Meet our Service Dog Training DPT Team!

Name: Tiffany Cardenas, Class of 2018
Hometown: Aurora, CO
Undergrad: Colorado College

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At my interview in January of 2015, my nervousness was mitigated by an adorable puppy named JJ who would influence my decision to choose Regis’ DPT program. As physical therapists, we serve people in incredible ways. Coming to Regis gave me the opportunity to serve people in an additional way: by raising a service dog to help future individuals become more independent in their lives. The puppy raiser team is made up of 8 students in each class, with first years joining the team late in their first year under the guidance of Associate Professor Wendy Anemaet, PT, DPT, Ph.D.

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Class of 2017 Puppy Raiser Team

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Class of 2018 Puppy Raiser Team

Meet Takia, a Labrador-Golden puppy who is currently 1 year and 4 months old. She is a Canine for Independence (CCI) assistance puppy-in-training. CCI is a non-profit organization that provides highly trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities to enhance their lives. Volunteer puppy raisers—such as our team here at Regis—help to train the puppies before they go off to be paired with their person and learn more advanced commands when they are about 1.5 years old. She is NOT a therapy dog who provides emotional support; she is training to become a skilled assistance dog who can one day help her person open doors, get items, and even press elevator buttons.

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Time flies: Takia and me in November 2016 and back in October 2015 when she was 2 months old—before I was on the team that trains her!

Takia is the third puppy to be raised by a team of students from the Regis University School of Physical Therapy. Just like her physical therapy student trainers, Takia has her own classes to attend. It is at these classes where we show off what she knows, teach her new commands, and learn tips for training a CCI puppy. One of the most important parts about her classes is letting others work with her (and us work with their puppies). Takia spends almost every hour of every day with us and she picks up on what we expect of her. At class, we can see if she understands the command–and not just our gestures–by working with new people.

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So many puppies; who’s who? (Takia is 2nd from the left)

What kind of commands does Takia know? A whole bunch! Puppy raisers are provided with a handbook that lists all of the commands and around what age the puppy should learn them and be proficient in them. Many of these commands will become part of more complex tasks that she will learn once we send her off for more training. Takia gets lots of positive reinforcement with treats when she is learning commands. As she gets older and has mastered some of the more basic commands, she gets fewer treats and simply “good girl” as a reward. When giving commands, it is important to stay tall and use a commanding voice without inflections.

In the first few months she was taught commands such as “sit,” “down,” and “here.” As she has gotten older, she has been learning more advanced commands that have very specific details to them. “Heel” tells Takia to sit on her handler’s left side facing forward. This does not mean slightly at a diagonal or facing her handler— the command means facing forward left of her handler. “Side” is a similar command, but on the right side of her handler.

Some of our favorite commands to get Takia’s love include “lap” and “visit.” With “lap,” she should place her front legs with elbows relaxed across your lap. “Visit” tells Takia to rest her head on your lap. When given a command, she should be able to maintain the positions until given a new command or given the commands “off” (of something) or “release” (from a position).

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Takia (right) staying focused on her “heel” in puppy class with Karlee, Class of 2018

So what should you do if you see an assistance dog? I would say you should smile at them; they are such cuties! But, remember that they are also on duty—even the ones in training. If you really want to interact with the dog, talk to the person holding the leash. They can then tell you if it is okay or not to visit the dog. If you see Takia with her vest on around campus or in your class, know that it is okay to pet her as long as she is sitting or lying down. As tempting as it is to pet her when she comes walking by, we ask you kindly to please refrain; if you really want some puppy love, say “sit” or talk to one of the puppy raisers.

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To learn more about Takia’s life as a CCI puppy and what she does in her free time, you can follow her on Instagram (@takiaregisdpt) or talk to one of the Class of 2018 puppy raisers: Tara Businski, Sophia Fuller, Kayla Jurrens, Chris Lew, Karlee Nordstrom, Zach Taillie, Ryan Tollis, or myself.

Meet the Class of 2019 President: David Cummins

Name: David Cummins, Class of 2019
Hometown: Cortez, CO
Undergrad: Fort Lewis College

Fun Fact: I’ve moved 17 times since graduating high school

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When I received a letter from Regis University notifying me that I’d been accepted into their DPT program, I panicked. I had been working hard to get into PT school, but the reality of the impending changes caught me off guard. As a non-traditional student who had been out of school for more than 10 years, I was nervous about leaving the career I had worked so hard to build. The thought of surrounding myself with young, smart, successful, and ambitious classmates only added to my anxiety.

By the end of the first week of classes, I realized I had found my new family. Classmates surprised me by being genuinely interested in my academic success. They shared study guides, strategies for achievement, and—most importantly—support. There is now a palpable (Ha! Get it?) mentality that we’re all going to get through this program together;  that has made my anxiety melt away.

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David and his classmates climbing a 14er with some time off from school (PC: Elizabeth Johnson)

I was honored when someone nominated me for class president and elated when I was elected because the role will give me a chance to foster the supportive environment that got me through my first few weeks. The position comes with a lot of extra stress, but I’ll be working with an incredible group of elected officers who share the same vision of creating a healthy and supportive environment that is conducive to academic growth and overall success.

The 14 elected officers come from a wide variety of different backgrounds. Some have extensive experience working with physical therapists, some have worked in completely unrelated fields, and some are coming straight from undergraduate programs. Together, we represent a holistic cross-section of knowledge and viewpoints. We will utilize our combined skills and knowledge to build upon the foundation that previous classes have established and add our own projects and ideas to make this experience our own.

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The new officers for the Class of 2019

We’ve already been through a lot in the 11 short weeks we’ve known each other. The support and encouragement I’ve experienced has been overwhelming. Over the next 2.5 years, I hope to cultivate a supportive cohort based on the values we all share: we will be a community that promotes shared academic success and continues to motivate us to be the best, most compassionate physical therapists we can be.

President: David Cummins

Vice President: Katarina Mendoza

APTA Rep: Grace-Marie Vega

Fundraising Rep: Kassidy Stecklein and Celisa Hahn

DPT Rep: Nina Carson

Media Rep: Courtney Backward

Diversity Rep: Stephanie Adams

Ministry Rep: Sarah Collins

Service Rep: Amber Bolen

Move Forward Rep: Sarah Pancoast

Clin Ed Rep: Josh Hubert

Admissions Rep: Kelsie Jordan

Secretary: LeeAnne Little

Treasurer: Jennifer Tram

 

 

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

Name: Mason Hill

Hometown: Tacoma, WA

Undergrad: California Lutheran University

Fun Fact: I think I have a cold.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Candidates take interviews by a storm

Literally and figuratively.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blogger: Carol Passarelli

 

On the interview weekend: Meet Michael Young

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Hometown: Madison, WI

Undergrad: University of Wisconsin, Madison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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