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PT Conference: The Student Experience

March 2011

Much like their 2,800 student colleagues attending the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) of the American Physical Therapy Association in New Orleans, February 9-12, SAU Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students were interested in attending world-class continuing education sessions, networking with the more than 6,000 physical therapists and commercial exhibitors in attendance, and visiting renown tourist attractions.

In distinction, 20 of our DPT students also organized and participated in a day-long community rehabilitation service project on their first day at the CSM in New Orlean's lower ninth ward. Facilitated by former New Orleans resident and current Pastoral Services staff member Stella O'Roake, and the New Orleans-based House of Charity's Sr. Monica Gundler, DPT students were aligned with four St. Bernard Project worksites to provide clean-up and light remodeling services that included laying insulation, mudding drywall, and putting up drywall. DPT students Stephanie Aguero, Kari Lyphout, and Ryan Williams noted that this was an enlightening experience as part of their professional education at SAU.

New Orleans resident Gerry Bierria, who was on-site during the work on his home, commented, "Anyone who rebuilds my home is part of my family now." Further, Bierria said that he was truly thankful for the help provided and is looking forward to sitting on his porch again, having a good time with his neighbors.

Our students did attend a wide array of CSM educational sessions, exhibits and meetings. Many commented that they had no difficulty in keeping up with material presented at the conference. In fact, their participation at CSM reinforced their belief that they were obtaining high-quality, contemporary professional education through the SAU DPT program. DPT student participation in the CSM was partially funded by the Student Physical Therapy Organization and the Graduate Student Government Association.

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