Taking a gap year before Regis PT school: Meet Mason Hill

Name: Mason Hill

Hometown: Tacoma, WA

Undergrad: California Lutheran University

Fun Fact: I think I have a cold.

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Congratulations are in order! You’ve completed the long and arduous process of applying to and interviewing for a position in a top-ranked physical therapy school. You should feel a genuine sense of accomplishment for being considered to be a part of the Regis DPT program.

This post is for the candidates that will unfortunately not be receiving a letter of acceptance this year.

When I first applied to PT programs I felt relatively good about my chances of acceptance. I had a strong resume and GPA, would be published in multiple scientific journals before graduation, and had just received the American Kinesiology Association Undergraduate Scholar award.

That being said, I failed to even receive an invitation to interview at my top choice, Regis University.

I did, however, gain acceptance to a program that shall remain nameless, and one which I knew very little about.  I started doing my research on the university’s staff, mission, and facilities and was not pleased with what I saw. I had been working toward PT school since I was 16, and I felt a considerable amount of pressure to accept the position.

After a long conversation with a current student of that program, I came to the conclusion that I would reject the position and reapply to my top choices the following year; it was far and away the best decision that I have ever made.

The odds are good that if you, the reader, were invited to interview at Regis, you have been accepted to some other program. I do not write this to discourage you from attending said program, but to encourage you to follow your intuition and reassure you that waiting another year and once again dealing with the dreaded PTCAS is not the end of the world. You’ve got plenty of options.

Here’s what my gap year looked like at a glance:

After crunching the numbers I decided that going to the UK for a MSc  program would not be financially feasible; so, after graduating college, I packed my bags to head home to Tacoma, WA to plot my next move. During those first few months at home I turned my attention to PT in developing countries.  After doing a bit of research into disability rates and the prevalence of physiotherapists in the developing world, I was hooked. Within a few weeks I was headed to Tijuana, where I spent the next two months volunteering in various clinics and at a school for children with special needs. During those two months I reapplied to Regis, was granted an interview, and made plans for my next trip to work for 4 months in a physiotherapy clinic in the Kingdom of Swaziland.

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When it came time to answer that all important question “what have you done to improve your application?”, I had too much material to work with. The beautiful thing is that not only was that year spent out of the classroom the most enriching and transformative time of my life, but it also enabled me to gain access to what I believe is the program that is best-suited to serve me as a student of physical therapy.

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If you are faced with a year away from academia (by choice or not), it will undoubtedly look different than mine. Just know that you can do with it whatever you like. (Personally I would suggest a bit of solo travel to a foreign country. In my opinion there is no better form of education.) However you decide to spend the next year, be sure to take the opportunity to grow as a person and future clinician.

If you have any questions about how I was able to fund my year of travel/volunteering, how to make connections and find opportunities in other countries, or anything really, feel free to contact me at hillmasond@gmail.com.

How to pick the right PT school: Meet Madeleine Sutton

Name: Madeleine Sutton

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Undergrad: Seattle University

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Last year was my year of uncertainty. I had no idea where I would be going, I had no idea if I would get into school, and I had no back up plan. I was a 20-year-old girl finishing up her undergrad degree at a small university in Seattle and applying to schools on my own. Just getting to the application process was a miracle. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I had no adviser at my undergraduate university to help me with the complicated process. I felt incredibly lost in all the paperwork and application forms. I spent a lot of time crying, if we’re being honest.

I applied to 5 schools in 5 different states. All of them felt like they could be the right choice, but I had no idea. All of them were far away from home and my entire family. The decision was enormous: I had countless spreadsheets and pro/con lists, and yet I was no closer to making a decision than when I first sent in my applications. You want tissues? I had boxes. But, who cared? It was a big deal? I wanted mooooooore. (See that Little Mermaid joke? Yeah, I went there.) It wasn’t until I went on interviews that I really started to be able to eliminate schools.

I could get all cheesy and tell you that I knew from the moment I stepped on Regis’ campus I knew it was the right place, but that’s not the total truth. I was impressed with the faculty, the campus, and the current students. The problem was that I was impressed with other schools, too. Making a decision still felt impossible.

It wasn’t until a few weeks later–when I was down to two schools to decide between–that I came closer to making a decision. I thought back to my interview days. When I went to the other school to interview, it felt like they were letting me peek in on a super-secret club. When I went to Regis, I felt like I was visiting a group of people that wanted me there. I felt like the people I saw at Regis were part of a community, not just a class. In the end, that was it. My decision was easy when it came down to a secret club versus a community. I’ll take a community any day.

My first semester at PT school was a blur of anxiety and knowledge, but I never felt alone. The second year class became our mentors: they held a get-to-know-you picnic before school started for us to meet each other and them. Our faculty checked in on us frequently just to ask how we were doing and to say hi. We have class parties and dressed up as a class for Halloween. School wasn’t easy–and I felt overwhelmed a lot–but there was always someone there to comfort me. You are never alone in the Regis family.

In August, I packed my entire life into my car and I drove 1000 miles to find my new home. I love the concept of the word “home.” So many songs have lyrics like “take me home,” or “I’ll be your home.” It means so much more than just a place where you live: it’s peace, comfort, and a feeling of safety with people who love and care for you. It’s where everything falls into place…It’s home. Regis is home.

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Madeleine and some other first years with Takia, our service puppy

How to train for Boston and survive PT school: Meet Lauren Hill

Name: Lauren Hill, Class of 2017

Hometown: Flat Rock, MI

Undergrad: Saginaw Valley State University

Fun fact: Never wears matching socks…ever.

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They’ll tell you PT school is a marathon…not a sprint.

I apparently took that a bit too literally.

I’ve run two marathons and two half-marathons since starting PT school; that’s over 2500 miles of training and racing.

Let me back up a bit:

I’m Lauren. Born and raised in Michigan. I went to Saginaw Valley State University for undergrad and double majored in Exercise Science and Psychology. That, for me, was where running really started. I walked on to our cross country/track teams back in 2008 and was—for lack of a better adjective—terrible. I’m not sure why they let me stick around…maybe for entertainment…or to make everyone else feel faster?  Well, after some frank talks with myself and a few good friends, things started to come together. I went from the track equivalent of the “12th man” to placing in the conference, nationally, and eventually becoming a two-time All-American. When I graduated, I felt lost: the last five years had been dedicated to my teammates, mileage and chasing All-American accolades.

So there I stood: two bachelor degrees in hand, PT school applications underway and no longer a delineated reason to run.  I realized I needed a new challenge.

New Goal: Run the Boston Marathon 

Why not? 

I qualified and planned to run Boston in 2015…which happened to be the week before finals of my second semester at Regis.

 Training for the Boston Marathon (or any marathon for that matter) is not a particularly easy task.  Now, add to that 40+ hours of class per week, 10 hours commuting, a significant other, 2-4 hours studying per day (and way more on weekends) and trying to get an adequate amount of sleep… As you can imagine, life got got incredibly busy very quickly. 

A typical day looked a lot like this:

6:15 Wake up, Breakfast

7-8 Commute to Regis

8-12 Lectures

12-1 Lunch break—Run 3-6 miles

1-4 Labs

4-5 Commute

5-??? Run #2–Anywhere from 3-10 more miles depending on the day, Dinner, Study ‘til bedtime

11 Bed

You learn a lot about BALANCE when training for a marathon. You also learn to say “no” to a lot of extracurricular activities:

“ Do you want to grab a beer after class?”

No, I can’t, I have to run.

Do you want to go to the mountains this weekend?”

No, I can’t, I have a long run.

“ Do you want to want to hang out tonight?”

No, I can’t, I have to get up early tomorrow and run. 

My goal for Boston was sub-2:50—an arbitrary time that I let consume me for those 16 weeks (and beyond, if we are being honest). On the outside, I had fun with training, but inside I put an overwhelming amount of pressure on myself to reach that mark.

I failed.

 3:01.

Regardless of the weather conditions, (34 degrees, head wind, pouring rain and Hypothermia by the end)….I was pissed.

I had failed.

But, after months of reflecting (and even while writing this), I have begun to see the race and the months of training as a chapter in life with a lot of little lessons learned (some the hard way).

I do my best thinking when I run, and over time have created what I call My Truths—These are things I realized about myself, running, PT school and life. Take them for what you will. This list will inevitably change, as I do, but it’s a framework that works for me today.  These 13 truths won’t change your life, but I hope you may relate or take something from at least one of them.

Lauren’s 13 Truths

  1. If it doesn’t make you happy, re-evaluate your decisions.
  2. Just because it makes everyone else happy doesn’t mean it’s for you.
  3. Places/destinations are always there…family is not.
  4. What’s monitored is managed.
  5. Be realistic with your goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
  6. Morning workouts make for a more productive day.
  7. Fix problems at their root; don’t just put a Band-Aid on it.
  8. Hope is an excuse for doing nothing” – Coach Ed
  9. No matter how much you plan, there are some things you can’t control.
  10. Who you were has shaped you, but to be who you will become you must accept change.
  11. Don’t go or plan to do anything when hungry.
  12. If it’s supposed to be fun but feels like a job, you need a break.
  13. …..coffee first.

I do plan on running Boston in 2017. It seems only appropriate to finish at Regis the same way it began, only this time, I hope to bring a clearer perspective on running, life and happiness. 

Happy Strides!

– Lauren

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Candidates take interviews by a storm

Literally and figuratively.

The candidates have finished their interviews in typical Denver fashion: 60 degrees and sunny on Friday and, naturally, 30 degrees with an impending storm on Monday.

With campus closing early on Monday, the admissions team and faculty worked hard to try to get all of the candidates a thorough and holistic view of the program while also having to shorten the interview day.  The candidates were wonderful in their flexibility due to the weather!

As a first year student, this weekend brought back a lot of memories from a year ago, when I was in the decision-making process for schools.  The incredibly high caliber of student I got to interact with over this weekend reminded me largely of why I chose Regis: this programs attracts future PTs that will care for the entire person and are passionate about service and learning.  Similarly, hearing the faculty introduce themselves and discuss their passions with the candidates reminded me that, although we may call the faculty by their first names and be close with them, they are leaders on a national stage.

I think that having current students so involved in the admissions weekend accurately reflects what this program encourages: community involvement, leadership, and teaching are all essential elements to becoming a good clinician.  It was a lot of fun having the candidates in lab with us!

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To all of the candidates, best of luck!  This is an uncertain time for all of you, and I can relate to how you are feeling.  Know that the current students at Regis are here to answer any questions you may have, and we will be posting about different people’s admission experiences and decisions in the coming weeks.

Please feel free to reach out to Lindsay or myself (we are the 1st and 2nd year admissions reps. Hi.) with any thoughts/questions/concerns you may have!

 

Blogger: Carol Passarelli

 

On the interview weekend: Meet Michael Young

Michael Young

Hometown: Madison, WI

Undergrad: University of Wisconsin, Madison

Fun fact: I visited 16 states in 30 days during an epic summer road trip.

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During the summer of 2014, I found myself in Denver, five hours early for a flight. It was a picturesque day: 82 degrees in the afternoon sun and even more comfortable in the shade. I saw a sign for Regis University and recognized the name as one with a PT program, so I took the nearest exit and walked around campus for the afternoon.  After wandering around the classrooms and watching part of a lacrosse practice, I felt like this was a place I could see myself spending the next three years.

Six months and many applications later, I was back at Regis—this time for an interview. I woke up early on the day and did some yoga in the room of my Airbnb. That’s not my normal routine, but I wanted to do everything in my power to calm my nerves. That morning, yoga took me to my happy place. I put on my suit, threw on my coat and started my three-block walk to campus.

This time on campus, it was cold. After living in Texas for five years, January in Denver made me remember my roots in Madison.  I had made the dangerous 6AM decision to skip my morning coffee; would I lapse into caffeine withdrawal and spend the day with a pounding headache? Or, maybe, would my pumping adrenaline take the place of that necessary stimulant? I worried about it for the next seven hours. It’s funny what really makes you nervous on interview day.

Looking back, I now realize that the interview was the easiest part of the day for me. As soon as I sat down with my interviewer, I knew that Regis was different from the other schools. My interview was a conversation about my past experiences and current hobbies in lieu of the usual discussion of GPA, prerequisite record and knowledge of the PT field. They didn’t ask why a political science major was interested in PT school; they told me how important it was to have people with diverse backgrounds integrated into the profession. They made me feel like my personality and individualism mattered.

The next 24 hours was an emotional roller coaster of second-guessing interview responses, dreaming of an aggressive interviewer who compared me to a chiropractor (gasp!) and an overwhelming feeling of relief and gratitude for the amazing day I had at Regis. As I sat at the Denver airport waiting for my 6AM outbound flight, I started daydreaming about coming back as an actual student. Regis was the school for me and I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. When I got the acceptance email, I knew my life would never be the same. Now, six months into school, I haven’t been proven wrong.

Best of luck with your interviews, candidates! I hope you feel as at home as I did.

Commuting, anatomy groups, and transitions: Meet Amanda Rixey

Amanda Rixey

Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Undergrad: University of Kansas

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

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

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

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

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

Coming from another career: Meet Katie Ragle

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

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

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

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

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

Katie

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

Transitioning to PT school: Meet Chris Lew

Christopher Lew

Hometown: Eugene, OR

Undergrad: University of Portland

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

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On the first semester and transitioning into graduate school:

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

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

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

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