A Hidden Gem for Students and Clinicians
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
In a few months I will receive my doctor of physical therapy degree from the University of South Carolina, sit for the NPTE, and begin my practice as a physical therapist specializing in geriatrics.
It's been a long road to get here, one that I undertook a little later in life than most of my classmates, but I'm excited about what the future has in store.
And honestly, I'm also a bit anxious.
During school and clinical education experiences, we typically have professors, classmates, and clinical instructors to turn to with questions about outcome measures, treatment options, or research evidence. Once we graduate and begin our careers as #FreshPTs the questions will continue, and while we won't necessarily be left to fend for ourselves, we will be expected to be more independent as we seek out those answers.
The importance of a well-stocked clinical toolbox can't be overstated, and one of the tools that you have access to as a member of APTA is PTNow.
Designed by physical therapists for physical therapists, PTNow provides APTA members-only access to the best resources for evidence-based patient care.
Among the information available on PTNow, you'll find:
- Clinical summaries of patient diagnoses
- Clinical practice guidelines
- Tests and measures
- Full-text article searches from a variety of databases
- Cochrane systematic reviews
- Rehabilitation Reference Center
All of these resources are there to help you—as both a student and a clinician—to provide the best patient care possible.
At National Student Conclave (NSC) 2018 in Providence, Rhode Island, I'll introduce you to the resources available on PTNow and show you how to get the most out of the site.
Whether you're a student of physical therapy, and whether you're in your first year or, like me, about to embark on your career, you'll walk away with the knowledge that you need to efficiently find the answers you seek for school assignments, in-services, research projects, and your future clinical practice.
There are lots of exciting presentations on tap at this year's NSC, and I hope you'll take some time to let me show you how PTNow can serve as an important tool in your clinical toolbox.
Bring your laptop, tablet, or phone, and we'll explore what PTNow has to offer together.
Join us October 11-13, 2018 in Providence, RI, for NSC! Register here.
Robyn Culbertson, SPT, is a student at the University of South Carolina and is the current Student Assembly liaison for PTNow. She has been a poster presenter at national, state, and university conferences, and she is the only student physical therapist to present an educational session at the 2018 National Student Conclave in Providence, Rhode Island.
To All Students: Remember, You've Got This
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
The first few weeks into physical therapy school can feel overwhelming. At least it did for me.
From orientation to your first day of class to your second week of class the excitement, while still there, begins to transition into a firm reality – you are now in physical therapy school.
Before this gets too deep into the anxiety, nerves, and the preciousness of time, take it from me: You need to consider that you got past the hard part, getting into the program. Not only that, but you're learning and training to be part of a great profession. Take a minute and remember that.
When you enter your program you quickly become part of a family—#PTfam. You will spend countless hours with your cohort, and for better or worse, this is your new physical therapy family. Just like any other family they will be there through this journey. Lean on them, talk with them, and find fun outlets to relieve stress with them. They will be the ones who will "get it," whatever that "it" may be.
In the first few weeks of your program, there will be quite a few social events with your school and your classmates, so despite the daunting amount of schoolwork, go to those events! This will help you meet your classmates and faculty in a different, more casual setting. This will only help in the long run, you'll put yourself in a great position to form study groups and friendships from the start.
Physical therapy school is by far much more difficult than undergraduate school. From the start, time will become a precious commodity, know that and prepare for it! Becoming organized and scheduling time for healthy activities and quality time with friends and family is really important. My best advice is to block off time on your calendar. Make hard and fast rules about the time designated for school and studying and the time for everything else. Remember though, you are in school studying to become part of the physical therapy profession. This is all really overwhelming now, but remember it's short-term, and again, use your classmates and faculty whether it's for help with school or just to talk it all out.
Even though the anxiety of classes might be piling on and the nerves are still there, you're in the program. Now is the time to buckle up and settle in, because you're now a part of an amazing profession.
Wishing all of my fellow physical therapy students the best of luck and, remember, you've got this!
My cohort at the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences
Jason Caselli, SPT, is a student at the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences doctor of physical therapy program. You can connect with Jason on Facebook and Twitter.
Where There is a Need There is an Opportunity
Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes
Students from different clinics across the United States have written about their experiences in providing physical therapist services in their communities with pro bono clinics.
After reading about how students and their areas have been impacted through involvement in these various clinics, we hope that you will be inspired to get involved in your own community through pro bono work, raising awareness about physical therapy during National Physical Therapy Month in October, or participating in the upcoming PT Day of Service!
"Where there is a need, there is an opportunity." This quote from a leadership in health care panelist at the University of Minnesota can be applied to opportunities that we have pursued at the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic to fill the need for physical therapy in an underserved community. Set up in the basement of a church within the Phillips Neighborhood, our student-run clinic serves the poorest neighborhood in Minneapolis. The clinic continues to expand as eager students from many different professions step up to offer their unique set of skills. These disciplines include physical therapy, pharmacy, medicine, dental, law, nutrition, social work, and many others. This interprofessional dynamic allows patients to benefit from a variety of specialty services. Additionally, students learn about the depth of knowledge that each specialty possesses and work together to offer the best care possible to each patient.
Student-run clinics also have a need for leadership. Interprofessional clinics provide a need and opportunity for each specialty to advocate for and expand the capabilities of their profession within the clinic. Physical therapy students at our clinic continually seek out ways to raise awareness about the benefits of using physical therapy to patients and peers. Examples include creating passes and guidelines that help direct patients with musculoskeletal pain to physical therapy, promoting our direct access laws, and creating and using advocacy platforms, including our clinic's "profession of the month," and our profession's National Physical Therapy Month. This also provides an opportunity to partner with organizations in the physical therapy community, such as Move Together as well as use the Pro Bono Incubator in order to expand our services in the clinic.
Our clinic had the privilege of applying for and receiving a Pro Bono Incubator grant through the Move Together organization. Move Together is a monumental organization in the physical therapy profession through their various projects, including the Catalyst Club, Pro Bono Incubator, and Clinic Development Program. With this grant, we were able to update the equipment available for patient care, as well as create educational tools and use resources from MoveForwardPT.com, a public awareness tool kit. This tool kit allows us to educate the community and future health care clinicians by printing and promoting materials about our services within and around the clinic.
There are endless opportunities for physical therapy students and practicing clinicians to get involved in pro bono work. Students can become involved in existing free clinics and sliding-scale clinics in their communities. Students can also speak with their respective physical therapy programs to suggest a partnership with a local pro bono clinic in their area. Many communities host semiannual health fairs that provide services to the uninsured, so this is a great place to look if there are no free clinics in your area. Practicing clinicians can volunteer their time as a preceptor or mentor at their local free clinic. This allows clinicians to directly treat underserved populations, while also providing invaluable mentorship to current students.
If you are currently involved in pro bono work, we encourage you to seek out leadership opportunities, as well as outside resources, such as the Pro Bono Incubator. Pro bono work is a unique opportunity to advocate for the physical therapy profession, while providing care to those who might otherwise not have access.
-Sarah Lansing, class of 2018 and Sara Scarbro, class of 2019, University of Minnesota
Hi, everyone! My name is Julie Bogaert and I am a third-year physical therapy student at Misericordia University in the small town of Dallas, Pennsylvania. I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to be a part of a group of students who created a physical therapy pro bono clinic in our community.
About 3 years ago, a few students and one of our professors had an idea of starting a clinic that would benefit not only our community, but also our students. This idea started off as a small spark ignited inside of the then third-year students (who are now successful PTs) and grew into a roaring fire that is growing more and more each year. The Pro Bono Clinic at Misericordia University is now in its second year of treating patients in the small town of Dallas, Pennsylvania. Our community is surrounded by low-income cities where many are underinsured or uninsured. Although there are plenty of pro bono medical clinics, we are the first pro bono physical therapy clinic in our area. Once the few students recognized the need for a pro bono physical therapy clinic, the job became finding the right students to take action and see this dream come to life. That is where my role comes into play. I was on the first student-run board as a second-year clinic coordinator, where I helped lead the students who volunteered their time and effort to help start our clinic. As we all worked together, we discovered the steps it took, including a tremendous amount of time and effort, to create a successful clinic (and we are still discovering those steps today).
Although we are still growing, we could not have started this clinic without the help from local donors, help from our university and community, and the Pro Bono Incubator (PBI) grant through the Move Together Foundation. The grant allowed us to purchase equipment that helped launch our clinic and made it seem like a more professional environment. The PBI grant also gave us a network of other clinics to connect and share ideas on how to improve our clinics and create a better experience for our patients. No matter what setting you are in, I find that it is important to be able to share ideas and create new concepts or projects that can better ourselves, our communities, and especially our patients. The pro bono clinics across the country and the Pro Bono Network give us just that. With their help, Misericordia's clinic was able to get up and running to start treating patients within a few months of creating our first student board.
Our clinic is continuing to grow each year, and as I graduate in December I look forward to seeing how future generations of physical therapy students contribute to the clinic. We provide a learning place for our students, faculty and staff, and physical therapists from our community, while giving back to our area. I am forever grateful for the experiences I had and can't wait to see what the future has in store for the Misericordia University Pro Bono Clinic.
-Julie Bogaert, Misericordia University, class of 2019
My name is Kaylee Pobocik and I am a second-year physical therapy student at Elon University in North Carolina. I believe that one of the highlights of Elon's program is our physical therapy HOPE (Health Outreach Program of Elon) pro bono clinic. One unique aspect of the HOPE Clinic is that it is 100% student run. We have a student board with positions that keep each component of the clinic running. One moving part of the clinic is a 5K race that we organize each year to fundraise for the clinic's supplies. The clinic is open every Tuesday evening and students volunteer their time to be on treatment teams of 2-4 students. Local clinicians also volunteer to supervise each treatment team. This allows students to gain new perspectives and techniques from a variety of clinicians in additions to our professors.
In my time at Elon I have volunteered to be involved in treatment sessions. This experience has allowed me to foster relationships with area clinicians and use my training to give back to the local community. Volunteering at the clinic has been a great opportunity for me and my classmates to apply skills that we have learned in the classroom and apply them before we go out on a clinical rotation. Students in any class are able to volunteer. Second- and third-year students usually take the lead in sessions, while first-year students are able to practice taking vitals, goniometric measurements, and manual muscle testing. Being involved in the HOPE clinic has made me more confident going into my early clinical rotations, and I am so thankful for the opportunity Elon has given me.
-Kaylee Pobocik, Elon University, class of 2019
The city of Miami is known for its beautiful beaches, raging night life, and multicultural food. On the surface, Miami may seem like a location of wealth and glamour. But if you look closer, of the 463,347 people living in Miami, 16% (about 74,000 people) of the population's household income is less than $10,000, and 16% of the population's household income sits between $15,000 and $25,000. With the average rent sitting at around $995 a month for a 1 bedroom residence, it is surprising how tenants can manage their rent each month, let alone afford their health care. Miami has a deep need for health care and this is where the University of Miami, Department of Physical Therapy, has filled the gap and has stepped in to give back to the community.
Miami's population increases each year by 2%. The number of undocumented people in Miami has increased. It is very difficult for undocumented Miami residents to be approved for health care and many families earn income at 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. While some patients are employed, most of them work during the day and have to sacrifice potential earning hours to receive health care.
In an effort to accommodate this population, the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, partnered with San Juan Bosco Clinic to provide health care services to disadvantaged individuals in Miami-Dade County, who otherwise would not have the necessary means to seek care. These services include physical therapy visits at a student-run physical therapy clinic that is free to patients who can demonstrate income at 200% or less of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, per Florida state requirements for free clinics. Our clinic operates twice a week from 7:00 pm–9:00 pm in order to accommodate schedules for our patients and our students.
Our vision to serve, educate, and empower those who would otherwise not be able to afford physical therapy is hopefully leading to a healthier community a little bit at a time, while offering hands-on skills for students. In 3 years of operation, the University of Miami pro bono clinic has provided care for more than 200 patients, and more are awaiting services. The University of Miami, Department of Physical Therapy, offers the pro bono experience as an elective class in the curriculum. Faculty and staff who are licensed University of Miami physical therapists supervise students twice a week throughout the semester to provide care for the underserved population here in Miami. We are currently experiencing growth in our clinic and are now learning to deal with wait-lists of future patients who need to be seen. Ongoing service may ultimately culminate into the elective course being offered as a required integrated clinical experience in order to provide live practical experience, while upholding a spirit of service to the uninsured in our community.
-Alicia Canton, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, class of 2020
Consider celebrating National Physical Therapy Month by participating in the 2018 PT Day of Service that takes place on Saturday, October 13. APTA is a proud partner of PT Day of Service, a global event founded by physical therapists in 2015. Whether you are hosting an PT month event, volunteering at a pro bono clinic, or serving the community by cleaning up a park, you’ll be joining with PTs, PTAs, and students of physical therapy across the world who are actively making a difference in their communities on or around that day.
A Journey Around the World and Back Again
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
Would you believe me if I told you that a single Facebook message changed my life?
Or that it has led to a global movement that has united more than 10,000 PTs, PTAs, and students from all 50 states and 55 countries from around the world?
When I graduated from physical therapy school in 2013, I was fired up to use my new skill sets to change the world. Fresh off an invigorating experience on the Student Assembly board, I was brimming with passion.
One fateful night, about 6 months into my career, while perusing through Facebook I saw some pictures of a friend participating on a service trip. Looking closer at his profile I saw that he had some upcoming trips planned, so I sent him a message:
"Efosa - definitely interested in the Guatemala trip if I can get the vacation time. Please send more details. Hope you're well!"
The actual Facebook messenger exchange from 2013.
Little did he know that I had never been outside the country.
Nor did he know that I was searching for something deep inside myself, something more in my career and my journey.
Fast-forward 10 months and I'm crisscrossing Guatemala in a 15-passenger van, in the back of pickup trucks, and in propeller planes with only 10 seats. We traveled from the urban center of Guatemala City to the rural town of Esquipulas, near the eastern border of El Salvador and Honduras, and even to the ancient Mayan ruins in the northern part of the country.
While on the ground, we had the chance to meet with local Guatemalan physical therapist leaders, explore the culture, see the country, and care for its people.
Meeting with the dean of the University of Panamerican and the president of the Guatemala Physical Therapy Association to discuss collaboration efforts for the future.
While there I fell in love with the people, the culture, and the concept of service. And naturally what happens when you fall in love is that you want to give. So we discussed the potential to teach at the local physical therapy school to share with and learn from the local students. We left the meetings agreeing that we had the mutual desire to further our collaboration.
"You know this means we are going to have to come back," Efosa said after our last meeting.
"We'll see," I responded, "after all, this is my first time out of the United States."
This was just the beginning of a journey, a journey that has led us around the world and back again; a journey that has painted a mosaic of passion, travel, friendship, and service; a journey that has led to new initiatives, new organizations, and new clinics around the world.
Efosa (left) and Josh (right) outside of Move Together's first physical therapy clinic in Villa Nueva, Guatemala. Efosa and Josh cofounded Move Together in 2016.
We are looking forward to sharing that journey with you and exploring what your best life might look like at APTA's National Student Conclave in October.
Join us in Providence, Rhode Island, October 11-13, 2018 for National Student Conclave. Discounted registration ends September 14.
Josh D'Angelo, PT, DPT, board-certified orthopaedic clinical specialist, is cofounder and chief operations officer of Move Together, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase access to quality rehabilitation medicine around the corner and around the world. He also is cofounder of MovementX and PT Day of Service. D'Angelo graduated from George Washington University's doctor of physical therapy program in 2013. You can connect with Josh on Twitter at @joshdangelo.
Podcast: Advice From a CI
Listening Time - 30:19
Welcome to the Pulse podcast. This podcast series expands on notable articles originally published at APTA's Pulse blog for DPT and PTA students so they can reach a wider audience.
In this episode, we talk to Jessica Baugh about clinical rotations. A clinical instructor herself, Jessica often reminds students that they are still students, and that clinical rotations are supposed to be about learning.
It's a chance for students to learn new clinical skills and explore different areas of practice. And mistakes are all part of the process.
Here's our conversation with Jessica.
Read Jessica's original blog post, "What I Want Students to Know Before Starting Clinical Rotations."
APTA Podcasts like this one are available on iTunes and Google Play, or visit APTA.org/Podcasts.
What Do You Do?
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
"What do you do?"
It's a short and simple question and answering it used to make me uncomfortable, although it never should have. Should I be humble? Cocky? Matter-of-fact? Or play it down?
What I did was so profoundly different, exciting, important, and amazing that typically nobody could believe it, and for the rest of my life I suspect I'll get the jaw-dropping, air gasping, open-mouthed reaction that I've come to know from just about everyone I meet.
My answer to this routine question was that I was the White House physical therapist working for President Barack Obama. An answer that always elicited the same response no matter who asked because what I did was interesting, and how I got there was unique.
In serving the president of the United States in such a close and personal capacity, my patients, colleagues, professors, industry leaders, family, friends, parents from my kids' teams, and famous singers, athletes, actors, politicians, and royalty (no kidding!) that I met along the way all seemed to want to know: How did you get that job, and what was it like?
Surely any job that requires this much energy and attention must come with notoriety, with a certain amount of glory and fame! The paycheck must be unreal, and the benefits must be tremendous, right?
For me it was a job that I never knew existed. What I came to learn was that it was a job that required the highest possible security clearance in the world. It involved traveling through every corner of the world, filling up passport after passport with visas, but never having to stand in line at the airport. It was changing time zones more frequently than I changed clothes. It was going through downtown New York City with no traffic. It was pulling up the car right next to the airplane, with engines running, waiting to take off as soon as we boarded. It was a job so shrouded in secrecy there was a whole agency dedicated to it. The whole world—literally the whole world—watched the fruits of my labor, the summation of my life's work, on display for everyone to see.
At National Student Conclave 2018, I will present a peek behind the curtain of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. I look forward to answering your questions and sharing with you what the role of physical therapy is in this setting, how to prepare for an untraditional career pathway, what other opportunities there are like this, and how you can find them.
Join us October 11-13, 2018 at APTA’s National Student Conclave — the only conference for students, by students. For the best rates register by September 14, 2018.
Drew Contreras, PT, DPT, Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Sports Physical Therapy
Don't Forget to Be Your Own Self-Care Advocate
Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes
Prior to my time in physical therapy school, I hosted an annual walkathon in my town to raise awareness for mental health well-being, while also encouraging the community to find a balance between mind, body, and spirit.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, eventually, I found myself in the midst of physical therapy school, no longer being my own advocate for that same mental, physical, and emotional balance that I was cheerleading for others back home.
In your first year of physical therapy school your mind is engrossed in class all day, every day, plus the studying and labs done outside of that class time. Ultimately, this means you're sitting for much of your day and finding yourself mentally taxed when you can finally get out of your seat. That's the physical and mental side though, what about the emotional?
If you're a student and you're reading this you'll most likely take the words right out of my mouth, school is hard. You're tired, stressed, and finding yourself on this emotional roller coaster taking you anywhere between excited at the prospect of studying and pursuing a career you're so passionate about, and drained due to the intensity and anxiety that comes with the amount of coursework and knowledge you must retain—oh, and did I mention grades?
As a former track and cross-country athlete, when it came to school, I was able to realize this much: This experience was not a sprint, instead it's more like a marathon that forces you to adapt, pace yourself, and train with consistency.
But here's the key.
If we as PT and PTA students continue to take care of our own mind, body, and spirit, we'll make it through this school experience healthy and ready to serve our profession and our patients.
For me, I've found maintaining a personal fitness routine during school has done wonders, despite being tired and exhausted. As experts in movement science, we know one thing to be true – if your body feels good and energetic then your intellectual and emotional self will follow.
One of the key aspects of building a consistent fitness routine is finding the right setting. Regardless of your niche, it comes down to finding a gym or outdoor environment that suits you best.
You have to figure out what will motivate you on the best and worst days. Is it an A-level gym with state-of-the-art facilities that you may have to trek to or a nearby gym with all of the basics? Likewise, finding a park or outdoor facility to exercise in also requires consideration of the type of safety, terrains, and hours of availability offered to meet your needs. No matter what environment you choose, make it your own!
Choose a game or activity that motivates you to move! In physical therapy school, all the sitting you do will make any form of movement beneficial for your body, so yes, take advantage of breaks during class to stretch out those arms and legs.
Maybe during your 1-hour lunch, commit a half hour to fitness by going for a jog around campus with a couple of classmates. As PT or PTA students we're usually dressed in our gym gear anyway, why not take advantage of it?
If you are a team player, take the initiative to find classmates with similar thrills in recreational sports and find a common place and time to play together. Your fitness routine can vary from being individualistic or team based, as long as your game or activity will motivate you to get up and move during your off time.
You're probably reading this and thinking, sure fitness is great, but with what time?
You find time to scroll through social media, right? You find time to make it to happy hour, right? While I'm not saying those things aren't necessary to maintain your sanity during our time in school, I'm just saying you make a point to carve out time for things you want to do. This goes back to figuring out what activity or sport motivates you. What do you find is the most fun?
That's the great thing about exercise, it can require minimal equipment or apparel, and even if it's 10 minutes a day, that's a win. Remember, something is better than nothing.
One of the ways I manage to fit exercise into my day is by adding it to my schedule. If you mark it on your calendar—20 minutes for exercise—you're probably more likely to do it.
Remember, the first year of physical therapy school may start feeling like a routine between class and lab, so the last thing you want is to fall off your fitness routine.
My challenge to you is to try something fitness or movement related that you've never done before. Is it yoga? Is it a rock climbing wall? Is it a spin class? Whatever it is, try it, and be open when doing so! You might find that you like it.
Reflecting back on that walkathon I hosted many years ago. I'm reminded that fitness is a wonder pill that balances the major triad of mental, physical, and emotional health, while navigating our PT or PTA school experience.
Rebecca Mohan, SPT, is a current student at Northern Illinois University.