The Monday Memo
March 12, 2018 PITT DPT STUDENTS
Combined Sections Meeting: New Orleans
A few weeks ago over 17,000 Physical Therapists descended upon New Orleans for the annual APTA Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). I had the fortuitous opportunity to join this mass of rehab professionals and enjoy my first professional conference, both as a bright-eyed student physical therapist (SPT) and volunteer. Immediately after arriving in New Orleans with several of my classmates, we were all instantaneously met with anxious excitement for what the next few days would bring. While everyone attends CSM with different goals in mind, my list included listening and learning from some of the foremost experts in the field, as well as gaining a better idea of employment paths I could choose after graduation. While I certainly focused on these professional and academic objectives, I would be lying if indulging in a few beignets wasn’t on the list too.
As a student with an expansive series of interests within the world of PT, I attempted to sit in on a wide array of presentations. I listened to debates about post-concussive rehabilitation, absorbed new movement diagnoses appropriate for patients with neurodegenerative disorders, and was pleasantly intrigued by the possibility of combining my love for pediatrics with my interest in sports physical therapy. Even as a novice SPT, I was constantly ruminating on how I could integrate what I was hearing at CSM with what I had already learned in school. This critical thinking and assimilation of ideas is what continually moves physical therapy forward towards evidence based practice and it was reassuring that even as a student I challenged myself to do this. On top of the presentations, it was impossible to not explore the expansive and slightly overwhelming exhibit hall. Filled with hundreds of booths representing APTA sections, new and improved anti-gravity treadmills, blood flow restriction equipment, enticing travel companies, and more it was easy to spend hours meandering through it all (which is exactly what I did). However, beyond the booths and their allure of free pens, cookies, and giveaways, I found dozens of poster presentations lining the walls. This combination of new technology and ground-breaking research was riveting to peruse because it was a physical embodiment of how the profession is perpetually moving forward to try and refine our skills. Bursting with opportunities, ideas, and entertainment the exhibit hall was a lively component of CSM. Lucky for me, the vibrant city of New Orleans enveloped all of this. I aimlessly roamed the streets of the French Quarter with classmates, witnessing everything from the pop-up live music to the iconic architecture. Frenchman Street enchanted us with local art markets, jazz bands, and the best pecan pie I’ve ever tasted. Unsurprisingly, beignets, jambalaya, and gumbo became daily necessities for all of us. I think most attendees would agree that “the Big Easy” was a perfect backdrop for this year’s conference.
As I sit and reminisce about the conference, the vivacious city of New Orleans, and the balmy temperatures which were a welcomed contrast to Pittsburgh’s incessant winter, I am confident the entire experience was an impactful adjunct to my education. I am eager to apply what I took away from this year’s conference and I am already looking forward to CSM 2019 in Washington D.C.
-Caroline Talda, SPT Class of 2019