Finals Week: A Beautiful Struggle

It’s that time of the year again…

No, we’re not talking about the holidays.

It’s Finals Week, the crescendo of each physical therapy (PT) school semester.

If you haven’t experienced a finals week in PT school, then here are a few ideas of what Regis students encounter during this time each semester.

  1. …but first, Practicals Week

Gone are the days of “dead weeks” leading up to final exams. Practical Exam Week is usually the week prior to all of the written final exams. This is where the skills you have acquired over the entire semester are put to the test to see how you are able to apply them in a real-life situation. During the days leading up to these exams, you will often see students crowding into room PCH 409 to practice their skills and drill each other on the specific times to use them. Study sessions can extend late into the night for some students (Pssst…PT school secret: often these practicals require knowing information that will also be on the written final, so it’s like studying for two exams at once…now that’s a deal!)

  1. Review Sessions

It is not uncommon for faculty members to hold review sessions discussing what to expect on the final written exam. These are often a great help in refining study strategies (PT school pearl of wisdom: take advantage of these sessions!)

  1. Finals Week Schedules

Each class takes 4-5 exams the entire week, with one exam per day and each one for 2 hours. You can find last minute study sessions dispersed across Claver Hall in the hours leading up to the exams to review any lingering questions or fill any remaining knowledge gaps. And hey, after one exam is over, students have 22 hours to study for the next test…what an ample amount of time!

  1. Work-Life Balance

In the words of The Great Tom McPoil, “take a day for yourself every week.” This may be hard to remember during these challenging weeks, but still very relevant. Students usually make modifications to Tom’s “day” suggestion during finals week, and instead take a few hours to relax and meditate with various types of exercise (or naps) – whatever takes the mind off studying for a few moments.

  1. The Triumph of Completing a Semester of PT School

At the end of each finals week, you will find students celebrating another semester down and another job well done! It’s a time to look back at the terrific accomplishments with pride and relish in the fact that your hard work got you here

– Courtney Backward

Check out this video of first and second year students studying (and relaxing) for their finals!

 

Video Credit: Janki Patel

 

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

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

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

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

1. Survive spring finals.

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

2. Take advantage of your break.

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

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

3. Relax at Coors Field.

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

4. Camp.

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

5. Check out the brewery scene.

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

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

6. Take regular night hikes.

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

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The mountains are a prime location for appreciating some moonscapes.

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

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

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Blogger: Meg Kates

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

 

2nd Year Regis DPT students preparing to head off to clinical: Meet Adam Engelsgjerd

Name: Adam Engelsgjerd, Class of 2017

Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ

Undergrad: University of Arizona

Fun Fact: I am unabashedly 0/2 in the Palmaris Longus department

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After these final two weeks of the semester, Adam will be heading to Orland, CA for his summer clinical.

The goal of PT Exam Lab in our first year was to begin teaching our hands how to feel and assess what our brains knew to be there. For example: we studied the knee from texts, dissection, and lectures and then used our hands to palpate a classmate’s knee with our new, more clinical, perspective. The concept of our hands being “dumb”—or unable to differentiate what was beneath them—soon became all too familiar. Did we feel how there was a slight swelling of tissue on the medial aspect of the knee’s joint line that was the MCL? Sure we did.  Maybe. I mean, it has to be there, right? Let’s look back at our textbook again.

As the first year of the DPT program faded into our first clinical experience, we had the opportunity to translate our education into a real-world setting. Interacting with patients suffering with a myriad of different pathologies, varying levels of cognitive function, and real pains and concerns presented a new challenge: how to conduct PT evaluations. No longer volunteers or PT Techs hoping to one day be admitted to a program, we were now Student Physical Therapists and patients were looking to us for answers. We needed not only to know how the body worked, what normal and abnormal felt like with our hands, but also how to relate relevant information to a patient who may have little understanding of their body except that it hurts when they move.

 

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As my class draws near the end of our last full semester of classroom education, we are preparing for 30 weeks of clinical rotation—seasoned with a few more classes, a comprehensive examination, and the NPTE. Most of us can now all too clearly hear Dr. Tom McPoil’s words echoing back to us: a key challenge of being a good PT is not memorizing a list for a test or performing a skilled act for a practical, but being able to recall the massive amount of information we learn when you need it.

The goal ahead of us is the same it has always been: being able to put together the foundational information about how the body should work, overlay possible pathologies, identify red and yellow flags, conduct a concise but thorough evaluation, and accurately prescribe interventions. Yet, for many of us, it is now that the full scope and weight of that task is being felt.

And so, off we go around the country for the next two months where we anticipate being challenged, exhilarated, and scared all over again. We will once again surface from the classroom to rediscover why it is we’re here at Regis: to help those around us move better and for ourselves to get one step closer to becoming movement experts.