but incredible three years. I loved the large class size and was in awe of all the revered faculty; so many knowledgeable people to learn from! Its reputation is strong and its standards for educating and practicing are held high. Of course, the proximity to the great outdoors sealed the deal. The physical skills of becoming a physical therapist are of course vital, but Regis is purposeful about teaching beyond this basis and digging into the invaluable ‘soft’ skills that allow us to find connection with patients and purpose in our practice. As I navigate through my final clinical rotation and see graduation on the horizon, I am more confident and ready to become a physical therapist than I ever foresaw. I can’t thank my past self enough for making the clearest choice in the midst of that snowstorm three years ago.” — Katherine Koch

“Three years ago I chose Regis because the values and philosophies the program upholds align so well with my own. Regis values service to others, a person-first philosophy, and a global perspective. From the get-go I could tell that I would further grow into the PT, and the person, that I wanted to be at this program. I truly believe that Regis is at the forefront of the evolution of patient-centered care in all respects. I know I made the right choice and feel incredibly fortunate to be Regis-educated.”    — Amber Bolen

“I chose Regis because it has high academic standards and maintains a community feel with its faculty and students. I went to Regis for undergrad and knew each faculty member cared immensely about the success of the students. Over the past three years I have continued to enjoy Regis’s community feel and have constantly felt support from everyone around me.” — Daniel Griego

2019

3rd year students at Regis DPT’s talent show!

Leadership Through Service: A Student Perspective

Name: Amber Bolen, Class of 2019 Service Representative

Undergrad: University of Oregon

Hometown: Eugene, OR

Fun Fact: In college I spontaneously gained the ability to wiggle my ears.

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Hi everyone! My name is Amber and I am the Regis DPT Class of 2019’s Service Representative. Being the service rep for my class means that I work with people and organizations in the community to plan and implement service projects for my class to participate in. I have also had the wonderful opportunity to be Regis’s PT Day of Service Representative for 2017, a title that has now been passed to Austin Adamson, the service rep for Regis’ class of 2020.

The prospect of serving others was one of the main draws for me to attend Regis University’s DPT program. One of the first questions I would ask my prospective schools was “what opportunities do you provide for students to be involved in serving the community?” Regis was by far the most equipped to answer this question. With service learning projects being embedded into almost every semester, domestic and international service opportunities through the Global Health Pathway, and countless opportunities and contacts for students to find more to be involved in, I was hooked.

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Regis DPT Class of 2019 students pose with Denver Parks and Rec employees after working hard mulching trees and raking leaves at Sloan’s Lake Park.

Before beginning my journey as my class’s service rep, I wanted to determine what my fellow classmates were really interested in. Being people who all made the conscious decision to live in Colorado for 2.5 years, outdoor projects were high on the list. In the past, I’ve organized day projects cleaning and keeping up parks surrounding Regis. For example, for PT Day of Service we worked at Berkeley Park to restore the playgrounds, repaint picnic tables, clear trash, and unearth perennial plants.

Another trip involved collaborating with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado to provide trail restoration work at the Anna Mule Trails near Georgetown, Colorado. The trail restoration project was a weekend endeavor that resulted in sore muscles, a more refined grasp on what goes into creating a trail, great food, and excellent classmate bonding time.

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Regis Class of 2019 students take a break for a photo op while they work on the Anna Mule Trail near Georgetown, CO.

Being the service rep for my class has truly been an honor and I would be remised not to reflect on what I’ve learned in the process. Here are some “pearls of wisdom” I was able to collect:

  • You don’t have to be outgoing to be a student representative, but in my case I did have to be comfortable reaching out to community partners I hadn’t met yet.
  • Sometimes what you think an individual or a community needs is not actually what they need. Our job when providing service is to listen and respond in kindness if we are to do anything tangible.
  • While direct service (working with people face-to-face) is valuable and rewarding, indirect service, such as maintaining community areas, has merits too. I can’t count how many people thanked us during our park clean ups!
  • An act of service does not have to be a huge, momentous task. Small acts of service are appreciated more than we think.
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Regis Class of 2019 and 2020 students and friends take a group photo in Berkeley Park on PT Day of Service.

The fact that so many Regis DPT students are willing and excited to take part in service projects beyond what is expected by their classes speaks volumes about the type of people that our program attracts. I have never met a group a people, students and faculty alike, that are so committed to doing more for others. Service is so inextricably linked to the curriculum, values, and culture here at Regis that it has become part of who we are. As my classes at Regis come to a close and I am getting precariously close to “real world PT,” I know that the emphasis placed on these values will make us excellent physical therapists. We have learned to be sensitive to the needs of our patients and our communities and understand that physical therapists have a unique position to advocate for and implement change on individual, community, and societal levels. My hope as we all eventually graduate is for us to take everything that we’ve learned and apply it to our own clinical practice. I hope for all of us to listen, ask questions, create connections, and take initiative to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

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Cleaning up trash at Berkeley Park!

Please stay tuned for PT Day of Service this year, happening in early October of this year! Look for announcements from Austin Adamson, the Regis DPT Class of 2020 Service Rep and PT Day of Service rep for 2018! If you have questions about anything involving student service at Regis, please feel free to email me at abolen@regis.edu. In addition, if you have any questions about PT Day of Service 2018, Austin’s email is aadamson001@regis.edu.

 

Farewell Marcia Smith!

Name: Marcia Smith, PT, Ph.D.

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As we sadly said farewell at the end of the summer to another beloved faculty member, Marcia Smith, who has been with us at Regis for 20 years, second-year student Meg Kates made sure to catch some of her words of wisdom before her retirement! Read the interview below for Marcia’s amazing journey as a PT, educator, and advocator.

How did your journey with physical therapy begin?

When I was 8 or 9 years old, I read a story in a Reader’s Digest publication called Karen, which was the story of a young woman growing up with cerebral palsy in the late 1930s. At the time in history, many of those individuals lived in group facilities for people with disabilities. I remember, in the story, Karen learning how to walk with the help of a physical therapist. My interest was further reinforced in 8th grade, when I saw a television show called Route 66. In the show, main character came down with an illness and had to be hospitalized, and, I remember, a physical therapist helped him get well. Lastly, the gentleman who became the head of the Rehabilitation Center in Grand Junction moved across the street from me. I had lots of opportunities to talk to him and watch him. So, I had lots of opportunities for physical therapy to be reinforced as the career I wanted to pursue.

I graduated with by Bachelor’s in physical therapy from CU, and then I moved to upstate New York, where my husband went to law school. A Bachelor’s degree was all that was really available at the time, unless a person wanted to teach, in which case he or she got a Master’s degree. I had never met a physical therapist with a Ph.D. at the time. I lived in Ithaca for 3 years, and then I moved back Colorado in 1972. There were zero positions open in the state, so I worked vacation relief at nursing homes. Colorado has been saturated a long time. Eventually I got a call from the head therapist at Denver Health, who had heard I was looking for a job and asked me if I would like to interview…I said yes! I was hired and it was the weird, the wild, and the wonderful. At Denver Health, therapists are assigned to teams, so I worked in the Amputee Brace Clinic for 6 months. Then, I did hand therapy. Then, I rotated onto the Neuro-/Neurosurgery team. After that, I told everyone they could rotate around me because I was not going to leave that team.

Starting out, did you always know that you wanted to pursue neuro-focused PT?

No, in fact, I thought I wanted to be a pediatric therapist. In New York, I worked at Tompkins County Hospital and Rehabilitation Center for 2 years. That was a wonderful opportunity. I would see a patient who had an acute stroke and I would get to follow them from acute care to rehab to outpatient. I had the opportunity to fill the spot of a physical therapist on maternity-leave at the Special Children’s Center, which was a freestanding outpatient school in Ithaca. Interestingly, the head of the Special Children’s Center had her Ph.D. in Education and her Master’s in Speech Language Pathology. And she had cerebral palsy. In fact, she was one of the people in the book “Karen.” It was a full circle moment for me. I worked with this woman in the pediatric setting for 8 months before I moved back to Denver where, like I said, there were no pediatric positions. There were hardly any positions, but it was at Denver Health where I decided neuro is what I really wanted to do.

 

Can you tell me more about your experience with Ranchos Los Amigos?

When I was at Denver Health, I felt like I needed to know so much more. I expressed these feeling to my husband and he encouraged me to apply to universities for a Master’s degree. I was admitted to a program for clinical specialization at Rancho Los Amigos, where I learned at a couple of years. The first year was mostly class work, and the second year was all clinical specialization. We rotated between specialties, and I chose traumatic brain injury, stroke, TBI children, GB, and it just goes on like that.

 

What advice would you to someone who want to get into a specific specialty of work?

When I was finishing my Master’s, I can remember a classmate saying to me, “If there are no openings, I will just go do anything.”

And I can remember saying, “I won’t. I refuse. If I can’t be a neuro therapist, I will flip burgers!

So, my advice is to find a place you want to be and stick with it. Secondly, try to pick your final clinical rotation in a setting where you know you would like to practice. Lastly, don’t disregard what you have learned based on the setting you are in. For example, I have used my musculoskeletal and cardiopulmonary skills in practice with my patients with stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease. Always be searching for opportunities to use a wide breadth of skills and never putting people into a “box.”

 

What do you think is the next step for the career of physical therapy?

I think that we will always need educators. So, if you’re interested in that route, be considering in what subject you would like to get your Ph.D.

There are other things I worry about. I worry about the cost of education, and the loans that people have to take out. I see how physical therapists are reimbursed in Colorado and nationwide, and it’s hideous. So, I see residency taking us to another level, but, ultimately, we need to be addressed as primary care providers.

Ultimately, we need to be our own advocates. That means writing up clinical studies, asking questions, and answering questions.

 

What is the first step in becoming an advocate? How did you get your start?

When I lived in New York, there were two physical therapists at Ithaca College who would regularly invite me and some others to attend district meetings, and everyone would go. Then, in 1970, New York had its first state conference: that night, everyone volunteered to participate on a committee of the APTA. When I moved back to Colorado, one of my mentors invited me to a picnic, where she asked me if I would become the secretary of the Colorado APTA Chapter.

I asked her, “Do you think I can?”

She said, “Of course you can.”

So, I became the secretary and did that for 4 years before I moved to California to pursue my Master’s, where I continued to follow through with my responsibilities until I came back.

 

What’s the next step for you? What’s in your future?

I am going to continue to do some research. I am going to continue to answer some questions about how we dose exercise for people with Parkinson’s Disease.

I will be doing some traveling. In September, my husband and I will be escorting some friends to Ireland. I am going to see Iceland next. We are going to go for Hawaii for a few weeks, and, then I thought, since we are halfway there, why not go to New Zealand? Why fly back to the mainland? Then we have friends that we will be joining on a river trip on the Rhine. I don’t know after that!

 

Thank youMarcia, for your work and dedication to both Regis and our profession! We are so grateful for all of your contributions and will miss you very dearly at Regis, and we wish you all the best in your new adventure in life! Congratulations!

Farewell Tom McPoil!

Name: Thomas McPoil, PT, PhD, FAPTA

Hometown: Sacramento California

Fun fact: I like to play golf – at one point, I became a 10 handicapper

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As we approached the end of July, the Regis Physical Therapy family prepared to say goodbye to some very important members of our family. With heavy hearts, but happy smiles, we say our farewells to Tom McPoil and Marcia Smith, as they are retiring and moving on to new adventures. Following 45 years as a physical therapist, 35 years of teaching, and teaching over 1800 students in over 35 states, Tom sat down with me, and I asked for any last words of wisdom. Here’s what he had to say:

  1. How do you advise that we keep a life/work balance?

“I think it’s really hard. I think that’s going to be the hardest thing for a student to figure out. I just look at the struggles you face: you want time for your personal life and clinical care. You may have to stay late and do charting. You get home and you want a break, but you want to keep up with the literature. You are worried about debt and you are worried about loan repayment. If you can, set up a time where you can read 1 or 2 papers a week, and then maybe try to establish a couple of people that want to discuss them with you. Eventually, you have to come to grips with the incredible amount of research out there…I mean it’s almost too much. That’s where the systematic reviews come in. As a clinician you’re not going to have the time to read 27 articles, but you can read one paper that summarized 27 papers for you.”

  1. What makes the difference between a ‘good’ PT and a ‘great’ PT?

“I think that’s a hard question to address. Part of it has to be your feelings of confidence about yourself. Have confidence in yourself, you know a lot. So much is thrown at you, and so quickly, that you feel like you don’t know anything. But when you go out to clinic and you come back and talk to a first year, you realize how much you do know. I think the other thing that makes an exceptional therapist is one that will always question or ask, “what is happening? What is going on?” There is one person on your shoulder that tells you, “hey, have confidence in yourself.” But there should also be another person on the other shoulder that says, “hey, you’re still learning.” And because of that, you tend to be much more aware of things. The longer you are in clinic, the easier it is to say, “well it’s just another total knee.” You know the old ad, “it quacks like a duck, it walks like a duck, it must be a duck”…that to me is where you start to see the difference: a good therapist will just treat the patient, but the exceptional therapist is the one that says, “but really, is it a duck?” and takes the time to really look at those things. The person who is always striving to do their best is sometimes going the extra mile.”

  1. Because we are Regis, we are going to reflect a little bit. What are you taking away from your time at Regis?

“Some great memories from interacting with some great students, that’s number one. As a faculty member and physical therapist I am very, very blessed, because of the fact that the individuals who are drawn to physical therapy (I know I’m speaking in generalities) really care about helping people. And I think that’s just engrained in them. I think that as a result, they’re very interested in learning to help other people. That makes my job as a teacher and as an instructor much, much easier. I think that’s the thing that I’m taking away from Regis, and why I was really happy to come here. I love the fact that the values go beyond just getting an education. And yeah, they are Jesuit values, men and women for other, the cura personalis, the magis, all the buzzwords. But I really do think, here, as a faculty and as Regis, we really help instill that on our students and I think that as a result, the students that graduate from the Regis Physical Therapy program are better humans. I think they’re better people who are going to serve society. The thing here is the sense of community. What I’ve enjoyed as a faculty member is that I really do feel like I’m involved with a community that is very caring. They’re concerned about others. I mean, they’re taking those Jesuit values, but applying it to the whole university community. There is a sense of mission and the need for people to really help one another. One of the saddest things I had happened in my career was when we had a student die in a car accident four years ago. I tell you the afternoon we heard and I had to announced it to the second years, the response from this university was phenomenal. We had counselors down here, within an hour I was meeting with the president and the director of missions, we had a service for the students here on campus. I realize that would never have happened at any other institution I’ve ever been at. Yes, people would’ve been upset, but it’s that sense of community. Yes, we’re a part of physical therapy, but we’re all a part of Regis. That to me is the piece that I’ve really enjoyed the most, and I think we do a really good job getting our students to embrace that before they leave.”

  1. What is your biggest accomplishment as a teacher, a physical therapist, and in your personal life?

“Oh that’s a hard question to answer. Well in personal life, hopefully, I was a good husband, a good father, okay with my son-in-laws and an okay grandparent. That’s what you hope for. Ultimately, you hope that God thinks you did okay. What you really hope for is that in the really little time I had with students, I was able to install firstly knowledge that they needed to go out and be successful, but also hopefully I’ve provided some type of a good role model for them.”

  1. What are you going to do now that you’re retiring?

“I really want to do some volunteer work…that’s what I really want to do! I found out about Ignatian Volunteer Corp, which is for 55 years plus people. I’ll start out doing 8 hours a week, so I’m excited about that. I’ll like to go to Denver Health and help with the foot and ankle clinic. I’ll like to get back to playing golf and pickle ball. And I’ve got the 5 grandkids.”

  1. Where do you hope to see the profession go in 10 years?

“In the 45 years I’ve been in this profession, we’ve made huge strides. What I hope for with the profession is that we work to get increased reimbursement…I think that’s huge. We have to do more to convince the public that we are primary care providers. I hope that the future physical therapists will have direct access, that they’ll be recognized as a primary care providers for neuromusculoskeletal disorders, and that they’ll have the ability in their clinic to use diagnostic ultrasound.”

  1. Any last advice for our class?

Keep at it! Remember you have a lot of knowledge and a lot of information. Just try to balance things, and it’s not easy. Try to balance it so you don’t feel like you’re neglecting your personal life or your work.”

 

Thank you, Tom, for your dedication to the betterment of our profession. We will miss you very dearly at Regis, and we wish you all the best in your new adventure in life! Congratulations!

 

Tom also wanted to make sure that everyone knows he will have his Regis email, listed here (open forever) and it will be the best way to contact him. He will love to hear from people! tmcpoil@regis.edu

 

Written by: Pamela Soto, Class of 2019

Regis DPT Students Present: “LGBT+ 101”

 

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Taylor Tso, Hannah Clark, Felix Hill (left to right)

Regis University first-year DPT students Felix Hill, Hannah Clark, and Taylor Tso recently held a session for their classmates entitled “LGBT+ 101 for Student Physical Therapists.” The presentation covered foundational terminology and concepts related to LGBTQIA+ communities, a brief overview of LGBT+ healthcare disparities, as well as tips for making clinical spaces more inclusive. Here are some thoughts from the presenters related to key foundational concepts, what motivated them to present on this topic, and what their plans are to expand on this work in the future:

What does LGBTQIA+ stand for?

LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual.

 

What is the difference between gender and sex?

Both sex and gender exist on spectrums. A person’s sex is assigned to them at birth based on their genitalia, typically as either male or female. Intersex people are born with a unique combination of sex traits such as hormones, internal sex organs, and chromosomes. Gender involves a complex relationship between our bodies (think biology and societally determined physical masculine and/or feminine attributes), identities (think inherent internal experience), and expressions (think fashion and mannerisms). While gender is commonly thought of as a binary system (men and women, boys and girls), there are people whose identities do not fall within either of these categories exclusively, or even at all. While many people identify with the gender often attributed to the sex they were assigned at birth (cisgender), there are others who do not share this experience (transgender).

 

Does gender identity have anything to do with sexual orientation?

No! You cannot make assumptions concerning someone’s sexual orientation based on the way they express their gender or based on their gender identity. Sexual orientation simply has to do with whom someone is sexually attracted to or not. It also has nothing to do with how sexually active someone is!

 

Why did you feel it was important to present on this topics?

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 “In spite of our community’s unique healthcare needs and the stark disparities that affect LGBT+ people’s access to healthcare, typical DPT programs offer little to no education that would prepare you to treat LGBT+ patients. We wanted our cohort to be competent and confident in treating this population.” –Felix

“Felix recognized this need at Regis early on and has been working closely with our faculty to develop more inclusive and comprehensive educational materials. As an ally, I have been honored to work with Felix and other members of PT Proud (the first APTA recognized LGBT+ advocacy group) in this process of educating ourselves and others. I believe that the field of physical therapy can do a better job of caring for LGBT+ patients and I want to be a part of the solution.” –Hannah

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What do you believe was the main impact of this presentation?

 “Facilitating educational exposure to LGBT+ topics that people may or may not have had knowledge of before. This presentation sparks curiosity and lays down a baseline understanding for healthcare professionals to better their communication, and thus, quality of care for their LGBT+ patients.” –Taylor

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So you have given this presentation—now what?

 This was just the beginning! Due to negative past experiences and fear of discrimination, many LGBT+ people will go to extremes to delay care. Even if someone has access to health insurance and can afford to come see a PT, which many do not, people are likely to wait until their condition is very serious, which then contributes to poorer outcomes.

We will work to share our knowledge widely throughout the U.S., starting with a presentation at CU in August. But ultimately, workshops are not enough! As board members of PT Proud, the LGBT+ catalyst group in the HPA section of the APTA, we want to ensure that physical therapy professionals across the country receive a basic level of LGBT+ competency training, which will ultimately require changes to DPT and PTA curricula. We will also be working with PT Proud’s Equity task force to influence laws and policies to increase LGBT+ healthcare access.

Felix, Hannah, and Taylor all look forward to the prospect of future presentations.

 

How can I learn more?

Follow PT Proud on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/PTProud/

Feel free to leave a comment on this post with any questions or thoughts as well!

Service Learning in PT School

Name: Austin Adamson, Class of 2020 Service Officer

Undergrad: Saint Louis University

Hometown: Laguna Niguel, CA

Fun fact: I recently dove with manta rays and sea turtles in the Great Barrier Reef!

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As students of physical therapy, we are undertaking a career that is founded upon the ideas of service and care for others. We spend countless hours in both classrooms and clinics learning a craft that allows us to heal our patients and restore their function and participation, ultimately serving them in a life-altering way. But, for many students of Regis University, the call to serve others extends beyond the classroom. It is a part of who we are, and who we are called to be.

The young Class of 2020 has only recently begun its efforts to serve beyond the community of our school and classmates. Our first service effort began in February, in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Members of our class were generous enough to donate time and toys to Children’s Hospital Colorado to wish children and their families a happy Valentine’s Day.  Both the Van Gogh’s and the less successful artists in our class handmade over 150 cards, sending best wishes and love to remind every child that they are cared for, even through the challenging time of a hospital stay.

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These cards accompanied nearly $100 worth of toys and games that helped make the time in a hospital more enjoyable for the children being treated, their siblings, and their parents.

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Left to right: Josh H, Auburn BP, and Austin A delivering Valentine’s Day cards and toys to children at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

With the turning of the seasons and the coming of beautiful summer weather, members of our class turned to the mountains to participate in a trail building and conservation effort for National Trails Day.  On a warm Saturday, a small group of students and significant others made their way out to Hildebrand Ranch Park to volunteer with Jefferson County Open Space.  The group worked to construct a small section of new trail that will be opened in 2019, and also helped maintain an existing section of trail by cutting back overgrowth of invasive plants.

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Left to right: Meghan R, Nicole R, Emily P, Austin A, and Hannah D serving at Hildebrand Ranch Park.

Ask any Coloradan, native or otherwise, and they will tell you about the importance of trail work! As avid nature hikers, trail-runners, and mountain bikers, the Class of 2020 will continue to give back to the beautiful mountains we know and love as well as the community members who use them.

These are just a few examples of the service and work being done for others by my classmates and professors. Service is an integral part of our time here at Regis University, and is preparation for a lifetime of service as we will enter the field of physical therapy with hopes of serving our patients and empowering their lives. Some are called to service through the Jesuit Mission that is incorporated at Regis, which teaches us to be men and women for others. Some draw strength from acts of selflessness that bring joy and comfort to others. And still others enjoy building a community by meeting new people in service opportunities, and sharing experiences with one another. Regardless of the reason, the students of physical therapy at Regis University work to be engaged in both the local and global community. We are pursuing not just a degree, but the ability to shape a better world through our work!