Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education
at Washington University Medical Campus

A Day in the Life of our Students

Ever wonder what it is like to be a student at one of our institutional partners? Check out the student stories below from each of our seven professional programs to explore the daily life of a PACS, medicine, OT, PT, nursing, and pharmacy student!

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Audiology

Hello!  My name is Anne and I’m a third-year student in Washington University School of Medicine’s Program in Audiology and Communication Sciences (PACS).  Before joining the AuD program in PACS, I completed my bachelor’s degree in Linguistics at the University of Michigan. I wanted a graduate program where I could continue exploring my passions – language development, neuroscience, and early intervention – and Washington University offered all of this and more, including a Pediatric Audiology Specialization.

7:30 am           My morning starts early and I grab breakfast, get ready, and head out to start my day.

8:00 am           My current clinical placement is at the Center for Hearing and Balance Disorders.  I spend a few half-days each week with adult cochlear implant patients.  Today starts by reviewing patient charts and planning the appointments with my supervisor.

8:30 am           My first appointment is a cochlear implant (CI) activation. For this, we’ll program the CI through various strategies based upon the patient’s perceptions, and by the end of the process, we’ve turned on the CI and are beginning to re-introduce sound to the patient’s implanted ear. This takes about two hours. Although no can predict how a patient will react to the implant, it’s an exciting experience to share with the patient and their loved ones.

10:00 am         Next is an annual appointment for a CI patient.  We work to program and fine-tune the implant, making adjustments that will provide the patient with optimal hearing. Then we move on to functional testing, which allows us to examine the patient’s objective performance. This is done in the sound booth, where we run through a battery of sentence and word tests, both in quiet and in background noise, to determine how well they are hearing with the implant.

11:30 am         To end the morning, my supervisor and I review the day’s patients and I work on chart notes.

12:00 pm         I head back to the Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) building that houses PACS. I make my way to the student lounge to eat lunch, catch up with classmates, and review lecture notes.

1:10 pm           Next is Genetics class, where we learn about various genetic causes of hearing loss and balance disorders. Today we discuss mitosis and meiosis.

2:30 pm           My next class is Aural Rehabilitation, where we are discussing the unique challenges of working with pediatric patients, such as proper amplification strategies, benefits of early intervention, and improving language and literacy skills in children with hearing loss.

4:00 pm           Audiology Staffing is up next. This is moderated by one of our clinical preceptors, but the cases are presented by AuD students. Today’s cases are on Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder and Sudden Sensorineural Hearing Loss.

5:00 pm           I head across campus to St. Louis Children’s Hospital for my weekly meeting with my Capstone Project advisors. My project involves working with pediatric cancer survivors.

6:00 pm           I’m done for the day!  I take a walk through Forest Park and make my way back to the Central West End, where I live. Thanks for joining me!

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Washington University School of Medicine offers a variety of degree programs to accommodate every student’s individual career goals. The four-year doctor of audiology program equips graduates for a career as a clinical audiologist. During the first three years, coursework is integrated with clinical practicum and research experiences, with students beginning with foundational coursework and on-campus clinical experiences.  By the third year, students are focused primarily on clinical practicum experiences and the Capstone Project.  The fourth year is fully dedicated to a clinical externship experience.  The curriculum covers the scope of practice and includes coursework on the basic and applied sciences, as well as prevention, identification, evaluation, and treatment of auditory and vestibular disorders.  A Pediatric Audiology Specialization is also available. The School of Medicine is committed to recruiting, enrolling and educating a diverse student body. 

For admissions information, visit https://pacs.wustl.edu/admissions/
Medicine

Hi! My name is Kevin Garza, and I just completed my third year of medical school at Washington University in St. Louis. Want to know what it’s like to be a medical student? Allow me to take you along as I describe a typical day. Third year is all about hands-on clinical training in the hospital, rotating through several specialties. On this day, I’m on my cardiology rotation.  

First, a little about me: I am originally from Dallas but attended Wash U as an undergraduate student, where I studied physics and film. I've explored several specialties during clinical rotations over the past year, and I'm excited that I discovered a passion for internal medicine. Now, on to my day!

7:00 am: Before seeing my patients in person, I start my day by looking over their most recent labs, vital signs, and any other updates. I use this information when I present my patients to the medical team during rounds. That team includes attending physician faculty, residents, fellows and other medical students.

7:30 am: One of my patients had chest pain overnight. After checking in on the patient, I discussed ECG findings with my attending physician, Thomas Ciesielski, MD.

7:55 am: On Thursdays, the Department of Medicine holds Grand Rounds, which are lecture sessions that provide an opportunity for medical students, residents, and attending physicians to come together and continue their medical education. Today's lecture is about the history of mental health institutions in Europe and the United States.

10:00 am: I join the medical team on hospital rounds to see our patients. As third-year medical students, we examine patients, then present the patient’s case to the medical team and propose a plan on how we can further evaluate or treat the patient. It’s a collaborative team effort, and we all learn from each other.

Noon: On every rotation in third year, we are paired with a different team. This has let me grow as a clinician by providing opportunities to learn from several mentors and to make new connections with my classmates.

2:00 pm: With things slowing down in the afternoon, one of the resident physicians, Jeremy Louissaint, MD, center, takes my classmate Yusef Jordan and me down to the cafeteria for an informal teaching session on hepatitis. Residents and attendings choose topics that are relevant to our current patients so we can immediately put the information to use.

3:30 pm: After rounding, teaching, writing notes, and checking back in with my patients, I hang my white coat up to finish my day in the hospital.

5:00 pm: At the end of the work day, I take some time to do something fun with my classmates, like going out in Forest Park, grabbing dinner, cooking a meal, or just playing video games. Today I met up with a friend to get a chest workout in at the school's gym!

Thank you for joining me!

 

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Washington University School of Medicine offers a variety of degree programs to accommodate every student’s individual career goals. The four-year doctor of medicine program equips graduates for a career as a physician. A combined doctor of medicine and doctor of philosophy program trains individuals interested in careers as a physician-scientist. MD students can also pursue one of several combined MD/master’s degrees to gain skills in biomedical research, clinical investigation, public health or population health sciences. The School of Medicine is committed to recruiting, enrolling and educating a diverse student body. For more information, please visit mdadmissions.wustl.edu.

Occupational Therapy

My name is Rich and I just completed my second year of the occupational therapy program at Washington University in St. Louis. I am currently on Level II Fieldwork, free from didactic coursework and immersed in the clinic experience.

Here’s a bit more about me. I am originally from Long Island, N.Y., and I graduated in 2011 from Binghamton University with a Bachelor of Science degree in human development. My first job was at an ophthalmology practice. There I learned that my passion for health care and research were strong enough for me to move to St. Louis and start graduate school!

7:00 am: Arrive at Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center. I review my schedule, progress on established patients and check for new referrals. For all patients, I check for any communication from other members of the health-care team. I discuss plans for treatment with my instructors.

7:30 am: Our first patient arrives, an individual with a near amputation of the dominant hand. She had severed arteries, nerves and tendons, and she has multiple fractures in the hand and wrist, all repaired surgically prior to her visit with us. Her primary concerns are how to care for her child and when she can return to work. We discuss her injury, precautions and a home exercise program to help her regain function. We also discuss her goals, her hopes and her values. Together, we decide on a therapy plan. She leaves empowered with a better understanding of her condition and treatment plan.

8:30 am: My clinical educator, Rhonda Powell, OTD, OTR/L, CHT, and I work with our next patient, referred with an order for a more complex orthosis and a delicate zone two flexor tendon repair. During our session, we teach her about tendon anatomy, what the typical healing times are, how to self-manage her health care at home to reduce edema and scar tissue, and home exercises. Most importantly, we relate this information to her daily life.

11:30 am: I work with my other clinical educator, Katie McQueen, OTD, OTR/L, CHT, to treat an individual with breast cancer. Our treatment centers on utilizing core occupational therapy concepts such as activity modification, energy conservation and home health management to promote independence.

12:00 pm: Documentation!

2:00 pm: My 2:00 pm patient cancelled, allowing time for an in-service. Guided by an experienced therapist, we discuss tendinopathies and ligamentous diagnoses of the wrist. We discuss expected precautions and functional limitations. We anticipate questions that patients may have and work through appropriate responses.

4:00 pm: Because Milliken is close in proximity to our referring physicians, we get a rush of “walk-in” patients at the end of the clinical day. It’s all hands on deck to evaluate and treat each one. I repeat the Milliken mantra: “Do what’s best for the patient.”

6:00 pm: At the end the day I return home to relax, read assigned articles and book chapters, and work on my research paper.

Hopefully, this gives some insight to one occupational therapy student’s experience!

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The Program in Occupational Therapy is ranked as the number one occupational therapy program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. We offer several entry-level professional and post-professional degrees:

 

  • Clinical Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD): The clinical doctorate degree is for entry-level students and licensed occupational therapists who want to assume a leadership position in practice, management, teaching and/or clinical research. In addition to coursework, students complete the doctoral experiential component to prepare for a selected area of practice. This is a 40-month, full-time program.
  • OTD for Licensed Occupational Therapists: The OTD degree prepares experienced occupational therapists for important leadership roles in health care, academia and the community. An individualized learning plan is developed that reflects the student’s professional objectives and meets the degree requirements
  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT): A master’s degree is required for entry into the profession of occupational therapy.This is a 28-month, full-time program.
  • Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT)/Master of Public Health (MPH) Joint Degree: The MSOT/MPH joint degree prepares students to work in a diverse array of settings including academia, community agencies, government institutions, and nonprofit organizations, and assume leadership roles in public policy, urban planning and advocacy. This program of study requires 123 credit hours taken over three years.
  • Rehabilitation and Participation Science (RAPS) PhD Program: The RAPS PhD program provides rigorous training that produces ethical and independent scientists capable of conducting the interdisciplinary research necessary to advance the evidence-based clinical and community practices. This program is designed to be completed in four to five years of full-time study.
Physical Therapy

Hello! My name is Taylor Vaughn and I am a first year physical therapy student at Washington University in St. Louis. I was born and raised here in St. Louis; however, I completed my undergraduate degree at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. I am very happy to be back in the city I grew up in!

I am going to take you along for a typical day in my life. Tuesdays are a first year DPT student’s favorite day because we get to take what we have learned in the classroom and work hands on in clinics around the St. Louis area. I was placed at Athletico Physical Therapy, an outpatient type setting.

7:00am: Rise and shine! On this particular Tuesday, I decided to head to the library to get some studying done before I head to the clinic. But first, I make my way to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee and a good breakfast!

7:45am: I arrive at the library and decide to review some Manual Muscle Testing procedures. Not only is this a good review for my exam on Friday, but this is good review for my clinical later on! I spend the next few hours working on some assignments I have due this week, and before I know it, it’s time to head to the clinic.

10:45am: I arrive at Athletico and meet with Jeff, my preceptor. We spend the next 15 minutes reviewing the patients for the morning. Since I am only in my 4th week of school, Jeff spends a lot of time explaining to me what each diagnosis means and some movement impairments each patient may have. On this particular Tuesday, I got to be very hands on! We saw several patients with knee injuries, so I got to put my newly learned goniometry skills to the test. Goniometry is essentially a way to measure patients’ joint range of motion and monitor their progress throughout therapy. After seeing about 6 patients, it’s time for lunch.

1:30pm: Jeff usually spends this time catching up on his notes from his morning patients. He usually allows me to see what information goes in each section so I can see how to format a proper documentation note. I also spend this time eating my lunch and getting some more studying in.

3:00pm: My afternoons look similar to my mornings. I take notes, interact with patients, and try to learn as much as possible. It is always awesome to see how the information we learn in class applies to patients in the clinic!

7:30pm: Time to head home. Since I got most of my studying done for the day this morning, I decide to eat dinner and socialize with my family before heading off to bed to rest up for a full day of classes tomorrow morning!

Thanks for joining me for a day in my life!

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Hello, my name is Vincent Ann. Today, I wake up in Des Moines, Iowa, where I am spending ten weeks on clinical rotation at On With Life, a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Clinic. On With Life was founded with a focus on Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), but quickly grew a reputation for inspired care, and has rapidly grown into a flourishing neuro facility. I see the whole gamut of neuro diagnoses as part of my caseload—TBI, stroke, Parkinson’s, post-concussive, and vestibular.

This morning, I’m on an outing to the Des Moines Sculpture Gardens with one of my patients. These outings are all about community reintegration. One of the worst things a patient can do after a devastating injury is cage themselves at home all day for fear of falling, judgment, disablement, whatever it may be. As a physical therapist, my role is helping patients get back to… well, life. Getting out into the community. Doing the things that make life worth living.

So I’m walking down the sidewalk alongside my patient, James, who’s absolutely engrossed in the sculptures to his right. So engrossed, that he’s not paying all that much attention to propelling his wheelchair straight. James sustained a TBI from falling off a roof, and has neglect of (fancy word for ‘doesn’t pay attention to’) his left side. I see that he’s heading straight for a tree basin. I don’t say a thing. This is about learning, after all. His left wheel drops into the tree basin, and startled, James looks over at me sheepishly and says, “I wasn’t scanning.”

After the outing, I head back to the clinic to work with another one of my patients, Sally. We’re having dance rehearsal. Yes, you heard me right. For the past four weeks, every therapist and patient here has been revving up for the annual On With Life Talent Show. We use this talent show to give patients something to look forward to, but also as a vehicle for providing our therapy. For example, the dance that Sally is currently working on was carefully choreographed by us to work on her weaknesses: standing from a low chair, dynamic standing balance, reaching out of base of support, engaging her right visual field.  

The song that Sally chose for this dance was “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman. If you haven’t heard it yet, stop everything right now. You need to listen to it. The chorus of the song goes:

“This is brave. This is bruised.

This is who I’m meant to be—this is me.”

Sally stays seated for most of the dance, but it is at this moment in the song that she gathers all her strength for a glorious stand. And then she stands there, arms out, chest proud, chin high. Staring unapologetically at the audience. This is me. My clinical instructor chokes back tears every time we get to this moment in the song. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve shed a few as well.

It’s hard to grasp the power of this moment unless you saw Sally when she was first admitted to this clinic. She suffered a devastating stroke, couldn’t walk, couldn’t stand. She went from being a successful florist, leader in her church, a fiercely independent woman to needing a mechanical lift to get out of bed.

A week later, when she performs this in front of the entire clinic, friends, and family, she’s met with raucous applause, whistles, more tears.

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I wanted to highlight these two parts of my day, because I think they are unique aspects of my clinic. They are how we embody the principle of salience: choosing meaningful interventions for the patient. I haven’t mentioned the other stuff. The countless repetitions of weightshifting, weight acceptance, stepping. Home evaluations. Aquatic therapy sessions. There’s just not enough room to discuss it all.

But if you want to learn more about what it’s like to be a PT student, talk to one! Our work is exciting, challenging, and humanizing. We help people get better so they can do the things they love. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Washington University School of Medicine is a professional, full-time clinical doctorate course of study that prepares students for the practice of physical therapy. The three-year program combines clinical and classroom learning. In the classroom, faculty present material as it relates to clinical application. Students develop hands-on clinical skills working with each other and with clinical subjects. Classes also feature case studies and training at off-site clinical locations. Students encounter increasingly difficult cases as they move through the curriculum. Part-time clinical experiences are distributed throughout the curriculum; four blocks of full-time clinical training — 38 weeks in total — provide real-world experience. Graduates leave the program fully prepared to diagnose movement dysfunctions and implement effective, evidence-based treatment plans. The Program in Physical Therapy is committed to recruiting, enrolling and educating a diverse student body.

Nursing

Meet Stacie Smith, a student at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College who is nearing the end of her 20-month program. She’ll graduate in August 2018 with a BSN degree – and a desire to work in adult critical care. If you spend a few minutes talking with Stacie, it will soon become evident she’s smart, motivated, compassionate and hard-working, all traits that will help ensure an accomplished career.

But the best way to get to know Stacie may be to follow her around for a day or two, from lecture hall, to nursing unit, to mentoring sessions. Describing her life, Stacie says, succinctly, “I’m extremely busy.” Evidence suggests that’s true.

Gearing up: Stacie is out of bed by 6 a.m. and preparing for her hour-long commute to Goldfarb’s West Campus Site and neighboring Missouri Baptist Medical Center. If her day is going to include a clinical rotation, Stacie is up by 4 a.m.

In the lecture hall: On Wednesdays this term, Stacie is in her first class of the day by 8 a.m. Her Adult Health lecture runs until just after noon, with a few essential coffee breaks throughout. Stacie takes her caffeine straight: “I’m on a first-name basis with the staff of the nearby Starbucks.” Adult Health is followed by Leadership, which runs until 4:50 p.m. “There was a learning curve,” Stacie says, referring to the length and intensity of lectures. But she’s now “watching all the pieces come together,” as information from one class builds on what’s learned in another.

Hands-on learning: This semester, Stacie says clinicals have placed her on the 12th floor (neuro) at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and on 11400 (also neuro) at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Her final term will introduce her to critical-care nursing. Clinical rotation includes observing the nursing team huddle, then shadowing a nurse involved in patient care. After each clinical is complete, she submits a self-evaluation. As Stacie nears the end of her degree program, she spends less time in lecture and more on the nursing floor, logging 13 hours weekly in a clinical setting.

Leadership in practice: Stacie is not just a student, she’s a teacher, too, serving as a student mentor and tutor. She meets with assigned mentees at least monthly for hour-long sessions. “I like working with new students, helping to calm their nerves by answering questions,” she says. Participating in a new Goldfarb program, Stacie also records tutor videos that dispense tips on how to succeed in lecture classes. And she is a Student Ambassador, which gives her networking opportunities on and off campus.

More experience: Stacie also holds down a part-time job, working as a patient care tech at Saint Luke’s Hospital on 8700, its surgical floor.

Winding down: At the end of her day on campus, Stacie makes time for a fitness class or a stress-reducing run. Dinner’s done by 7 p.m. or so; homework follows. Then it’s bed at 10 for a few hours before the alarm goes off.

Staying motivated: Stacie says her interest in nursing solidified when she was in high school. Her uncle, who was terminally ill with metastatic lung cancer, came to live with her family. And Stacie did what she could to help make him comfortable. “He used to tell me that if I was his nurse, he would live forever,” she says.

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Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College offers three program options for Bachelor of Science in nursing degrees. The options are: a 20-month upper-division option for undergraduate transfer students, a 12-month accelerated option for students with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and an RN to BSN online option for registered nurses seeking their bachelor’s. Goldfarb’s graduate and post-graduate degree options include a variety of Master of Science in Nursing concentrations and Doctorate of Nursing options. To learn more about Goldfarb’s academic programs visit www.BarnesJewishCollege.edu/Academics/Academic-Programs.

Pharmacy

Suzie Chen has always wanted to pursue a career in health care. In 2014, that desire led her to St. Louis College of Pharmacy, where she embarked on her journey to become a pharmacist.

Chen is currently completing the College’s Pharm.D. program, which features a combination of elective and selective coursework that allows students to explore pharmacy-related topics in depth, along with Introductory and Advanced Practice Experiences that extend learning from the classroom to pharmacy practice settings, giving students opportunities to care for patients.

Now in her third professional year of the program, Chen’s college experience has been anything but typical. From her involvement in St. Louis’ music community to serving as president of the interprofessional Health Professional Student Leadership Council (HPSLC) and working as a pharmacy intern, Chen is a balancing an aggressive course load with numerous extracurricular activities.

On an “average” day, her mornings are spent in class, while her afternoons and evenings are devoted to music rehearsals, HPSLC meetings, work on research projects and studying. Every other weekend and one weekday, Chen also works up to 24 hours in the pharmacy at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, where she has interned since her first professional year.

Chen says much of her work so far in the Pharm.D. program has focused on the pathophysiology and clinical manifestations of disease states.

“I think there is a perception that pharmacy students spend most of their time learning about medications,” said Chen. “But like medical students and other health professions students, we have to also learn about different disease states so that we are able to best treat them.”

Chen says that one of her favorite courses in the Pharm.D. program has been pharmacology, which educated her on the mechanisms of action of medications and how they work in the body. Additional classes she’s completed have included medicinal chemistry, which examines the molecular structure of medications; pathophysiology, which examines the clinical manifestations of disease states; and a therapeutics course sequence on integrating medications and using them to manage disease states.

Outside the classroom, Chen promotes interprofessional collaboration among health professions through her role as president of HPSLC. Focused on the extracurricular side of interprofessionalism, HPSLC works with the Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education to encourage and advance collaboration between the health professions members working in the Washington University Medical Campus.

“I wanted to go into pharmacy so that I could work with other health professionals,” said Chen. “When I heard about HPSLC, I was very interested because it is so in line with what I see myself doing in the future.”

Off-campus, Chen pursues her love of music, singing with the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis Cathedral Choir, playing flute and piccolo with the Washington University Symphony Orchestra and participating in the College’s concert band.

“I do the things I do because I enjoy them,” said Chen. “It’s important to make time to pursue your interests because when you put effort into things you love, it can open doors for you.”

In May 2018, Chen will begin the clinical portion of the professional program. She will be on clinical rotations throughout the year, and will receive her Pharm.D. in 2019

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