The Monday Memo: 9/2/13

The Monday Memo

PT Abroad Adventures

September 2, 2013                                                                                       PITT DPT STUDENTS


Dublin, Ireland

Instead of spending my summer in Pittsburgh with my peers, I spent 6 weeks completing our first full-time clinical rotation in Dublin, Ireland. I chose to go to Ireland for a couple of reasons. First things first, I can’t speak any other language! Secondly, being from the south suburbs of Chicago, I have grown up around an area heavily influenced on the Catholic Irish culture. Thirdly, I had never been to Ireland or out of the United States at the age of 25. I think it was time for some international traveling and exploring! Finally, my grandmother, Eleanor, who is one of the most influential (strong Irish) women in my life, was
from Ireland.

I spent my 6 weeks at a private hospital, UPMC Beacon, which is my first experience in an acute physical therapy setting. I was blessed to work with many different therapists and types of patients. Depending on the day, I would be with acute-orthopedic, oncology, intensive care unit, cardiac, or outpatient orthopedic patients.

My favorite experience at the hospital was getting the unique opportunity of being in the theatre or as we know it here in the states as surgery! I shadowed two different surgeons: orthopedic and brain. Seeing a patient in surgery and then being their physical therapist was such an educational experience. It allowed me to truly see a patient from the beginning of their care. I really understood what they went through and why they might present with the deficits they do post-surgery.

In addition to my educational and clinical experience, I spent my weekends becoming a true local. I traveled all around the country seeing cities like Cork, Kilkenny, Galway, Belfast, and of course Dublin. I spent my weekends meeting people from all over the world, trying the not-so-famous cuisine of Ireland (which was delicious), and taking LOTS of pictures! This summer was more than just a clinical rotation. It was an unforgettable, brilliant life experience that allowed me to grow so much as a person and as a clinician.


~Kelly Ricker

Munich, Germany

I was fortunate enough to spend six weeks in Munich this summer where I was placed in two separate clinics for 2 three-week rotations. The first three weeks was spent in an outpatient orthopedic ‘Reha’. A ‘Reha’ is a multidisciplinary clinic where patients receive many types therapy, take group exercise classes, attend patient education seminars, and perform therapeutic exercises. This clinic is starkly different from what is found in the US in that the patients are present at the clinic for 4 to 6 hours each day permitted by time off work follow injury or a surgical procedure. The patients come to the clinic 2-5 times a week depending on how much time off work is allowed and the severity of their injury. I was able to treat and observe as well as take some of the group exercise classes. The emphasis of the physiotherapy time slots was on manual therapy (each patient had 1-2 hours to perform their previously prescribed therapeutic exercises at a different time). I now know there are so many more manual therapy techniques available for use than I was aware. This exposure deepened my interest in manual therapy and has encouraged me to pursue it further through my career.


My second clinical experience was in an inpatient neurological facility. MFZ is a part of a larger system that allows patients who have cerebral palsy to have a lifetime of care including schooling and vocational training. The first step in the system is an inpatient facility for children and young adults up to the age of 21. If at that point they are unable to be independent and attend outpatient therapy, they move to MFZ where they can receive essential support and care. This clinic also provides jobs within the facility including but not limited to working in a bike repair shop, an Ebay book store, and many support staff positions on the campus. Additionally the facility has integrated a skilled nursing unit for the elderly. The physiotherapy is primarily focused on improving quality of life and preventing further impairments. This was my first introduction to neurological physical therapy and it proved quite humbling. It was obvious that the therapist truly loved their jobs and really cared for the patients. Across the board the patients were always happy to see me and knew way more English than I knew German.


My 6 weeks in Munich proved to be invaluable and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I am so grateful for all of the support that made this trip possible.

~Karleen Smith


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September 2, 2013 |

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