Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific Featuring Bennet Omalu, MD

On March 1, 2017, the Department of Physical Therapy presented the Sanderson Lecture at University of the Pacific featuring keynote speaker Bennet Omalu, MD, MBA, MPH, CPE, DABP-AP, CP, FP, NP. The event was sponsored by Dignity Health – St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Pacific Arts and Lectures, the School of International Studies, College of the Pacific, Pacific Athletics, the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Chan Family Endowment for Physical Therapy.

Born in 1968 in war-torn Nigeria, Dr. Omalu’s family were refugees. Despite suffering from malnutrition in his childhood, he went on to attend medical school at the age of 15 and became a physician by age 21. He first came to the United States in 1994 to complete an epidemiology fellowship at University of Washington. American football would alter the course of his career and impact his life in dramatic ways.

“I didn’t understand football,” said Dr. Omalu. “I did not know what a quarterback was.” He is credited as the first doctor to diagnose chronic brain damage in NFL athletes. In 2002, while working for the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania he discovered what would later become known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Mike “Iron Mike” Webster. The former athlete died at age 50 after years of suffering from dementia, amnesia, depression and other ailments.

According to Harvard Medical School, CTE is a neurodegenerative disease believed to result from repetitive brain trauma, including repetitive concussions or subconcussive blows to the head. At this time, a CTE diagnosis can only by confirmed by autopsy and all confirmed cases have had a history of repetitive brain trauma. While the total number of athletes affected by CTE is unknown, the Boston University CTE Center found evidence of CTE in the brain tissue 90 of 94 former NFL athletes.

When Dr. Omalu’s findings first published, they were dismissed by many of his peers and met with fierce resistance from the NFL, who attempted to have his published papers retracted. “I was called a voodoo doctor,” Omalu said. Dr. Omalu’s story was chronicled in Concussion, by Jeanne Marie Laskas, and a film by the same name starring Will Smith.

In his address at Pacific, Dr. Omalu stressed the dangers of children participating in contact sports, emphasizing that each head injury could cause irreversible brain damage. “In the past year, so many science papers have been published indicating that after one season of football, your child’s brain is permanently damaged — just after one season,” Omalu said.

According to Ann C. McKee, MD in the paper entitled “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Athletes: Progressive Tauopathy following Repetitive Head Injury,” athletes in a wide range of sports are at risk for developing CTE: “Repetitive closed head injury occurs in a wide variety of contact sports, including football, boxing, wrestling, rugby, hockey, lacrosse, soccer, and skiing. Furthermore, in collision sports such as football and boxing, players may experience thousands of subconcussive hits over the course of a single season.”

Dr. Omalu’s message resonated with doctor of physical therapy student (DPT) Amanda Whalen ’17. “We don’t let our children smoke or drink alcohol, but we encourage them to play a game that could cause brain damage,” Whalen said.

Fellow DPT student Vien Vu ’17, CSCS was inspired by Dr. Omalu’s perseverance in the face of adversity. Vu shares, “His story was a story of grit. No matter how many successes and setbacks he had, he did not pause for a second. It’s important for everyone to remember to keep going even if they have failed and also to keep going if they are handed an award. This is especially important in research and health care.”

The lecture was a testament to the legacy of another pioneering physician — George H. Sanderson, MD. Dr. Sanderson was the first orthopedic surgeon in Stockton and he also served as the university physician at Pacific’s Student Health Program from 1926 to 1969. He was regarded by his colleagues as an energetic and innovative participant in the growth of orthopedics. He practiced at San Joaquin General Hospital (SJGH) and St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

In 1976, Dr. Sanderson’s colleagues at the Stockton Orthopedic Medical Group, Inc. established a fund for a lecture series to honor his 50 years of service to the community. In 2012, Dr. Sanderson’s daughter, Jean Sanderson; Joseph B. Serra, MD; Christine R. Wilson, PhD, PT; and Sister Abby Newton, vice president of the St. Joseph’s Foundation, were instrumental in bringing the Sanderson Lecture to University of the Pacific.

Throughout its history, the Sanderson Lecture has brought prominent speakers to Stockton to address current health care topics and present on areas of emerging practice related to physical therapy. “The lecturers at the Sanderson Lecture bring to light the changes and advancements that are happening right now in our field,” Whalen said. “As students, we are expected to have the freshest perspective and be up to date with the new information out there. These lecturers, especially one as large as Dr. Omalu, are not available to most practicing clinicians without the Sanderson lecture.”

Echoing this sentiment, Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy, shares, “Dr. Omalu’s talk was inspiring, educational and entertaining. He represents so much that we hope to foster in our students: courage, tenacity, conviction, integrity and compassion. As we strive to empower and equip our students to become clinicians who advocate for optimal health, wellness and performance of all members of society, Dr. Omalu’s message was a perfect fit.”

 

Alumni Spotlight: Nathan “Nate” Hunsaker ’97, PT, MSPT, DPT, Cert MDT, CSMT

Nathan “Nate” Hunsaker ’97, PT, MSPT, DPT, Cert MDT, CSMT approaches his work as a physical therapist the same way he approaches a summit like the Grand Teton — with determination, skill and grit.

“I’m from Wyoming and since they didn’t have a physical therapy program at the time they would fund you to go elsewhere,” said Dr. Hunsaker. “I was impressed with the relaxed, but professional atmosphere Pacific seemed to offer. After interviewing at several different places their interview stood out to me because the physical therapy department had a unique way to interview. […] They asked really crazy questions, that was really interesting.” He thinks that the rationale for the unusual interview questions was to see “how you reacted, how you thought on your feet.” This theory was confirmed when he got to know his classmates. He shares, “I think it reflected on the class we had. We had a lot of unique thinkers, they thought outside-the-box.”

Dr. Hunsaker was named the 2016 Physical Therapist of the Year by the Idaho Physical Therapy Association. “First of all, it was a complete surprise to me,” Dr. Hunsaker shares. “I’ve worked hard to be a good spine therapist. It was a great honor. I was totally surprised, it was wonderful.” He also expressed his gratitude for the work of his peers, who consistently set a high standard of excellence for physical therapy in Idaho.

The award also recognizes Dr. Hunsaker’s role as a mentor. He encourages his fellow alumni to act as a mentor for aspiring health care professionals. “Remember how instrumental it was to getting you to where you are now,” Dr. Hunsaker said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without great mentorship. I’ve mentored many physical therapy students, many physical therapy techs aspiring to be physical therapists and many young people thinking about a career in physical therapy.”

Dr. Hunsaker is a partner, owner, clinic director and physical therapist at RehabAuthority in Idaho Falls, Idaho. While he enjoys the different aspects of this multifaceted role, working with patients is his driving force. “Number one I am a physical therapist; I just love patient care,” Dr. Hunsaker explains.

“Coming out of school I got a job in an acute rehabilitation clinic doing mostly rehabilitation,” Dr. Hunsaker shares. “When I joined RehabAuthority I had to completely shift gears. I had to take extensive education courses.” In 2011, he was certified in Mechanical Diagnosis and Treatment, awarded by the McKenzie Institute®, and in 2012 he became a Certified Spinal Manual Therapist, awarded by the International Spine and Pain Institute. He has earned a reputation as a specialist in back and neck rehabilitation and every year hundreds of patients benefit from his expertise.

He continues to challenge himself professionally. He elaborates, “I’m always working on the next certification. I keep setting goals for myself.” Dr. Hunsaker and his partners also plan to expand in Idaho and into Wyoming. He adds, “That provides its own growing pains and joys.”

He has been a member of the American Physical Therapy Association for over two decades. He believes that it is vitally important to be involved in professional organizations. “If we don’t speak up for ourselves no one will,” Dr. Hunsaker said. “Quite simply there is strength in our members, when you have thousands of professionals combining their experience we can truly make a difference.”

He and his family loves spending time outdoors. “I live in a great place to be in the outdoors — Idaho Falls, Idaho. Yellowstone [National Park] is about two hours away and Grand Teton [National Park] is about two hours away.” He and his wife, Audra, have four kids and they enjoy going hiking together.

He thinks fondly of his time at Pacific. “I have a special place in my heart for the Pacific Tigers. I just love Pacific, my wife and I had such a great experience there. I will forever be indebted to that wonderful school and what it’s done for me.”

 

Something for Everyone at CSM 2017

To see cutting-edge technology, hear world-class speakers, meet alumni and connect with future colleagues, physical therapists should plan on attending the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). On February 15-18, 2017, over 14,000 health care professionals and students converged in San Antonio, Texas, for the 2017 meeting. This year’s conference hosted over 480 exhibitors and 300 sessions. Pacific physical therapy (PT) faculty, doctor of physical therapy (DPT) students and alumni were among the presenters.

Todd Davenport, PT, DPT, MPH, OCS, associate professor of physical therapy, co-presented the session entitled “Evolution or Revolution? Physical Therapists in Prevention and Population Health.” Co-presented by Mike Eisenhart, PT and Christopher Hinze, PT, DPT the session proposed strategies for the role that physical therapists can play in implementing population health strategies.

Carl L. Fairburn III ’10, PT, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy; Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy; Anna Barrett ’16, PT, DPT and Patrick Cawneen ’16, DPT, presented “DIY Mid-fidelity Simulation: It Takes Less Space, Less Money and More Time Than You Think! Educational Platform Presentation.”

Justin Scola ’17, along with co-authors Panthjit Khosa ’17 and Dr. Davenport, presented the poster entitled “Initial Impact of Physical Therapy Hashtags on Twitter: A Feasibility Study and Descriptive Analysis.”

Rebecca Van Klaveren ’17 presented the podium talk entitled “Gender Distribution of Authors in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, 2010-2014,” co-authored by Dr. Fairburn and Dr. Davenport.

 

Q&A with the DPT Class of 2017

What was something at the conference you were amazed or inspired by?

Alycia Clark ’17: “Attending CSM inspired my desire to pursue the newly developing specialty in physical therapy for oncology patients.”

Michael Ellis ’17: “The amount of people there who were actively engaged in bettering their profession in the pursuit of helping patients.”

Brendan Heary ’17: “The incredible number of physical therapists from all around the country, all gathered together for this one event.”

Hailey Kopps ’17: “I was inspired by the quality of current research, variety of content and level of passion I was surrounded by throughout our visit to CSM. I was overwhelmed by the sense of community and dedication to professional growth. I stand alongside 14,000 others with something to offer the field of movement science.”

Audrey Mott ’17: “The number of PT students in attendance and the passion for healing of all of the speakers.”

Helen Shepard ’17: “All of the new information presented in lectures about current research in our field.”

Megan Stiller ’17: “I was amazed at how many vendors and exhibitors were in the exhibit hall.”

Nina Zakharia ’17: “Getting to see how passionate everyone is about our awesome profession made it really fun.”

Describe a memorable interaction you had during the conference:

Ellis: “I enjoyed watching a classmate of mine interact with people during his poster presentation.”

Kopps: “I talked with a Pacific alumnus and learned about how integral experiences like this are in his practice, several years post-graduation.”

Mott: “Jessica Renzi from North Carolina. She is a travel PT who started a company with her husband to mentor new PT grads interested in travel PT. Awesome to talk to her and learn the ins and outs of traveling.”

Scola: “Speaking with many people involved with Twitter and PT advocacy.”

Stiller: “I talked to a Team Movement for Life staff member at a meet-and-greet event and I was able to have an extended conversion with her about the company.”

Max Yeagley ’17: “I met with a friend’s upcoming clinical instructor named Rosalie, who works at Lodi Memorial. She was very down-to-earth, approachable and very encouraging to us about starting our clinical rotations.”

Zakharia: “I met a PT from Texas who designed an electronic medical record. He was funny, but insightful.”

Did you connect with any alumni or former faculty?

Clark: “I met an alumna of the DPT program who now works at Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara. She was incredibly friendly and shared with me about her job.”

Jessica Tom ’17: “Yes, it was inspiring to hear about where they all are in their careers and what helped get them to where they are.”

Zakharia: “I connected very easily with Margaret from the class of 1994!”

By: Anne Marie H. Bergthold

Making the Most of Career Development

deans_letter_pt-showcase-2016Meeting a prospective employer for the first time can be a nerve-racking experience. There is the pressure to make a good first impression, give eloquent answers and ask thoughtful questions. One of the ways that Pacific prepares students for the career opportunities that lay ahead is through events where they can practice navigating interactions with employers.

On November 14, 2016, the University’s Career Resource Center hosted an etiquette dinner. At the event, students had the opportunity to practice networking and dining in a professional setting. The Pacific Speech-Language Pathology Alumni Association sponsored the 20 students undergraduate and graduate students who attended this annual event.

“I would definitely recommend this to future students because it has made me more comfortable dining at nice restaurants and it was a valuable experience if I go to an interview dinner,” said speech-language pathology (SLP) student Ashley Cearley ’17. Her classmate, Monica Berg ’17, agrees, “It was great to receive information about dining in a business setting and note what employers were looking for.” Berg connected with Jillian Hall ’13, MS, CCC-SLP, who is a speech-language pathologist for Twin Rivers Unified School District. “We spoke about her job experience, other colleges and the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association,” Berg said.

SLP student Connie Mach ’17 also connected with a speech-language pathologist. She shares, “She was very friendly and shared her experiences working as a speech-language pathologist in a variety of settings, including early intervention in the homes, school sites and in the hospitals.” Mach adds, “I think it was a great opportunity to practice networking skills and meet potential employers. I would recommend bringing business cards and thinking of questions to ask the employers prior to the event.”

Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Samantha Moore ’17 practiced her networking skills. “I appreciated the pointers that were provided that evening about how to better conduct myself,” Moore said. “I found this beneficial in how to interact with other professionals including potential employers.”

Throughout the year students have opportunities to attend events focused on career development. “We highly encourage students to start attending career events and start devising a career development plan as early as their first year in the program,” said Erica Ruiz ’12, whose role at the School includes assisting students with career development.

In November Adriana Joma ’17 attended the Speech-Language Pathology Employer Showcase. “This experience allowed me to see what positions are currently available in my area and specific job skills required or recommended for these positions,” Joma said. Both Kate O’Donnell ’17 and Kasimira Clark ’17 used Showcase as an opportunity to learn more about the corporate culture of local companies. O’Donnell explains, “The companies provided great information and advice for determining the best ‘fit’ for a career.” Clark shares, “The exhibitors gave great advice and explained what things we should look out for and helped narrow my focus.”

Sarah Petry ’18 found that the practice of meeting with employers gave her confidence. She shares, “I grew more comfortable at each table and less overwhelmed. By the last table I felt more myself and able to better make a connection.” DPT student Jacob “Jake” Fredrickson ’18 had a similar experience at the Physical Therapy Employer Showcase. He said, “I got to practice having a professional conversation in a real employer interaction and that was very helpful!”

For Briana Bernard ’17 the benefits of attending Showcase were twofold. “Clinicians gave insight to what they are looking for in therapists and what kind of [interview] questions they ask,” Bernard said. “Also, it was a good experience of putting myself out there in a professional setting and feeling more confident.”

Dickson Chang ’18 and Briana Valenzuela ’18 emphasize the power of a good first impression. Chang shares, “It helped me work on being personable to potential employers.” Valenzuela said, “I felt like practicing introducing myself to everyone and trying to create a good first impression was a great experience.”

Alicia (Lueth) Wortman ’18 found Showcase to be an encouraging experience. She shares, “It was nice to have a ‘practice’ environment in which to have purposeful, but also personal, conversations. It was encouraging to know that these employers see qualities in us which they’d like to hire.” Patrick Amigable ’18 echoes her sentiment. He said, “I was able to practice being an active listener and inquire in a way that expressed my potential as a future employee.”

 

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!”

 

PT and SLP Collaborate for a Study on Respiratory Muscle Strength Training

deans-letter-fairburn-isettiCarl L. Fairburn III ’10, PT, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy, and Derek Isetti ’08, PhD, CCC-SLP, assistant professor of speech-language pathology, have teamed up for a research project to explore if respiratory muscle strength training (RMST), commonly used in physical therapy, can benefit patients who are having difficulty with speaking. For this study Dr. Fairburn and Dr. Isetti are focusing on individuals with Parkinson’s disease, as often these individuals experience diminished lung capacity and decreased speaking volume.

Ultimately, the goal of this study is to improve the quality of life for individuals with Parkinson’s disease by improving their pulmonary function, which in turn could make it easier for them to speak. Vocal loudness is intricately related to the amount of air pressure an individual can generate within the lungs. It is Dr. Fairburn and Dr. Isetti’s theory that as pulmonary function and strength improves with respiratory strength training this could have a translational effect on vocal loudness when speaking.

In this study, participants are trained on how to use small, portable respiratory trainers. “These are small hand-held devices that are typically spring-loaded,” said Dr. Fairburn. “They apply a resistance to the user when they are either breathing in or breathing out. The trainers are calibrated to each individual with resistance adjusted based on the user response.” Calibration is important as these devices employ the progressive overload principle. Dr. Fairburn explains, “Placing strain on the muscle causes adaptive hypertrophy and growths in strength. The diaphragm and muscles in the rib cage can be strengthened to improve the individual aspects of pulmonary function.”

Dr. Fairburn is the lead investigator of the study. “My responsibilities are recruiting and selecting candidates, study design and selecting outcome assessments that relate to pulmonary function and quality of life in Parkinsonism,” Dr. Fairburn said. “We also measure thoracic expansion, or how much movement they get in their rib cage.” In addition, he trains the study’s participants on how to use the respiratory devices and teaches them the exercise protocol. Dr. Fairburn also assesses “how much their respiratory function affects their quality of life.”

Co-investigator Dr. Isetti lends his expertise as a speech-language pathologist. “I’m essentially obtaining baseline measurement data on the participants,” Dr. Isetti said. Once he has established a baseline of the participant’s vocals he then follows up at two week intervals with a vocal assessment. “Some of the things we are looking at are maximum phonation time, or the length of time someone can sustain a sound, and vocal loudness, how loudly someone can project their voice.” In addition, he measures pitch range. He also assesses their perceived vocal handicap before and after the respiratory strength training, as well as the amount of self-perceived effort that a participant feels is necessary in order to produce speech.

Dr. Isetti emphasizes the importance of seeking out the expertise of a speech-language pathologist. “RMST is not designed to be a replacement for speech therapy,” stresses Dr. Isetti. “However, if use of respiratory trainers is shown to improve vocal outcomes they could be a valuable ancillary treatment, complementing the patient’s speech therapy.”

Several doctor of physical therapy students are involved in this research study: Alycia Clark ’17, Andy Westhafer ’17 and Amanda Whalen ’17. “Their responsibilities include assistance with data collection and helping perform some of the outcome assessments,” Dr. Fairburn said. This study is just one way that students have the opportunity to work alongside Pacific faculty. Dr. Fairburn shares, “A large number of our students are involved in research projects or state and national-level presentations. Opportunities outside of the classroom are available to all of our students should they express their desire to pursue research activities.”

Pacific is committed to creating an environment where interdisciplinary collaboration thrives. Speaking from personal experience, Dr. Fairburn has found that when physical therapists work with speech-language pathologists they can become a “cohesive, collaborative rehabilitation team.” Dr. Isetti adds that when students are exposed to rehabilitation research that is being developed outside of their own discipline they are better prepared to meet the needs of their patients in strategic and innovative ways.

 

Meet Our Graduates

It is the season of tassels and mortarboards. Representing the disciplines of pharmacy, speech-language pathology and physical therapy almost 300 graduates will have their degrees conferred at the Commencement Ceremony on May 21, 2016. A few of our graduates share their plans after graduation and what memories will stand out to them when they look back at their time at Pacific.

 

Renée C. Fini ’15, DPT accepted a position as a physical therapist at Fritter, Schulz & Zollinger Physical and Occupational Therapy, a private outpatient clinic in Gilroy, California. “I am excited to be able to enhance my manual skills with the orthopedic population along with the ability to fine tune my aquatic therapy skills,” said Fini. “I was lucky enough to be chosen [for an internship at this clinic] and I had a great connection with the clinic director during my rotation. I applied for a position that opened up recently and was hired to join the team.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Hands down, Dr. Jim Mansoor! Dr. Mansoor really took me under his wing and advised me in a way that I really understood; a ‘tell it like it is,’ down-to-earth approach. I will always be grateful for his time and effort given during office hours to help me understand concepts that I struggled with.”

Professional goals: “I don’t want to just ‘help people,’ but I would rather ‘help change peoples lives.’ I look forward to someday working with individuals who struggle with movement on an everyday basis due to disease or pathology. I would also like to travel to underserved countries and contribute my services for those who cannot afford care.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I cherish all of the great friends I made in the DPT program at Pacific. The bond we shared is unlike any other college experience I have had before. We understood the challenges of being in an accelerated program and encouraged each other to keep pushing forward to do our best. I will always remember the challenges, but will remember the friendships even more.”

 

Andrew Bagdasarian ’15, DPT is currently working as a physical therapist at Golden Bear Physical Therapy and Sports Injury Center in Modesto, California. “I am looking forward to broadening my knowledge base by treating a variety of patient populations [and] improving my treatment approach of an athletic population, ranging from high school to professional athletes,” shares Bagdasarian. The connections he made through Pacific were instrumental in leading to this opportunity. He explains, “Not only did I complete a clinical experience through Golden Bear while at Pacific, I also had chances to meet the clinic owners, Bobby [Ismail ’94] and Brandon [Nan ’09], when they participated in the Physical Therapy Employer Showcase and 5K Tiger Dash our program puts on.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Many professors impacted me in multiple ways throughout my education at Pacific. It would not do them justice to single one out above the rest as I appreciate all of their respective efforts.”

Professional goals: “Hopefully I contribute [to the profession as] a thoughtful, well-rounded clinician who is always searching to better himself and his treatment approach. Specifically, I would like to expand on evidence-based return-to-sport testing to improve decision making about appropriateness and safety of athletes returning to their respective sports.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “One of the highlights was traveling to Indianapolis to attend the Combined Sections Meeting, our national physical therapy conference; getting to spend time learning from the presentations and exploring the city with a great group of classmates. Also, a memory I’ll never forget was being able to complete a clinical rotation with the San Francisco Giants, the baseball team I’ve grown up being a fan of since I was young.”

Read more about how our graduates plan on using their doctor of physical therapy degree > 

 

Tiffany A. Riley ’16 has been matched with a Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) pharmacy practice residency at VA Palo Alto Health Care System in Palo Alto, California. “I’m deeply humbled with the opportunity to serve our nation’s veterans,” shares Riley. “Growing up, both of my grandfathers were veterans and I remember being in awe of their stories of bravery and sacrifice. I look forward to serving this unique and truly inspiring patient population.” She adds, “I had the first-hand experience of rotating through various institutions in the Palo Alto region, such as the VA and Stanford. Being in this clinical world among highly skilled practitioners opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could do after graduation.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “My journey at Pacific began as a pre-pharmacy student and my advisor, Dr. James Uchizono, became a mentor over the years. As I advanced to pharmacy school, Dr. Uchizono, alongside Kimberly Eayrs and Kim Whitesides, were always welcoming to share advice and encouragement. I know that as I progress on in my career as a clinical pharmacist I will still be in contact with them. The professors at Pacific are more than just teachers, they are life-long mentors who truly value their students’ professional and personal development.”Professional goals: “With a genuine passion for helping those in need, I hope to provide more than just medication related recommendations for my patients. I intend to inspire future generations of pharmacists by precepting pharmacy students, form relationships with a variety of providers by contributing to an interdisciplinary team and stretch the boundaries of the profession in this exciting era of pharmacy practice.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I’m eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to be a member of the California Pharmacy Student Leadership (CAPSLEAD) team. Upon initiation of our team’s research project, we attended the annual CAPSLEAD conference. Attending this conference and working with the CAPSLEAD advisors, Dr. Don Floriddia [’71], Dr. Denis Meerdink and Dr. Veronica Bandy [’00, ’08], throughout the course of the year sparked in me a deeper interest in leadership development.”

 

Hasna Manghi ’16 has been matched with a Postgraduate Year One (PGY1) residency in academia through Touro University and NorthBay Healthcare in Fairfield, California. “I am looking forward to letting the knowledge I’ve gained thus far come full circle,” shares Manghi.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Rajul Patel [’01, ’06] has made such an immense impact on my life. The span of his influence encompasses my didactic work, my motivation during APPE rotations and my ambitions as a future pharmacist, as well as the qualities of integrity, positive attitude and a true work ethic.”

Professional goals: “I hope to contribute a positive attitude. I want to take the apathy out of pharmacy practice and encourage a zealous mindset for this profession.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I have many great memories at Pacific, but the best was of the time spent with Drs. Nancy [’89] and Gary [’89] DeGuire in their cabin in the woods with my close group of friends. It was truly an unforgettable weekend!”

Read more about how our graduates plan on using their doctor of pharmacy degree >

 

Karen Soltow ’15 is currently a clinical fellow at Shoreline Speech and Language Center, a private speech-language pathology clinic in Hermosa Beach, California. “The clinic I am working at had heard great things about the graduates of University of the Pacific, so they emailed our department to advertise their job opening,” shares Soltow. “I emailed them right away and I am so happy I did!”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Derek Isetti [’08] has been a prominent support system for me as I transitioned from my post-baccalaureate studies into my masters program. I first met Dr. Isetti while studying at University of Washington and had the privilege to continue learning from him here at University of the Pacific. His office door was always open and he always greeted everyone with a smile. It was clear that he was passionate about our field and eager to support all of those in it.”

Professional goals: “My goal is to foster a community where therapists are continually collaborating and sharing ideas in order to meet the needs of all of our clients. I hope to never lose sight of the fact that I will forever be a student in this field as there is always more to learn!”

Favorite Pacific memory: “To me, University of the Pacific was all about the people. My cohort and professors were always there for me. Whether we were meeting to collaborate on our studies or clinical work, or to enjoy some good food or sunshine, we were always there to support each other. I will never forget the people I met while at Pacific.”

 

Yvette Young ’15 is currently working as a speech-language pathologist at Manteca Unified School District and Beyond Words Intervention Services in Stockton. She welcomes the variety of patients she has the opportunity to work with. “I’m looking forward to helping people in all stages of life communicate,” said Young. She adds, “Both of my positions were obtained due to professional connections made during my time at University of the Pacific.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Professor Simalee Smith-Stubblefield [’83] supported me from freshman year all the way through graduate school. She always makes it clear to her students how much she cares and that they can come to her for guidance and encouragement. My supervisors on my medical externship at UC Davis Medical Center also changed my clinical and life perspective in such meaningful ways. I’m thankful for Simalee and other Pacific speech-language pathology department staff who worked diligently to place students in wonderful medical externships.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “When I reflect on my time at University of the Pacific I’m flooded with memories of people who encouraged me. All of my professors created an environment in which students could grow into informed, caring, flexible and supported speech-language pathologists.”

Read more about how our graduates plan on using their master of science in speech-language pathology degree >

 

 

Doctor of Physical Therapy Graduates’ Future Plans

The graduates from the doctor of physical therapy Class of 2015 have accepted job offers all across the United States. As Commencement approaches we asked them to take a moment and reflect on their time at Pacific and their path ahead.

 

Vincent Morelos Villalon ’15, DPT is currently working as a physical therapist at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He has found Cedars Sinai Medical Center to be a rewarding and challenging environment where he is continually learning about acute care. He explains, “Cedars Sinai hospital is a teaching hospital where each staff rotates to new areas […] that way all of the therapists’ minds are continuously engaged.”

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Kylie Rowe is such an expert of pain management and each session was a wonderful learning experience. All four of us in the class were able to learn more in-depth of how persistent pain works in our system and how we are able to treat patients with persistent pain.”

Professional goals: “To be a mentor to future students and to learn from students as physical therapy is a profession of consistently learning new information. In addition, to becoming a cardiovascular and pulmonary clinical specialist.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “We are all one family and help each other learn as a whole. Being in labs, learning new treatments that we can provide to our patients and having class sessions outdoors. Finally, spending quality time with my friends as they are my family.”

 

Dinah Compton ’15, DPT is currently working for PT Solutions, an inpatient rehabilitation facility in Destin, Florida.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Every professor had an impact on me. Everyone cared so much about our future and continue to be our strongest supporters as we move forward in our career field.”

Professional goals: “Getting my Neurologic Specialist Certification and helping patients return to their prior level of function.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “I had the opportunity to volunteer my time treating a spinal cord injury patient and discovered how much of what we do as professionals positively influences people’s lives.”

 

Katherine Samstag ’15, DPT is currently working as a physical therapist at ATI Physical Therapy in Mercer Island, Washington. At ATI Physical Therapy she has had the opportunity to work with a wide range of patients, from pediatric patients to patients that are over 100 years old. “I have enjoyed the benefit of working with a strong group of other manual therapists who have a wide background and array of education […], which drives collaboration and teamwork for all patients seen at the clinic, ” shares Samstag.

Professor who had a profound impact: “From Dr. Casey Nesbit’s caring and compassionate nature, to her drive for the importance of education and patient access to specific healthcare, I will always hold her perspective close to heart.”

Professional goals: “I hope to contribute [to the profession] a well-rounded and biomechanical perspective on physical therapy examination and treatment, which I learned at Pacific, to each individual patient I treat.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “Traveling with Dr. Casey Nesbit, as well as my fellow DPT students Meiying Lam [’15] and Michael Dessel [’15],to Malawi, Africa.”

 

Steven Carmack ’15, DPT is currently working as a physical therapist and aquatic physical therapist at Integrated Physical Therapy in Yuba City, California. He welcomed the opportunity to return to his hometown.

Professor who had a profound impact: “Dr. Todd Davenport, inspired all of us during a very difficult first semester with motivational speeches and an abundance of knowledge that he presented in understandable ways for us newcomers.”

Professional goals: “To give people who don’t know much about physical therapy the education and confidence to achieve a higher quality of life in a fun and interactive way.”

Favorite Pacific memory: “Winning the co-ed soccer intramural championship with a team of PT students.”

 

 

Student Spotlight: Vien Vu ’17

vien-vuAn unquenchable thirst for understanding fitness led Vien Vu ’17, CSCS to pursue a doctor of physical therapy (DPT). He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a certified personal trainer. “So many times as a personal trainer I got frustrated. I didn’t know the answers to certain problems,” said Vu. He earned a bachelor of science in kinesiology from San Jose State University. What drew Vu to Pacific’s DPT program was the faculty and the resources available to students.

While working as a personal trainer he observed that professionals within the fitness industry discuss research findings, but there is a lack of quality, evidence-based information directed to the general public. He elaborates, “This is a passion of mine. There is so much stuff on the internet that is rubbish.” In response he launched a blog and podcast. His goal for How Fit Works is to help dispel misconceptions and misinformation about fitness by providing quality information and scholarly, peer-reviewed resources.

Vu’s philosophy is, “What’s not measured can’t be managed.” He shares, “I have an obsession with spreadsheets and numbers. I love data.” His zeal for collecting data has a practical purpose. He asks, “How can you measure change if you don’t have data?” Vu also emphasizes moderation and consistency. “Three times 52,” said Vu. “Who cares what you do in the gym? Show up three times a week, every week. Make it a routine like brushing your teeth.” He is committed to following his own advice. He makes it a priority to go to the gym even during finals week. “No matter how stressed I am I go, because I know I will drop the habit if I don’t continue and in terms of stress I will feel worse if I don’t go.” He emphasizes that it important to take care of yourself. “If you don’t take care of yourself you can’t take care of others.”

For Pacific’s students, faculty and staff who are interested in taking their physical fitness to the next level Vu recommends taking advantage of the resources at the Baun Fitness Center. The center has a group of nationally certified trainers and offers over 35 fitness classes. In addition, the Baun Fitness Center hosts free “Ask a Trainer” sessions on Mondays from 5-6 p.m. and Thursdays from 6-7 p.m. For more information contact Fitness Coordinator Caitlin Sommers at csommers@pacific.edu or 209.946.7300.

 

Physical Therapy Leadership Council Offers Insight and Support

What do an orthopedic surgeon, the president of a local high school and an attorney have in common? The Physical Therapy Leadership Council (PTLC). The members also share a commitment to being invested in their community. The PTLC supports the doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program by reviewing marketing materials, participating in events, promoting alumni engagement and serving as brand ambassadors. According to their mission statement the PTLC assists with “strategic planning, marketing, developing short and long term goals, providing community outreach, and garnering financial support of education, research and clinical practice.”

Who is the DPT program seeking to serve on the PTLC?  “I look for someone who has that depth of experience in whatever field they are in,” said Sandra Reina-Guerra ’97, ’99, ‘03, PT, DPT, PCS, associate professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy. “Someone who is visionary and philanthropic with their talents.”

Dr. Reina-Guerra elaborates, “The purpose is to have an external group to give us some perspective on things such as needs in the community, perceptions and what we are projecting outward.” She emphasized that she is grateful for the support of the PTLC members, who give her constructive appraisal of program changes and ideas or affirmation regarding future plans. The members also can give a unique perspective on what employers are looking for in prospective candidates. She adds, “There are four members of the council who are in the hiring position as employers.”

pt-leadership-council-03_resizeDr. Reina-Guerra believes it is vitally important to involve individuals who represent different viewpoints; the group is comprised of both alumni and community members. “I wanted to provide constructive feedback to the University as to how the profession functions in the real world and address issues that affect the future of physical therapy delivery in the community,” said Brandon Nan ’09, PT, DPT, CSCS, clinic owner and physical therapist at Golden Bear Physical Therapy and Sports Injury Center. “I felt that given my experience, I may be able help provide information to assist the University to improve outcomes and delivery of didactic coursework as well as program development. Bringing local representation into a committee like the Physical Therapy Leadership Council provides a diversified view of how we can mainstream physical therapy services to the public and to keep up with current and future affairs for physical therapy delivery.”

Fellow alumni Parley Anderson ’03, PT, DPT, OCS is co-founder of Active Physical Therapy and Peter Hohenthaner ’01, ’04, PT, DPT is an owner of Pine Street Physical and Occupational Therapy. The newest member is alumna Kimberly (Howard) Colón ’03, PT, DPT who is a physical therapist at San Ramon Regional Medical Center.

“We take pride in our community, […we] bring in experiences, public relations, grants and a positive image for the program,” said Virtu Arora, PT, DPT, CLT, COMT. Arora is a physical therapist at Stanford Health Care, ValleyCare. Kevin A. Hicks, JD is a deputy district attorney for San Joaquin County. He believes that it is important for community members to be involved in order to “help the program address public needs.”

Kerry L. Krueger ’06, MS, JD is an attorney at Kroloff, Belcher, Smart, Perry & Christopherson. Krueger has strong ties to the University. In addition to being a graduate of McGeorge School of Law, she worked for the University’s Department of Student Life for nine years. When asked why it is important to involve community members, Krueger replied, “To gain some ‘out-of-the-box’ perspective, to make connections beyond the School and University and to get honest feedback on how others view issues.”

Joseph B. Serra, MD is an orthopedic surgeon and lecturer for the Pacific’s DPT program. Peter D. Morelli ’74 is president of Saint Mary’s High School in Stockton. No stranger to athletics, Morelli has been officiating sporting events since 1971 and his time as an NFL referee includes signaling the winning field goal for Super Bowl XXXVI. In his view, the PTLC gives community members the opportunity to share their opinions and their support.

Dr. Reina-Guerra commended the members of the PTLC for their support of the program’s vision for excellence and foremost to be recognized locally for preparing its graduates to be leaders of distinction in health care and society. “Each member of the Council carries our message to the people and organizations in their own professional and personal lives. We are honored to have the members represent us and we are thankful for their selfless contributions.”

 

Alumni Spotlight: Alexa Hukari ’03, DPT

alexa_hukari_resizeBallerina, firefighter, veterinarian, circus performer. How many people grow up to be what they dreamt about at a young age? For Alexa Hukari ’03, DPT her childhood aspiration became a reality. At the age of 12, Hukari decided she wanted to join the circus when she grew up. Hukari recalls thinking, “I have to do that, I have to be a part of that.” She adds, “In high school people teased me about running away with the circus.”

Upon graduating from Pacific’s doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program she sought a position working with circus performers in Las Vegas. This led to the opportunity to do strength and conditioning, as well as physical therapy, for the performers of Cirque du Soleil.

Hukari met her husband, Ming Fang, in Barcelona while they were working on the same show. Fang was an acrobat in a Chinese troupe and Hukari was working as a physical therapist touring with the show. The two made for an unlikely couple; he didn’t speak English and she didn’t speak Mandarin. The strong connection between the two overcame cultural and linguistic barriers. In 2009, his partner was injured and she got the opportunity to audition as a replacement. She landed the part, which later led to the opportunity for Hukari and Fang to perform together in “Absinthe®” by Spiegelworld Las Vegas.

Hukari was 5 years old5 when she started gymnastics. She went on to be a U.S. National Acrobatic Gymnastics Champion and six-time California State Champion. While her background in gymnastics helped prepare her for the physical demands of her role in “Absinthe®,” there are distinct differences between preparing for a competition and training for performing. She explains, “It’s different when you are training for competition and you are working to peak once a year, one amazing moment. Working in ‘Absinthe®’ is 10 shows a week, it’s less about training for one peak moment and more about consistency.”

When performing week after week the focus is on being healthy, staying strong and avoiding injury. Core strength is key. She adds, “Acrobatics is really hard on your body. I try really hard to focus on all of the small things that add up to making your body strong.” Her background in physical therapy gives her a deeper understanding of maintaining physical fitness, which helps her to stay disciplined. “If I get injured I know how to come back from that injury and how to prevent it in the future when possible.”

When considering different career paths physical therapy was a natural choice. She shares, “I wanted to do something where I could stay involved in gymnastics or acrobatics.” Also, she has always wanted to know “how the body works and how to make it work better.” Hukari has found that being an athlete has made her a better physical therapist. She explains, “I can ask the right questions about what patients need.” This allows her to treat patients more effectively. Hukari emphasizes the importance of gaining the trust of  patients. When working with an athlete she  relates to the demands they put on their body as well as  the goals they want to achieve when rehabilitating from injury.

When reflecting on her experience at Pacific what stands out to Hukari is the faculty. Even after graduating Hukari felt like she could go to them for advice if she was uncertain about the best way to approach a certain aspect of a patient’s therapy. She adds, “I had the resources to make good decisions to help people.” She is grateful for her education, which has opened doors to opportunities far beyond what she could have imagined.

To read her story in her own words read “East meets West, and we fall in love.”

 

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.”