How to pick the right PT school: Meet Madeleine Sutton

Name: Madeleine Sutton

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Undergrad: Seattle University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

PT School: No longer a pain in the neck

Sitting, studying, stress:  we’ve all felt tense around the shoulders and neck before.  First years, in particular, would attest to some serious cramping after so many hours of studying first semester.

Luckily, one of our second semester classes focuses on the biomechanics of the spine.  And, with that, we get to learn how to test ligaments and facilitate movement between spinal segments.

In our lab yesterday, we focused on the lower cervical spine and were trying to incorporate concepts of biomechanics with learning how to work gently and professionally with other people’s necks.

Although we had to understand the proper movement of each vertebrae, I think the most important take-away from this first exposure was learning how to be comfortable and confident when handling someone else’s head.  I think we all enjoyed taking turns getting different segments of our neck isolated; it felt like a massage after all that sitting!

Blogger: Carol Passarelli

Commuting, anatomy groups, and transitions: Meet Amanda Rixey

Amanda Rixey

Hometown: Overland Park, KS

Undergrad: University of Kansas

Fun fact: I used to be a ballet dancer.
Rixey

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

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

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

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

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

Coming from another career: Meet Katie Ragle

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

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

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

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

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

Katie

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

Transitioning to PT school: Meet Chris Lew

Christopher Lew

Hometown: Eugene, OR

Undergrad: University of Portland

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

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On the first semester and transitioning into graduate school:

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

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

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

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