There’s much to learn as a Doctorate of Physical Therapy (DPT) student, but getting the opportunity to put that knowledge and skill to the test outside of the classroom is where it really comes together. Fellow members of the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) DPT Class of ’23, Carlos Bautista and Anna Miller, recently had that opportunity.
Each year the American Physical Therapy Association holds its Combined Sections Meeting (CSM), where physical therapists, students, and physical therapist assistants from across the country come together to share research, engage in workshops, and attend lectures centered around important topics in the world of physical therapy. This year, both Bautista and Miller made the trip to San Antonio, Texas, to present their review of physical therapy interventions for patients with joint hypermobility syndrome.
“This is a difficult condition for clinicians to manage, so we wanted to help physical therapists identify common conservative interventions which are utilized to manage the musculoskeletal impairments that are often present with this diagnosis,” said Bautista. He added that Joseph Signorino, DPT, adjunct assistant professor of health, human function, and rehabilitation sciences at GW SMHS, who supervised the research, “has been a great resource. He has experience doing research and knows what the process looks like.”
Miller highlighted how the GW SMHS DPT program prepared her for this moment. “Throughout the curriculum, we have had multiple opportunities to present to our classmates and faculty. Prior to this program, I was not a very good public speaker, but I have improved greatly through the practice the program has provided,” she said.
Miller also credited the program’s research courses and focus on evidence-based practice for helping her become more familiar with scientific inquiry. She found she learned new skills including how to create an abstract, the process for having it published, and the process for creating and presenting a research poster. “Doing research has really opened my eyes to the possibilities of incorporating research into my future career,” added Miller.
When asked about the importance of their research Bautista said, “As students we have the responsibility to identify gaps in knowledge and assist in developing this research. It is also a great way to apply the information that we learned in the classroom.”
Bautista highlighted the benefits of DPT students getting involved with research, explaining “Being involved with research benefits both the student and the profession, so I encourage all incoming DPT students to talk to a faculty member about their areas for research and simply ask if you can help.”
Miller added, “The lessons you learn outside of the classroom are very valuable and will help make you a well-rounded physical therapist.”
Both students agreed that the experience of presenting was valuable. “I learned a lot from the physical therapists that stopped by the poster and shared their experiences with us. Most of them agreed that this is a difficult condition to treat, so I felt like the information presented on the poster was valuable and filled a gap in physical therapists’ knowledge,” added Bautista.