For 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 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.”