Leadership Through Service: A Student Perspective

Name: Amber Bolen, Class of 2019 Service Representative

Undergrad: University of Oregon

Hometown: Eugene, OR

Fun Fact: In college I spontaneously gained the ability to wiggle my ears.

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Hi everyone! My name is Amber and I am the Regis DPT Class of 2019’s Service Representative. Being the service rep for my class means that I work with people and organizations in the community to plan and implement service projects for my class to participate in. I have also had the wonderful opportunity to be Regis’s PT Day of Service Representative for 2017, a title that has now been passed to Austin Adamson, the service rep for Regis’ class of 2020.

The prospect of serving others was one of the main draws for me to attend Regis University’s DPT program. One of the first questions I would ask my prospective schools was “what opportunities do you provide for students to be involved in serving the community?” Regis was by far the most equipped to answer this question. With service learning projects being embedded into almost every semester, domestic and international service opportunities through the Global Health Pathway, and countless opportunities and contacts for students to find more to be involved in, I was hooked.

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Regis DPT Class of 2019 students pose with Denver Parks and Rec employees after working hard mulching trees and raking leaves at Sloan’s Lake Park.

Before beginning my journey as my class’s service rep, I wanted to determine what my fellow classmates were really interested in. Being people who all made the conscious decision to live in Colorado for 2.5 years, outdoor projects were high on the list. In the past, I’ve organized day projects cleaning and keeping up parks surrounding Regis. For example, for PT Day of Service we worked at Berkeley Park to restore the playgrounds, repaint picnic tables, clear trash, and unearth perennial plants.

Another trip involved collaborating with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado to provide trail restoration work at the Anna Mule Trails near Georgetown, Colorado. The trail restoration project was a weekend endeavor that resulted in sore muscles, a more refined grasp on what goes into creating a trail, great food, and excellent classmate bonding time.

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Regis Class of 2019 students take a break for a photo op while they work on the Anna Mule Trail near Georgetown, CO.

Being the service rep for my class has truly been an honor and I would be remised not to reflect on what I’ve learned in the process. Here are some “pearls of wisdom” I was able to collect:

  • You don’t have to be outgoing to be a student representative, but in my case I did have to be comfortable reaching out to community partners I hadn’t met yet.
  • Sometimes what you think an individual or a community needs is not actually what they need. Our job when providing service is to listen and respond in kindness if we are to do anything tangible.
  • While direct service (working with people face-to-face) is valuable and rewarding, indirect service, such as maintaining community areas, has merits too. I can’t count how many people thanked us during our park clean ups!
  • An act of service does not have to be a huge, momentous task. Small acts of service are appreciated more than we think.
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Regis Class of 2019 and 2020 students and friends take a group photo in Berkeley Park on PT Day of Service.

The fact that so many Regis DPT students are willing and excited to take part in service projects beyond what is expected by their classes speaks volumes about the type of people that our program attracts. I have never met a group a people, students and faculty alike, that are so committed to doing more for others. Service is so inextricably linked to the curriculum, values, and culture here at Regis that it has become part of who we are. As my classes at Regis come to a close and I am getting precariously close to “real world PT,” I know that the emphasis placed on these values will make us excellent physical therapists. We have learned to be sensitive to the needs of our patients and our communities and understand that physical therapists have a unique position to advocate for and implement change on individual, community, and societal levels. My hope as we all eventually graduate is for us to take everything that we’ve learned and apply it to our own clinical practice. I hope for all of us to listen, ask questions, create connections, and take initiative to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

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Cleaning up trash at Berkeley Park!

Please stay tuned for PT Day of Service this year, happening in early October of this year! Look for announcements from Austin Adamson, the Regis DPT Class of 2020 Service Rep and PT Day of Service rep for 2018! If you have questions about anything involving student service at Regis, please feel free to email me at abolen@regis.edu. In addition, if you have any questions about PT Day of Service 2018, Austin’s email is aadamson001@regis.edu.

 

Service Learning in PT School

Name: Austin Adamson, Class of 2020 Service Officer

Undergrad: Saint Louis University

Hometown: Laguna Niguel, CA

Fun fact: I recently dove with manta rays and sea turtles in the Great Barrier Reef!

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As students of physical therapy, we are undertaking a career that is founded upon the ideas of service and care for others. We spend countless hours in both classrooms and clinics learning a craft that allows us to heal our patients and restore their function and participation, ultimately serving them in a life-altering way. But, for many students of Regis University, the call to serve others extends beyond the classroom. It is a part of who we are, and who we are called to be.

The young Class of 2020 has only recently begun its efforts to serve beyond the community of our school and classmates. Our first service effort began in February, in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Members of our class were generous enough to donate time and toys to Children’s Hospital Colorado to wish children and their families a happy Valentine’s Day.  Both the Van Gogh’s and the less successful artists in our class handmade over 150 cards, sending best wishes and love to remind every child that they are cared for, even through the challenging time of a hospital stay.

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These cards accompanied nearly $100 worth of toys and games that helped make the time in a hospital more enjoyable for the children being treated, their siblings, and their parents.

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Left to right: Josh H, Auburn BP, and Austin A delivering Valentine’s Day cards and toys to children at Children’s Hospital Colorado.

With the turning of the seasons and the coming of beautiful summer weather, members of our class turned to the mountains to participate in a trail building and conservation effort for National Trails Day.  On a warm Saturday, a small group of students and significant others made their way out to Hildebrand Ranch Park to volunteer with Jefferson County Open Space.  The group worked to construct a small section of new trail that will be opened in 2019, and also helped maintain an existing section of trail by cutting back overgrowth of invasive plants.

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Left to right: Meghan R, Nicole R, Emily P, Austin A, and Hannah D serving at Hildebrand Ranch Park.

Ask any Coloradan, native or otherwise, and they will tell you about the importance of trail work! As avid nature hikers, trail-runners, and mountain bikers, the Class of 2020 will continue to give back to the beautiful mountains we know and love as well as the community members who use them.

These are just a few examples of the service and work being done for others by my classmates and professors. Service is an integral part of our time here at Regis University, and is preparation for a lifetime of service as we will enter the field of physical therapy with hopes of serving our patients and empowering their lives. Some are called to service through the Jesuit Mission that is incorporated at Regis, which teaches us to be men and women for others. Some draw strength from acts of selflessness that bring joy and comfort to others. And still others enjoy building a community by meeting new people in service opportunities, and sharing experiences with one another. Regardless of the reason, the students of physical therapy at Regis University work to be engaged in both the local and global community. We are pursuing not just a degree, but the ability to shape a better world through our work!

Congratulations to the new Puppy Raising Team!

Every year, the first years can apply to be a member of the DPT service dog training program.  Congrats to the newest Class of 2019 members! We can’t wait to see Zuma grow up with you in the program. For more information about the team, check out Tiffany’s blog post from December.

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From left to right: Elizabeth Johnson, Kiki Anderton, David Cummins, Alex Lubahn (back), Daniel Griego, Jessie Kirkwood, Kim Bjorkman, and Kassidy Stecklein (front right)…and, of course, Zuma front and center!

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?!

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.

Regis DPT Students Plan the Move Forward 5K/10K

Name: Ryan Bourdo, Class of 2018

Hometown: Corvallis, Oregon

Undergrad: University of Oregon

Fun Fact: I ran a 4K snow shoe race once.

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Race day is always the best. It is the culmination of months of training—immediately followed by the chance to take a well-deserved day, week, or month off from running. The atmosphere is always amazing, too. Everyone is still a little groggy from being up way too early for the weekend, but there is still a palpable excitement; the people next to you on the starting line are instant friends because you all share a common goal: finish the race. And that feeling you get after finishing? Incredible. No matter how tough a race is for me, I am always energetic and talkative afterwards. I have been fortunate enough to run some fun races in the last few years, and I want to bring some of that same excitement to Move Forward.

The Move Forward 5K/10K Race (September 17, 2016) is arguably THE most important event of the year for Regis University’s School of Physical Therapy. I argue this because I am the co-director of the race this year, and this is my blog post. Move Forward is a special event for me. It is a chance to help my school share what we know to be the best ways to live healthy lives. I firmly believe anyone can complete a 5K with practice, motivation, and a little help if needed. More than anything, what I want for people to get out of Move Forward this year is to have a good time and learn a little about taking care of themselves.

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Some of the Class of 2018 after the 2015 Move Forward Race

The idea behind this event is to get people to think about their health, get moving, and live better. For those already signed up, make sure to get to the race early to get your grab bags! We will have bagels, bananas, and coffee for those needing an extra boost in the morning. Several of our classmates will also lead group stretching as well. And then we are off! Music will be blaring, water stations will be flowing, people will be cheering. Whether you are running or walking, we will make sure you have a good time. Make sure to stay after the race, too, because we are planning a lot of post-race greatness. Not only will we have burgers, hot dogs, and beer (not the healthiest, we know, but you deserve it) but we are planning a lot of activities, as well. Informational booths will be there to help guide you in taking care of yourself through exercise, nutrition, and general wellness. We also hope to have some yoga and/or Zumba classes after the race. And, because we want this to be a family event, we are looking for fun activities for kids, tool. Check out our website for updates as our race schedule finalizes: https://moveforward5k10k.racedirector.com.

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Not only will this race be a great way to learn about how to stay healthy, but all of the proceeds will go to Canine for Companions and the Foundation for Physical Therapy. Canine for Companions is especially meaningful to us at Regis because we have an annual team of students that assists in raising a dog before it starts training to become a fully-fledged service dog. The Foundation for Physical Therapy is also a great cause; it helps support research in physical therapy. If you have not signed up for the race yet and I have thoroughly convinced you of how awesome this event will be, you can register here: https://moveforward5k10k.racedirector.com/registration-1.

Again, the race will be held on September 17, 2016 and begins at 9:00am.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me directly at rbourdo@regis.edu.

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Many Ryans running

Ryan Bourdo graduated The University of Oregon with B.S. Degrees in Biology and Human Physiology in 2010. Originally thinking of medical school (never mind the fact that medical school rejected him twice), he soon fell in love with physical therapy, thanks to an amazing therapist in Portland, Vince Blaney, MSPT. Vince showed him everything he originally wanted to be as a physician: using anatomy and physiology to help those with injuries. He soon worked as a physical therapist aide for two years and is currently at Regis University completing a Doctor of Physical Therapy. In his free time, Ryan likes to run, hike, and cook. You can find Ryan at www.ryanbourdo.com, or on Twitter @RyanBourdo

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Global Health Immersion: Students in Peru

In preparing my capstone presentation and reflecting on the last three years in physical therapy school at Regis, I began to see a theme linking all of my most rich experiences from which I learned the most: discomfort. From patient labs and practical exams to clinicals to presentations to service learning, we are constantly thrown into situations where we do not know exactly what to expect, are not sure of our abilities, and have to be willing to be flexible and a little bit vulnerable. These are the times we grow and learn the most. The global health immersion to Peru this spring was no different, and it even amplified those familiar feelings of unease. But I have found that those times of the unknown, unexpected, and unsure are the times when the most growth occurs. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in the global health program at Regis, to learn from the people of Peru, to challenge myself to practice with cultural sensitivity, and to gain a better understanding of a culture different from my own.

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Third year students Allie Smith, Elena Absalon, and I traveled with Dr. Heidi Eigsti to Peru where we spent three weeks working with therapists and patients in the city of Huancayo. We spent much of our time with the Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB), which is a Non-Governmental Organization that serves primarily women and children.

CMMB has two programs in Huancayo. The first is CHAMPS, which focuses on promoting health, hygiene, nutrition, prenatal care, and access to health care providers. The second, with which we worked, is Rehabilitación Basado en Comunidad (RBC), or Community Based Rehabilitation. The program focuses on serving children with disabilities and their families in the most impoverished neighborhoods in Huancayo, Chilca, and Azapampa. Two physical therapists, Carmen and Loreley, and one psychologist, Lucia, care for 40 children and their families with both home and clinic-based treatment. The goal of the program, in keeping with the World Health Organization’s initiative to improve accessibility for people with disabilities around the globe, is to provide community-based rehab that is relationship focused and incorporates functional activities into everyday routines to improve patients’ participation in their homes and communities.

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The impact that RBC was having on the community in Huancayo was evident. The families with whom we worked were well educated on goals of therapy, extremely involved in home exercise programs, and motivated to do whatever they could to help their child improve. The therapists focused on all aspects of the child’s well-being and had developed strong relationships with them and their families. The Jesuit value of cura personalis was definitely at work, incorporating mind, body and spirit into care. The therapists put together events to connect the families, and they were working to develop of community of support. It was a valuable learning experience to see such a team-based, holistic approach being implemented in an underserved community. CMMB is definitely working to create a sustainable solution to removing the barriers to health and participation faced by the women and children of Chilca and Azapampa. That sustainability is imperative in making a lasting difference in the area, and I am excited for future Regis students to have the opportunity to continue to develop this new relationship with CMMB.

I should mention the whole immersion wasn’t all work. We went on an artisan tour in the mountains surrounding Huancayo where we learned about gourd painting, silver jewelry crafting, and textile production. We hiked to the glacier on Huaytapallana mountain at around 16,000 feet and completed a three-day trek to Machu Picchu City. These experiences introduced us to more of the beautiful landscape and culture of the country, and we were welcomed everywhere we went by warm people of Peru.
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Blogger: Abby Burger, Class of 2016

 

 

What is a Regis DPT service learning project?

Every semester, Regis DPT students participate in a service learning project that gives us the opportunity to work out in the community. Our first semester project didn’t happen due to some pesky snow; this semester, though, we had many options to get involved with different disabled populations. Others in my class spent time at weekend retreat camps for children with motor and mental disabilities, skiing with those with mobility impairments, and bowling with people with Down syndrome. As a former ballet dancer, I was attracted to the dance program that was listed in our options.

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Some students spent some days up at Keystone and helped people with disabilities ski!

Spoke N’ Motion is a fully integrated dance company. When I say fully integrated, I really mean it! During my time with the company, I have met many members who have vision, hearing, and mobility impairments along with other members who have autism, Down syndrome, or lesser detectable disabilities. I remember walking into the rehearsal the first day—I had absolutely no idea how it was going to work. How do you get a group with such different levels to dance together? Honestly, I expected the rehearsal to be messy and difficult.

It was the opposite of that. An individual with visual impairments stood to the side and watched a few times before joining. Those in wheelchairs used their arms to mimic the leg movements. The younger kids kept up with the adults. I was amazed and so honored that I was getting to experience a little slice of it. The company performs regularly! I entered with a narrow mind about what I would be experiencing, but they opened me up to so many new ideas.

My project only required a handful of hours, yet I have found myself going back every week. I’m no longer a person who is dancing with Spoke N’ Motion as a project for school;  I’m a member of the company. I have fun dancing with everyone there. They have a performance coming up next month, and I’m even dancing in the show.

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Our company practicing! Pic: Carl Payne

The atmosphere of the company is of overwhelming joy. One member posts in the private Facebook group every Friday before rehearsals about how excited she is to see everyone the next day. For many there, this company is a place where their varying abilities are highlighted as a good thing. We push the boundaries of what I thought was ‘okay.’ Who would have thought it was okay to stand on the back of a wheelchair to do spins?

Service learning is an amazing opportunity to get out of our ‘school brains.’ We get to work with real people and see how concepts from class can be applied. Being open to new and uncomfortable situations is an important part of our education. I, for one, am glad I go to a university that encourages service learning!

And, if you happen to be around Denver next month: come see us dance! Performances are May 14 and 15th. Look here for tickets: http://www.spokenmotiondance.org/performances.html

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Blogger: Madeleine Sutton

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.