Student Spotlight: Avenlea Gamble ’16, ’17

avenlea_gamble_resizeRedwood trees evoke different memories for different people, from Stanford University’s logo to summer camping trips in Sequoia National Park. For Avenlea Gamble ’16, ’17 redwoods remind her of home. Gamble is from Willits, California, the small city located in Mendocino County, 35 miles east of Fort Bragg, known as the “Gateway to the Redwoods.” The first time she stepped on the Pacific campus she felt at home.

In May, Gamble completed her bachelor of science in speech-language pathology (SLP) at Pacific and is now starting the graduate program. “I knew I always wanted to go into some kind of therapy,” said Gamble. “In high school I was torn between occupational therapy and speech-language pathology.” The opportunity to shadow a speech-language pathologist helped her decide which career path to follow.

Her advice for those starting the SLP program, either as an undergraduate or graduate student, is to connect with the faculty. “Definitely talk to your faculty inside and outside of class. They are such great resources and are very well known in the field.” She expressed that she aspires to follow in their footsteps. She adds, “This is an incredible community of very intelligent and very passionate individuals, I’m so glad to be a part of it.” She adds, “Being a Pacific Tiger has given me a life-long community of friends and colleagues.” The positive experience she has had as a Pacific Tiger has even changed the way she thinks about the color orange.

Gamble was selected by the SLP faculty to be the recipient of the Virginia Puich Endowed Scholarship, which recognizes clinical and academic excellence. Emerita faculty member Virginia Puich, MS served as department chair from 1987 until her retirement in 1993. Her focus on clinical training helped shape the SLP program at Pacific into what is today.  “She was a big catalyst for where we are now,” says Gamble. She is honored to have been chosen as the recipient of this scholarship. “To think they saw even a fraction of her in me. It is incredible to know they view me in the same light.” She adds, “Having the support from all different areas of my life is one of the reasons I am here today.”

Gamble is a member of Omega Eta Epsilon, a Greek-letter honor society unique to Pacific. “We focus on increasing literacy,” explains Gamble. Founded in 2011, Omega Eta Epsilon is open to students who are majoring or minoring in any language, as well as those studying SLP. “We are a very eclectic group; English majors, speech-language pathology majors and others who have a passion for linguistics.” Illiteracy can have a profound impact on an individual both socially and professionally. She sees an urgent need for literacy programs in the San Joaquin County; she believes that Pacific students help meet that need by hosting outreach events and organizing book drives.

Gamble believes in the concept of paying it forward. Upon graduating she plans to return to her hometown where there is a shortage of speech-language pathologists. “I would like to work in the medical setting, either a hospital or skilled nursing facility.” Her passion is for helping those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease regain language skills. She elaborates, “To speak, to introduce themselves, to have those normal day-to-day conversations.”

 

Faculty Spotlight: Derek Isetti ’08, PhD, CCC-SLP

deans_letter_summer16_derek_isettiDerek Isetti ’08, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor of speech-language pathology, was awarded a grant from the University’s Strategic Educational Excellence Development fund for a project titled, “Prevention and Screening of Voice Disorders: Providing a Bridge between Academic Disciplines at Pacific.” This grant allows for the purchase of voice screening equipment and guest lectures on the care of one’s voice. Once the program is underway, Pacific students and faculty will have the opportunity to participate in voice screenings. Dr. Isetti brings to the project his unique combination of experiences in both the theater and speech-language pathology (SLP).

What aspect of this project are you most excited about?

Dr. Isetti: “The ability to share knowledge about the vocal mechanism with individuals who will be relying heavily on their voices throughout their careers. There is an aura of mystery around how our voices function and there are also a lot of misconceptions about how to best care for our voices. I’m hoping that this project will be an eye-opening experience, both for the individuals who take part in the screenings, as well as the SLP students who will be helping to conduct them.”

This is an interdisciplinary project; please explain what other departments you will be working with.

Dr. Isetti: “Pacific is fortunate in that we have a Speech, Hearing and Language Center designed to treat members of the local community who have communication disorders. Yet, there are students and faculty here on campus that could easily benefit from some of the services we offer. When you look at our campus as a whole, some of our most prestigious and long-standing programs are those that place a high demand on the vocal mechanism: teacher education, music therapy, music education and vocal performance.”

Why do you think it is important to create connections between academic disciplines?

Dr. Isetti: “Often educators and researchers possess specialized knowledge in a particular field, but that knowledge is contained in separate silos across the various departments. Before I became a voice researcher I began my career on Broadway as a singer. I experienced firsthand that using and protecting our voices requires a bit of both ‘art and science.’”

In what way does this project impact the speech-language pathology and audiology programs?

Dr. Isetti: “The equipment purchased from this grant is going to be incorporated into the curriculum for graduate level voice disorders classes.”

How will students be involved in this project?

Dr. Isetti: “Graduate SLP students who are interested in the field of voice disorders will be assisting me with these voice screenings. These graduate students will be able to gain essential clinical contact hours by assisting with the collection of case history questions, self-reports, auditory-perceptual and acoustic measures of voice. Aside from the individual screenings themselves as part of the grant I will also be providing yearly guest lectures to students in other departments. The focus of these lectures will be on the basic anatomy and physiology of the voice, as well as habits that can help or harm the voice over time.”

Can you please describe the equipment that will be purchased with this grant?

Dr. Isetti: “Believe it or not, our vocal folds vibrate so quickly that you can’t even see the movements with the naked eye. The fancy name for the main piece of equipment is a rigid endoscope with a stroboscopic light source attachment. This basically involves a scope that rests on your tongue, a strobe light that flashes at specific intervals according to the frequency of your voice and a recording apparatus connected to a computer. It is this strobe-effect that captures the movements of the vocal folds that would be lost with the naked eye.”

Why is it important for a teacher to take care of their voice?

Dr. Isetti: “A recent study by Nelson Roy and his colleagues revealed that almost 60 percent of teachers will report having a history of a voice disorder over their lifetime. Not only is there often a personal and physical toll on the teacher […], students are negatively impacted as well. More and more studies are revealing that students perform worse on auditory processing and memory tasks when they are listening to even a mildly dysphonic voice, as opposed to a healthy voice.”

What do you hope to contribute to the SLP profession as a result of this project?

Dr. Isetti: “I’ve become increasingly more interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning. I think there are some valuable insights to be had regarding whether the equipment used in the classroom by our graduate students could help better prepare them for their medical placements. I’m also curious as to whether this early exposure to vocal health information, and more specifically with the ability to see one’s own vocal cords in real time, might have a lasting impact on how our students use their voices throughout their careers.”

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Sabah Ali ’13, ’15

deans_letter_summer16_sabah_aliWhen talking with Sabah Ali ’13, ’15 what becomes immediately apparent is her passion for speech-language pathology (SLP). “I always knew that I wanted to do something in a helping profession and with kids,” shares Ali. She was initially attracted to SLP because of the versatility of the profession. Working with her first client solidified her decision to pursue a career in SLP. Michael Susca, PhD, CCC-SLP, BRS-FD, associate professor of speech-language pathology, speaks highly of Ali. He shares, “She best represents the highest qualifications and characteristics of speech-language pathologists and the profession.”

Ali, along with co-authors Morgan Dufresne ’15 and Dr. Susca, presented a paper at the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) Annual Convention and Exhibition in Anaheim on April 29, 2016 titled, “Difference in Expressive and Receptive English Vocabulary Test Scores.” When exploring this topic they discovered that the majority of the existing research focused on children. For their study they decided to look at adults ages 18 to 65.

Ali is fascinated by research that looks at the experiences of individuals who are bilingual as she herself speaks multiple languages. In addition to fluently speaking English, she speaks Punjabi and Urdu, as well as several other South East Asian languages. The focus on their research study was vocabulary, an area that Ali can relate to from personal experience. “I always have those ‘tip of tongue’ moments,” said Ali. She explains that Dufresne is monolingual and was able to offer a differing viewpoint. They were able to compare their experiences taking classes as a native speaker compared to an English language learner.

She found that working collaboratively throughout the research process was incredibly valuable in preparing her for her career. “It was a good learning experience,” said Ali. “Working as a SLP you are working with other professionals. You have to learn to delegate work.” She adds that you also need to be flexible as you adapt to the viewpoints of other members of the team.

Ali with her poster at the conference.
Ali with her poster at the conference.

Dr. Susca had an unique approach to advising. He would take their draft and create three different options. Each option would have revisions, but he wouldn’t tell Ali or Dufresne what he had changed. He then challenged them to pick what they thought was the best version and give reasons defending their choice. Ali described the process as a “true collaborative experience” and one in which they were able to develop their own style as researchers. “He has such a wealth of knowledge and you can tell that he is so passionate about research. He prepared us very well.” She adds, “Without him I don’t think we would have become the critical thinkers we are today.”

Ali describes the experience of presenting at the CSHA convention. “It was so wonderful, it was such an honor to present at the California state convention.” She explains that at first it was a nerve-racking experience to present her research to seasoned professionals, but the overwhelming support of the professional community calmed her nerves.

Ali acknowledges that SLP can be a challenging profession. She believes that despite all of the hard work and energy that is required, the impact that a SLP can make in someone’s life makes it all worthwhile. “If you really want this don’t give up, keep trying,” she encourages. “You need to be passionate. Work with that passion and let that drive you to success.”

Ali is currently working as a speech-language pathologist in Modesto, California at Sylvan Union School District and Valley Mountain Regional Center. Ali is constantly looking for ways to both challenge herself and to become increasingly well-rounded. It is her goal to work with a wide range of ages. “I would eventually like to work in a hospital with adults,” said Ali.

She continues to stay connected to the Pacific alumni community. She notes that several of her supervisors and co-workers are Pacific alumni. One of her friends from her graduating class works for a neighboring school district. They get together for coffee once a month to debrief about the challenges they have faced and to share their success stories.

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Neel Prasad ’96, PharmD

deans_letter_summer16_neel_prasadNeel Prasad ’96, PharmD joined the pharmacy faculty as an assistant clinical professor of pharmacy practice. He will also serve as regional coordinator of the Modesto/East Bay region. Dr. Prasad has always had a passion for patient care. “As a child I always wanted to do something in the health care field,” shares Dr. Prasad. “While in high school and junior college I realized I wanted to help people. It was easy for me to connect and understand people’s needs. Being a pharmacist allowed me to fulfill these areas.” He and his brother, Navindra Prasad  ’96, PharmD went through Pacific’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) program at the same time. The year that he graduated from the PharmD program was a momentous year for Dr. Prasad. He explains, “I graduated in May 1996, I got married to my lovely wife Aileen in July 1996 and I started working as a pharmacist in October 1996.”

Since 2000, Dr. Prasad has worked for Target/CVS Health where he has held multiple positions and had various roles. “I’ve been involved in teaching, training, development and leadership at every level,” said Dr. Prasad. “I’ve met tremendous people that have shaped who I am today.” He has applied the broad range of experience gained at Target to his role as a preceptor. He elaborates, “I’ve been a preceptor for Pacific for over 17 years. I’ve always had the passion to teach and train individuals. I feel I connect well with different generations and can help students bridge the gap.” Dr. Prasad was named the 2016 Preceptor of the Year for the Modesto Region. He gives credit to his whole team for helping him create an environment that fostered learning and where students were challenged.

As he steps into the role of a faculty member he has already outlined a set of goals. “I want to be a great teacher and mentor for students. Also, I want to share my knowledge and experience to make them better individuals,” said Dr. Prasad. “I would like to make the Modesto region a region that provides excellent sites for students to learn and develop. I want it to become a destination site for students. Lastly, since I am new to academia, I want to develop myself and excel in areas that are new to me.”

While a student at Pacific he was actively involved in Kappa Psi. Dr. Prasad shares, “Kappa Psi was an integral part of my Pacific experience. Kappa Psi jump-started my development and helped me with my personal and professional life.” He emphasizes the support he received from his fraternity brothers, which continues to this day. He adds, “I still keep in touch with the brothers that I graduated with.” In his new role at Pacific he is looking forward to the opportunity to once again be actively involved in Kappa Psi.

Family plays an important role in Dr. Prasad’s life. “My parents have always been the most influential people in my life,” shares Dr. Prasad. “I get my work ethic, my social skills and my drive for excellence from them.” Dr. Prasad and his family are Hindus. Dr. Prasad explains that Hinduism is a very difficult religion to learn. He has spent many years learning from his father and his desire is to pass on that knowledge to the next generation. He is proud to be a part of the thriving Hindu community in Modesto. He explains, “We spend certain days each month playing music, singing and praying with other members of the community.” In addition, he has been involved in many community projects organized by Target, including volunteering at park clean ups, food banks and reading programs.

Both he and his wife are originally from the Fiji Islands. His wife’s family still lives in Fiji and they visit every two to three years. He and his wife have two sons. As a family they love to travel. Dr. Prasad has spent time in New York, Washington DC, Minneapolis, Canada, India, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. One of the reasons he loves to travel is the chance to try new foods. Dr. Prasad is also a sports enthusiast. His favorite teams are the Los Angeles Lakers, the Oakland A’s, the New York Yankees and the Washington Redskins.

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Cathrine Misquitta ’96, PharmD

deans_letter_summer16_cathrine_misquittaCathrine Misquitta ’96, PharmD recently served as a speaker at a Managed Care Series event titled “The Role of the Pharmacist in Controlling Costs in a Pharmacy Benefit Manager,” co-hosted by Script Your Future and Pacific PharmAssistance. Misquitta believes that it is important to give back to your alma mater by volunteering to share your experiences and helping to shape the next generation of health care professionals. “I would definitely encourage all alumni to be involved with the School in some way, whether it is serving as a preceptor or serving in another teaching capacity,” said Misquitta. She is able to share her expertise in managed care. “I have a vested interest in ensuring pharmacy students come out of school understanding managed care, even if they don’t become managed care pharmacists,” explains Misquitta. “Any pharmacist who processes a claim through a patient’s insurance should understand how much consideration has gone into the pharmacy benefit. The pharmacists in the community are often the ones explaining everything to the patient.”

Misquitta explains that it was her aunt who inspired her to pursue a career in pharmacy. She shares, “I have an aunt who is a pharmacist in Oregon. When I was in college I think I changed my major three times. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Then one day when I was visiting my aunt, she invited me to come to work with her. She knew so much and was a tremendous resource to her community. Since I liked science and working with people I decided that pharmacy would be a great profession.”

Reflecting on her time at Pacific she is grateful for both the education she received and the connections she made. She said, “Every course I took helped me prepare for a career in pharmacy. It was also a great place to meet peers with whom I’d be working for years to come. I still run into my classmates. Pharmacy is a small world.” Given the close-knit community she advises current students to apply themselves and demonstrate professionalism during their rotations. “Study hard, work hard and always do your best work,” said Misquitta. “Pharmacists remember how well students do on rotations and word travels fast in pharmacy.” She adds, “I wouldn’t be in my current position if I hadn’t made a good impression on my former preceptor or current boss.”

Misquitta is currently the vice president of clinical pharmacy solutions at Health Net Pharmaceutical Services. “When I graduated from Pacific I never envisioned myself as a managed care pharmacist,” shares Misquitta. “I completed a pharmacy practice residency and started off working as a clinical pharmacist in the hospital setting. After about three years, one of my former residency preceptors contacted me to see if I knew anybody interested in a job in managed care. After a few minutes of consideration I decided that I would be interested. Over the years I’ve learned a great deal about how to manage pharmacy costs and improve patient health from a population-based perspective. Some of my most interesting opportunities have been leading software development, serving on the National Committee for Quality Assurance pharmacy expert panel and developing clinical programs.”

Through the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists she serves as a board member of her local chapter and chair of the continuing education committee. By being involved in professional organizations she is able to keep a finger on the pulse of changes in health care. She views these changes as an opportunity. She believes, “With a shortage of primary care providers and an influx of newly insured patients, pharmacists have a golden opportunity to help shape the future and push the profession to the next level.”

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Larry Boles, PhD, CCC-SLP

Larry-Boles-posterCan you predict if a student will be successful in graduate school even before they step foot in a classroom? That is the question that Larry Boles, PhD, CCC-SLP Graduate Director and Professor of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology wanted answered. He presented a poster entitled, “Predicting Graduate School Success” outlining the finding of his research at the 2015 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) convention held in Denver, Colorado.

What motivated him to explore this topic was the lack of existing research on predicting the success of graduate students. Dr. Boles explains, “In my search of the literature I found very little data investigating this issue.” He elaborates, “Like most graduate programs in most fields, we ask for [undergraduate] grade point averages, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, etc. I wanted to see which of these, or which combination of these, predicted how our grad students did as students.”

Dr. Boles explains the variables he used in his study: “Just prior to graduation, our [graduate students] take the Praxis exam, which is a national test covering all areas of our field. I decided that would be a good and quantifiable measure of the knowledge and skills they had attained.” The Praxis exam is an important benchmark in the speech-langue-pathology (SLP) profession as an individual must earn a passing score in order to receive their certification from ASHA. According to Dr. Boles, Pacific’s SLP students have had a 100 percent pass rate for the Praxis exam for the last 10 years.

In explaining how he conducted his research he shares, “Using a multiple regression analysis I compared the GRE scores and each grade in each course to the Praxis score, plus letters of recommendation.” In presenting the conclusions he drew from this study Dr. Boles said, “The most compelling predictor variables for success were the GRE scores combined with grades in three courses: Speech and Hearing Science, Speech and Language Development and Phonetics.”

Dr. Boles joined the Pacific faculty in 2010 after over a decade in the California State University system. He has been impressed by the environment of support created by the faculty and staff that prioritizes the success of each individual student. Dr. Boles shares, “I think we do a particularly good job of giving students more personal attention [and] personal attention matters.”

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Todd Davenport, DPT, MPH, OCS

Todd-Davenport-Headshot“Human subjects research is a human process conducted with other human beings,” said Todd Davenport, DPT, MPH, OCS Associate Professor of Physical Therapy. “Human subject based research gives us a chance to explore questions that are specific and meaningful to people.” Dr. Davenport has been appointed co-chair of the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB is responsible for holding all research projects involving human subjects to the ethical standards outlined by federal regulations. The committee reviews proposed research studies involving human subjects to evaluate the ethical implications of the research.

“The IRB assists with making sure that the rights of human subjects are protected,” explains Dr. Davenport. It is essential that in the review process the IRB weighs both the potential benefits and risks of the proposed research study. When the IRB is evaluating a proposal one of the questions they are seeking to answer is the matter of informed consent; meaning whether or not the subject has a clear understanding of what they are agreeing to. He adds, “Ensuring that while we humans assess questions that have uniquely human components to answer we observe uniquely human rights.”

Dr. Davenport believes that the IRB plays an important role in maintaining the positive relationship between the University and the surrounding community. He elaborates, “I find that for many research subjects, the only interaction they get with Pacific is through a study.” He adds, “Part of ensuring an ethical experience is to ensure an excellent one.” Participants in a study can contact the Office of Sponsored Programs to report any concerns and in response the IRB will investigate.

Dr. Davenport has served on the board for seven years as a committee member. He is honored to have been unanimously chosen for the position of co-chair. He shares, “It is deeply meaningful for your peers to believe you can do a good job and conversely it motivates you to do a good job.” For Dr. Davenport, his own research has helped prepare him for this new role. In addition, he recently earned a master of public health from University of California, Berkeley, which gives him a unique perspective on research ethics. Dr. Davenport adds that one of the benefits of serving on the IRB is the opportunity to see what innovative research his colleagues are conducting.

When asked how he would define research he responded, “the process of systematically asking and answering questions to yield information for public consumption.” He emphasizes that what falls within the parameters of needing to be reviewed by IRB is defined by federal guidelines and listed on the IRB website. Context and intent are the determining factors of what projects require IRB approval. At Pacific a wide range of disciplines utilize the services of the IRB including pharmacy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, psychology, dentistry, biology and education.

The ongoing goal of Pacific’s IRB is to maintain a culture of ethics and compliance. They are also committed to making the process as simple as possible for investigators working with human subjects. “The last thing people want is a roadblock or a hoop to jump through,” said Dr. Davenport. He stresses, “The IRB is here to help.” He encourages students and faculty conducting research to ask questions throughout the process. He says, “If there is any doubt whatsoever people should feel free to reach out.”

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Sachin A. Shah, PharmD

Sachin Shah
Sachin Shah

Recently there has been a notable increase in the number of emergency room visits related to energy drinks. As of June 2014, the Center for Science in Public Interest reported 34 deaths related to energy drinks. In a recent analysis of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System, cardiac and neurological abnormalities appear to be the most frequent. “We decided to investigate if and how energy drinks effect the heart,” said Sachin A. Shah, PharmD Associate Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Regional Coordinator, Travis AFB. “Our findings suggest certain energy drinks may increase the risk of having an abnormal heart rhythm when consumed in high volumes.” The study found that energy drinks altered a parameter on the electrocardiographic known to increase the risk of sudden cardiac death. It also showed that blood pressure was raised post energy drink consumption.

Students completing their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience in Dr. Shah’s region were thoroughly involved in the research process. Dr. Shah explains, “They coordinated the study, recruited patients and did data analysis. Additionally, they wrote and presented the paper. They were involved in every phase of the research.” Tinh An “April” Nguyen ’16 is extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with this dynamic team. She shares, “Working in an interdisciplinary team helps build our communication skills in collaborative practice. The dialogue between pharmacists and the statistician, cardiologist and other members of the healthcare and research team helped solidify my understanding of what was ‘clinically significant’ versus ‘statistically significant’ in multiple healthcare settings.”

Dr. Shah believes, “Research is one of the ways they can develop their critical thinking skills.” Nguyen echoes this sentiment: “[Research provides] another avenue for students to work with their faculty, it’s a great way to be involved first-hand in the discovery process that has shaped so many landmark trials.”

In addition to honing their critical thinking skills, Dr. Shah believes that when students engage in research it increases their ability to assess the quality of published research. He explains, “It helps them critically appraise where the information they are reading in a textbook or in an article is coming from and how it is compiled. It teaches them to assess the information that is in front of them so they can better apply it for their patients.” Amanda Chan ’16 shares, “Understanding the research process has given me a lot of insight into the clinical studies and trials that dictate current practice guidelines. […] Being able to quickly understand if a study is done well, or the significance of its results is paramount to being a great practitioner.”

Dr. Shah encourages future students to get involved in research while they are in the doctor of pharmacy program. “Start early, have genuine interest and get involved,” recommends Dr. Shah. Being involved in research as a student can open doors to future professional opportunities. Chan shares, “Having a research background helps provide me with a unique qualification that I have found to be highly valued by potential employers.” Andrew Occiano ’16 agrees, “Being involved in this study has offered me a unique experience that really sets me apart from other candidates.”

“I am very passionate about collaborating with healthcare professionals to further educate the public on drug safety, the regulation of drugs and the role of pharmacists as healthcare providers,” shares Nguyen. “Through the research process I’ve met pharmacists in the FDA and industry who have encouraged my pursuit of a fellowship.” She is excited to apply those skills to her upcoming two-year fellowship in global regulatory affairs.

The findings of the potential health risks of energy drinks has gained attention from the media, including CBS News, CTV News, Time, American Council on Science and Health, Times of India, Health.com and Capital Public Radio. Dr. Shah eagerly looks forward to expanding the study by conducting a trial with a larger number of subjects. Dr. Shah emphasizes the valuable role that student involvement can play in the research process. He explains, “At times students will come up with great ideas and concepts that can also help your research progress.” He believes that this study attests to the caliber of work Pacific’s faculty and students can do with good collaboration.

Dr. Shah collaborated with Occiano; Nguyen; Chan; Joseph C Sky, MD David Grant USAF Medical Center, Travis AFB; Mouchumi Bhattacharyya, PhD Professor of Mathematics; Kate M O’Dell, PharmD, BCPS Professor of Pharmacy Practice; Allen Shek, PharmD Professor of Pharmacy Practice and Nancy N. Nguyen, PharmD, BCPS, AAHIVP, FCSHP Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice.

 

 

Student Spotlight: Michael Dessel ’15, DPT

michael_dessel_nyc_resizedFor Michael Dessel ’15, DPT his physical therapy (PT) experiences have been a study in contrasts. In 2014 he accompanied Casey Nesbit, PT, DPT, DSc, PCS Director of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy, Meiying Lam ’15, DPT and Katherine Samstag ’15, DPT on a service-learning trip to Malawi. For his final clinical rotation, he went to New York City where he interned at Professional Physical Therapy, located between 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue. Despite the juxtaposition of these two settings, the level of care he provided to his patients was the same. Dr. Nesbit can attest to his commitment to provide all patients with optimal care.

Dessel’s patient-centered philosophy came from both his experiences at Pacific and his own set of personal values. “We learned that you need to treat your patients with respect,” said Dessel. He saw this exemplified in the actions of the Pacific faculty and his fellow students. Dessel shares that in addition to respect, his core values are integrity, compassion, accountability and empathy. He believes that as a physical therapist it is important to convey to your patients that you have their best interest at heart. Dessel adds, “The key to understanding your patients is listening to what they have to say. Develop a rapport with your patients.” He finds that when meeting with a new patient it is important to take the time to understand why they are coming to see you. “We didn’t choose the patients, the patients chose us for a reason.”

Dessel working with a patient during his trip to Malawi.
Dessel working with a patient during his trip to Malawi.

Dessel speaks from experience when he says that as a PT student at Pacific you are exposed to “a variety of patient populations in regards to pathology, clinical settings and patients with different socio-cultural backgrounds.” Through local outreach programs students have the opportunity to interact with members of the community. Dessel took advantage of experiential learning opportunities and has been a part of several outreach programs. He emphasizes the importance of gaining hands-on experience while you are still a student: “Of course you need the theoretical and practical background, but working with real people is vital to learning and developing yourself into a proficient clinician.” He adds, “You learn how to become comfortable with treating people.”

When asked if he would recommend the experiential service learning elective he answered, “Absolutely! I loved that elective. Getting that experience, going global with healthcare provided perspective. It sure provided perspective for me. I think that is something that everyone should take advantage of.”

Dessel was offered a Physical Therapist position at Professional Physical Therapy upon completion of his internship and he is currently living in New York. As he embarks on his career he shares that he is grateful for the set of experiences that led him to the place he is now. He reflects, “I like to travel, I like to work in different settings and I’ve been fortunate enough to do that.” For Dessel learning doesn’t stop once a degree has been earned. “I want to continue to learn and be mentored to by the senior PTs,” shares Dessel. “I want to be the best physical therapist I can be.”

 

 

Research Study Gives DPT Students Valuable Hands-On Experience

Preeti-Oza_headshotPreeti Oza, PT, PhD, NCS, believes that there is nothing that can compare to hands-on experience in preparing DPT students to be practice-ready upon graduating. Research studies are valuable not only for advancing the field of physical therapy, but also for giving students the opportunity to work side-by-side with experienced professionals. Oza says, “one of my career goals is to train students for clinical research.” According to Oza, one research study that is currently underway is the “effects of group exercises in quality of life and movements in individuals with Parkinson’s disease.” Working alongside Oza are three research assistants: Alysia Guerin ’16, Kayla Ledford ’16 and Darcy Schmalenbach ’16.

For Schmalenbach “So far, this project has given me experience using standardized tests and measures in order to collect baseline data from patients with Parkinson’s disease. […] This has given me the opportunity to see many different presentations of Parkinson’s disease.” In the fall Oza invited individuals from from the Parkinson’s support group of Stockton and of Lodi to a wellness clinic that was held on October 28, 2015. All 37 students in the Neuromuscular Physical Therapy course taught by Oza participated in the wellness clinic by administering assessments of balance and walking. The students then taught simple exercises that the individuals would be able to do on their own. They also introduced the use of technology, such as the Wii Fit, to help improve mobility and balance. Guerin describes her experience, “I was assigned to a patient and we worked with her through various functional tests and measures.” Guerin then “asked her a lot of questions about her good and bad days and how she keeps herself motivated.”

Each of the three research assistants have a specific reason for wanting to get involved in this particular research study. Guerin answers, “I have a big interest in neurological rehabilitation as well as a desire to partake in ways to help advance the field I [will] very soon [be] going into. I knew I wanted to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn from a very knowledgeable professor and work side-by-side on this project with her and fellow classmates.” For both Schmalenbach and Ledford working with people with Parkinson’s hits close to home. For Schmalenbach it is because of her grandfather who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s when she was very young. She shares, “I was able to experience the effect that physical therapy had on him and the positive impact that it had on his overall quality of life. When I heard about this project, I knew I wanted to be apart of something that could help those who suffer with Parkinson’s disease.” There was also an intersection of personal and professional for Ledford: “As my grandmother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a year ago I became more interested in the disease process and its effect on functional mobility.”

All three agree that the courses at Pacific have prepared them for the transition from the classroom into a clinical environment. Guerin proposes that “All of the courses we have taken have prepared us for the clinical setting. Not only have we learned an immense amount about the various aspects of physical therapy and how to best treat our future patients, we also relate that knowledge to the clinical setting and make it a practical learning environment. Each class is structured to help us gain more confidence each day in the knowledge we gain and who we can best apply it to help our future patients.” Ledford identifies a few of the specific skills gained: “Through this therapist-patient interaction I am able to practice rapport with [individuals],” as well as assessments and treatment strategies. Ledford continues, “Being apart of the process of evidence-based practice is rewarding and has given me more confidence as I come closer to completing the program.”

Schmalenbach shares, “I feel very lucky to attend [Pacific’s] DPT program and I think it is wonderful that they offer opportunities like this research project.” Ledford explains, “I am blessed to be in a program that has so much built-in support.” Guerin echoes the sentiment, “It truly feels like a family.” Further, Guerin finds motivation in the knowledge that “we are all in this together. The professors have been nothing but amazing with their guidance, knowledge and support. We are very lucky as students to be learning from some very successful and knowledgeable professors within the physical therapy field. I am looking forward to graduation and embarking into my career as a confident physical therapist and being a part of a truly amazing and rewarding profession.”

 

Alumni Spotlight: Chris Wolfinger ’15 Lands Head Athletic Trainer Position

deans_letter_chris_wolfing_hockey_webChris Wolfinger ’15 has come a long way from when he first played ice hockey at the age of five. He now holds the position of Head Athletic Trainer at the San Jose Barracuda Hockey Club, an AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. For Wolfinger this is a dream come true. He explains, “It’s been a dream of mine to work in professional ice hockey. Now that I’m in the field, it’s been exciting having the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge I’ve obtained to helping these professional athletes participate at their highest potential physically and mentally.” His interest in hockey has influenced his choices academically and now professionally. “Growing up playing ice hockey really molded my career aspirations. I knew I wanted to work in the medical field and knew that the athletic training/physical therapy route would be a good way to get there.”

Wolfinger knows from experience the value of internships and how they can lead to career opportunities. Describing his experience he said, “I would go in and shadow the San Jose Sharks medical staff whenever I had the opportunity. Each time I went in I would offer to help in any capacity. I demonstrated confidence in my skills and developed a good rapport with both the staff and players. These small opportunities eventually led to the opportunity to apply and eventually interview for the position I currently hold.”

Wolfinger was able to transfer many of the skill acquired during his time at Pacific into his role working with the players of the San Jose Barracudas. He explains, “I was able to develop high level manual therapy skills, as well as examination and evaluation of musculoskeletal injuries during my time at Pacific. The trend of professional sports seems to be going towards hiring a team PT. Having the DPT degree provided me with a high level of critical thinking skills as well as injury pattern recognition and quality treatment strategies.”

His advice for students pursuing internship opportunities is to “Be the hardest worker in the room, in whatever setting you go into.” To make the most of an internship, networking is key. When networking he recommends acting with professionalism in all interactions. He said, “Be professional when sending emails [and making] phone calls to potential employers.” He adds, “It doesn’t hurt to send a resume in your introduction email, that way the employer can start to get a feel for you who are.”

He again emphasized the importance of hard work and dedication. “It’s all about putting in the time and hard work, whether that’s in the world of academia or the professional world. Be confident with the skills and experience you obtained while in school.” Reflecting on his experiences, he expressed that he would “absolutely” facilitate an internship if he had the capacity to do so and he strongly encourages his fellow alumni to do so as well.

To learn about how your business or organization could host an internship please contact Casey Nesbit, PT, DPT, DSc, PCS, Director of Clinical Education, at 209.946.2399 or cnesbit@pacific.edu. To hear about upcoming networking events follow us at www.facebook.com/PacificPaHSAlumni.

 

Student Spotlight: Anna Barrett ’16

Anna Barrett ‘16, student physical therapist, received the Team Osan Spouses’ Club Continuing Education Scholarship. The $2,250 scholarship recognizes military personnel or their dependents for their leadership, honors and community service. Barrett met her husband, Matthew, while studying exercise biology at University of California in Davis. “He loves to remind me of the fact that I introduced myself to him first,” she said. Matthew is an officer in the U.S. Air Force and is an A-10 pilot.Anna Barrett_resized

“I feel extremely honored to receive this scholarship amongst the many deserving students who have family members stationed in South Korea.  I truly appreciate the commitment of Team Osan Spouses’ Club to the academic and professional advancement of military spouses,” said Barrett.

The scholarship will support Barrett as she pursues a doctor of physical therapist degree at Pacific. She said she chose Pacific for its powerful alumni network and resources in the community. Among her professional career goals, Barrett hopes to bring individualized and empathetic care to veterans especially those who require prosthetics. “I want to be part of something bigger than myself and am I am so excited to have the opportunity to restore movement to those with limitations.”

Barrett will spend the first two years of her marriage apart from her husband. “It has been hard but I am so blessed to have a husband who supports my professional goals.” When asked about her thoughts on being a military spouse Barrett said, “What I love most about being a military spouse is the support, kindness, and camaraderie of the military community.

Barrett grew up in Chico with her parents and older sister. When she was 18, she spent a summer in Dubai teaching English. During her childhood, she was a two-time artistic roller skating national champion and still enjoys roller-skating in her spare time. She also credits her parents, both of whom are teachers, for encouraging her love of learning and helping her to become the person she is today.