Elon DPT student co-chairs 2023 APTA North Carolina Student Conclave

The APTA North Carolina and the Student Special Interest Group (SSIG) hosted its 6th annual Student Conclave on Saturday, April 1, 2023, at Wingate University. The co-chairs of the event were third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy students Deanna DeMarco, SSIG director of student involvement, from Elon and Morria Heilman, SSIG chair, from Duke University.

The American Physical Therapy Association of North Carolina and the Student Special Interest Group (SSIG) hosted its sixth annual Student Conclave on Saturday, April 1, at Wingate University.

The co-chairs of the event were third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy students Elon’s Deanna DeMarco, SSIG director of student involvement, and Morria Heilman, SSIG chair, from Duke University.

The conference brought together approximately 165 students from doctor of physical therapy and physical therapy assistant programs across North Carolina for a one-day event focused on professional development, education and networking.

Students learn from Dr. Alan Tyson’s presentation on Mistakes PTs Make when Working with Professional Athletes

This year’s student conclave focused on facilitating connections in the world of physical therapy (PT), complete with a travel theme and a goal for the day of discovering your passion in PT. Presentations from a variety of PT specialties offered students different travel destinations. In the morning,

Alan Tyson from Architech Sports & Physical Therapy presented on “Mistakes PTs Make when Working with Professional Athletes;” his real-life applications were inspirational. Jill Nappi-Kaehler from Wingate University presented on “The Power of a Beat: Rhythmic Auditory Stimulation’s Role in Rehabilitation.” One student reflected, “After only an hour, I felt that I left knowing so much more than when I started and felt as if I could implement it into practice.”

Dr. Chad Cook helps students navigate Misinformation in PT

Chad Cook, international speaker and Duke researcher, spiced it up by discussing “Misinformation in PT.” He highlighted challenges physical therapists face when navigating the endless flow of information, including some poor-quality or inherently wrong information. Students thought Cook provided great examples of how to not be misled by research.

Dr. Hannah McHugh engages students during her session on Interpretation of Vital Signs and Clinical Reasoning

Hannah McHugh, clinician at Duke University Hospital and adjunct faculty member at Elon, provided a great refresher in “Vital Sign Interpretation & Clinical Reasoning.” Attendees especially enjoyed interacting with McHugh during the presentation through digital polling.

Jillian Meyer, clinician and Elon alumna, presented “The Ins and Outs of Pelvic PT: Learning How it Applies to All Patient Populations.” One student said, “Dr. Meyer did a good job of being very clear about the real need for more knowledge on Pelvic Floor/Oncology PT.  Her confidence and knowledge made it a comfortable environment for discussing the pelvic floor.”

Dr. Dashaé Smallwood provides insight into Early Intervention in Pediatric PT

Dashaé Smallwood discussed “Early Intervention (EI) in Pediatric PT,” how she found her passion working with children, and the challenges with early intervention.

Students had the opportunity to network with peers and connect with professionals during a networking/sponsor event with over fifteen exhibitors.

To go along with the travel-destination theme, students received a boarding pass to guide their way to each sponsor table and had their passport stamped along the way to encourage engagement and a chance at winning a raffle.

Students interact with peers and sponsors during the networking hour

One sponsor appreciated the passports, commenting, “What a great job you guys did with this year’s event! The networking hour and passport was a great idea. We definitely felt like it was worth our time and sponsorship!”

In the afternoon, everyone came together to listen to a patient’s perspective.

Miley Rhoad, accompanied by Dr. Rebecca Pyle (PT) and Lesley Fields (OT), tells her story – The Wreck, the Rough, and the Ride: One Teen’s Journey with a Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury

Miley Rhoad, accompanied by Rebecca Pyle and Lesley Fields, told us her story, “The Wreck, the Rough, and the Ride: One Teen’s Journey with a Traumatic C6 Spinal Cord Injury.” This was Miley’s first time speaking about her experience to a large audience and it was incredible. “This patient’s perspective was huge! As students, we often get the textbook’s perspective and it can be hard to understand what a patient may be feeling or going through. This showed how they feel, what they remember, how they liked and didn’t like to be treated, and so much more,” expressed one student. 

Drs. Lance Mabry, Ginger Garner, and Steven Wentz lead a panel discussion on professional advocacy

The final session of the day included a panel discussion on the importance of advocating for our profession. Lance Mabry from High Point University, Ginger Garner from Living Well Institute and Steven Wentz with Benchmark Clinician are all active members of the state Physical Therapy Association and led the students on a tour of crucial higher-level professional advocacy. In addition, the APTA NC SSIG planned a service event with students donating to a food drive benefiting the Community Shelter of Union County.

Students enjoy pizza and a drink at Courthouse Self-Pour for Trivia Night following Conclave

The day concluded at Courthouse Self-Pour where the Student SIG hosted a Trivia Night. After a long day of learning and networking, 50 students grabbed some pizza and a drink while teaming up to answer pop culture, Disney, and PT-related questions. Winners received prizes including NPTE prep materials, shirts and gift cards.

Student Conclave provided a valuable opportunity for students to learn from experienced professionals, network with peers and potential employers, and gain valuable insights into the field of PT. It would not have been possible without support from sponsors, APTA NC leadership, APTA NC SSIG board members and the Student Conclave Project Committee members.  A special thank you to Tyler Shultz and his team who hosted at Wingate University. Thank you to all who helped make this event a success.

The APTA NC SSIG’s seventh annual Student Conclave is scheduled to be held at Methodist University in Spring 2024. More information to come.