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!

 

April Recap: 3rd Annual Talent Show

April is one of the busiest months for PT students! Whether it’s your first or last year, it’s a time of studying, planning your future, and–of course–a time to get to know your classmates even better.

First and Second Years:

Somehow, between all of the practicals, midterms and class, our first and second years had time to come together for the 3rd Annual Talent Show! It was a refreshing reminder that we’re more than just students: we all have other talents and interests that keep us fresh and focused in the classroom.  There was both a performance and visual arts competition; prizes included gift cards to REI (we are in Colorado, of course!) and tickets for a whitewater rafting trip, to a TEDx weekend, and to Cirque du Soleil!

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Special thanks to:

Organizers: Kimi Bengochea and Michael Young

MC: Michael Young

Team: Lydia Hamstra, Brianna Henggeler, Ashley King, and Rachel Maass

Funding: Dave Law, the Director of Student Activities

Watch the talent show in its entirety online! 

Part 1 * Part 2Part 3 * Part 4 * Part 5 *

Third Years: 

The third years wrapped up their LAST clinical rotation, most took the NPTE (fingers crossed!), and now they are presenting their capstone and research presentations before graduation next weekend. Congrats, almost grads!

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Some third years (and other SPTs and PTs) finishing off their 3-month clinical with their advisor, Shelene Thomas (left)

Blogger: Carol Passarelli

April Recap: National Advocacy Dinner

Name: Grace-Marie Vega, Class of 2019
Undergrad: Arizona State University
Hometown: Placentia, California
Fun Fact: One time, I drove a fire truck.

image1.JPGIf you were there on April 12, 2017, you hardly need me to recount the evening to you, but if you were not, here’s what you missed at this year’s Denver National Advocacy Dinner. First, allow me to set the scene. Room 210 of Claver hall, around dusk. As you walk into the room, you are immediately impressed by the free pizza AND La Croix. You look around and realize you are in the company of well-dressed professionals, esteemed professors, and the most promising physical therapy students in all of North America. You are here partially to avoid yet another night of diligent and thorough studying, but in a truer, more important sense, to get a handle on professional advocacy and how you as a student can become involved.

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The evening opened with an introduction from Dr. Ira Gorman. “Politics: you can’t ignore it, because it won’t ignore you!” And of course, he is right. Advocacy is inherently and perhaps lamentably inextricable from policy. Dr. Gorman went on to explain that in physical therapy, advocacy happens on different levels: at the level of the patient, the professional, the professional organization, and the healthcare environment as a whole. All of these levels are effected by legislation, and legislation can be effected by you. Dr. Gorman outlined political advocacy in a sequence of steps to follow.

First, you must arm yourself with knowledge. This can mean simply being aware of your professional organization, local government officials, and media you can utilize or connect with. The next step is research. This involves investigation of the issue you’re interested in, typically in the form of reading into the specifics and history of proposed legislation, and knowing a little about allies and opponents of that legislation. Then comes implementation. This means taking political action, possibly in the form of writing letters to or visiting elected officials, getting patient testimony, or connecting with legislative staff. The last step is reflection. Ultimately, healthcare reform will not happen by itself. It is up to you to be part of the creation of a system that best serves you and your patients. Your vote and your participation in democracy absolutely matters.

After Dr. Gorman’s talk, Dr. Hope Yasbin, Federal Affairs Liaison for the Colorado chapter of the APTA, talked to us about her own experiences in advocacy. Dr. Yasmin gave us the run down on a few of the biggest issues currently effecting our profession, including:

  • Repeal of the Medicare Therapy Cap: an arbitrary dollar amount limiting outpatient physical therapy and speech therapy coverage.
  • The PT Workforce Bill: which would incentivize PTs to build careers in underserved areas by offering loan forgiveness.
  • The SAFE PLAY Act: which sets up school districts with concussion education for young athletes.
  • The #ChoosePT campaign: an initiative to combat the prescription opioid epidemic.

If you would like more information on any of these topics, you might consider checking out the APTA action center webpage, and downloading the APTA Action app.

Following Dr. Yasmin was Regis’ own Ryan Tollis, a second year student and government affairs committee member. Ryan was chosen to attend this year’s Federal Advocacy Forum, a 2-day adventure/visit to Washington DC during which students, physical therapists, and lobbyists represent our profession and meet with elected officials. By Ryan’s account, it was a whirlwind of networking, briefing, and nonstop political action. Attending events like this is an awesome way to get involved, but there are other ways too.  You can:

To wrap up what was, by all accounts, a thoroughly informative and enjoyable evening, Dr. Cameron MacDonald reminded us that advocacy that best serves the public is when professionals in every field are practicing at the top of their scope. It is our right and duty to be bold in the development of our profession, and to take ownership of the skills we work hard to learn in order to offer the best service we can to our patients. In summation, physical therapy has grown to be what it is today due to the efforts of our professional organization, and the advocacy of many therapists before us. The future of our profession will depend on the work we do to advance it.

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By the end of the evening, you are very satisfied with the food (obviously), but even more so with yourself, for leaving as a more informed person than you were when you arrived. You tell yourself you will definitely be coming back next year, and you will be bringing all your friends.

Thanks to everyone who attended!

Special thanks to:

Speakers: Dr. Ira Gorman, Dr. Cameron MacDonald, and Dr. Hope Yasbin

Coordinators: Carol Passarelli and Ryan Tollis

Team: Kiki Anderton, Brianna Henggeler, Rachel Maass, Katie Ragle, Grace-Marie Vega

Funding: Dave Law and the Graduate Student Council, Dr. Mark Reinking and the Regis School of Physical Therapy

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Coming to PT School From Another Career

 

Quite a few of our classmates came to physical therapy school after 1, 2, or even 3 previous careers! Laura and Tara are academic all-stars, wonderful additions to our Class of 2018 cohort, and have some of the coolest past experiences out there.  

Name: Laura Baker, Class of 2018
Undergrad: University of New Hampshire, Durham
Hometown: Seville, Ohio
Fun Fact: During college, I studied abroad in Tamil Nadu, India!

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Name: Tara Businski, Class of 2018
Undergrad: Bates College
Hometown: East Lansing, MI
Fun Fact: I have swum in 4 of the world’s 5 oceans.

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First off, tell me about yourself. 

Laura: I grew up on a small farm in Ohio. My father raised hogs and grew crops while my mom operated a strawberry business. Much to the delight of the unsuspecting customers, chaos ensued when piglets escaped from their pens and ran straight for the berry patch.

I chose UNH for my undergraduate degree because of their intriguing curriculum and to chase after the ocean and mountains. I received a resource economics degree that laid the foundation for my natural resource conservation career. After graduation, I spent a year in Queensland, Australia as an intern studying resource economics of tropical rainforest re-forestation. I chose my next job as a forest conservation activist based on running: the people of Ketchikan, Alaska informed me that there were miles of trails (and black bears and wolves were rarely problematic). So there I went–Alaska or bust! I spent the next 11 years working various conservation jobs in Alaska with the majority of my time being spent at The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Juneau.

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Laura doing some plant surveying for TNC

Tara: I grew up in Michigan, went to college in Maine, then moved to Newfoundland to study biological oceanography. After 4 years of graduate school, I joined the Marine Corps to be a helicopter pilot. I stayed in that job for almost 9 years, then resigned to come to PT school.

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Tara’s Christmas in Afghanistan

When did PT first catch your eye as a future career? 

Laura: I’ve had a number of encounters with physical therapists, most resulting from mundane, physics-gone-wrong scenarios: a torn ACL here, a nagging hamstring injury there, a helluva whiplash and concussion situation, etc.

After I turned 30, I felt like I had lost the passion for working in the natural resource field; I quit my job and travelled for a year. Several months into drinking wine and picking olives in Italy, I found myself unhappy with my state of uncertainty.  I knew that physical therapy was a profession with attributes that aligned well with my values and goals: a specific and defined skill set, available work in remote areas of Alaska, and getting to support others’ well-being in a tangible way. It seemed like the perfect next step!

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Laura on the job in AK

Tara: When I was considering post-military careers, I was looking for an intellectual challenge and a consistent schedule. I had a biology degree, a Pilates teaching certificate, and a little medical background from my time as an EMT and as a search and rescue volunteer. Physical therapy seemed like a logical extension of these experiences. I’m excited about the new challenges, variety at work, and job prospects.

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Talk about a cool past career! 

Describe how you went from thinking about PT as a career and getting into PT school.

Laura: I came back to Alaska to work odd jobs and sent myself back to school for the basic sciences. I shadowed physical therapists in various settings in Anchorage and Juneau and gave myself 2 years to get accepted into PT school. If, within that time frame, I was not accepted to a program, I figured it was not meant to be and that I would return to the conservation world with new goals and intentions.

Tara: I observed in an outpatient clinic on the base where I was stationed for a handful of hours, but was unable to get very many hours due to work demands. I also took anatomy and physiology at the local community college in the evenings. After I decided on Regis for PT school, I was able to get more observation time at the naval hospital in San Diego. That experience was invaluable and has had a major impact on my interests within the PT profession.

What is an unexpected challenge in PT school?

Laura: I could not have anticipated how much I miss the relationships I had built during my time in Alaska. Also, I’m giving up years of income and will be facing a level of financial instability that makes me squeamish. However, I am completely energized by my motivated classmates, committed faculty, and opportunities that I could not have otherwise imagined!

Tara: Group work across generations. I didn’t even have dial-up internet until high school! While I am proficient with technology, messaging and social media are not as natural to me as for many of my classmates. I like meeting face-to-face much more than messaging…And how many different messaging apps do I really need, anyway? Can’t all my different groups just use the same one? Modes of communication that appear effortless to others take extra time and energy for me to work with

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Tara and Laura take a study break on their bikes

What’s an unexpected awesome part of PT school?

Laura: I am thrilled about the professional and leadership development offered within the curriculum at Regis.

Tara: Being on the puppy raising team!

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Laura: My plan is to practice in southeast Alaska where towns are located among the islands. I cannot say if I will be in a specific clinic, providing tele-medicine, or traveling on the ferry or floatplane to treat people in remote areas. I can say that I am looking forward to settling back into life in Alaska where everyone moves just a little slower than in the big city and where patients compete to bring you their finest smoked salmon.

Tara: Denver–I don’t want to move any more! I’m interested in working with patients with neurologic health conditions so I’d like to be in a rehab center or hospital.

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Tara and Laura sip some cocktails and study for a neuro test

What pieces of advice do you have to incoming students (particularly those coming from another field)?

 

Laura: My advice to incoming “career-changer” DPT students is to practice patience with yourself and others and to recognize that your skills and experience from previous work add significant value to this field.

Tara: Beware of hubris. You bring life experience and maturity to your new profession but you’re still a novice. On the flip side, don’t sell yourself short. You may be new to PT, but have confidence in your new skills and use your life experience to improve communication with your patients and to manage time.

Also, homework sucks. However, when you think nostalgically about being able to leave work behind at the end of the day, remind yourself that school work is helping you become good at your new job. Also, it lasts less than 3 years, so you’ll get back to the real world soon (or so I believe)!

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Questions for the bloggers? Email Tara at tbusinski@regis.edu or Laura at lbaker@regis.edu.

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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Why Become a Physical Therapist?

 

Name: Nathaniel Pryor, Class of 2019
Undergrad: Regis University
Hometown: Deposit, NY
Fun Fact: I love completing ruck marches of ridiculous lengths for charity. Longest to date is 32 miles.

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After a 48-hour mission in Afghanistan

       It was the second day of a 3-day air assault in Afghanistan. Our platoon was busy searching houses in 120-degree weather. The sun was beating intensely and we were running deadly low on water. We decided to set up a defensive position in a house while waiting for an airdrop of water and ammunition. During this lull in activity, a command came down to search the village across from our stronghold. My squad was slated to complete the next clearing mission, but everyone had their gear off and was not prepared. One of the fellow squads, led by my best friend, decided to take this mission. This decision would end up becoming one that I will forever regret. My best friend stepped on an IED and lost his life along with the lives of two of our other platoon mates.

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2nd platoon, Charlie Company, 1-12 Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 4th ID

That day caused a fundamental change in my thinking and purpose on this earth. It was that day I realized I needed to do something greater with my life–something that wouldn’t allow the deaths of my brothers to be in vain. It wasn’t until we returned from Afghanistan that I figured out what that higher purpose was; I entered the medical retirement program with a fellow soldier from my company who had an above knee amputation sustained from stepping on an IED. The lack of care and meaningful treatment was repulsive. It was like a light bulb went off and I finally realized what my life mission was. This newly found insight led me to the decision of becoming a physical therapist. This would allow me to still serve “with” my fellow brothers and sisters, all while providing a level of treatment and understanding they aren’t receiving on a consistent basis.

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On patrol in Afghanistan. Sometimes in the most horrible situations, all you can do is smile.

I was stationed in Colorado at that time, but am originally from upstate NY. The plan was to go back to NY to complete my undergraduate degree and then apply to a DPT program. However, after talking with a few peers at the VA, I ended up contacting Dr. Cliff Barnes (anatomy and neuroscience professor) at Regis University. I talked to him about my past experiences in the military, why I wanted to become a PT, and what my future goals were. He suggested I apply to Regis for my undergraduate degree. I can honestly say that attending Regis for my undergraduate degree was one of the best decisions of my life. Regis is not just a school—it’s a family of like-minded individuals who do everything in their power to help you become successful and realize your full potential.

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Planting trees in the Costa Rican rainforest after a month of primate research

Being a Jesuit University, Regis is very focused on the core Jesuit values. Two of these are particularly important to me: service and care for the whole person. While in undergrad, I participated in many service opportunities ranging from flood cleanups and judging sixth grade science fairs to being an advocate and speaker on issues facing veterans. These service opportunities showed me the importance of taking an active role in your community and helping people heal in whatever way you can. These values have become engrained as part of who I am as a person and how I want to practice physical therapy. The DPT program has further shown me how essential these values are for increasing the impact we have as PT practitioners. Regis’ focus on holistic care and looking at each patient as an individual has changed my perspective on how to care for the whole person by considering their individual goals, needs, and wants when determining proper treatment prescription.

Good luck everyone on finals and to the incoming first years on your housing hunt. Pura Vida!!!

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Diesel, my service pup, learning how to palpate vertebrae

 

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Sarah, Steph and me checking out the Christmas lights at the botanical gardens

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Anatomy lab group celebrating the end of our last final of our first semester with a trip to see the Nutcracker

 

 

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Thanksgiving: DPT style

 

 

How to Find Your Work-Life Balance in PT School

Name: Tom Sears, Class of 2019
Undergrad: Wheeling Jesuit University
Hometown: Moundsvill, WV
Fun Fact: I once gave a ten minute impromptu (and decidedly silly) speech about apples for an undergraduate class.

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The ultimate question for me once I found the perfect PT school (Regis) was:

How do I balance the rigors of PT school with my family, friends, and all the responsibilities that accompany everyday life?

This is the question. So, what is the (your) answer?

Well, to begin… I am fortunate enough to be blessed with a beautiful wife, a dog and cat (the cat is temperamental and bites for no apparent reason), and a house (and the lovely mortgage and maintenance that goes along with it). Oh, and my wife and I are in the process of adopting a child! And, well, I have friends and hobbies and I even like to workout on a regular basis.

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My dog Rufus’ puppy graduation

So, how does one achieve this so-called balance? The most important piece of advice I can give you is to surround yourself with a good support system. Let your friends know that your life is changing (for the better) and you will need them to be patient with you. Ask them to check in with you on how studies are going, to celebrate with you when you do find the time (celebrate that anatomy lab practical being over!), to understand when you have to turn down their invite to try line dancing at the Grizzly Rose, and to be there when you need to decompress.

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Tom plays music with his brother to de-stress

My wife has been SO supportive of my endeavor, and for me this was imperative. Be sure your spouse or significant other is forewarned of the change that’s about to take place. If you don’t have an “other,” let your family and closest friends know. They likely cannot fully appreciate what the experience is like, but have this talk…Let them know you will need them by your side. You will be in school much of the day and studying more frequently than you ever have before. You won’t always be as available as you would like. Get them on board! And perhaps best of all, be prepared to meet some truly awesome new people. These are perhaps the only people in your life that will truly understand what this experience is like. You may be amazed to see how quickly you become close with your classmates. Lean on them!

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Service learning with my classmates

The other essential part of work-life balance: develop a routine—a routine that fits with your needs. This, of course, will be difficult to determine at first. But alas my young apprentice, it will come. This may mean planning your days out to allow for your studies or for time to relax/decompress. Think forward to your assignments that are due and allot enough time to finish them.

I have talked with 2nd and 3rd years (much wiser and more experienced than I) and for a few of these folks their answer revolved around boundaries and separation. They would arrive to school at 7 AM and leave at 5 or 6 PM. During this time they would study with absolute focus. You know, the kind that doesn’t involve watching Youtube clips, posting tweets, or watching a ball game in the background (okay—guilty as charged!). And when they came home, they were with their family and friends. Truly with them. This was not my answer, but it could be yours.

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Professional Ceremony with my family

My answer was not so easily developed at first. I have a dog at home who had not been out for 8+ hours, and thus I feel the need after class to return home to let my beloved furry friend out for a long walk. I then return to my studies before joining my family for a nice conversation and an episode of Game of Thrones.

Whatever your familial and personal needs are, plan accordingly and give time to them.

The next key to work-life balance: build into your routine a time for rest. Whether you’re parking your gluteus maximus, medius (and other various muscles) in your most comfortable seat to watch the weekly Steelers game, checking out one of the local breweries with your peers, or enjoying the wondrous outdoor activities that Colorado has to offer, find the mental and physical space you need to completely unplug from schoolwork.  No matter how much time you spend on studying, you may never feel like you are as on top of the material as you would like to be. But trust me: this time will refresh your mind, reinvigorate your resolve, and ultimately help you to perform optimally in PT school.

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Fireworks night with the Colorado Rockies!

Oh ya—and there is this thing called exercise. Chances are you’re a fan (or will at least be soon). Some of my peers elect to put this on the back burner. I would strongly suggest keeping exercise in your routine. For me, blasting some 1975, John Legend, or Tool and going for a run is the perfect way to clear my mind and prepare me for a night of studying.

It is well worth an hour of your time to keep your routine, practice what you preach, and prepare your mind not just to cram, but retain the material at hand. This will bring you closer to your future success as a PT.

Your routine may take time to develop, but that’s okay. If you had all the answers to achieving optimal balance for success in your new PT career right now, you would be the first! Be steadfast in your resolve and be flexible. Prioritize your needs and you will find your answer!

Meet Maggie McKenna: Why Regis?

Name: Maggie McKenna, Class of 2019
Undergrad: University of Dayton
Hometown: LaGrange, IL
Fun Fact: I’ve been skydiving twice!

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Deciding where to go for a Doctor of Physical Therapy education is a big, life-changing decision…but also a very exciting one! Unlike some of my classmates, I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for at first, so my decision process took time. In the end, though, it was Regis that caught my heart and it hasn’t let go since.

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Service Learning!

Here are a few (of many) noteworthy reasons I ultimately chose Regis:

The faculty: I remember being very impressed with the faculty on my interview day, and my admiration for them has only grown in my short time here. All are experts in their specific fields of study, in addition to being involved in many leadership positions throughout the APTA. Most notably, our professors know us as individuals and treat us as equals. They respect and listen to our insights, questions, and concerns and do their best to support us any way possible.

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On top of Breckenridge Mountain with classmates

Colorado: I am from and went to undergrad in the Midwest (Go Flyers!), and was ready for a change of place…and altitude! I traded in the gray, flat, windy Midwest (still love you, home) for three years of sunny days, mountain views, and powder-filled weekends. I was drawn to the mountains and the breathtaking playground it offers.  And when I do miss city life, downtown Denver is just a ten-minute drive away. There is something for everyone here in Colorado! I’ve been here six months and there is still so much more to see and explore—mountains and city alike!

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On top of Mt. Bierstadt!

Jesuit Values: Catholic education is very important to me (17 years and counting!), but by no means do you have to be Catholic or religious to attend Regis. I was drawn to the Catholic education and values that Regis and the Jesuit community stand for because they are ones I hope to embody both as a physical therapist and in life. Through our professors, peers, and curriculum we are encouraged to exemplify these values by caring for the whole person, providing service locally, nationally, and globally, as well as being leaders in our field, practicing with integrity, and collaborating with other professionals.

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Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park on a weekend

Regis was and is the right place for me; I absolutely love it! I chose the place that would help me be the best version of myself, and encourage you all to do the same with your exciting decision ahead. We at Regis are hopeful it will lead you here!

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Sky Pond, RMNP

Why Regis DPT?

Name: Chris Cook, Class of 2019
Undergrad: University of Colorado – Boulder
Hometown: Tustin, Ca
Fun Fact: I got paid to sail in the Sea of Cortez for 3 and a half weeks.

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Life is full of choices. Whether or not we realize it, we’re perpetually deciding between A and B–or C, D, and E for that matter. Choosing a PT program happens to be a monumental choice that at the very least will determine where you live and the people you will spend the next 3 years of your life with. That being said, I was already sold on the location (gorgeous campus in Northwest Denver?? Yes, please!), but I chose Regis because this program seemingly offered more than just an education and a desirable location. Before the interview, I didn’t know much more than what the website could offer and frankly, Regis wasn’t at the top of my list. I sought advice and counsel on how to choose a PT school from many DPTs and SPTs throughout the year-long application process. A common theme surfaced: go to the cheapest school because it doesn’t matter in the end. Naturally, I took this advice to heart and ranked my school list based on tuition and cost of living. While I respect this advice and understand its reasoning, I now wholeheartedly disagree. I believe these 3 years are more than just learning how to pass the NPTE; they are critical to my development as a well-rounded and mindful PT.

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Spectacular study breaks that never cease to amaze #NoFilter #ThisIsRegis

My first impression of Regis occurred on interview day. I can’t speak for many other PT programs, but from my experience I can say that Regis values applicants as a whole and this becomes evident the moment you arrive on campus. The interview process was less like an interview and more like a first date: the interviewers just wanted to get to know me and have a good conversation. As a result of this admissions strategy, the people who choose to come here become more than just fellow students, they become friends you look up to and respect, and individuals you seek help and advice from. These are the people with whom you’ll look forward to exploring the many pubs and breweries of Denver, or playing in and around the beautiful Rocky Mountains despite spending countless hours indoors suffering together through mind numbing statistics and anatomy study sessions. We chose Regis and Regis chose us not because of a few words you happen to string together into an essay or an infamously two digit number that somehow only goes up to 4.0… We chose Regis because the faculty and staff are unimaginably supportive and display a vested interest in each and every one of us. Instead of calling our faculty “Dr. So-and-So”, they prefer we call them by their first names because they respect and interact with us as future colleagues rather than subordinates.

Believe me, Regis is not for everyone. We are expected to become leaders in the field of Physical Therapy and we are constantly reminded to reflect on every aspect of our lives including our own personalities and how it may affect others. At Regis, building a foundation for a career as a PT is more than learning anatomy and biomechanics: it’s about continuing to develop character, compassion, and empathy for others. Serving our community and global health are integral parts of the curriculum and work-life balance is a daily encouragement from everyone including faculty and staff.

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Celebrating the completion of the first semester at Local 46

Sure, a relatively low cost private school education with great facilities at the base of the Rocky Mountains is undeniably appealing. But more importantly, I chose Regis because of the individuals: faculty, staff, and students alike. This is a community of like-minded people willing to go out of their way to ensure everyone feels supported and that we are given every opportunity to succeed in this journey to becoming a physical therapist. I chose Regis because I believe we’re all called to become more than just PTs, and the Regis community fosters an environment that enables and challenges us to strive for more than what is expected of us.

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Takia, our service dog (in training)!

P.S. They give you a well-behaved dog that you get to take to class! What’s not to love about that??

Finding Your Work-Life Balance in PT School

 

Name: Katherine Koch, Class of 2019
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Undergrad: Ohio State University
Fun Fact: I’ve run two marathons!

                 Profile Pic.jpg               Physical therapy school is tough; that’s true no matter where you go. You’ll be challenged more than you were before and in ways you never were before—academically, intellectually, emotionally, existentially…the list goes on and gets even more dramatic. However, when you go to PT school at Regis and you’re living in Colorado, life gets simultaneously better and tougher. The upside is that you have a seemingly endless outdoor playground to frolic around on, and the downside is that you can’t spend all of your time doing that.

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Some of the Class of 2019 conquering a weekend hike

I grew up in Cleveland—the land of Lebron, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and the river that caught fire. Even though Cleveland rocks, Denver stole my heart pretty much as soon as the plane touched down. And, my first winter living in Colorado has proven again and again that this is where I want to be! Living near mountains provides the perfect pasture for snow bunnies to hop around with skis, snowboards, snowshoes, or just in hiking boots.  It seems as if the sun is always out (a welcome change from the dreary Midwest), and the motivation to go outside and get active is hard to ignore—especially with the free outdoor rentals at Regis!  If mountains aren’t your thing, Denver is a vibrant metropolis filled with fantastic local restaurants, breweries, museums, parks, and more. As biomechanics professor Dr. Erika Nelson-Wong likes to say, “it’s a beautiful day in Colorado,” and Erika is almost never wrong.

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Katherine and her classmates climb a 14er–Mt. Bierstadt!

So: the mountains are great, Denver is  a super cool city, and…what anatomy exam?? Like I said, PT school at Regis will challenge you in a myriad of ways, one of the foremost being time management. As much as I love exploring the city and the outdoors, there are days when I feel like I barely see that enduring sunlight. Classes are long and the work can be arduous. That’s why I’m pretty sure the phrase “work hard, play hard” was invented by a former Regis graduate. We work incredibly hard to become the best clinicians we can be, but we also know that work-life balance is precious and  we must strive to maintain it. On our first day of orientation, foot/ankle master Dr. Tom McPoil urged us to take one day out of the week to not prioritize school, but instead to prioritize everything else. I personally take every Saturday to not even think about school; I go hiking or for a long run or have a movie marathon or explore downtown or literally anything else—but I forget about school for a day. Then, the rest of the week, I have the energy and motivation to focus on school.

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A Halloween study break

While Saturday is a saving grace, weekdays aren’t totally lost to school and studying. No matter how interesting the class is or how captivating the professor is (which they all are!), sometimes it’s tough to sit in class all day and then go home and study. There are many evenings where a group of classmates will check out a new brewery, get some air at the trampoline gym, play pick-up sports, or explore the restaurants on nearby Tennyson Street. Most Denver museums have free admission days once a month; I love checking them out!  Regardless of what your hobbies are, it’s easy to find something you will love.

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Celebrating Josh’s (front and center) birthday at Sky Zone last week with the classmates!

I think Regis is wonderfully unique in that we are encouraged to embody the concept of “cura personalis.” You’ll be intimately familiar with this phrase by the end of your first semester, as we are often reminded that one small part of the body is tightly intertwined with the rest of the body, the mind, and the spirit. We learn to be physical therapists who practice this care for the entire person with our patients and with ourselves. I know that I will not be the best physical therapist I can be if I don’t reward my hard work with some well-deserved time off. Most of my classmates, including myself, were fortunate enough to have multiple options of schools to choose from, and I’m sure I could have gone to any school I was accepted to and worked hard to succeed. However, I came to Regis—and to Colorado—because I knew I would learn how to become an outstanding physical therapist while also becoming the best possible version of myself. And after countless hikes, one 14er climbed, falling on my face 6 times while skiing, 2 excursions to local breweries, 1 snowshoeing experience, 1 trip to the Denver Botanic Gardens, and meeting some of the best friends I could ask for, I’ll say with 100% confidence that I made the right choice.

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Ugly Holiday Sweater party after finishing first semester

What is the Regis DPT Interview Like?

Name: Monika Teter, Class of 2019
Hometown: Los Alamos, NM
Undergrad: Colorado State University
Fun Fact: I had a 5th wisdom tooth that had to be removed in 5th grade!

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            We all remember sitting down for hours at a time: filling out PT school applications, finally hitting the daunting submit button, and then that overwhelming joy we felt when we got our first interview invitation. I can’t believe my interview experience was already a year ago! The entire application process is a rollercoaster of emotions, but my experience with Regis’ interview put my nerves at ease and stood out from the rest of the schools I applied to. From the moment I stepped onto campus that snowy Monday afternoon, I felt a sense of belonging that I hadn’t felt at any other school. The interview process exposed unique facets of Regis’ program including the sense of community, the school’s dedication to the PT field, supportive faculty and students, unique involvement opportunities, and the program’s adaptability to unpredictable situations.

            My interview at Regis was one of the most memorable of my interviews—not only because of the people I met and conversations I had, but because of the blizzard that ensued that day. Though Regis provided the option to do a phone interview if we thought it was too dangerous to travel, I decided to attend the interview anyway since I was in Colorado at the time. I braved the drive from Fort Collins to Denver in my suit and red plaid snow boots armed with four-wheel drive and going over potential interview questions in my head. I was unbelievably nervous! The storm inevitably resulted in the early closure of campus and a shortened interview day. This could have caused mass chaos, but I was impressed by the adaptability of the Regis PT community to expedite the interview process without jeopardizing our time and experience. The organizers made sure every applicant had a fair chance regardless of the barrier Mother Nature concocted. They were able to calmly adapt to an unpredictable situation, which is a valuable skill in this field. Additionally, the current Regis PT students offered up their homes for interviewees to stay until they were able to safely get home. This kindness expressed by current students and the flexibility of the program spoke volumes to me, and I knew this was a program I wanted to be a part of.

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Enjoying the CO sunshine on days off!

            Weather aside, the interview process was a wonderful representation of the program. I was able to get a sense that this was a PT family and everyone was here to support each other. The students spoke nothing but good things regarding the faculty, and I understood why when I met several of them. Each and every one of the faculty radiated dedication to the field as they talked about their passions and areas of research during the faculty-interviewee mixer. We talked about the Peru trip Heidi was preparing to take students to as part of their global immersions trip. We chatted with Marcia and learned about her breadth of research in leadership, clinical development, and management of neurological disorders. I talked with Larisa in my interview regarding my love for volunteering and how the service learning here at Regis would fill that particular passion in my life. Talking to the faculty here at Regis was surprisingly easy in the stressful environment interviews can create. They were attentive and were interested in getting to know me as a person deeper than just my academic accomplishments.

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My mentor, grand-mentor and me at the welcome BBQ

          Regis also wanted to give us a peak at what our daily lives would look like as a PT student by taking us into the anatomy lab and having us sit in on a class. I remember walking into the anatomy lab where students talked about their experiences with cadavers as they pointed out structures on the brains. We also had the opportunity to participate in a postural assessment and wheelchair transfer lab in PT Exam. I remember looking at the students in awe thinking that I would hopefully one day be doing the exact same lab. These two unique experiences set Regis apart, and I was sold!

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Some of us first years enjoying our day off

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9thHealth Fair for Service Learning

         I went home that day bubbling with excitement. I had found my ideal program that matched my values, and I was hopeful they saw something in me that would complement their program. The day I got my acceptance letter, I was elated to call Regis my home. I have become part of a class full of brilliant minds and kind souls. These incredible people push me to be better, to stay that extra hour after class, to help maintain my sanity by going on a hike, and keep me motivated during hectic weeks. I have made some incredible friendships and have had some amazing experiences so far.

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Friendsgiving with the PT Fam!

         There are several wonderful programs out there, but something resonated with me the day I left the interview at Regis. It is truly an amazing community composed of unique perspectives nestled in the most supportive environment. I am happy to call Regis my home and my PT family.

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The Professional Ceremony inducts us into the Regis DPT program at the beginning of the semester.

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Our anatomy lab group–celebrating the end of the semester at the Nutcracker!

Interview FAQ for the Incoming Class of 2020

Now that we’re nearing the end of January, interview weekend is almost upon us! I can’t wait to meet this year’s prospective students, and I know everyone else in our Regis DPT community is excited as well.

For everyone about to interview, I know the next few days can be stressful to say the least.  If anyone is having trouble ignoring that nagging fear of bombing the interview and never being accepted anywhere, I was in the exact same boat last year! I know the nerves are hard to shake, but looking back, that was an unrealistic fear and there was really no reason to worry. I got the sense that everyone at Regis wanted me to feel welcome and comfortable, and I hope everyone this year feels the same way. My interview at Regis ended up being fun and exciting—and it put some of my worries at ease.

I’ve gotten some questions from prospective students, so Carol, Lindsay (the Class of 2018 and 2017 admissions representatives) and I compiled these answers to some of the most repeated inquiries.  I hope this helps you assuage any concerns you may have!

Q: Should I bring anything to the interview (pen, portfolio, resume, notepad, etc.)?

A: No need to bring anything. You will receive a folder and pen, information about Regis, and a water bottle.  Of course, you’re welcome to bring your own paper and pen, but there’s no need.  Some people like having a notepad to jot down questions for the faculty or interesting things they learned throughout the day, but it is completely your own preference.

Q: Are there any questions that stumped you or caught you off guard? What types of interview questions should I expect?

A: Though I don’t remember specific questions, I do remember the feeling I got from the interviews. It seemed like a fluid conversation. In other words, I did not feel like I was being drilled with questions at all.  I really mean it when I say to be yourself as much as you can be. Regis is unique in the fact that they really look for people’s character during the interview, rather than solely admitting people for grades and GRE scores. When the faculty asks you questions, they are not seeking a right or wrong answer. They are seeking to learn who YOU are and how you communicate.

Q: What should I expect from the group interview format?

A: The group interview will consist of 2 faculty members and 3 candidates. It is set up to be a fluid, facilitated discussion.

Q: What will the whole day be like?

A: Everyone will go through five different “stations,” so to speak. You will have your interview, a campus tour, a chance to ask current students your questions, a skills lab observation in one of our classes, and an anatomy lab presentation. The whole interview day will conclude with lunch. You’ll also stick with the same student-led tour group between each part of your day, so you’ll have plenty of time to get to know the student ambassadors and ask them questions.

Q: How can I prepare for the interview?

A: Some advice is to look at the Regis website and see where the values of Regis fit into your life and how you can express that during interviews.  It is also a good idea to do a little bit of reading about our faculty on the website to learn about the work or research they do so that you can ask them any additional questions.  If you do feel stumped at any point, don’t be afraid to take a minute to gather your thoughts because they appreciate that a lot more than a made-up answer. It also helped me to look up some common PT school/traditional interview questions and brainstorm answers. If you can have some solid examples on your experiences, you’ll be able to adapt to wherever the conversation goes. Finally, make sure you research the topics you’ve been given ahead of time so you can prepare and get your thoughts together.

Q: Is there a chance to meet current students?

A: YES! You will have multiple opportunities to interact with various students throughout your day. Also, from 4:30-6:30pm on both interview days, we will have a meet-and-greet off campus for candidates to meet with current students. I hope to see you all there! That being said, this is by no means mandatory and your attendance will not affect your admission to the program.

Q: What should I wear?

A: I would err on the side of business formal. Most men typically wear matching pants and jacket, a button-up collared shirt, and a tie, while most women wear slacks or a dress skirt, a blazer, and a blouse. Cropped dress pants would work too, and if dresses are your thing, go for it. It is really important that you feel comfortable in whatever you end up wearing! That being said, when it comes to shoes, heels are great, but as long as you’re really comfortable in them. Flats are perfectly fine—in fact fact, if you opt to wear heels, I would bring a pair of flats along with you so you can change into them while you go on your campus tour. Also make sure to bring a jacket in case it’s cold (you never know with CO weather!)—there will be a coat rack available to everyone to store your belongings while you are inside.

Best of luck, interviewees! Feel free to reach out if you have anymore questions. Looking forward to meeting you!

Kelsie, Carol and Lindsay

 Colorado is awesome! We can’t wait for you all to experience it.

 All photos were taken from past blog posts and are pictures from current students’ experiences.

What is the First Year of DPT School Like?

Name: Meg Kates, Class of 2019
Hometown: Herscher, IL
Undergrad: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Fun Fact: I was the Spanish Student of the Year at my high school. ¡Me encanta Colorado!
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“I can’t believe you’re actually leaving.”

“I know, but it’s okay. I’ll be home soon.”

I hugged my best friend goodbye underneath a star-dotted sky. They shine brighter in Herscher, Illinois, which is a farming community in the middle of the state where the lights of Chicago are but a faint, pink spot in the northern distance: in fewer words, home. That was the day I packed up everything I owned and moved to Denver to embark on my grand physical therapy school adventure. I look back at that time and consider the expectations I had for Regis University and how they have been exceeded many times over.

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Meg and her classmates at the beginning of their semester

To begin, I knew starting PT school was going to change my life, but I didn’t realize the extent to which it was going to change my mind and how I perceived the world. When Regis students begin the first semester, classes last about eight hours. I think it’s safe to say that none of us were accustomed to such a heavy intellectual load—both in breadth and in depth. At first, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with sheer amount of material (i.e. the origin, insertion, action, and innervation of every muscle in the human body). However, Regis students will tell you that a day comes when our passions combine with our teachers’ lessons, and, by the magic of neuroplasticity (to be discussed more second semester), our brains have been primed to absorb information like those ridiculous towels you see on the infomercials. I feel like I learn eighty new things every day, and, even wilder, I have the intellectual capacity to accommodate it all. Regis creates the most competent professionals by challenging its students to elevate their caliber of thinking.

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Participating in the Professional Ceremony at Regis initiates all students into the DPT program.

Even though Regis’ DPT program can be dense, professors are there to ensure that we persevere through the lows, and they celebrate with us during the highs. Never have I been surrounded by such a reputable group of physical therapists and scientists. I would believe that Dr. Cliff Barnes, the anatomist, created the human body himself if I didn’t know any better. I want Dr. Mark Reinking to talk to me about the shoulder forever. I will never fangirl as hard as Tom McPoil makes me fangirl when he explains the biomechanics of the ankle. Beyond their intellect, Regis DPT faculty have made me feel immensely supported in my first semester. Professors are just as eager as students to discuss individual goals, explain difficult concepts, and offer resources to aid in understanding. It has been emphasized to us time and time again that Regis selects students that they believe will succeed in becoming accomplished, holistic practitioners. Their faith in us inspires me to be an excellent—yet humble—student and future physical therapist.

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Meg and some of the Class of 2019 take a study break in the mountains

Yet, the most earth-shattering surprise about PT school is the relationships that I’ve formed with my classmates. I expected to make friends when I moved to Denver; I didn’t expect to be inspired by every interaction I have with one of my peers.  They’re the people with whom I climb both literal and figurative mountains. They challenge me to be a teacher when they cannot find answers, and they shed light when I’m confused. I spend every day with the same eighty-one people and I know they watch over both my academic and spiritual wellbeing, as I do for them.

When I think about going back to Illinois, I cannot wait to show my friends all I’ve learned. When I look to the future, I cannot wait to show the world the physical therapists and human beings my classmates and I will become.

 

Wrapping Up the Fall Semester

Michael Young, second year Regis DPT student, writes in about his shifting perspective on the world of PT and reflections on this past year.  Michael serves as the Vice President for the Class of 2018 and hosts phenomenal game nights.

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Name: Michael Young, Class of 2018
Hometown: Madison, WI
Undergrad: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Fun Fact: When people tell me to put my money where my mouth is, I tell them I already have. I’ve had 16 teeth pulled(some baby, some permanent), braces 3 times, and reconstructive jaw surgery!

As a first year Regis DPT student, life was an anxious blur of due dates, exams, group meetings, and basically doing my best to hold on to the wild ride that we call PT school. As a second year student, I’m sorry to report that PT school is still a blur of due dates, exams, and group meetings. However, I no longer have to hold on quite as tight. I discovered over the last year that I am capable of learning at a graduate level. That knowledge alone takes an incredible amount of stress off my shoulders. However, now that I know I can make it through the struggles of the short-term, I’ve gotten to worrying about my long-term future. The stakes feel higher, and now I’m more concerned with who I will be when this graduate program spits me out into the real world.

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Michael takes a break from school and explores CO

That “real world” of physical therapy is starting to make more sense to me every day. It’s not that I have eureka moments with every lecture or lab; it’s actually the opposite. The amount of information in every lecture is overwhelming, the concepts are more difficult, and the clinical reasoning is not as straight forward. However, this year, I’m not worried about all those things. I understand that I am going to be overwhelmed by information in my classes and what is asked of me, but you know what? I’m going to pass my exams, I’m not going to fail out of school, and I’m going to be a certified PT in a year and a half. The light, however dim, is at the end of the tunnel.

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Michael and Alison got married over the winter break last year!

As a second year student, I don’t worry about school anymore. Instead, I worry about grown-up things. Where will my wife and I live after I graduate? What sort of setting will I practice in, and will it be the right fit for me? If I stay and practice in Denver, will high prices in the housing market and relatively low PT salaries allow me to buy a house while simultaneously paying off student loans? These are the questions that I get to worry about this year. True, I don’t have anatomy exams or human physiology practicals to worry about, but just writing about my newly found grown-up questions makes me anxious.

What else do I know as a 2nd year DPT student? I know that I am about to earn a doctoral degree, which according to the 2012 US census puts me in a category I’ll share with fewer than 2% of all Americans. I also know that there aren’t many better ways to isolate yourself from the general population than by being a student for 25 years of your life. I know that the community members I meet through my upcoming clinical experiences and patients I will treat as a future physical therapist will profoundly change the way I see my community, myself, and my nation. I cannot wait to surround myself with the people I have trained my whole life to treat, yet have met only briefly.

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Michael has had adventures both in school and out of school in the past year.

So here I am: a second year DPT student just realizing that the real world is coming, and I finally get to be a part of it. I am more excited than ever to get back into the clinic to meet a slice of this nation that I have been isolated from over these last years in academia. As I continue to study as a student and learn as a clinician, I hope to grow as a person. And, if the rest of my time at Regis is anything like what I have already experienced, I am confident that I will have success as a physical therapist and success in life.

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How to Be an Active Student APTA Member

Hello, APTA stars! In my previous post, I talked about my experience at 2016 National Student Conclave, and I promised to share some tips on how to get involved in the APTA. Here are a few ways (some easier than others) to kickstart your APTA involvement. I have personally used all of these methods, and I don’t regret any of them!

Action Plan for APTA involvement:

  1. Join (or resurface) Twitter. I know it may seem like Twitter is old hat, but trust me; everyone who’s anyone in the PT world is on Twitter. At the recommendation of a colleague, I resurfaced my dormant Twitter account this past summer after a couple years of inactivity, and I am so glad I did. I now connect with other students and professionals from around the nation, and I follow PT organizations that give me good information. Don’t know how to start? Create an account and follow me @KatieRagle. I’ll tweet you a shout-out, and you’ll have followers in no time.

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    Follow @APTAtweets for direct information on involvement!

  2. Attend APTA conferences. And when I say attend, I mean actually engage with the sessions and attendees. You won’t get anything out of conferences where you float in to meet a school requirement, half-heartedly listen to a couple speakers, and ditch early because you’re tired. Actively listen to the sessions. Resist the temptation to only talk to people from your class who go with you. Put yourself out there, and introduce yourself to people. PT is an amazingly friendly profession, and the people who sacrifice the time and money to attend conferences are generally the ones who want to network and meet others.
  3. Read your APTA emails! I know it can be overwhelming, but you can adjust the number of emails you receive if you log into your APTA account. One of the most important emails you can read is the Pulse—the Student Assembly newsletter/blog with all kinds of great information just for us students.

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    Student happens can be followed at @APTASA

  4. Check out the #XchangeSA. This is a monthly chat that the Student Assembly Director of Communications holds with a professional in the PT field. These chats have covered everything from student debt management to mentorship to the value of APTA membership. Take a look at the archived podcasts and plan to watch the next one!

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    Our new Director of Communications is Cruz Romero, SPT CSCS.  Follow him at @cruzromero602

  5. Find someone who is actively involved in the APTA and pick his or her brain about how to get started. Don’t be ashamed to ask! I got my start by sending a simple email, and the next thing I knew, I was sitting in a state APTA meeting with the influential leaders in our field. One of the speakers at NSC told us that nearly every person who is actively involved in the APTA had someone who inspired them to do so. Please find that person. If you need it to be me, then let me know, and I’ll get you amped about the APTA. Both professionals and other students want to help you get involved, but you have to ask!

I know this is a lot of information, but hopefully, this gives you a few concrete things that you can do right now to get more plugged in. It may not seem like much, but you’d be surprised how more connected you’ll be by following these steps.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at raglekatie@gmail.com or on Twitter @KatieRagle.

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Blogger: Katie Ragle, Class of 2018