DPT School Nutrition: 4 Ways to Eat Healthy

Name: Janki Patel, Class of 2020
Hometown: Fremont, CA
Undergrad: University of California, Davis
Fun Fact: I hiked a 14er (Mount Democrat) for the first time…three days after moving from the Bay Area’s sea level.
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If you are currently enrolled in physical therapy (PT) school, or attended in your past, you can probably identify with the struggle of eating healthy, stress eating, and forgetting exercise. With one exam after another, I’ve found myself eating one snack after another. And by snack, I mean chocolate-covered espresso beans, chocolate-covered almonds, and chocolate-covered pretzels. Anytime anyone mentions “free food,” my ears perk up, eyes widen, and I suddenly feel as if I’ve been starving for centuries, instantly questioning “Where?! When?!” And, when I do finally find the time and energy to go grocery shopping, I think to myself, “I’m going to get a ton of vegetables, fruits, and healthy foods only.” Yet, I end up walking out with a handful of unhealthy items, which I justify by all the vegetables and fruits I just filled my cart with (it’s all about balance, right?!). Days later, I find myself eating all those unhealthy items first though, while the vegetables and fruits start going bad. And with more stress, I seek out the fatty, carbohydrate-heavy, sugar-loaded foods for comfort and relief. When I talk to classmates, I find many are in the same boat. It’s almost as if we could use a class about how to consistently eat healthy while in PT school…or maybe just a blog post!

We already learned that nutritious foods are better fuel sources for our brains and bodies, leading to improved energy, clearer minds, and overall better productivity. Ensuring proper nutrition takes self-discipline and motivation. Once you make it part of your everyday though, you won’t even have to think twice about it. Just like driving a car or riding a bike or remembering the direction of roll and glide for the convex-on-concave rule of arthrokinematics. It’s simply a matter of training the brain, or neuroplasticity, if you will.

1. Mindfulness

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Photo Credit: Mindfulness Words

 

Take the time to really listen to your body and thoughts in the present moment. When you find yourself reaching for a snack, ask yourself if you’re truly hungry. Is your stomach really rumbling? When was the last time you ate? If the answer is “no” and “just a half hour ago,” then try opting for a drink of water or a piece of gum to chew instead. If you start deeply craving food, ask yourself where that craving is stemming from. What’s really causing it? Hunger? Or, stress and anxiety? If it’s stress or anxiety, then first acknowledge that the true cause of your feeling is stress or anxiety. But, don’t let that acknowledgement stress you out more. Take a minute to close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, rather than running to the cafeteria or kitchen. Try to then relieve the craving by simply changing your position (sitting up straighter, getting up and taking a quick walk, or stretching) or environment. I find that every time I study on the dining room table, I end up grabbing a snack shortly after I start, or I sit with one to begin with so I don’t have to get up later. With the kitchen so close by, there’s little time between my thought and action. Choose a study spot away from food sources so that you’re given more time to think twice about any craving that occurs and prevent yourself from fulfilling it.

Find more activities to relieve cravings in the moment as well, whether it’s having quick play time with your pet, reading a short article (PT in Motion has great ones!), or talking to a family member or friend for a few minutes. Essentially, we want to train the brain to think “this is my cue to grab water, take a walk, or talk to someone” instead of “this is my cue to eat” whenever it receives the signal of a craving or desire to eat that really stems from stress or anxiety rather than hunger.

2. Commit to a List

Photo Credit: Grocery List

 

This is one of my biggest challenges. I always have a few items in mind that I need to get from the grocery store, but the rest of the items in my cart end up being in-the-moment purchases. Make a solid grocery list beforehand and commit to sticking with it by grabbing only the items you need. One way to do this is to first find healthy recipes and then creating a grocery list from the ingredients. For example, I’m subscribed to New York Times Cooking, which sends me daily emails of recipes. I choose and bookmark a few healthy ones every day so that by the end of the week, I have a list of ingredients for my weekend grocery shopping trip (as well as recipes to cook for next week then!). You can go paper-and-pen style or use an app on your phone to keep track of your list.

Another way is to commit to a 5-5-5 rule. Include 5 vegetables, 5 fruits, and 5 protein items on your list every time you make a trip to the grocery store (or any other area, such as fiber or a specific vitamin, that you may not get enough of). Depending on when your next trip will be though, you may have to increase these numbers. Think of your grocery list as being a grading rubric for a class assignment or a list of topics on an exam. Just as you would ensure to cover all required items for your clinical skills check or anatomy exam, and not a single more item than you have to, commit to ensuring you cover all the items on your list, and not more, for groceries as well.

3. Avoid Justifying Unhealthy Items for Costing Less

Photo Credit: Money Fork

I know we’re all “balling on a budget,” but try to not let that be a reason you start compromising healthy foods for less nutritious ones. Order that avocado for the extra 50 cents. Don’t order that whipped cream on the frappachino simply because it comes at the same price without it. If you’re like me and are easily lured by sale items at the grocery store (who doesn’t like buy one, get one free items?!), try to take more time to practice the previous points of being mindful and committing to a list. It’s easy to fall into marketing schemes since sales make “sense” that we would be saving money. However, it does not make “sense” to feed our brains and bodies with foods that have little to no nutritious value.

This goes for restaurants as well, especially if you don’t cook at home or buy groceries often. Think back to the 5-5-5 rule when ordering still: did you have vegetables, fruits, or protein today? Create and commit to a list and find items on the menu that incorporate this “grocery list.” We’re actually lucky that our bodies already give us a grocery list of items they need for optimal functioning: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, water, etc. Seek the specifics your body truly needs on the menu, just as you would seek keywords in multiple choice options on an exam question to know it’s the correct answer.

4. And Of Course, Don’t Forget to Exercise!

Photo Credit: Time for Fitness

 

This last point is more of a reminder to exercise regularly. The benefits of exercise are endless. Schedule it into your calendar as if it were a mandatory class. Additionally, any time you start to feel your energy levels plunge, try exercising rather than reaching for energy bars or sugary foods for a boost, even if it’s simply 10 minutes. If you’re in class and a craving or energy lull hits, try seated calf raises under your desk, flexing and extending your toes in your shoes, or flexing and extending your fingers and hands (set a frequency too!). Again, it’s about creating a healthy response when your brain gets these signals.

We know exercise can cause physiological changes in more than just our muscles, specifically in our metabolic pathways. Keep moving regularly and solidifying healthy eating habits and it’ll soon feel like you never had a struggle with healthy eating, stress eating, or forgetting exercise. You won’t even have to think twice about it. Just like driving a car or riding a bike or remembering the direction of roll and glide for the convex-on-concave rule of arthrokinematics. It’s simply a matter of training the brain, or neuroplasticity, if you will…these are my foods for thought. Happy nutritious eating!

Lessons Learned During the First Clinical Experience

Name: Kelsie Jordan, Class of 2019
Hometown: Portland, OR
Undergrad: Oregon State University
Fun Fact: I spent the summer of 2014 studying in Salamanca, Spain.
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When I tell people I was in California for my first clinical rotation, everyone’s minds seem to jump to the flashy big cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, or San Francisco. Sorry guys, I wasn’t lying on the beach or treating the movie stars; I was working more in the realm of Middle of Nowhere, CA in a small town called Orland. If you’ve ever driven to or from Oregon along I-5, you’ve probably driven right past it without ever even knowing it existed, as I actually have multiple times. I have lived in or near major cities all my life, so I had no idea what to expect from working in a rural setting. I was worried I was going to be bored, and that being away from everyone I know would make me lonely. But Orland, with its farmers, high school football, and Dollar General stores, turned out to be the best place I could have been for my first clinical.
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Welcome to Orland!

Here are just a few things I learned along the way:

Work schedules > school schedules

I’m not going to lie, clinicals are exhausting. Being on my feet all day, both literally and figuratively, drained the life out of me, especially in that first week. The good news is, I immediately discovered how great it is to come home at the end of a long, demanding day and have nothing–and I mean nothing–to worry about. After a year straight of exams, projects, and endless studying, I forgot how nice it was to have a mellow evening without feeling guilty about procrastinating. My clinical instructor (CI) once asked me what I generally do after work and I had to laugh; my nightly routine was pretty much eat dinner, drink an occasional glass of wine, and re-watch early episodes of Game of Thrones. Call me lazy, but I look at it as taking advantage of the free time I never get to have during school.

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Wine tasting in Sonoma!

It’s never easy, but it gets better

As barely a second year student going into this rotation, I was pretty much inexperienced in every sense of being a physical therapist. Even the skills I was most familiar with had a different feel to them when working with real patients instead of practicing on healthy classmates. Luckily, my CI was an amazing teacher. He did a great job of layering on responsibilities for me so I always felt challenged but never felt thrown into the deep end. After an observation-heavy first week, I was tasked with doing the subjective interview portion of every evaluation and taking over the exercises for a couple patients. At the time, that honestly made me nervous and it felt like a lot of independence. But fast forward to my final week: I had somewhere around 10 patients all to myself, I was flying solo on pretty much every lower extremity and back evaluation, I was completing all documentation, and I had discharged three of my patients. We had a packed 8-5 schedule and it was never easy because my CI always gave me more to do before I got fully comfortable. It was demanding, I made a lot of mistakes, and being challenged every day sometimes made me feel like I wasn’t improving or I shouldn’t still be struggling. But looking back at what was difficult for me in that very first week compared to what I was able to do by the end, it’s easy to see how much I learned and improved!

Confidence takes practice

I have always struggled with my outward displays of confidence in patient interactions because I get nervous and tend to doubt myself. I’ve always been told, “Fake it ‘til you make it,” but that’s a lot easier said than done; I guess I just don’t know how to fake confidence. Instead, my confidence builds gradually as I experience success and overcome challenges. And that’s exactly what happened during my clinical. From prescribing and teaching exercises on my own to completing several full evaluations in Spanish, I was definitely challenged, but I was also successful. Sure, I felt like I didn’t quite know what I was doing half the time, but I learned to not dwell on mistakes and to push myself out of my comfort zone. Most importantly, I gained confidence in my own knowledge and abilities, and I now feel more prepared to take on the rest of PT school. If there’s anything I learned from my clinical, it’s that I am capable of doing far more than I ever thought I was.

Solo adventures are good for the soul

I’m usually go go go from one thing to the next for fear of missing out on any fun, so being alone in a rural area was definitely a change of pace.  Although I was lucky enough to reunite with some college friends during trips to San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, I actually probably spent more time alone over the six weeks of clinicals than I did throughout the entire first year of PT school. It allowed a lot of time for self-reflection I didn’t even realize I needed. I was itching to get out and explore, and my weekend adventures were definitely worth all the miles I put on my car: I took my first solo camping trip, discovered a National Park I had never even heard of, and hiked upwards of 35 miles by myself. Of course I missed my friends and my normal crew of camping/hiking buddies, but I learned how to embrace time alone without being lonely.

I enjoyed the opportunity to appreciate silence and just be.

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Support systems are necessary

As a class, we spend so much of our lives together throughout the year that, I have to admit, it was oddly nice to be away from everyone. No, I’m not saying I was sick of my classmates, but those 6+ weeks apart allowed me to actually miss my friends. And, although I already said I enjoyed my time alone, man did I miss them. When you go from sharing all of your time together to none of it, all while you’re being thrown into a new situation, there’s a lot to catch up on after just one day! I did my best to reach out to my friends here and there to see how their clinicals were going, and sometimes those check-ins turned into 2-hour phone conversations. Shout out to the two friends who kept up a group text with me every single day–we practically shared a play-by-play of our clinical experiences, from funny patient stories to weekend plans. Knowing everyone else was having similar challenges was reassuring, and receiving daily encouragement and sharing my accomplishments kept me excited to keep learning.


In a rural setting, a physical therapist needs to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none, as my CI once told me. As a result, I got to see a little bit of everything. Sure, there were quite a few back, shoulder, and knee injuries, but I also did some detective work with more neural issues, and I got to observe several vertigo treatments as well. I absolutely loved being in Orland, not only for the varied learning experiences, but also for the people and the small town charm. I found out the correct way to pronounce almond is “am-end” (according to Northern California farmers), and I even joined in on the tradition of wearing blue on Fridays in support of the high school football team.

“You are enough!”

That’s what we were told in our final pre-clinical prep session over the summer, and it turns out it’s true! At first it was easy to think,“I’m just a student” and feel as though I had to run every thought and decision by my CI. However, as he let me become more independent, I realized even as a student, I really did have enough knowledge and skill to make a difference in patients’ lives all on my own. Now, when people ask me how my clinical went, I have nothing but good things to say. I was pushed into recognizing how much I was capable of, and humbled into realizing how much more I still have to learn. Although it was a short period of time, those six weeks were like a refresh button to help me overcome the burnout I had experienced after a year in the classroom, and allowed me to come back to Regis ready to keep expanding my knowledge base before I head back into the real world again.

 

The 2017 Move Forward 5K/10K Race

Name: Laura Baker, Class of 2018
Undergrad: University of New Hampshire, Durham
Hometown: Seville, Ohio
Fun Fact: I spent a year as an intern for the School for Field Studies in Queensland, Australia! I drove students around on the “wrong” side of the road, went on bird counting outings at 3 am, pet boa constrictors with professional herpetologists, went diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and raised lots and lots of seedlings in a rainforest nursery.

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On the cool, rainy morning of September 16th, a group of 160 racers participated in the 2017 Move Forward 5k/10k Race at Regis University. This race, hosted by the students of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, has been an annual event for 15 years. The event serves as a fundraiser for Canine Companions for Independence and the Foundation for Physical Therapy.

This year, a particular hiccup early in the planning stages for the race gave us a challenge. Changes in city park regulations caused a significant course change towards Berkeley Lake Park rather than the usual course through Rocky Mountain Lake Park. The racers took to the starting line in Boettcher Commons at Regis. Upon hearing the go command from the 2017 race director, Ryan Bourdo, they ran through the Berkeley neighborhood and around Berkeley Lake. The sun came out as they raced back up the big hill to Regis. The 10k racers turned just shy of the finish line and raced the route a second time.

We appreciate all of the racers who ran this new (hilly!) course and the Denver Police Department who kept the racers and community members safe at every intersection. After their run/walk, participants and family members enjoyed barbecue and a beer garden and activities including volleyball, yoga, and Bungee Bootcamp.

A committed group of DPT students, faculty, and Regis staff supported this undertaking. The DPT Class of 2018 will be passing on the baton to the Class of 2019 to take the Move Forward race and to make it their own. Each person listed below worked with many individuals, including students in the DPT Class of 2019, toward creating a successful event:

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Ryan Bourdo served as the 2017 race director, fearless leader, and created a marketing presence.

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Rachel Maass worked hard to gather sponsors while Becca Brunson performed community outreach and organized the first aid response.

Ryan Tollis was our website and registration wizard who worked to make the registration process smooth and accessible.

Amy Renslo spent many hours planning out the post-race activities while Taylor Skelton played a key role making for a fun day all around.

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Bri Henggeler provided volunteer coordination with support from Tara Businski who wrangled many volunteers as course marshals, including Regis University baseball team and alumni from Duke University.

The design and course lay-out was done by myself; with Miranda Paasche planning and organizing the course set up for race-day.

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Claire Molenaar, Brett Barnes and Michael Lofboom ensured that water stations were well stocked and ran smoothly.

Our announcer, Michael Young, was a hit. Although Michael is on his way to becoming a physical therapist, he was so good at announcing that he ought to ponder this activity as a second job!

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We also wish to thank our impromptu photographer, James Liaw; and bicycle leads for the racers, Chris Lew and Christian Quijano, for their time and willingness help.

Part of the success of this race can be attributed to those who provided advice and administrative support from the DPT faculty and staff, including Alice Davis, Faun Lee, and Gemma Hoeppner. We also want to thank all staff from Regis who helped us prepare for race day including individuals from Physical Plant, RU Parking, Events Services, Campus Security, and Student Activities. Finally, we wish to thank all of our sponsors as we couldn’t have this event without you!

More photos taken by Laura are coming soon.

How to Manage Your Money in DPT School

Name: Kim Bjorkman, Class of 2019
Undergrad:
 University of Puget Sound
Hometown:
Jackson, WY
Fun Fact: 
I sang the national anthem at rodeos when I was in high school!

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Living as a graduate student does not mean that you must subsist on Top Ramen and canned soup, but it does require taking responsibility for your finances and making informed decisions. I’m here to give some insight on how it’s possible to still live like a normal human being while on a graduate student budget.

First off, the nitty gritty:

Each year of the program, you can accept $20,500 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans. You can also apply for a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan. The amount of Grad PLUS loans you are eligible to apply for will vary year to year, but expect around $25,000 per year. It’s important to remember that even if the Grad PLUS loans are on your financial aid award letter, you still must apply for them to actually receive the loan!

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Kim is happy to know so much about budgeting!

If you establish Colorado residency right when you get here (before the start of fall semester), you can also qualify for the Colorado Graduate Grant (starting 1 year after you become a resident). The grant pays $5,000 per school year, so be sure to apply as early as possible for residency to make sure you can get the grant for you 2nd and 3rd years of DPT school! Eligibility entails having a CO driver’s license, being registered to vote in CO, and all vehicles in your name being registered in CO. Prior to applying for the grant, you must also update your FAFSA with your CO address and ensure that your state of legal residency is listed as Colorado. Finally, you must ensure that your address in Regis’ system is updated. Remember, you must apply for FAFSA each year to be eligible for the Colorado Graduate Grant.

As you’re creating your budget, here are some things to keep in mind:

The loans are distributed at the start of fall semester your first year. This money will be for fall and spring semesters. You will get another disbursement at the start of the summer semester for the same amount of money. This must last you for summer, fall and spring! So, essentially, every semester the financial aid will be dispersed in three equal quantities…but there will be differences in tuition costs each semester. This will result in an imbalance in refunds—be sure to plan ahead.

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These first years are so glad they planned ahead! (Volunteering for the Outdoor CO Trail Restoration Crew)

If you have questions about your particular circumstances, email or make an appointment with our financial aid counselor, James Cesar, at Jcesar@regis.edu.

Now that you have your bank account full of loan money, how do you make it stretch?

While on my graduate student budget this year, I discovered several ways to save money here and there, and it has added up!

Here is the inside scoop to becoming a Master Couponer:

  • Digital coupons: create an online account with your grocery store of choice (King Soopers, Sprouts, Safeway, etc.) and simply load digital coupons to your club card. As long as these are loaded prior to shopping, they are automatically deducted when you checkout. No paper coupons necessary!

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  • Ibotta: this is an app created right here in Denver that provides digital rebates for all sorts of things! You can get money back on groceries, alcohol, Uber rides, Amazon purchases…The possibilities are endless. Once you’ve earned $20, you can transfer the cash to Venmo, PayPal or a gift card. If you access the app using my referral code, https://ibotta.com/r/jtfwknt, you will get a $10 bonus when you redeem a rebate within a week of loading the app J (Pro tip: “any brand” items do not count toward earning this $10 bonus).King Soopers Screenshot.png
  • Other apps: there are two other rebate apps I sometimes use, Checkout 51 and Mobisave, that have less items but can be helpful in saving a few dollars.

 

  • Groupon: get an additional 25% student discount on all local deals. While you can certainly find deals for restaurants and spas, Groupon also has deals for dental care, car maintenance and Costco memberships. Get a bonus 3-10% savings if you access the Groupon app through Ibotta!

Living on a student loan budget does impose some limitations, but when managed responsibly, it is certainly possible to enjoy your time in graduate school. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at kroberts006@regis.edu.

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Staying Grounded in PT School, Method 42: Silence

Name: Blake Miller, Class of 2019
Undergrad: 
Whitworth University
Hometown: 
Missoula, MT
Fun Fact: 
I grew up 20 minutes from a ski resort but never downhill skied until moving to Colorado this year.

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It’s an age-old story: a small-town boy moves to the big city to pursue his dreams of fame and fortune, only to face trials and challenges that test him more than he’d even imagined. Alright… maybe that’s a little sensationalized, but all the parts are there. Here’s the real story: I grew up on the outskirts of Missoula, a lovely town in Western Montana where the only thing that could cause a traffic jam on the Interstate was a herd of rogue cattle. As fate would have it, I decided to venture south to the land of altitude, and more importantly, the city of the prestigious Regis University. As you’ve probably guessed, I moved here for PT school, a 3-year endeavor where excitement and challenges abound. While school has been hard (insert cliché reference to Anatomy and Neuro), there has been another large and unexpected challenge: finding silence and calm amidst the whirlwind of school and obligations.

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Missoula, MT

Growing up in an area of the country that is relatively isolated, it was easy to take the absence of noise for granted. I was guaranteed to find at least 5 mountain trails with no one else on them within 10 miles; if I was feeling lazy, I could simply walk outside and find that same noiseless environment in my backyard. But that all changed when I moved to Denver. The first hike I did was a 14er (not the brightest idea), and I was shocked by how many people could find their way to a mountain at 6:30 AM on a Tuesday. My new apartment wasn’t any better, as the sounds from the traffic were always present (in contrast, my roommate from Chicago was just happy to not hear gunshots at night anymore).

It’s amazing what happens when you lose something you take for granted. At first, I didn’t realize it had happened; I thought my newfound low-level agitation was due to my obligatory grad school coffee addiction. But, after about a month I figured it out: I had not found a single moment since moving to Denver where I had felt the silence that is only found by being alone in nature. So, I changed a few things. I began making space for myself, and as a result I slowly became less anxious, more productive, and much more present in everyday situations.

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Enjoying some solo time on Mt. Quandary

Here are my tips to help you find silence during PT school–both in nature and in everyday life:

1. Make time for yourself when you’re in nature

I’ve developed the reputation among my hiking classmates of getting 80% of the way to the top of a mountain and then flying ahead, not to be seen again until I’m sitting on the edge of the summit. While they might attribute this to my eccentric personality (fair enough), the main driver of this behavior is that there’s an uncanny stillness atop a peak that is only disturbed by the occasional chirp of a bird and, once they catch up, the laughter and musings of my friends. So, next time you go hiking, biking, or climbing, take a second for yourself to simply be still and relax in the wonder around you.

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Team picture!

2. Utilize your car time

Take one of your weekly drives and turn off the radio. I prefer to study alone, so most of my go-to coffee shops are 20 minutes away (Stella’s, Steam, Nixon’s, but that’s a whole different blog post), and assuming you don’t go there during rush hour, you’ll have a relatively peaceful drive when you turn the music off. Or, next time you make the 90-minute drive to Estes Park or Vail, try it in silence and see how it affects your mood and the way you interact with others.

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Getting some silence at Wash Park

3. Make it a daily practice

If you’re pinched for time, Regis has many good spots that are removed from the noise. If you want to watch the sunset in silence from an unobstructed view, try the chapel; if you just need a break from studying, find an empty classroom in Claver – there are plenty!

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Sky Pond

4. Become comfortable with listening to your thoughts.

I write this as finals are creeping up, and it is a common sentiment among my classmates that we feel overwhelmed and bombarded with constant thoughts that demand our attention. Instead of tuning them out, listen to them; give them the attention they deserve. One way I sort out these thoughts is to take 15 minutes every day to sit in silence in my room with all distractions, especially my phone, removed. Set a timer, and just sit in your thoughts until it goes off. These 15 minutes might feel like an eternity at first, but after making it a daily practice for several weeks I’ll bet you will find it to be a very peaceful and life-giving way to end your days.

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On the hike to Mt. Evans

5. Translate your comfort with listening to your own thoughts into comfort with listening to others.

It’s difficult to listen to others when you’re busy trying to take care of your own thoughts. Once you have sorted out yours, try using that same approach in conversation with others: listen without interrupting, and see if you are more able to actively engage in their story now that you have dealt with your own distractions.

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Up on Mt. Elbert

A quote I often come back to is this:

“Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a misunderstanding.”

Of all the coping mechanisms I use to excel in school, none is as important or as beneficial for me as creating time to be alone and remove myself from all the distractions that so easily surround me. If you make time for yourself, you will create space to add time for others and school as well.

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Chasm Lake

Regis DPT Family

What Did the Class of 2019 do Over Summer Break?

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

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

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

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

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

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The start of many dinners by the fire.

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

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

 

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Climbing inside the slot canyons of Kanarra Falls

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

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

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Hiking up Hidden Canyon

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

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Trekking through the Subway

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

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

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Toquerville Falls

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

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

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Soaking in the view after 19 miles of hiking         

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

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

Summer in Colorado: Dispersed Camping 101

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

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

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

Dispersed Camping: What Is It?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fishing at Twin Lakes

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

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Camping up past Clear Creek Reservoir

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

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

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Ptarmagin Lake

Breckenridge Beauty:
(1 hr 45 min from Denver)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pitstop off of the Colorado Trail near our campsite

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

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South Platte fishing access in Cheesman Canyon

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

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Happy campers (Karlee and me)

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5 Ways to Impress During Your Practical Exams

 

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

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

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

 

  1. Take deep breaths.

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

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Sky Pond hike with my classmates

 

  1. Speak slowly and confidently.

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

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

  1. Mental AND Physical Rehearsal.

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

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My first 14er, Mt. Bierstadt!

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

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

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Move Forward 5K

  1. Believe in yourself.

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

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

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

Email: aferguson002@regis.edu

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Weekend break at Grizzly Rose for some line dancing!

 

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

Welcome, Zuma!

The newest addition to our DPT program has arrived! Zuma will be trained by our service dog team of students.  We’re looking forward to seeing her learn and grow; she has a big vest to fill!

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…Oh, and isn’t she ADORABLE?!

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??