Faculty Spotlight: Tamara Phelan ’08

Tamara Phelan_resizedDiagnostic ultrasound imaging is changing the landscape of the physical therapy profession. Once used primarily for musculoskeletal rehabilitation research, it is now heavily used in clinical research and becoming more accessible to physical therapy clinics. Tamara Phelan ‘08, PT, EdD, FAAOMPT, professor of physical therapy, secured a $25,000 University of the Pacific Technology in Education Grant to purchase the department’s first diagnostic imaging ultrasound. “There was no way to advance into this area without this grant. In the past all we did was talk about it and show it in pictures. It was hard because everyone can see the potential in that but to actually see and have experience with the unit and make it accessible to our students is important,” said Phelan.

Dr. Phelan plans to use diagnostic ultrasound imaging when teaching courses to student physical therapists. “By incorporating this technology, it deepens the learning experience. Exposing students to many different forms of technology helps them learn about appropriate use. They will also graduate with a basic understanding of the tool and hopefully be able to use it in their clinics someday,” said Dr. Phelan.

The benefits of the diagnostic ultrasound imaging are threefold:

  • Physical therapists can use the tool during examination and evaluation to assess the integrity of the injured tissues;
  • It is a vital tool in providing biofeedback during muscle retraining especially when treating deep muscles that can only been seen with advanced technology; and
  • The tool allows for real-time point of care use and provides an image during dynamic movement. This type of evaluation is helpful in cases of shoulder impingement or lumbar instability.

Diagnostic ultrasound will also be used in a research project to determine the differences in the student experience when examining the transversus abdominis muscle. Dr. Phelan explains that the transversus abdominis is very difficult to palpate when contracting. “I will be trying to determine if they can tell the difference between a correct and incorrect contraction when palpating the muscle. My hope is that students can go out in the clinic and be able to tell the difference with or without the unit after this training,” said Dr. Phelan. She also is considering other areas such as providing biofeedback for patients with incontinence and helping to retrain pelvic floor muscles.Ultrasound_resized

She is most excited about the increase in the interest of the technology and how it’s integrated into physical therapy curriculum.

“A lot of technology makes us more efficient and better at what we do and this (diagnostic ultrasound) is that type of technology. In so many areas of physical therapy practice this will improve the efficacy of our practice and we will be able to do a better job in a shorter time period and spend less money. That is fundamental to making the health care system work,” said Dr. Phelan. “If we have the technology and expose our students to the appropriate use of technology that’s a gift that will change how they operate or dictate how they operate for a lifetime as a therapist. So it’s very meaningful.”

Diagnostic ultrasound is one of many technologically advanced tools in the doctor of physical therapy program. Read about the newly acquired GAITRite system here.


School Opens Office of Academic Success and Instructional Support

Dr. William Kehoe
Dr. William Kehoe

As director of the Office of Academic Success and Instructional Support (OASIS), William Kehoe, PharmD, MA, FCCP, BCPS, coordinates support services to help pharmacy and health sciences graduate students achieve academic and lifelong career success. Dr. Kehoe was appointed last August after serving as the department chair of pharmacy practice for the past 14 years.

“Our programs are accelerated, increasing not only the academic demands but also stress levels. We need to provide support services that will help Pacific students reach their highest level of success. The OASIS program is designed to do that,” said Dr. Kehoe.

The School’s OASIS staff works with students to develop personal learning strategies based on individual preferences, time and stress management skills, strategies to improve memory and secure tutors, if needed. In addition, Dr. Kehoe works closely with academic advisors to identify and assist students who may be having difficulties. “I want to encourage all students to feel comfortable about seeking our services. OASIS is not just intended for those with academic problems but for all students who simply want to do better or achieve more,” said Dr. Kehoe.student studying_resized

The challenge with any new program is getting students to respond. Through his elective course, Developing Personal Learning Strategies, Dr. Kehoe is hopeful students will recognize the benefits and take advantage of OASIS services. In fact, his course was so popular this semester enrollment was full. Dr. Kehoe also hosts seminars throughout the year where students can learn about OASIS and the services it provides. “I’ve spoken to others who direct these services and it is a challenge for everyone to get students to come in before problems arise. I must say that to this point I am very happy with where the program is and how students are responding,” said Dr. Kehoe.

Dr. Kehoe brings a lot of experience to his position. He is a member of the University’s student success committee, which was charged by President Pamela Eibeck to investigate “best practices” in the area of student success and make recommendations on how Pacific can assist students. Dr. Kehoe earned a master’s in psychology with an emphasis in behavioral medicine from University of the Pacific in 1995. As part of the program, he completed clinical experiences related to behavior and health, stress management, health psychology, brain function and cognitive psychology.

Students Provide Physical Therapy in Malawi

Dessel working with a patient.
Dessel working with a patient.

With the simple greeting, Muli bwanji, or “Greetings from Malawi,” a professor and her team of physical therapy students were met with a multitude of smiles and soccer games as they treated patients and trained community health workers. “It was a truly welcoming culture that was appreciative of any education or physical therapy skill that we were able to provide,” said Katherine Samstag ‘15, who was part of the December 2014 team.

Casey Nesbit, DPT, DSc, assistant professor and director of clinical education shared her passion for training health care workers with her students. Since 2006, Dr. Nesbit has visited Saint Gabriel’s Hospital and organized two-week trips for students. Last year’s trip included Samstag, Michael Dessel ‘15 and Meiying Lam ‘15. The students prepared for the Malawi trip with an elective course consisting of weekly seminars to discuss common health conditions as well as the local Chewa culture and the Chichewa language. In addition, they prepared materials for a community health worker training course.

The three-to-four day physical therapy course trains 20 health workers who serve villagers with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The program is essential to the local population because according to Dr. Nesbit, the hospital lacks a physical therapist and “there are only 25 physical therapists” in the entire country. The education the School provides is vital to a country where “physical therapy is a relatively novel idea,” said Dessel. As the students trained health workers, they were able to improve their Chichewa skills and eventually were able to have simple conversations and provide therapy instructions to their patients.

Students in front of St. Gabriels Hospital.
Students in front of St. Gabriels Hospital.

The collaborative educational experience is one the students benefited from and will use in their new careers. Dessel plans to begin his physical therapy career in New York City upon completion of his clinical internships. He hopes to eventually obtain his orthopedic clinical specialist certificate. Lam anticipates working in outpatient care as a certified orthopedic specialist for under-served communities after completing a residency. Samstag plans to move back to her home state of Washington. She looks forward to working as a pediatric physical therapist in Seattle.

Dr. Nesbit will keep living up to her teaching philosophy and “focus on active engagement, self-direction, reflection and guided discovery.” Every year, she plans to continue the incredible, real world education that the Malawi trip provides for the students at the School.


Parkinson’s Wellness Camp Benefits Community Members

wii fitDuring the Parkinson’s Wellness Camp participants rotated through different sessions including a Wii Fit station. The Wii challenged the patients’ balance. A home exercise station helped educate patients about what they can do at home to help improve their condition. The camp was an opportunity to go beyond the classroom and help improve the lives of those who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease. The course was taught by Dr. Preeti Oza, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy. Dr. Oza joined the Pacific Family in August 2013 and has been involved with the Stockton-San Joaquin Parkinson’s Disease Support Group ever since.

Under Dr. Oza’s supervision, the Parkinson’s Disease Wellness Camp was organized and led by Jared Descoteaux ’15, Renee Fini ’15, Allen Herinckx ’15, Kelly Perryman ’15 and Michael Whipple ’15 providing services to six individuals who were recruited through the support group.

Each student contributed to making the event a success. Fini gathered information about local organizations and resources for patients. “I found many resources from the American Physical Therapy Association’s (APTA) and the Parkinson’s Foundation websites that encouraged movement-based activities,” she said. “It is very beneficial for patients with Parkinson’s to have an active lifestyle.” The severity of Parkinson’s can range from mild to advanced and can progress differently in different people. The patients at the camp were no different and had different levels of functional independence and cognitive awareness.one leg test

Perryman shared the most important lesson she learned. “Being able to make last-minute decisions to adapt and accommodate the patients’ individual needs was a learning experience,” she said. Fini added “It’s important to realize that even though individuals are diagnosed with the same stage of the disease, they do not always present the same symptoms. We need to treat each individual as their own person with their own challenges.”

Experiential learning is a key component of the Pacific experience and helps foster student professional development. “The Parkinson’s Wellness camp allows our students to interact, examine and evaluate mobility issues of individuals with neurologic disorders,” Dr. Oza said. “In addition to taking ownership of the event, the students get to experience the intricacies and details required to arrange such an event.”

The camp was instrumental in helping students develop leadership and critical and creative thinking skills. “From this experience, I feel more confident about my ability to adapt to changes when things don’t go as planned,” Whipple said. Last summer the students also assisted Dr. Oza with the Balance Clinic. “I have noticed their professionalism and caring attitudes towards the clients,” she said. “These students make us – the Physical Therapy faculty – proud and I am confident they will represent University of the Pacific well.”


Student Spotlight: Chris Wolfinger ’15

Chris Wolfinger_resizedIf there is one word to describe Chris Wolfinger ’15 it would be determined. Wolfinger’s focus on his career in physical therapy and athletic training helped him discover Pacific’s student development leave; an opportunity that allowed him to spend a week with the San Jose Sharks at their prospect camp last summer. However, the opportunity came at an inopportune time – that summer was his toughest semester in the program.

“I searched the Student Handbook to see what would happen if I missed class. I came across a clause on student development leave and I started asking questions,” Wolfinger said.

Wolfinger knew the camp was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. In his letter of support to the Department of Physical Therapy’s ad hoc committee, he argued the impact it would have on his education and career.

Since high school, Wolfinger diligently built and fostered a relationship with the Shark’s head athletic trainer. “Every year I would check in with him to see if there were any opportunities for me to get involved,” he said. “One year, I got to shadow him for a day.” At the prospect camp, Wolfinger witnessed first-hand preseason physicals, mixed athletic training services and early screenings. He also met with team physicians to provide movement analysis and participate in injury prevention. “They were great about asking me to show them what I was learning or asking for my opinion about injuries,” Wolfinger said.

Wolfinger played Division II ice hockey at San Diego State University and was president of the team for two years. During his senior year, he landed an internship with the San Diego Chargers. “I started with pushing nutrition and hydration, but later assisted with treatment and acute on the field care during practices and three home games,” he said. Wolfinger earned a bachelor of science in kinesiology with an emphasis in athletic training at San Diego State University.

In August 2013, Wolfinger earned his Athletic Training Certification and started the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Pacific. He chose Pacific because of the University’s strong tie to the Stockton Thunder. Wolfinger used that to his advantage and spent last season (eight months) and this season (four months) with the Thunder providing acute care management and assisting players with injuries.

Wolfinger also named Dr. Todd Davenport, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, as a reason for choosing Pacific. “While I was considering physical therapy doctoral programs, Dr. Davenport was the only person who encouraged me to use my experience in athletic training to enhance my physical therapy education. He was a big supporter of my development leave and continues to encourage me to pursue my career.”

“Wolfinger has a deep passion for making sure ice hockey athletes have the best possible health care and performance” Dr. Davenport said. “His commitment is infectious.”

Wolfinger approached Dr. Davenport about writing a research paper about ice hockey and its common injuries. “It’s exciting that he can contribute to his new profession in this manner, even as a student physical therapist, and it speaks to his character that he wants to bring a whole profession along with him as he works to achieve his own career goals,” he said.

Wolfinger has a bright future ahead. He will rotate through three clinical externships this spring including a sports medicine externship with EXOS™ (formerly Athletes Performance) and the San Francisco Giants.

He has been playing ice hockey since he was five. His favorite food is his mom’s homemade chicken parmesan. Wolfinger is engaged to his high school sweetheart and is set to marry her in October.


Faculty Spotlight: Carl Fairburn ’10

Carl FairburnDr. Carl Fairburn ’10 joined the physical therapy faculty in August as an Assistant Professor, teaching the same program in which he was once a student. He hopes to make an impact on his students by challenging them in new ways. Dr. Fairburn “look[s] forward to helping mold professional growth and challenging the students to become leaders in their field as well as within the communities they will be providing for.” He will be teaching exercise physiology in physical therapy and assisting in integumentary in physical therapy. In addition Dr. Fairburn will be teaching cardiovascular and pulmonary physical therapy this summer.

Dr. Fairburn describes his teaching philosophy as “never be[ing] afraid to fail.” He wants students to let go of their fear of failure and instead welcome mistakes as part of the learning process. This strategy allows the student to be engaged and fully participate in their studies. Dr. Fairburn hopes that with his teaching students will develop the ability to think critically and analytically in order to find answers to their questions. This skill will benefit their career when they become strong self-learners as practicing physical therapists.

Dr. Fairburn looks to his past experience as a student at the School and remembers how knowledgeable and supportive the faculty was. His experiences as a student will help him be a better professor in order to provide the same level of learning to his students. As well as preparing students to be top notch physical therapists, Dr. Fairburn plans to provide scholarly work in the cardiovascular and pulmonary fields to his profession.

Dr. Fairburn was raised in a city that has a larger population of cattle than people and has no stop lights. He was part of the Division Two baseball national championship runner-up team at Chico State. Dr. Fairburn also enjoys riding his 1998 Springer Softail Harley Davidson. Click here to read his alumni spotlight.



Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony Honors Class of 2016

The 5th Annual Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Doctor of Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony was held on August 29, 2014 at the DeRosa University Center Ballroom.

The anticipation leading up to the ceremony was exciting to witness, all of the smiling and proud faces of students and parents alike. Everyone waiting for the ceremony to begin gathered into the DeRosa University Center’s lobby taking pictures.

The class of 2016 came in their best dresses and suits. Parents and families slowly entered, looking for the best seats. As the ceremony was beginning, everyone’s attention turned towards the two doors that opened up for the students entering in an orderly fashion. There was no hiding the priceless expressions on the students’ faces as they looked in to the audience and saw their loved ones clapping and looking up at them in awe.

Class of 2016 member is cloaked with his white coat by his second-year buddy.
Class of 2016 member is cloaked with his white coat by his second-year buddy.

Dr. Sandra Reina-Guerra ’97, ’99, ’03, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, opened the ceremony with a few words and introduced Dr. Eric Boyce, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Dr. Boyce shared a story that touched the audience but must have been particularly inspiring to the class of 2016 and their mentors. His 86 year old father suffered from a viral health issue and with the help of a home visiting physical therapist he was able to help his father walk within a week. He described his father as being “independent because of the physical therapist.” Words of encouragement and gratefulness did not stop there. There “has to be trust, some benefits and relationship between the patients and the care provider,” continued Dr. Boyce. With his closing remarks he simply put that it is “no longer about you, it’s about the patient you serve.”

The warmth filled the room and more words of inspiration continued as Dr. Todd Davenport, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, introduced the night’s keynote speaker, Michael Tubbs, the 6th District City Councilmember for Stockton, Ca. He opened his address with stating the fact that “Stockton is facing a lot of health challenges and in the San Joaquin County, Stockton is at a 30% poverty rate and 60% don’t have high school diplomas.” He connected health and education because these things are basic human needs. People lash out because they may be ill-educated or suffering from health problems that can be solved by simple medications or doctor visits. Tubbs proposed a challenge to the students as they enter the next chapter in their lives of physical therapy. “I want to challenge everyone to move towards justice.” Justice meaning, when we see an injured person on the sidewalk, do not simply walk away, offer your help. Simple action such as this not only shows our care for mankind but also shapes us into better individuals.

Class of 2016 members gather outside after the ceremony.
Class of 2016 members gather outside after the ceremony.

The event also served as an opportunity to recognize the Alumna of the Year award recipient. This year Dr. Josephine “Jody” Nance ’90, ’03 was acknowledged as the “2014 Physical Therapy Alumna of the Year.” Dr. Nance opened her speech with quotes from a motivational video she found on YouTube about the topic of why we fall. No one understands the late nights and the strenuous study sessions like Dr. Nance. “You have to sacrifice what you are for what you will become,” an everlasting statement she made to the students. This wisdom not only applies to the physical therapy class but to so many aspects of our lives.

Following the speakers, was the cloaking of the class of 2016. Family members excitedly stood up with their cameras ready. Flashes, applauses, and words of encouragement were exchanged as the students walked onto the stage to be cloaked with their white coats by their second year mentors. Congratulations to another brilliant class!

In the words of Michael Tubbs: “What are you prepared to do today so that 50 years from now another child will have the opportunity to become a physical therapist?”

The White Coat Ceremony is generously sponsored by Kaiser Permanente through The Healthy Children Grant which intends to combat obesity in the community.



Physical Therapy Professor’s Research Leads to New Treatment of Deadly Lung Disease

jim mansoorIn 1997, Dr. Jim Mansoor, Professor – Department of Physical Therapy, and his colleagues from UC Davis launched a research project to study the effects of pirfenidone on a deadly lung disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), in animal models. The research was funded by Marnac, Inc., which has since sold the rights to sell pirfenidone to InterMune. Today his preliminary work has contributed to a new treatment for patients who suffer from the disease.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis occurs when lung tissues thicken and stiffen, causing difficulty in breathing and restricting oxygen intake. Dr. Mansoor and his team researched the drug’s effects by studying the forced vital capacity, the amount of air that is forcibly exhaled from the lungs. Dr. Mansoor’s research found that animals with induced IPF that had been treated with pirfenidone showed significant improvement in forced vital capacity over animals that were not treated with pirfenidone. Pirfenidone helped reduce thickening of the tissues, commonly known as scarring in the lungs, and improved pulmonary function in animals. The cause of IPF is often unknown and early screenings are not available. Currently, there are no successful treatments for the disease and the only other option is a lung transplant.

“When I was doing this research, I would receive emails from patients saying they’ve learned that there are no treatments for IPF but saw my research online and asked if I would recommend the drug. I would respond and apologize that I was not a medical doctor and that I could only say that the drug improved pulmonary function in animal models,” commented Dr. Mansoor.

Patients who are diagnosed with the disorder are usually middle-aged to older adults who have shown symptoms for some time, and many die three to six years after diagnosis because of respiratory failure. Pirfenidone offers hope for patients by slowing down the deterioration of lung functions in recent human clinical trials, potentially increasing life expectancy. Similar to Dr. Mansoor’s animal model, the human clinical trials also showed a reduction in the deterioration in forced vital capacity.

“Many researchers do a lot of work not knowing if it will go anywhere. Learning that my work is going to have a direct impact on patients is rewarding,” said Dr. Mansoor.

Current studies have found pirfenidone to be relatively safe, with no cardiovascular side effects but with the possibility of nausea and gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Although the effect of pirfenidone on IPF is a relatively new discovery, the drug itself has been around since the 1960s.

Pirfenidone is marketed in the United States under the name Esbriet® which was developed by InterMune. InterMune licensed certain rights to pirfenidone from Marnac, Inc. and its co-licensor, KDL GmbH, in 2002. In 2007 the rights to sell the compound under the patents in the US and several other countries were purchased from Marnac and KDL.

Read more about Dr. Mansoor’s study in a paper titled “Pirfenidone attenuates bleomycin-induced changes in pulmonary mechanics in hamsters,” which was published in the Proceedings of the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine journal in 1997.



Physical Therapy Student to Participate in Giants Training Camp

Ben Larson resizedGrowing up, Ben Larson ‘14 aspired to be a physical therapist for a professional sports team because he was a multi-sport athlete and had his share of visits to the physical therapist and athletic trainer. “I remember thinking to myself, ‘wow, this could be something I would have fun doing as a career.’” Larson can now check that off his bucket list because he has been accepted as a student physical therapist for the San Francisco Giants training camp this summer starting on July 14.

During his internship, Larson will be providing rehabilitation therapy to elite athletes in the major and minor leagues who suffer from physical injuries. “I am excited to have the opportunity to work with a patient base that will be highly functioning and I look forward to learning new strategies, techniques, and interventions to treat and get them back to what they love doing as quickly as possible,” said Larson who learned about the training camp by doing some research and speaking with a peer and Dr. Casey Nesbit, Assistant Professor and Director of Clinical Education.

By the end of the internship Larson hopes that he will gain a better understanding of sports therapy and determine if he would like to pursue his career in the industry. He’s also interested in outpatient therapy and traveling overseas on medical missions. In addition to his professional goals, he would also like to get married and start a family soon.

While at Pacific, he has conducted undergraduate research and worked on independent study courses with Dr. Todd Davenport, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy. He has presented posters at three different conferences and is an author on two research papers that are in the works to be published in a research journal. “Dr. Davenport serves as a role model on how to invest in others and to encourage them to bring out their best,” said Larson.

Larson also loves baseball but admits that he didn’t grow up watching the Giants. He has been an Atlanta Braves fan since he was six years old and remembers watching them lose to the Yankees in the 1996 World Series. When he turned 10 and moved to California he has been cheering on the Giants “as long as they weren’t playing the Braves.”

Three unique facts about Larson are that he enjoys board games that involve strategic and logical thinking, playing football and basketball, and has acrophohia, fear of heights.

Larson is a member of the doctor of physical therapy class of 2014 and also earned his bachelor’s at Pacific in 2012. He chose Pacific for its competitive academic scholarship package on “a faith-based decision.” “It was between Pacific and another university, but the big issue was cost.  So I prayerfully considered both colleges, and when I received multiple academic scholarships for Pacific I knew which direction I was being led.”


Honoring Dr. Christine R. Wilson

christine wilsonCHRISTINE R. WILSON
Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, 
Department of Physical Therapy
11 Years of Service 

Wilson’s circuitous route to a career in physical therapy included pursuing a dancing career in New York City and studying movement analysis and notation at the Laban Institute for Movement Studies before earning her bachelor’s degree in physical therapy at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where she developed a professional focus in pulmonary PT. After four years of PT practice, she taught English in Tokyo and traveled before returning to complete her M.A. in motor control at Columbia University. In 1983 she joined the faculty at Downstate Medical Center and operated a pulmonary PT home care practice. She earn her Ph.D. at McGill University and came to Pacific in 2003. She has been an active member of the Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Section of the American PT Association, serving as Research Committee Chair for 12 years and garnering the section’s highest service award in 2013. She has been Department Chair since August 2011, during which time she convened a new PT leadership council and established the Sanderson Lecture Series, supported by St. Joseph’s Foundation.

Tiger Dash for Cash – Sponsoring the CSM

And they’re off! The 8th annual Tiger Dash, hosted by the Department of Physical Therapy (DPT) class of 2014, was a booming success with over 250 Pacific students, staff, and faculty joining together for a day of fitness and health recognition. With the greatest turn out so far, the 2013 Tiger Dash was a fun filled frenzy of activities. Featured at the Tiger Dash were several events such as a 5K run for adults around the Stockton campus as well as a half mile Cub Run for children, a health fair to promote physical fitness which featured booths hosted by local health related organizations and clinics, and a raffle with tons of great prizes. Proceeds for the Tiger Dash went to support the DPT class of 2014’s travel to Combined Sections Meeting (CSM), an annual meeting of professional and student physical therapists. Some of the proceeds also went to the local Stockton YMCA to promote health and well being in the community.

The 5k and half mile Cub Run were the main events of the Tiger Dash. With double the number of runners this year, the class had a lot on their hands. Chelsea Keys ’14, current DPT student and event coordinator said, “The worst part had to be the anticipation for the event and making sure everything came together for race day, but this was outweighed by the best part of the event which was the amazing turn out from the community and all the help from the students to put everything together.” A long time tradition here at Pacific, the Tiger Dash not only sponsors the entire class’ trip to the CSM, but it also helps to promote a healthy lifestyle within the Stockton community. Keys explained, “It’s a great opportunity for the students to work together and to get the community thinking about health and fitness. It was also a great way to give back to an organization like the YMCA.”

DPT students presents check to Mike Vann of YMCA.
DPT students present check to Mike Vann of YMCA.

So how exactly did the Stockton YMCA benefit from the Tiger Dash? Mike Vann, the YMCA program director was very pleased to announce that the YMCA received over $700 from the event. This money will go towards scholarships for families who are unable to pay for programming, like low income families who just can’t afford to put their kids in child care, sports teams, and the like. These families can simply fill out a scholarship application form to participate in YMCA activities. Vann explained the importance of these types of programs, “Children learn at a very early age to develop habits like reading books regularly, being physically active, doing hands-on things, experiencing the outdoors and learning life skills.” One of these life skills is swimming, which is particularly important in San Joaquin County as it has one of the highest drowning rates in California. Vann continued, “Life skills are essential in development. We don’t want to turn anyone away especially if it’s because they don’t have money.” Applying for a scholarship is a very easy task which yields an immeasurable benefit to the community.

When it comes to health and fitness, running is one way to support our active bodies. Running is great for the heart as well as the rest of the body. Exercise is critical in maintaining the health of our bodies and minds. Not only that, but exercising regularly helps reduce stress, and will perpetuate a long and healthy life. Keys gave some advice on improving health in the Stockton community, “We can improve health by starting with education—teaching people about the benefits of exercise and taking care of your body. By holding events like the Tiger Dash, we can bring the community together while promoting the value of a healthy lifestyle.”

The goal of the DPT class was to fundraise enough money to attend the American Physical Therapists Association (APTA) Combined Sections Meeting which is a phenomenal opportunity for these young professionals. CSM allows them to connect with students and professionals that are passionate about physical therapy. The DPT class will also be able to learn about new and innovative therapy techniques, as well as hear about the latest equipment and research in the constantly evolving profession. And did the PT Tigers reach their goal? Absolutely. The Tiger Dash enabled the class of 2014 to attend the CSM with no costs for flights or hotel rooms. Keys exclaimed, “We are very thankful for the donations we received and we are all very happy about the turn out for the event!”


Nicole Molina ’14 Gives Back With Time and Treasure

nicole molina - decades of giving
Nicole Molina ’14, Devon Flannigan ’14, Daniel Leib ’14, Nicole Medina ’14, Alexandra Madrid ’14 and Kimberly Huey ’14 encouraged alumni to join them at CSM.

Thomas J. Long’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students are in it for the long haul. Just ask Nicole Molina ’14. Molina has had a wide range of experiences in her educational journey; she not only attended the Combined Sections Meeting in Las Vegas, but also traveled to Bolivia to assist in wheelchair distribution and customization for the underserved. She exemplifies the immense potential of Pacific students as well as a spirit and compassion for life and global wellbeing.

Molina was one of two class representatives for the Decades of Giving program, which fundraises to sponsor the DPT class of 2014 to attend the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) in Las Vegas. CSM is an annual meeting of physical therapy professionals and students nationwide that allows for tremendous opportunities for growth and learning. For example, at CSM, students learned about wheelchair technology, robotic assisted gait training and running shoes. Molina elaborates on her attendance at CSM further, “CSM was a great experience. I wanted to jump into everything without any expectations since this was the first conference I had been too. I loved being around and learning from other physical therapists and students. I had the opportunity to learn about new innovative technologies in physical therapy, current legislative issues we are facing and about new techniques in patient care. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to attend this meeting in future years as well.”

nicole molina_bolivia
Nicole Molina ’14 distributing wheelchairs to Bolivian children

Before the exciting trip, Molina and her peers had to go through a long process of applying for the Rotary International grant. This process includes being judged on their ability to make up any missed work as well as the benefits they would receive from the experience. Also, Dr. Peterson required that the students learn about fitting wheelchairs prior to the trip. Molina says, “One of the projects she had us complete before the trip was taking apart a wheelchair and putting it back together so we could understand how a wheelchair was assembled.” While in Bolivia, the students’ practice with fitting was put to work; Molina and her colleagues customized over 200 wheelchairs for the underserved. She worked with seating specialists who taught her how to customize everything from the foot rest to the head rest. If this sounds like tough work, just ask Molina, “It was definitely a tall task. Everyone on the project worked hard to ensure that the children received the best possible chair for their condition. In some instances we would work for hours to fit one child making sure that the chair was specific to their needs.”Molina’s experience with wheelchair technology was one aspect of her education that qualified her to travel to Bolivia with Dr. Cathy Peterson for wheelchair distribution. Bolivia is one the poorest South American countries and many people do not have access to healthcare. By providing wheelchairs to the underserved, Molina and her peers were able to give children the ability to finally go outside their homes without being carried by a parent.

This life changing trip allowed Molina to grow immensely as a future PT. She learned many things during that trip that she wouldn’t have learned in the classroom; she learned about patient care, communicating with patients, and flexibility and creativity in altering wheelchairs. The impact of their experiences is immeasurable; students were not only able to gain field experience, but more importantly, they were able to make a difference in others’ lives. Molina explains, “This trip has allowed DPT and Pacific to extend outside the borders of our community and affect individuals in need around the world. The most rewarding part of the trip was being able to help children become more mobile. Often the child’s mother, grandmother or family member walked away crying because of what we had done. Being able to change a child’s life to that degree is enormously rewarding.”

Molina is definitely on her way to making a worldwide change. She is a big believer in the importance of global health. She believes that global health means giving each individual the ability to receive appropriate health care quickly and efficiently despite economic, social or other hardships. Molina explains, “One physical therapy principle is to provide pro bono services for individuals in need, volunteering, educating individuals or providing financial contributions. If each individual took the skill set they had and offered it to others we would be much closer to enhancing global health. The Bolivia Wheelchair fitting is one example of offering services to others.”

As the first in her family to attend college and receive a graduate degree, Molina has exceeded great expectations. She is currently looking at attending pediatric physical therapy residencies and plans to apply in 2015. She is also looking forward to passing her licensing exam in January. Molina’s tips for aspiring PT students is this: “Give back to the community and advocate for physical therapy. Physical therapists are movement specialists. This is the best way to serve others—helping them move!”