11th Annual Tiger Dash Brings the Community Together

deans-letter-pt-tiger-dash-03On a brisk Saturday in October during Pacific Homecoming, 179 runners lined up at the starting line of the 11th annual Tiger Dash 5K and Half Mile Cub Run. Among the runners were a number of students from local schools. “This year our office was awarded a community grant through Kaiser Permanente to implement running programs at our afterschool sites,” said Nora Hana, MA Ed, afterschool programs coordinator for San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE). “The culminating event of the running club was to run a 5K. Since we have an ongoing partnership with Pacific’s physical therapy department I reached out to Dr. Todd Davenport to see if we could participate in the Tiger Dash. It was a perfect event for us since the students in our afterschool program were familiar with the physical therapy students at Pacific.” Dr. Davenport commented, “What a fantastic way to kick off the second decade of the Tiger Dash and Cub Run, to continue building bridges between our campus and our community.”

The expanded partnership between the Department of Physical Therapy and SJCOE was based on their collaboration on another project, the Healthy Children program, which is sponsored by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Fund. The program allows physical therapy students to participate in afterschool programs to teach local students about backpack safety and the importance of a healthy diet.

“I saw many of our afterschool students recognize the Pacific physical therapy students that came to their schools,” Hana said. “Many of the students that participated in the run have never been to a college campus before so this was a very rewarding and unique opportunity for them.” She explains, “It is important for these students because many of them will be the first in their families to consider attending a college. We always want to give our students opportunities to learn from positive role models that are in their communities and to expose them to higher learning opportunities. This expands their horizons and gives them a look at what opportunities are out there for them. Also, having parents bring their children to the campus helps families experience the different possibilities together.”

Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Megan Stiller ’17 served as Tiger Dash’s event chief executive officer. She shares that the most memorable part of the event for her personally was the interactions she had with students from the afterschool program. Stiller is passionate about addressing the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, she sees a natural fit between this goal and Tiger Dash. “I feel strongly about outreach and prevention,” Stiller said. “We really try to instill in the kids the things that they can do.”

The Pacific 5K Tiger Dash and Half Mile Cub Run serves as a fundraiser for the DPT Class of 2017. The majority of the funds raised will be used to help students with travel expenses and conference fees associated with attending the national physical therapy conference, American Physical Therapy Association’s annual Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). In addition to networking opportunities, CSM offers physical therapy students and practicing physical therapists access to the latest developments in their dynamic profession. Stiller elaborates, “We can find out the most up-to-date information, learn about current products available, policy changes, new legislation and changes to billing.” Stiller explains that staying up-to-date with changes in the profession allows physical therapists to give their patients the best possible care.

A portion of the funds raised will go toward the Physical Therapy Visionary Endowment, which also supports students traveling to CSM. The purpose of the Physical Therapy Visionary Endowment is to help relieve the pressure of raising funds during the semester, thus allowing the DPT students to focus on their studies. Once the fund reaches $50,000 it will be matched by the Powell Match.

Attending CSM is a key opportunity for professional growth and the process of organizing Tiger Dash is as well. Stiller elaborates, “You use the same skill set you would use in the clinic. Tiger Dash is heavily student initiated, that’s how it first began and it is definitely student run. The whole class gets involved.” The DPT students reached out to community partners to sponsor the event. Major sponsors for the 2016 event were Lodi Physical Therapy, Pine Street Physical Therapy, Golden Bear Physical and Occupational Therapy, Homer’s Barbershop, Team Movement for Life (Central Valley Physical Therapy and Delta Physical Therapy) and Fleet Feet.

“I hope it continues to be a homecoming tradition,” shares Stiller. Echoing her enthusiasm, Hana expressed, “We are looking forward to next year. We are already gearing up for it.”

“Mark your calendars to come join us.” Dr. Davenport said. “The 12th Annual Tiger Dash is scheduled for Saturday, October 7, 2017!”

 

Learning Goes Beyond Tutoring at the Language-Literacy Center

llc_group_photoJeannene M. Ward-Lonergan, PhD, professor of speech-language pathology and Jill K. Duthie, PhD, CCC-SLP, associate professor of speech-language pathology, identified a need for literacy services in the community surrounding Pacific. They also observed that the scope of practice for speech-language pathologists has expanded beyond speaking and listening to include reading and writing. In response they established the Language-Literacy Center (LLC), made possible through a Strategic Educational Excellence Development grant from the University’s Strategic Investment Fund.

The LLC offers assessment and treatment sessions to students in grades 1-12, free of charge. “We really feel that there is a need to provide literacy services for students with language disorders in our area,” said Dr. Ward-Lonergan. “We provide services free of charge to meet the needs in the community.” Speech-language pathology (SLP) graduate students met the LLC’s first group of clients in September 2015.

Alina Crom ’17 emphasizes that the services the LLC offers are fundamentally different than tutoring, which focuses on passing a certain test or class. In contrast, at the LLC, clients are taught learning strategies. These lifelong skills can be applied to a wide variety of areas in the classroom and beyond. Dr. Ward-Lonergan explains that students are taught “a set of steps they follow, that they can use wherever they go, not to just get through one assignment.”

In addition to representing a wide range of skill levels, the clients are culturally and linguistically diverse. “The children are at a variety of levels in their need for intervention,” said Dr. Duthie. “Some children are working on very beginning reading skills, some haven’t yet learned how to decode simple words. Others are reading, but not at their grade level.” What the clients have in common is that they have a mild to moderate language disorder. Dr. Ward-Lonergan explains, “They have a significant difficulty comprehending and/or producing language.” Crom found that many of the clients have what she describes as “splinter skills.” She elaborates, “[They were] really strong in one area, such as reading, but would have trouble in other areas.”

The LLC gives SLP students the opportunity to apply, in a clinical setting, the concepts they are learning in their courses. Dr. Ward-Lonergan elaborates, “Students have an opportunity to engage in evidence-based practice with these clients.” She explains that the SLP profession has expanded to increasingly include written language. As the profession evolves, the ways in which graduate students are trained has been updated to reflect the changes, ensuring that graduates are prepared for the demands of the profession when they enter the field. Pacific’s SLP students gain clinical experience at the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Center, which focuses on speaking and listening. In contrast, the LLC focuses on “how to assess and treat written language disorders,” shares Dr. Ward-Lonergan.

Through the LLC, students are given an immersive clinical experience. Christi Shaver ’17 explains that the students are responsible for planning their therapy sessions. Dr. Ward-Lonergan and Dr. Duthie are available to offer guidance, but the students are responsible for deciding how they are going to address the topic, how to tailor it to the client and how to make it engaging. One way the students make therapy fun for the client is to create themed lessons around their interests, such as bugs or superheroes.

The SLP students agreed that working with this age group requires flexibility, creativity and patience. Caitlin Elam ’17 shared that she had a client with behavioral issues. “I had to get a token system going to keep him on track,” explained Elam. Shaver emphasizes the importance of starting speech therapy at a young age. “This is such a formative time in their lives,” said Shaver. “If they can get this extra help early on it can make a huge impact on the rest of their educational career.”

Dr. Ward-Lonergan and Dr. Duthie see the benefits for both the graduate students and the community. Dr. Duthie shares, “We hope to obtain funding to continue to provide these services beyond our two year grant.” Shaver found working with clients at the LLC to be an eye-opening experience. She shares, “Reading as it connects to writing, as it connects to the overall language system, is more complex than I could have ever imagined.” Everyone involved was overwhelmed by the positive outcome of their experience with the LLC. “Every single one of our kids improved greatly,” said Alex Fernandez ’17. Dr. Ward-Lonergan adds, “Their parents are very excited about the progress they are making.”

Do you know an individual in grades 1-12 who would benefit from these services? Learn more about the LLC and download a referral .

 

 

Patience and Play Are Key at the Infant/Toddler Lab

RS15630_Physical Therapy4How can students assess posture and balance if their patients are too young to follow directions? That was the challenge the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students were faced with at the infant/toddler labs held earlier this spring. The lab was coordinated by Preeti D. Oza, PT, PhD, NCS, assistant professor of physical therapy. “Students do basic assessment of posture, mobility and balance demonstrated by the infant or toddler during play in sitting, standing and walking,” said Dr. Oza.

“The purpose of the infant/toddler lab is to observe the different developmental milestones of postural control in infants and toddlers of varying ages,” said Melody Mandell ’17. “Unlike adult patients who can follow commands to raise their arms or walk on their toes, infants and toddlers cannot follow these commands. We play with the kids to get them to move in different ways so that we can assess their level of postural control. For example, we observe how they walk on firm ground, then get them to walk on a soft mat to see how they adjust and how well they are able to balance. We can also have the child reach overhead for a toy to observe the range of motion in their shoulders. For the infants who are not yet standing, we place toys around them within reach and observe how they turn their bodies and shift their weight to reach for the toys.”

Samantha Moore ’17 discovered that working with young children requires creative strategies. “We wanted to see what they were capable of doing and the best way to do that is to make it a game,” said Moore. “By doing this we were able to look at balance, range of motion and postural correction strategies.”

In order for a physical therapist to be able to provide optimal care, it is essential to gain the trust of both the parent and the child. Mandell explains, “As a student physical therapist I may know more about developmental milestones, but the parent is the expert on his or her child. Showing that respect while working with the child helps to gain the parent’s trust. Gaining the child’s trust involves allowing time for the child to warm up to me and the environment and making sure the child knows that the parent is always nearby.”

RS15615_Physical Therapy22Moore believes that the experience of working with young children gives DPT students a strong foundation to build an understanding of core concepts. She explains, “It is important that we get the opportunity to work with children because it allows us to see and understand how posture develops. Plus, while working with these children it keeps us thinking on our feet and thinking creatively.” Mandell adds, “We learn so much in class about these developmental milestones, what to look for and how to perform certain tests, but none of that is valuable without the hands-on experience to go with it. Working with a child who is energetic and distracted, or shy and crying, adds another level of skill on top of what we learn in class. I am so thankful that we get to experience that now as students instead of being thrown into it for the first time in the clinic!”

The lab gave students the opportunity to practice the skills they had learned and acquire new skills. Mandell shares, “This lab gave me the opportunity to practice being creative in finding ways to get the kids to perform the movements I needed to observe. It also allowed me to practice making quick observations and remembering them until the end of the session when I can write them down. It also helped solidify the milestones of development by being able to see them in action.”

For Moore, one of the key take-aways was the value of patience. She elaborates, “I largely learned about patience while working with these amazing children. Even though we were having fun, we had to make sure we gathered all the data we were looking for. I was also able to work on thinking on my feet and changing tasks quickly to keep up with our patients. It was invaluable to get the opportunity to work with these kids and see the different developmental stages.” Dr. Oza is grateful to the parents who made it possible for students to gain this hands-on experience. She shares, “We thank our cute volunteers, without whom the students would not get this great learning opportunity.”

 

 

DPT Students Partner with OLLI@Pacific to Offer Balance Clinic

IMG_1786_editedWhen a child falls and skins their knee it can be made better with a Band-Aid® and a juice box, but for the elderly, losing your balance can present serious health risks. The Department of Physical Therapy partnered with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Pacific (OLLI@Pacific) to offer a balance clinic. Preeti D. Oza, PT, PhD, NCS, assistant professor of physical therapy, oversaw the clinic. “Participants from the community get free balance and fall risk assessments,” said Dr. Oza. “They learn about benefits of physical activity and physical therapy. They learn exercises to improve balance and get reminders of simple home modifications to decrease their falls risks.”

At each session, doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students provided OLLI@Pacific members over the age of 65 a one-on-one balance assessment. The students then reviewed and discussed the results of the assessment with the participant. “With those results we can give them exercises to improve their balance and coordination,” said Suhani Patel ’17. Fellow student Kristina Chang ’17 shares that the goal of the students is to “help our patients understand what they can do on their own to decrease their fall risk.”

Patel and Chang volunteered to be the clinic’s student leaders. As student leaders they were responsible for determining the best physical assessments for students to administer. They also created handouts which reviewed the recommended exercises and provided information on fitness programs available in the community, many of which are free.

IMG_1780_editedThe clinic offered students the opportunity to practice applying the knowledge and skills they are learning in the DPT program. Dr. Oza elaborates, “Students who volunteer to organize the balance clinic get the opportunity to develop leadership and organizational skills. All of the students who take part in the balance clinic get an opportunity to improve the assessment and communication skills required to be a good physical therapist.”

Both Chang and Patel discovered that the clinic challenged them to hone their communication skills. Chang explains that in an academic setting patient care is discussed using highly technical terms. One of the benefits of getting out of the classroom is to encourage students to practice communicating with their patients in a way that it is easy for the patients to understand.

Patel describes the role of a physical therapist as someone who helps others reach their goals. She believes that the key to successful physical therapy is keeping the patient motivated. Throughout the DPT program, students develop the skills they will need in the future when establishing partnerships with their patients. “[We are] learning how to build a relationship with a patient; build that trust,” said Patel. She adds, “Our entire careers are based off interactions with patients.”

Dr. Oza believes that community outreach enriches the community. She shares, “Community outreach not only enables the individuals from the community to benefit from the services provided by our DPT students, but also provides the students opportunities to ‘get their feet wet’ with skills required to be a physical therapist. Students get to practice their interview skills, examination/evaluation methods and clinical reasoning skills required for appropriate interventions.” She adds, “We truly value this collaboration with OLLI@Pacific.”

Learn more about OLLI@Pacific or Pacific’s DPT program.

 

 

PT Students Gain a Global Perspective Through Malawi Trip

group-photo“Pangani chonchi.” “Do it like this.” Over the past decade Casey Nesbit, PT, DPT, DSc, PCS Director of Clinical Education and Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy has had many opportunities to use the phrase “pangani chonchi” as she trains healthcare workers in the Republic of Malawi, a landlocked country in southeast Africa. “I originally went to Malawi in 2006 with my daughter to volunteer at St. Gabriel’s Hospital,” shares Dr. Nesbit. “We both had an interest in global health.” In 2015 Dr. Nesbit was accompanied by Sarah Haga ’16, C.J. Mooneyham ’16 and Abby Sheats ’16, which marked her 11th trip. Pacific’s physical therapy (PT) students have been going to Malawi since 2013 and have a trip planned for 2016.

At St. Gabriel’s Hospital students face the challenges that come with working in a rural setting in a developing country. Dr. Nesbit shares, “The experience at St. Gabriel’s is full of uncertainties and unexpected events. I’m continually surprised by the students’ ability to deal with these conditions, bond as a team and adapt to the circumstances.” She adds, “The reasons why this experience is pivotal to the students varies. For each student there are unique challenges that they overcome. For some it is dealing with the unexpected. For others it is gaining a perspective different from their own [or] dealing with the limited resources in the environment. For others it is reconciling the level of poverty and suffering with our own comfortable world.”

Haga shares that despite studying about the culture and history of Malawi prior to her trip she still experienced culture shock. She explains that even though she “heard many stories, read books and attended weekly classes all in preparation for this exciting experience I was not prepared for interactions I would have with this country and its people that brought me to a place of humility and vulnerability.” In speaking of her experiences she shares, “The Malawian culture is very social, personal and kind. Every exchange we had with a person in the village, hospital or in surrounding areas felt as if we were exchanging with a long-time friend. There is an incredible sense of community there and the people are quick to make visitors and guests feel welcome.”

Dr. Nesbit expresses, “These experiences solidify a commitment to physical therapy in the global arena. Additionally, these experiences strengthen their commitment to the profession, build their capacity to deal with people from different cultural backgrounds, highlight the importance of educating others about our profession and develop a resilience to situations that are difficult or uncertain.”

Haga performs blood pressure screening on a community member in Malawi.
Haga performs blood pressure screening on a community member in Malawi.

Haga found that her view of the physical therapy profession changed as a result of going to Malawi. Haga shares, “Prior to going to Malawi, my view of physical therapy was focused on the patient’s impairment and what I could do as a healthcare provider to improve their PT diagnosis.” After spending time in Malawi her focus shifted to take into account the overall picture of the patient’s situation as well as their cultural background. She adds, “While on our trip, our goals were directed towards improving the patients’ quality of life, whatever that meant for each patient. For some it was helping them return to their previous functional status of walking so they could return to working in the fields. For others it was improving their ability to sit unsupported so they could participate in daily chores as they once did. As student physical therapists, we were challenged to find what each patient deemed as important and channeled our therapy goals towards those aspects of the patient’s life.”

Dr. Nesbit has observed that when students have the opportunity to interact with patients from a wide variety of cultural and economic backgrounds it contributes to them becoming practice-ready professionals. She said, “I encourage students to have the courage to take advantage of practice opportunities that let them serve vulnerable populations, [both] here and abroad. I guide them to opportunities to do so through our national association, the American Physical Therapy Association.”

Haga discovered that her experiences in Malawi have improved her ability to serve patients as a healthcare professional. She elaborates, “Having worked with the Malawian people, I have gained a greater insight about how cultural beliefs and perspectives contribute to overall health. Regardless of where I am practicing, I will be able to apply this understanding towards any patient population.”

To read about the students’ experiences in Malawi in their own words visit their blog beyondpacificblog.wordpress.com.

 

 

Pharmacy Students Partner with School District to Provide Health Education

after-school-1Pacific has partnered with the Stockton Unified School District to offer an after-school program for elementary school students. During the spring and summer academic semesters pharmacy students have the opportunity to give presentations on a wide range of health-related topics. The groundwork for this program was laid by Sian Carr-Lopez ’85, PharmD and currently the program is coordinated by Cynthia S. Valle-Oseguera ’12, PharmD, BCACP Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice.

“The schools within the Stockton Unified School District host the educational sessions while pharmacy students from various professional fraternities and committees deliver interactive presentations,” explains Dr. Valle-Oseguera. “The number of attendees varies per event and per school, but all of the school sites are kindergarten to eighth grade and have about 100 students. The presentation topics also vary by date depending on the pharmacy group responsible for that particular date, but may include: bone health, exercise, eye health, smoking cessation, germs, nutrition and sun-safety.”

This program gives pharmacy students the opportunity to work with a young, underserved population. “This school district is composed of mostly minority groups with financial difficulties, which is reflected by its free and reduced lunch rate of 90 percent, [which] is considered to be extremely high,” explains Dr. Valle-Oseguera. “The program helps them learn, in fun ways, topics that perhaps they may not have learned.” She adds, “Our students really help make it interactive and fun.”

after-school_fruit-snacksPartnering with the school district opens up additional sites for pharmacy students to engage with the community, which allows them to gain valuable hands-on experience. Dr. Valle-Oseguera believes that one of the greatest benefits for pharmacy students is the opportunity to practice their presentation skills. Dr. Valle-Oseguera elaborates, “[Pharmacy students learn] how to teach a topic depending on their audience and how to interact with different audiences.”

Dr. Valle-Oseguera views the program as being mutually beneficial. She shares, “This program has been very well-received by pharmacy students, as well as by the District’s schools. Students enjoy having the opportunity to work with this younger population and possibly even mentoring them into a career in healthcare, while the schools enjoy hosting beneficial educational sessions for their students.” She adds, “Overall our students have been very professional, they do an outstanding job. Both sets of students are very happy with the program.”

 

 

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.”

 

 

Introducing Pacific’s Chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology

SAA-groupFrom the beginning the School’s faculty and students set a precedent for establishing chapters of professional organizations soon after programs were launched. The doctor of audiology (AuD) program continued in this tradition when Pacific’s chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) was formed in November 2015, only a few months after the program launched. “The Student Academy of Audiology brings together students who have a passion for audiology,” said Veronica Koo ’18. “The goals of SAA are to provide a means for students to become more involved in the profession, encourage them to advocate for the rights of audiologists, promote leadership and mentorship and provide networking opportunities between students and professionals.”

The SAA is the national student division of the American Academy of Audiology (the Academy), which is the largest professional organization in the field of audiology. In essence, the SAA is a nationwide network of students. “SAA provides a place for students to interact and bond over their passion for audiology,” shares Koo. “In class students learn about best practices as audiologists and all the technical information we need to know to be the most effective and skilled audiologists that we can be. Through SAA, we are connected to fellow students across the nation who have the same enthusiasm for audiology. We learn about what other students are doing to help the growth of our profession and it encourages us to find our own way to give back to our field and the communities we serve.”

Sharing Pacific’s core value of community involvement the Academy advocates for SAA chapters to organize and participate in community outreach programs. “Local SAA chapters are encouraged to provide audiology services to their communities, which also brings greater awareness of the profession and the importance of our hearing,” said Koo. She emphasizes the importance of AuD students engaging with the community. She explains, “Many people are unaware of the profession of audiology and in turn are unaware of the importance of preserving one’s hearing.”

Outreach programs are beneficial to both the community and to students. Koo shares, “After learning how to diagnose and treat patients in the classroom, we truly learn how our knowledge can provide specific care when going out into the community and learning about the needs of those who would benefit from our services. Educating the community helps students solidify the knowledge obtained in class and develops empathetic audiologists who are more intimately aware of the population that they will serve in the near future.”

Pacific’s chapter of SAA has partnered with Entheos Audiology Cooperative . Entheos is a member-owned cooperative that believes it is a privilege to have the opportunity to provide hearing healthcare services. Their mission is to share their time and talent in parts of the world where audiology services are not readily available. According to Koo, “We are currently working towards sending students to locations such as Guatemala, Jordan, Mozambique, Zambia, Haiti and more. Students will be fitting donated hearing aids on children and adults who are unable to afford these devices and do not have access to audiology services in their country.”

To learn more about the SAA go to saa.audiology.org.