Roughly a year ago, the lives of 52 bright-eyed and bushy tailed 1st-year DPT students at the University of Pittsburgh ‘anastamosed’. While some students knew each other from their undergraduate programs, the majority of us were meeting everyone for the first time. Though timid and self-conscious initially, we all jumped right into the first anatomy palpation lab. Needless to say, after identifying structures such as the ischial tuberosity and borders of the femoral triangle, we realized that we’d be working very closely with each other from here on out, so it’s best to get used to it! The pace of the summer semester picked up and friendships quickly formed.
Setting the Tone
The program director Dr. Delitto and (world-renouned) faculty emphasized that while getting into school might have been a competitive process, learning in the classroom is certainly not! The classroom is an environment of collaboration and the sanctity of learning should always be maintained. As students, we should be asking questions (even ‘stupid’ ones), trying new things, and even making mistakes. The upper classmen contributed to the sense of community as they offered to hold socials and study sessions to ease the minds of the very anxious. After being shown the way, the Class of 2014 took that collaborative message to heart. We were soon divvying up portions of our next exams to create study guides and practice tests. Using Facebook, we shared documents and helpful websites. In fact, it grew so much, you practically stood out if you DIDN’T contribute! Collectively, we realized that because the demands of the curriculum, we would absolutely need to work together in order to achieve our goals.
Striving for Excellence
With the introduction of our first part-time clinical rotations in the fall and spring, our passion for physical therapy only continued to grow. The program beefed up the curriculum as well, but like any motivated group, we rose to the occasion. Inspired by classroom visits by APTA leaders such as Dr. Paul Rockar and Dr. Justin Moore, we also became more active outside of the classroom by participating in the Southwest District of the PPTA and winning the student membership challenge, visiting the Family House for a Saturday night game session and fundraising for the Foundation for Physical Therapy through the Pitt-Marquette Challenge courses. We also renewed the Physical Therapy Graduate Student Association (PTGSA) to enable us to fund student travel to state and national APTA events. We sent a handful of 1st, 2nd and 3rd years to the Combined Sections Meeting in Chicago, IL and had an incredible time! (post soon to follow) We also assisted in the Mini-CSM held by the SWD District where our very own G. Kelley Fitzgerald, PT, PhD, OCS, FAPTA presented Evidence-based Considerations in Rehabilitation for Knee Osteoarthritis.
Continuing through the year, we all showed improvement. We became better working in groups and giving presentations, learned to study more efficiently and effectively, developed our problem-solving and clinical skills and in short, proved that we could contribute to the field we were entering. Sometimes it’s hard to believe just how far we’ve come, how much we were able to learn and accomplish in just a short time. With the proverbial ‘hell semester’ in our wake, and the chance to recharge, the Class of 2014 will surely hit the ground running to start our 2nd-year!
If it were not for the amazing support of the faculty, professors, TAs, administrative staff, generous donations and students, we wouldn’t be in such an exciting position. Similarly, we wouldn’t be nearly as excited for the future! Classes resume May 14th and will continue for 6 weeks before we begin our 6 week full-time clinical rotation to finish the summer session. As students immerse themselves into new settings (and continue to ‘pickle’), we hope to continue to provide updates! Thank you so much for the support, interest and belief in us! Hail to Pitt!