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.

 

 

PT Students with a Vision for Giving Back

The doctor of physical therapy Class of 2016 has a vision of forging a lasting legacy through an endowment fund. Dean Phillip R. Oppenheimer, PharmD believes that the Physical Therapy Visionary Endowment of the Class of ’16, ’17, ’18, ’19 and ’20 reflects the culture of philanthropy that has been exhibited by the current classes of PT students. “The physical therapy Class of 2016’s intention to create an endowed travel fund has generated an unprecedented level of excitement and enthusiasm among the students, faculty, staff and alumni,” shares Dean Oppenheimer.

Decades-of-GivingWe will have five years to fundraise $50,000,” explains Susan Webster, Director of Development. “When that amount is reached, it will be matched by the Powell Match program bringing the fund balance to $100,000.” The Powell Match was established by the extraordinary $125 million gift from Robert and Jeannette Powell. A full $85 million of the Powell’s gift is dedicated to matching, dollar for dollar, new endowment gifts of $50,000 or more that support scholarships or enhance the academic experience of our students. Funds from the endowment will be used to assist students with travel expenses so that they may attend national conferences.

The largest conference for the PT profession is the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) annual Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). In 2016 over 11,300 attendees came from across the country to attend the conference, which was held in Anaheim, California. “By definition, CSM is a program designed by all 18 of the APTA’s specialty sections,” explains Teresa Li ’16. “Each section can be considered a unique facet to the PT profession and each section provides programs with the most up-to-date, evidenced-based concepts or treatment techniques relevant to the population of patients or topic they specialize in […]. The truth is, PT cannot truly be broken down into 18 sections when you are treating a patient! When you attend a program from one of these 18 sections at CSM the concepts and techniques discussed can be applicable to a vast majority of patients you see no matter what setting you are in.”

The motto of CSM is “Together we will transform society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience.” Li has taken this motto to heart. She shares, “I believe every physical therapist has a duty to think outside the box to strive to enhance our profession. Together we can truly improve the way people move and thus enhance their day-to-day life. Dr. Todd Davenport once urged us to break down the meaning of the CSM motto and think about how we can actually transform society. He taught us that in order for us to transform society in our profession, we must bring new things to the table by merging other schools of thought and expertise to the PT profession. Dr. Davenport is a stark example of this having recently earned a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. He plans to bring his new expertise of public health, along with his broadened social network of public health experts, to the PT field […]. Dr. Davenport is an inspiration to our profession with his forward thinking and incredible work ethic, I hope to one day contribute to the field of PT in a similar way.”

Kyle Clark ’15, DPT believes that a ripple effect is created when students have the opportunity to attend national conferences. He explains, “The fund benefits the physical therapy profession as a whole because it helps send University of the Pacific DPT students to a conference where they are able to learn more about the profession and the newest research being published, which in turn will benefit their future patients.” He adds, “It is important for both students and licensed physical therapists to attend CSM to learn about the new cutting-edge technology, network with other individuals and companies and continue to grow their knowledge in regards to evidence-based practice. It is a great opportunity to learn new things that you can take home with you and immediately use in your practice in order to provide better care for your patients.”

Alumni play a vital role in partnering with students who will soon become their colleagues. Clark shares, “It is important for alumni to give back and support future DPT students because the students are our profession’s future.” This endowment fund was established to support students as they develop into professionals. Naina Batra ’16 explains, “Giving back to the future classes will allow them to focus on completing their professional education.” Webster adds, “The Class of ’16 and Class of ’17 are a special group of students who have recognized a need.” She is excited to see their vision become a legacy.

Contact Susan Webster for more information on how to support this student-led endowment at swebster@pacific.edu or 209.946.3116.

 

 

Faculty Spotlight: Todd Davenport, DPT, MPH, OCS

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Student Spotlight: Michael Dessel ’15, DPT

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Research Study Gives DPT Students Valuable Hands-On Experience

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

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

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

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

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

 

The 30th DPT Class Dons Their White Coats

On August 28, 2015, 36 students were cloaked by their second-year mentors and read the Physical Therapy Oath of Professionalism at the White Coat Ceremony. The Class of 2017 was chosen from a pool of 621 applicants. This year’s class will be the 30th graduating class of the doctor of physical therapy program.

Lonny Davis served as the keynote speaker for the event. Davis is the Founder and CEO of Hope Haven West, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping provide mobility to the disabled in developing countrdeans_letter_fall15_pt_wcc_wearing_coat_webies. Hope Haven volunteers collect used or discarded wheelchairs, which they then refurbish. The wheelchairs are then distributed to those who otherwise could not afford one. Their efforts are focused on Mexico, Central America and South America.

Davis delivered an inspirational speech to the PT students, faculty and guests. Davis shared short stories about his work helping the disabled throughout the world by providing and customizing mobility devices. Physical Therapy (PT) second year student, Teresa Li ’16 reported, “Lonnie encouraged us to keep the end goal in mind. What we are working and studying for is for the sake of our patients. The end goal is to benefit patients and the communities we serve.”

Casey Nesbit PT, DPT, DSc, PCS reinforced Davis’ challenge for the future DPTs to look beyond themselves to the community, both locally and abroad: “An important aspect of our professionalism is to use the knowledge and skills of physical therapy to make a difference in the lives of those in our global, as well as local communities.”

There are urgent needs right here in our own backyard. Over the past five years the School has partnered with Kaiser Permanente and the San Joaquin County Office of Education to deliver the Healthy Children program. This program seeks to address the pressing issue of childhood obesity. Nesbit stresses that this issue is “particularly troubling, because it can disrupt development and can perpetuate unhealthful behaviors that last a lifetime. [..] Through targeting at-risk children in our area, we hope to mitigate the effects of childhood obesity in the short-term and in generations to come. During the past five years, our Healthy Children program has provided services for almost 10,000 at-risk young people in our area. We also have served approximately 1,600 members of the community at the Pacific Family Health Fair.”

Special Remarks were presented by Danielle Sartori ‘06, DPT, recipient of the 2015 Physical Therapy Alumna of the Year Award. As President of the Pacific Physical Therapy Alumni Association she speaks from experience when she says “The relationships that you form here will continue to be a part of your lives as you embark on your professional journey. You will always be connected in Tiger spirit and supported by your fellow practitioners.”

Sartori understands the world of athletics from many angles. As an athlete she played a wide variety of sports including soccer, swimming and water polo. She has also approached athletics from the perspective of a coach and currently is a Goalie Coach for USA Water Polo. She is both a Physical Therapist and Sports Performance Director at TKJ Sports Performance and Physical Therapy in the Bay Area. She affirms that the field of physical therapy is “extremely gratifying.” She has found that “There are many paths one can take, and each one has the goal of promoting a patient’s optimal physical function”

Sartori believes that there are three key components to physical therapy: evaluate, educate and exercise. She explains, “These components contribute to a successful relationship between patient and physical therapist because they create an environment of knowledge and trust.” She encouraged the upcoming doctors in physical therapy to be “enthusiastic, inquisitive and observant.”

 

Everyone Benefits From Ergonomic Evaluations

Since 2007 Pacific’s physical therapy students have been performing ergonomics evaluations for faculty and staff. Linda Panofsky, PharmD, was amazed by the noticeable difference that can happen after making even minor adjustments. She had several PT students come to her office to do an ergonomics evaluation. She expressed that they were “immensely helpful! They were very professional and so friendly. Prior to their visit, I had no idea how to adjust my office chair and I was sitting in uncomfortable positions while working. They all worked on it until we got it as perfect as it could be and now I am so much more happy working at my office!” She conveyed her gratitude to both the students and “to the program for offering the service.”
 
Adjunct professor Jody Nance ’90, ’03, DPT, MS, BS stresses the importance of applying ergonomics in the workplace. “Office ergonomic assessments are an integral part of industrial physical therapy. Preventing potential injuries is as important as assisting with the recovery process after injury. Office ergonomic assessments apply correct body mechanics to the office situation. It involves looking at the person in relation to the office set up. It includes the chair, the computer keyboard and monitor and the entire working area. […] Appropriate positioning can reduces stresses on our muscles, tendons and joints. This will reduce the chance of injury [and] strain.”

Nance confirms that ergonomic evaluations are beneficial as “Faculty and staff do spend a fair amount of time in an office environment. Any time spent in poor positioning can lead to pain and/or injury. If we can provide some insight and instruction for improved positioning, then we can potentially prevent or decrease pain and stress.”

The students also benefit from conducting the evaluations as it gives them real world experience; bringing them one step closer to being practice-ready. Nance believes that the best way to learn is through practice. Nance asserts that “Being a clinically based instructor it just made sense to have the students take their knowledge and put it to work. I think there is a sense of reward when the students realize what they are learning is applicable and they know what they are doing.”

Getting outside of the classroom gives students an appreciation for the reality of the complexity of situations. “Once you have a concept to put into action is not always as easy as it seems. The practice they get as a student will make them a better practitioner when they graduate.” Nance explains, “Clinical application of learning at a student level allows them to submerged into nuances that are difficult to teach in a classroom. On paper you can see how things might be important. Sometimes is seems basic and easy, but when you apply it to an actual situation it can be an eye opener.”

Nance hopes that what students take away from the experience is that “Every situation is unique. You have to look at each person in their environment. I try to instill the importance of treating each situation as its own and to work with each individual in a manner that will suit them the best, yet be as ergonomically sound as possible.”

One thing that makes this program a valuable experience for everyone involved is it helps bring greater awareness to the dramatic impact of physical stress. Nance thinks that “Injuries are often associated with athletics or trauma. It is important for students, and the people they assist, to understand why positioning could cause as much of a significant impact on their lives as trauma.” For example, “having the keyboard tilted up places more stress on their carpal tunnel and could lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.” Having an awareness of these factors can help curb the causes of stress, leading one to be both healthy and comfortable.

To learn more about Pacific’s Physical Therapy program go to pacific.edu/dpt.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

School Lauches High Fidelity Simulation Pilot Program

A multidisciplinary initiative is underway involving the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the College of the Pacific, and the Arthur Dugoni School of Dentistry. Earlier this year, the School received the University’s Strategic Educational Excellence Development (SEED) Grant that will allow several departments (physical therapy, pharmacy, speech-language pathology, athletic training, and physician assistant) to start a pilot program using high fidelity patient simulation. The simulation uses mannequins that are integrated with computer software to mimic real patient responses such as resting and responsive vital signs, sweating, bleeding, vomiting, and reactions to medication. Cathy Peterson, PT, EdD, professor of physical therapy and co-author of the grant explains that “adult mannequins weigh approximately 120lbs and verbal responses can be preprogrammed or created in real time from a staff member who is observing remotely. Each mannequin and the supporting technical equipment and software range in cost from about $20,000 to over $150,000 for the most sophisticated devices used for simulating catastrophic trauma.”patient simulation

Having access to a simulation lab will allow health care faculty to train future health care professionals for real life situations. By working in an interactive environment, students will gain hands-on experience and feedback in dealing with a crisis or medical emergency. “We expect that bringing this state-of-the-art technology for Pacific students will allow them to learn new clinical techniques and to apply didactic knowledge in a low-risk simulated clinical environment,” said Dr. Peterson.

Dr. Peterson shares the team’s vision for a $2 million Pacific Health Sciences High Fidelity Simulation Center and how it can impact partnering disciplines, including the athletic training and physician assistant programs. The center will help “create opportunities for interprofessional education at Pacific, better prepare students for clinical experiences in acute and long-term care, foster more significant bonds among students from different clinical programs, enhance alumni and donor relations, and attract and retain faculty to teach and conduct research using state-of-the-art teaching technology,” said Peterson.

Deepti Vyas, PharmD, BCPS, assistant professor of pharmacy practice and co-author of the grant, has worked with simulators at other institutions prior to coming to Pacific and has published research on the benefits for students. A recent survey of pharmacy schools indicated that a majority of schools are using high fidelity simulators to create real world learning environments. We are excited that Pacific is able to provide this same opportunity for our students. We anticipate that this simulation lab will allow us to develop educational activities which center on topics such as measuring reduction of medication errors, determining efficacy in providing interprofessional education (IPE) opportunities and evaluating improvement in clinical knowledge and skills.

The simulation lab will not only provide opportunities for collaboration between colleges and programs at Pacific but also with the community. “We also expect to develop some relationships with stakeholders in the community including nearby hospitals, clinics and health care programs,” said Dr. Peterson.

Student Spotlight: Anna Barrett ’16

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

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

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

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

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