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06-16-2016

Clarkson University Physical Therapy Students Get Jump on Experience at State Symposium

When students graduate from the Doctor of Physical Therapy program (DPT) at Clarkson University, they may be brand new to the profession, but they enter it with plenty of real-world experience.

 Front row, from left: Megan Shaia, Laura Feneley, and Danielle Cuddeback. Back row, from left: Zachary Daniels, John LaRue, Molly Kelso, Julie Welsch, and Ricardo Pacheco.Here's an example. A group of first-year DPT students attended the New York Physical Therapy Association Eastern District Annual Spring Symposium in May. They were the only students who attended this event, which is designed as continuing education for physical therapy professionals.

“To me, this demonstrates the zest for learning and professional development that fosters future leadership in the field,” says Clarkson University Clinical Professor of Physical Therapy Stacey Zeigler.

Student John LaRue of Liverpool, N.Y., is enthusiastic about such learning experiences. He and two of his classmates, Megan Shaia '18 and Kara Leonard '18, are members of the American Physical Therapy Association and student representatives for their class. It's their job, he says, to look for opportunities to do professional development and continuing education. They came across this event that was being offered by the New York Physical Therapist Association, so they alerted their classmates and drove to St. Peter's Hospital in Albany.

“They offered morning and afternoon sessions with a lecture and lab. Clinicians from around the state presented topics,” he says. “We chose what to attend, and in some cases could have hands-on experience. This is really great for first-year students to be able to move from the classroom to the real world. It was unique to be on same page with the practicing clinicians.”

Best yet, LaRue and his classmates met some Clarkson University graduates who are working in the field.

A 2015 bachelor's degree graduate with a degree in biology, LaRue decided to continue his studies at Clarkson because of the opportunities to participate in research and work with patients. You don't get to do these kinds of things a lot at bigger institutions, he says.

“I've had authorship on some research publications with faculty and other interesting opportunities within the field. I enjoy the faculty and getting to know them. I have a true a sense of home here since my dad's side of family is from the Parishville area. Being here has been a great experience,” he adds.

“Prof. Zeigler is really great at finding opportunities for us to get experience and plan events where we can develop our skills. Our committee is planning a joint student-led conference with SUNY Upstate. It's unofficial so far, but the Albany event gave us an idea of the logistics involved in setting up a good conference,” he says.

He's looking forward to going on his first full-time clinical experience this August in Nashville, Tenn. It's a time to take his classroom knowledge and apply it while working with clinicians. He'll be going into it well-prepared because the DPT program at Clarkson University provides problem-based learning with case studies. Students work in small groups to decide how to treat patients.

“The learning model allows you to have ownership of the case study at hand. The small groups solve the problem and go through the process of developing treatment plans through discussion and hands-on settings,” LaRue notes.

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, N.Y., and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, New York, Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: First-year Doctor of Physical Therapy students at Clarkson University are mixing real-life experience with their studies. A group of them attended the New York Physical Therapy Association Eastern District Annual Spring Symposium in May. Front row, from left: Megan Shaia, Laura Feneley, and Danielle Cuddeback. Back row, from left: Zachary Daniels, John LaRue, Molly Kelso, Julie Welsch, and Ricardo Pacheco.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/dpt-symposium-2016.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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