Let’s Talk About Mental Health

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

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

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


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

1. Get help when you need it

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

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Sharing hugs and thoracic manipulations during MMII lab

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

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

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Spending Thanksgiving with the Class of 2018 and our puppies

3. Find a network of support

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

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

4. Take days off from schoolwork

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

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

5. Get involved in the community  

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

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

6. Believe in yourself

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

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Enjoying a Friday night with classmates

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

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


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

Regis Counseling Services: 303-458-3507

 

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

 

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

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

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

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


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

1)    Find Ways Around the Language Barrier

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

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

2)    Learn to Go With the Flow

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

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Home sweet home! @vignedipace

3)    Go Above and Beyond

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

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Positano on a sailboat on the Almalfi Coast

4)    Exchange Ideas with Colleagues

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

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

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In Venice for the weekend!

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

5)    Take Advantage of the Slow Internet

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

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

Ciao bella,

Lydia

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Lovely day at Agriturismo Tenuta I Colli del Trasimeno!

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

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

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

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

1. Survive spring finals.

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

2. Take advantage of your break.

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

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

3. Relax at Coors Field.

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

4. Camp.

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

5. Check out the brewery scene.

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

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

6. Take regular night hikes.

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

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The mountains are a prime location for appreciating some moonscapes.

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

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

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Blogger: Meg Kates

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

 

Regis DPT Family

What Did the Class of 2019 do Over Summer Break?

Name: Kassidy Stecklein, Class of 2019
Undergrad: Kansas State University, KS
Hometown: Hays, KS
Fun Fact: I really, really enjoy tornado weather.

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Mission trips, senior trips, and retreats, oh my! (I’m from Kansas, I just had to 🙂 ) As roughly a quarter of our class journeyed through Utah, people constantly asked us why we were all together.  When we explained to them that we were simply classmates on our week off from PT school, they were thoroughly impressed that such a large group of grad students would all like each other enough to travel together. However, anyone who currently goes or went to Regis would tell you this doesn’t shock them one bit: PT school at Regis isn’t just an education—it’s also a family.

When deciding on where I wanted to go for PT school, I knew I wanted somewhere where I would not only get an incredible education, but also get a place that I could make new memories at and feel like I was at home for the next 3 years. Regis has not only provided that, but so much more. Thinking back on the first 2 semesters of school, my initial thoughts don’t go to the countless hours spent in Claver Hall drawing the different pathways of the brain or that familiar smell of the cadaver lab; they go to the numerous adventures spent with my classmates.

During the transition from the spring to summer semesters of our first year, we were given a wonderful a weeklong break. Now, the initial thought might be to spend that week prepping for the upcoming semester or catching up on the sleep missed during those last few weeks of finals…but this was not the case with our class. Our class is always up for new adventures and spending our time to the fullest.

We all love living in this beautiful state of Colorado, but since we were given a week off, why not adventure out a little farther? About 25 of my classmates and I traveled to Zion National Park in southern Utah to make some irreplaceable memories. We packed our cars to the max (and I mean every last inch) with our sleeping bags, tents, and backpacks, and we were ready to embark on our 10-hour road trip. Lucky for us, PT school teaches you how to spend 40+ hours a week with the same group of people, so 10 hours went by like a breeze!
The first stop on our adventure was Cedar City, Utah. We used this as our last little pit stop before heading all the way to Zion the next day. Despite the forecast for storms and rain, we lucked out and were able to find an awesome campsite where we all relaxed together by the fire and began to take in the beauty we would be blessed with over the next few days.

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The start of many dinners by the fire.

Starting off on our 2nd day, we only had about an hour or so drive to our final destination outside of Zion, but our first hike of the trip happened to be on the way. Our 1st hike was Kanarra Falls, which was a perfect hike for us to start off the week. Not too long of a hike, Kanarra Falls was great for getting us back into the hiking routine. It also provided a bit of an introduction to getting comfortable with hiking through water. Traveling through slot canyons, this hike consisted of many waterfalls; it even ended with a waterfall that we could go down like a slide! After the hike, we finished our road trip outside of Zion National Park.

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Our group in the middle of the slot canyons at Kanarra Falls

 

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Climbing inside the slot canyons of Kanarra Falls

When they say teamwork makes the dream work, they weren’t kidding! This was our motto for day 3, as the trek to get to Zion was an adventure in itself. We knew the roads were expected to be a little “rough,” but that was a complete understatement. Regis is great at developing leaders and team players in the PT field, and I’d say these traits were tapped into as we worked together to get Wyatt’s Subaru down the mountain in one piece. We had people picking up and moving rocks, walking beside the car to make sure it didn’t go over the edge, and I’m pretty sure at one point we were all about to pick the car up and just try to carry it down the mountain. In the end, though, we all successfully got down; this forever remains one of the best memories. We also hiked Hidden Canyon Trail that day and saw the incredibleness that is Zion for the first time.

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Everyone got out of their cars and moved rocks to get Wyatt’s Subaru safely down the mountain!

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Hiking up Hidden Canyon

Day 4 brought about one of the hikes we had all been waiting for: The Subway. Being one of Zion’s more popular hikes, there was plenty of information to tell us to start early in the morning (typically an 8-hour hike) and avoid it when the weather is rough. We like a challenge, so (of course) we slept in and waited until afternoon to start—all while having the prediction of inclement weather and possibly flash floods. Despite the circumstances, we successfully completed this 10-mile hike through the water in a little over 4 hours, and even made it back in time to return our gear that day (the workers at the store didn’t believe that we could successfully finish it that quickly, but obviously they don’t know the determination of Regis PT students). If you ever go to Zion, this hike is a MUST: you end at a series of pools that you can swim through to make it to the final waterfall destination.

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Trekking through the Subway

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Alex leading the way through the freezing pools at the end of the Subway

Day 5 was sort of our recovery day. We had our biggest hike of the trip planned for Friday, so in preparation we did a nice short hike at the Emerald Pools. We finished the day by finding our own waterfall pool to go swim at Toquerville Falls. The road to Toquerville Falls was another adventure in itself; but once again, we like a challenge, so despite advice to turn around and people telling us our cars wouldn’t make it, we defied the odds and were able to enjoy the day!

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Toquerville Falls

Day 6 was our big finale: the 18-mile hike up the West Rim to Angel’s Landing. At this point, everyone was a little beaten up, whether it was blisters, muscle soreness, or just mentally fatigued. Either way, we were determined to complete this last hike together. There is a much shorter hike up the Angel’s Landing (5 miles roundtrip), but if PT school taught us anything, it’s that the reward is so much better when you’ve worked your tail off for it. This was by far the hardest and longest hike, but if you ask any of my classmates, it was 110% worth it.

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All of us at the top of Angel’s Landing!

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Soaking in the view after 19 miles of hiking         

If coming to Regis for PT school has taught me anything, it’s that experiences, relationships, and memories are just as important as the education you receive throughout these 3 years. As much fun as the late night study sessions and practical preparations are, it is the memories made between the class times that I will cherish forever.

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If you don’t have shorts and socks tan lines, did you really hike 18 miles?

Summer in Colorado: Dispersed Camping 101

Name: Kate Bostwick, Class of 2018
Undergrad: University of Portland, OR
Hometown: Pendleton, OR
Fun Fact: I actually enjoy doing burpees.

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First thing’s first: the answer is yes…yes, there is time to get away from Regis for a weekend and put off studying for Cliff’s neuroscience class or practicing manual therapy skills until Sunday night…AND you will still pass PT school. One of the biggest fears I had about going back to school was that I would never have any free time. Luckily, that is not the case. If you manage your time efficiently, you always have time to do the things you love. If being outdoors is one of those things—like it is for me—you will have the time to enjoy all that Colorado has to offer. In this post I have reflected (wow—Regis has rubbed off on me!) on some of my favorite weekends spent in the mountains with my fellow classmates and have put together a detailed guide for you to explore these regions on your own!

Something that you should know about me is that I am a small-town gal who gets pretty overwhelmed in the big city. Nothing makes me happier than beating the crowd and enjoying a slow-paced weekend in the mountains with some of my close friends doing some fishing, sipping a nice cold beverage by the fire, and talking about subjects far from clinical prediction rules, dermatomes or goniometry. Personally, I like roughing it a little more than staying in a busy campground for the weekend. In order to do this, my classmates and I have done some pretty fun dispersed camping trips. If you don’t know what the heck dispersed camping is, keep reading; I highly recommend it!

Dispersed Camping: What Is It?

Dispersed camping is the term used for camping anywhere in the National Forest outside of a designated campground. None of the services that are found at a campground (like potable water, trash removal, tables, firepits, etc.) can be found at these sites; they are found on public property off of National Forest Service roads and may require 4WD, depending on the location. Dispersed camping is FREE (yay for free things in grad school!) and requires you to bring all of your own gear. Although this seems like a free-for-all, there are rules that you must abide by:

  1. Place your campsite at least 100 feet from any stream/water source
  2. Leave no trace: you must pack out everything you pack in
  3. Be bear aware: store food in bear canisters…and just be cognizant of those dang bears cuz they’re out there!
  4. Drive on existing roads and try to camp in already designated dispersed areas

    Weekend Getaway to Buena Vista
    (2 hr 40 min from Denver)

If you’re looking for a drive with a beautiful view and plenty of options for camping, fishing, and hiking, look no further than this route to Buena Vista, CO!

Directions: I-70 W past Frisco, then to CO-91 S which turns to US-24 E.

Fishing: Twin Lakes are home to numerous brown, rainbow, cutthroat and lake trout. It is a great place for shore fishing and has access to the Arkansas River close by. The Arkansas lies just across US-24 E and has public access at several points along this highway.

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Fishing at Twin Lakes

Camping: About 6 miles south from Twin Lakes down US-24 E is Clear Creek Reservoir. Turn right onto CO Rd 390 and travel a few miles west (past private property) and you will see plenty of dispersed camping sites down by the river and up the hill on the base of the mountain. Be aware that there is no cell phone service–so be prepared to have a relaxing weekend without that iPhone 🙂

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Camping up past Clear Creek Reservoir

Hiking a 14er: If you continue down CO Rd 390 you will come upon the trailhead for a trifecta of 14ers: Mt. Belford, Mt. Missouri and Mt. Oxford. While I have not done this hike, it is a beautiful and challenging option for 14er-seekers. Remember to research your trail if you do decide to complete this voyage—it’s a long one!

Hiking to Ptargamin Lake: if you go back on US-24 E and head south towards Buena Vista, turn right on CO Rd 306 and head ~15 miles to the trailhead. This is a 2.74 mile hike with options for backcountry camping at the top–not to mention a large lake full of beautiful brook trout!

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Ptarmagin Lake

Breckenridge Beauty:
(1 hr 45 min from Denver)

Directions: I-70 W to CO 9 S to Breckenridge. From Breckenridge, drive 8 miles south on CO 9 and turn right on CO Rd 850; after a few hundred yards turn right on to CO Rd 851. Quandary’s Peak trailhead will be about 0.1 mi up the road on the left with parking on the right.

Camping: Follow the above directions but go past the trailhead on CO Rd 851 up the hill and there are many spots off of this road that you can camp. If you do a little scouting, there are some pretty sweet spots to set up camp on both sides of the road.

Fishing: Instead of turning right on to CO Rd 851, continue left and head towards Blue Lakes Reservoir for fishing of any kind. There are rainbow, cutthroat and brook trout in this reservoir and it can be accessed right off the shore at the base of Quandary Peak!

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Evening at Blue Lakes Reservoir (Amanda, me, Karlee and Taylor)

Hiking Quandary Peak 14er: 14,265’: highest summit of the Tenmile Range in the Rocky Mountains. The 6.75 miles round trip hike should not be overlooked because of its short distance. This is a challenging hike with exposure and, like any 14er, variable weather to be aware of…so do your research before you head out!

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Karlee and me at the top of Quandary’s Peak (60 mph winds not pictured)

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Buffalo Creek Campin’
(1 hr 10 min from Denver)

Directions: Take I-70 W to CO 470 E to 285 S, travel past Conifer and take a left onto Pine Valley/Deckers Road (CO 126) travel ~14 miles until you see a turn off for Wellington Lake/Buffalo Creek Recreation Area on the right, CO 550.
Camping: Along this road (CO Rd 550), travel until you find a spot that you like. You will see parking signs scattered along the road that have pullouts for your car/truck and campsites around them. You can take your pick of these sites for multiple miles; so if there is a crowd, just keep driving until you have room to yourself.

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Pitstop off of the Colorado Trail near our campsite

Fishing: Cheesman Canyon Trailhead is located 7 miles south of the CO 550 turn off on CO 126. Here, you can hike in to access South Platte River for some of the best fishing on this section of the river. I love this: because you have to hike in to access spots on the river, it’s  a little less crowded on a nice weekend as opposed to fishing right off the road.

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South Platte fishing access in Cheesman Canyon

Hiking: Along road CO 550, there are multiple access points to the Colorado Trail that you can hike any distance on. A few of the dispersed sites back right up to the trail—like ours did—which makes it super accessible.

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Happy campers (Karlee and me)

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5 Ways to Impress During Your Practical Exams

 

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

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

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

 

  1. Take deep breaths.

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

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Sky Pond hike with my classmates

 

  1. Speak slowly and confidently.

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

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

  1. Mental AND Physical Rehearsal.

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

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My first 14er, Mt. Bierstadt!

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

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

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Move Forward 5K

  1. Believe in yourself.

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

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

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

Email: aferguson002@regis.edu

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Weekend break at Grizzly Rose for some line dancing!

 

How to Conquer Time Management

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

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Sarina is a full-time student and competitive dancer

You dance. Why?

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

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

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

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Sarina competed in Japan over the winter break

What does your typical week look like?

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

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Sarina in Downtown Denver

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

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Sarina with some of her Class of 2018 classmates

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

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

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

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

 

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