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JOB HUNT: RECRUITER OR NOT?

Almost a year ago, as I was about 4-5 months from graduation, I decided to start to get a feel for the job market and hopefully land myself a job even before getting my diploma.  Interestingly, right as I was about to check out the APTA job site, I got a call from a gal who had called me a year earlier.  I remember she had said she was a recruiter and wanted to know if I was interested in having assistance with job hunting.  At the time, I told her I still had a year and a half to go, but if she wanted, she was welcome to call back. . . and call back she did.

I told her, in general terms, what I was looking for, in that I thought my primary interests were in the outpatient orthopedic area and I wanted to start working right after graduation.  Talk about gasoline to a fire.  Within a week, I had more interview contacts than I knew what to do with, and I soon realized that I had to be very specific and firm with how the recruiter could help me.  Long story made short (too late for that, you may say), I found a job on my own and am very happy with my decision here in Colorado Springs, CO.

From the above experience (and many other similar ones not shared along the way), I would like to share my perspective of the pros and cons of going through a recruiter.

PROS:

1)      THEY ARE USUALLY FREE. . . . KIND OF.

Although their services to you may be no cost out of your pocket, they usually get a fee/percentage by the employer who hires you.  It may be worth asking the recruiter how much they charge employers who end up hiring you.

2)      THEY WILL BE LOOKING FOR JOBS FOR YOU WHILE YOU ARE BUSY ON INTERNSHIPS.

It’s nice having someone checking out what is available while you are doing other things.  However, be VERY specific with what you want, where you want, and when you want it.  Otherwise, they may bring you everything under the sun.  Remember, they have to pay their bills too.

3)      THEY MAY HAVE ACCESS TO SOME INTERNET SITES/ORGANIZATIONS THAT YOU ARE UNAWARE OF.

Although this may be true, all of the job opportunities I was given could be found on the APTA or hospital sites.

4)      THEY MAY BE HELPFUL WITH INTERVIEW COACHING AND SALARY NEGOTIATION.

I got some good ideas that helped me present myself more professionally.

CONS:

1)      There is a certain independence taken out of the picture and I sometimes felt like I always had to go through the “middle-man” recruiter before making any decisions.

2)      I thought I was smart when another recruiter called and offered his services.  So, I let them both look for jobs, for about 2 days.  Way too overwhelming; a little awkward when both were trying to contact the same employers for me.  It just doesn’t work.

3)      Again, I didn’t like the idea that although a company/employer was willing to pay me a sign-on bonus, part of that could have potentially gone to the recruiter, all because he/she responded to an email on the APTA about a job.

Although my con list may be too negative, I have nothing against recruiters.  They can be a valuable resource as you get a feel for what your first job will be.  I found recruiters for specific PT companies were much more helpful and less aggressive when it came to applying and looking at their company jobs.

Recruiters can be a mentor, give great advice, and will work night and day for you.  I just learned it wasn’t for me.  I wanted to present my experiences because I was never taught about what the purpose of a recruiter may be.  With how competitive the job market is, having a recruiter ally may go well in the long run.  Either way, I wish you the best with whatever route you go.  If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at butle100@regis.edu

 

 

“The End Is Here”

I just finished reviewing old school notes in preparation for an in-service I will be giving for the therapists I work with, and it was very reminiscent going through the power-point slides, reading over the comments I wrote in by the slides, and remembering how important school had been for the last 3 years.  As I finish this final blog, my hope is that I have been able to convey what an amazing experience physical therapy school can be (both with the ups and downs), and that for me, going to Regis helped strengthen that experience.

For those considering applying to Regis, I guarantee that you can’t find a former student at Regis who felt going there was a terrible experience.  As I have spoken with different PTs, I have realized that all programs have their pros and cons, and I hope over the last year and a half of writing these blogs, you can get a better idea if Regis is the right place for you, because it was right for me.  I won’t re-hash things I have already mentioned, but in summary, Regis was the right fit for me because:

1)      I liked the diversity of my class:  we were from different parts of the country (primarily west and mid-west parts) with different educational and personal backgrounds

2)      I liked how personal the teachers were:  calling teachers by their first names and being able to have conversations about things other than school made it more real; plus being assigned to one of them as your faculty mentors was very helpful for me

3)      I liked the service learning and leadership opportunities: this is something very unique to Regis and it attracts people who are interested in those things

4)      Denver is a pretty cool city with lots to do:  enough said

With that in mind, I wish anyone who is reading this the best of luck with their decisions.  I still remember Spring 2008 and deciding to go to Regis.  I was extremely outside my family and my comfort zone, but it was a great experience.  Now, it’s time to start another phase of our lives.  My wife, Ashley, will be delivering a baby girl sometime in April.  We’re all excited, especially Spencer.  Work is going great; I’m learning new things every day.

I would like to thank Regis and especially Alison Campbell (from admissions) for giving me the opportunity of writing this blog. I’m telling you, as you start to take a look at Regis, you’ll soon learn that Alison is one of the greatest assets the program has; she was a big part of the reason why I gave Regis a closer look initially.  Her constant willingness to answer questions and her friendly demeanor made my transition to Regis so much smoother.  So, if you’re really serious about Regis, just let Alison know; she’s great at letting you know everything you need to.

In short, it was fun to be able to reflect and give my 5 cents about one of the greatest experiences of my life.  Best of luck to you if you so choose Regis.  Thank you.

Here's Ashley at 21 weeks. Due date: April 13th. As of now, we have "Elizabeth Joy" picked out for the name.

Ashley and I went to Tran Siberian Orchestra last night here in CO Springs. Yes, it was loud, and yes, it was awesome.

 

Here was an attempt at a self-portrait for our Christmas card. You gotta love Spencer's cowboy boots.

 

Through good ole’ facebook, a former classmate extended an invitation to all those in the Denver area to come to her house for a pre-Thanksgiving dinner. Shortly thereafter (in facebook time, of course), several other classmates confirmed they would be going. Just reading the different comments of my classmates got me thinking. It has now been a little over 6 months since graduation, and the most thing I still miss is the time I spent with the 53 other DPT students in my class. After spending so much time together the past few years, I am grateful to have facebook to know what they are all up to, but I still miss being with them.

I remember giving a particular tour around campus to a prospective student. One of his main concerns was that of having such a large class size. As I have mentioned in a previous blog, most DPT programs around the country are between 30-45 students, whereas our class was 54 and the class of 2012 had even more. For me, I really enjoyed the diversity and size of our class. It never seemed to effect my education, and it was fun having group projects with different people and being able to learn from the different points of view.

I still keep in contact with a dozen or so of my closer classmates. It’s fun to hear how they are liking (or disliking) their first jobs, where they hope to go, and how we’re all starting to settle into the life of a Physical Therapist (including starting to pay student loans. . . ugh). Although PT school was tough, having a group of friends that were going through the same things as I made it more bearable, especially on those really long days. Good times.

Here we are hiking last weekend up the Barre Trail in CO Springs. If you continue on this trail, you eventually hit Pikes Peak. It's so nice being out of school and going for hikes and adventures and not have to be thinking/worrying about an upcoming project or exam.

Magic Hands or the School of Pain?

                It has been a little over 24 hours since I performed an initial evaluation on a woman with bilateral TKAs.  In my mind, I was very gentle and conservative in the treatment methods and so I thought I’d give her a call to see how great she was probably feeling after I used my magic hands to assist with her recovery.  I was a little shocked, then, to hear how little she slept because of the pain, how she somewhat regretted coming (after all, home health PT wasn’t that bad), and how she was considering never coming back.  Well there goes the confidence I had been building since graduating back in May; a big stack of cards tumbling to the ground.  I collected my thoughts and did every type of encouragement and support I could muster to get her back for one more try.  Don’t give up on me, I said.  I want to help get you better.

                Later that day, I mentioned the above conversation with the front desk gal, to which she smiled and said, “Well yeah.  A lot of the patients that leave this clinic seem to be hurting more than when they arrived.  I tell them that the physical therapists are trying to restore some motion. . . and sometimes it can hurt for a little bit.  In those situations, when asked what university theses PTs went to, I tell them the ‘school of pain.’  There’s a reason why I don’t let you guys touch me when I’m hurting.”

                Well that made me feel better.  Thanks a lot.  That night, I kept running through my head all the stuff I learned at Regis, about how to help patients cope with pain, about not pushing past their limits, about how to help patients progress.  I have made patients hurt temporarily, but I suppose I had it in my mind that my magic hands could do no wrong.  Also, it’s funny how during internships, you’ve got your clinical instructor to “blame” stuff on, but now there’s no one to blame but yourself. . . .  and the weather, of course J

                The good thing is, the lady with the bilateral TKAs has come back.  We’ve modified her treatment regime and she is doing much better with pain.  It’s so easy for me to base my performance and skill as a PT on just 1 patient, but I have to keep reminding myself of the countless patients who feel significantly better after receiving our services and they are able to return to activities that they otherwise would not be doing had they not come in.  I love at the beginning of each evaluation, asking patients what they hope to get from physical therapy.  I love setting goals with a patient and then helping them achieve them.

                The ultimate test will be when the front desk gal will trust me into treating her sometime.. . . We’ll see if that ever happens.

I coached Spencer's soccer team this fall. 4-5 year olds, co-ed. Tons of fun. I think Spencer had more fun catching rain-drops than chasing the ball, but it was a great experience.

 

Up and to the right of this picture is Pike's Peak. We have a beautiful view of the mountains. We love this area of Colorado Springs in Old Colorado City.

 

Hello to another month.  Fall is approaching, and it feels really weird not being back in school.  Spencer started pre-school last week, so I guess I get to be part of it all second hand.  With less time needed for studying, I decided to be Spencer’s soccer coach this fall.  We’ve had 3 games so far, and although nobody is officially keeping score (except for all those competitive parents. . . yes,
including me), we’re 3-0.  Oh yeah.

I contacted a former Regis classmate and friend, Brian Briggs, to share his thoughts about the student government that the Regis DPT program has.  Brian, or “Briggles” as he is better known,was our class president, and I felt his insights might be helpful for any prospective student considering the leadership opportunities Regis has to offer.  Thanks Briggles.

Here's a picture of Briggles. He's currently doing the Sports Residency Program for OSU.

“One of the great advantages of being a physical therapy student at Regis is the vast array of opportunities to get involved
within the PT community both locally as well as nationally. If you take the time to research each of the Regis faculty, one of the most common factors you’ll see is there involvement within the Colorado American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) chapter as well as the APTA itself as whole.  This enthusiasm to be an active member of the APTA is encouraged for every PT student at Regis. For example, one great and easy way to become involved is by becoming a member of the class governance
system. 

I had the pleasure of being elected class president for the graduating class of 2011. I decided to run for class president because I wanted to have an active role in my education and as how my class participated within the DPT program.  I had no previous governance experience before becoming elected so it became a great opportunity for me to work on my leadership skills and see how an organization ought to run. For those not wanting the spotlight of class president there are several other opportunities to become involved through the electoral process as well as with several committees that can be established within each class (i.e. party planning committee, fundraising committee).

My experience of being apart the student governmental body has made my leadership qualities much more defined and
established as it has given me the confidence and desire to be more involved within the APTA in pursuing my interests.
Thus, it has afforded me the ability to connect with clinicians and researchers from across the globe in which these opportunities would have been much harder for me to come across if I didn’t have the exposure that I had at Regis. I highly encourage all students to be active participants within and among their class, as it will only benefit you in enriching your experience.”  

When Spencer isn't jumping on the tramp, going on bike rides, playing soccer or at school, he and Daisy like to play dress-up. . . . Or at least, Spencer likes to play dress-up.

 

While working these last few months, I’ve gotten to know one of the PT Aides who is about to go to PT school at Regis at the end of this month.  It’s strange, thinking back 3 years when I was in his shoes.  Although I am already missing winter and spring breaks, I am glad to be done with PT school and would be able to do it again.  Once is enough for me.  However, we got talking several times about what to expect, and it seemed that we frequently spoke about the professors.  They are great at Regis, each one unique in their own way.  There are some fun things they shared with us over the last three years that may be useful to someone about “conversational starters” with one of them, as well as learning a bit about the people who are teaching you.  I don’t think they mind me sharing these things; it’s a combination of my observations and the stuff they shared with our whole class from time to time.

Amy S Hammerich:  She’s currently the CO APTA Chapter president (about to finish up her term, though), so she’s really involved with the APTA.  She is also doing her PhD work on spinal stenosis.  Her biggest joy, I believe, comes from her 18 month old daughter, Lucy.  She was my faculty advisor and continues to be a great mentor.

 

During the 1st semester of school, everyone is given a faculty mentor/advisor. You meet at least every transfer to go over goals, see how things are going, and basically make sure you're doing okay. My advisor was Amy Hammerich. She was very helpful during all of the rollercoaster ride(s) of PT school and life and we continue to keep in contact. For me, the mentoring program was very beneficial.

Cheryl Footer:  She was a collegiate triple jumper, but it took a while to get it out of her.  Her PT passions are pediatrics and the neuro side of therapy. . . and of course, her 3 boys usually end up in a lecture here and there.  If she gives you a nickname because she can’t remember your real one, take it as a compliment. 

Cliff Barnes:  He’s the only non-PT in our program; we all loved him.  He teaches Anatomy and Neuro-Anatomy.  Although he’s practically a genius when it comes to the anatomy of the body, he’s very down to earth and loves his horses and his tractor.  You can talk to Cliff about pretty much anything.

Heidi Eigste:  She is very passionate about pediatrics, but especially newborns.  She is very passionate about what she teaches, and her piercing eyes sometimes seemed to bore into your soul, discerning whether or not you read the material for that lecture, so my advice would be to come prepared.  J Her three kids are teens and so she always has a fun story to tell.  Also, when we were finishing up coursework, she was really getting into running.

Erika Nelson-Wong:  She came on board near the end of our schooling, but she is extremely passionate about statistics and biomechanics.  She also loves bike riding (we’d get weekly emails about group bike rides around town).  If she becomes your research advisor, you are very fortunate.  She gets you very involved in the research world.

Ira Gorman:  He is our “health care policy” go-to.  That is his passion, and he’d be happy to talk health care reform/politics all day long.  He used to live in NY and his accent will come out from time to time.  Plus, he used to be a cab driver for a while.

Larisa Hoffman:  She is another of the Pediatrics and Neuro PTs.  She recently had her 3rd child and was very passionate about making sure we understood the information.  Also, although extremely busy, she always made time to sit and just talk about life in general.

Laura Krum:  She was voted as our “teacher of the year.”  She is very approachable and always has great advice, not just related to PT.  Her passions are women’s health and orthopedics.  She’s got 2 kids and they are the light of her life.

Marcia Smith:  She is very passionate about the neuro side of therapy.  Although she is the director, she helps out with all the neuro-management series and you’ll be seeing plenty of her.  Look forward to her snoopy/Charlie Brown power point slides when you have semester “director time.”  Remember, the school code is “no flip flops” for PT students, and so if you’re going to stretch that rule, she’s bound to catch you.  J

Mary Christensen:  She is very passionate about service learning and just got by from Ethiopia this spring with several of my classmates.  She had a few dogs when I was at school and always enjoys talking about dog stories.

Mike Keirns:  He’s a big Michigan fan.  Expect a sports score question on every one of his quizzes.  He’s really passionate about the shoulder, sports, and service learning.  He has headed up providing physical therapy services to Arrupe High School Athletics.  Absolutely worth getting involved in.  Expect emails from him between the hours of 2 am and 5 am.  He’s very passionate about what he does.

Tim Noteboom:  He’s the technology guy.  If it’s new and involves computers, he’s always trying to make class-work and PT more efficient and better.  He’s got 2 girls (pre-teens, I think).  He also is/was the director of the tDPT program, so he’s pretty busy with that.

Tom McPoil:  When I graduated, he was still Vice President of the Orthopedics Section of the APTA.  He is very passionate about research, especially with regards to the foot.  He was formerly at NAU in Arizona and just recently came to Denver to be closer to his grandchildren.  A word to the wise:  it’s pretty much impossible to B.S. your way through his class.  Know your stuff or admit that you don’t.  He has extremely high expectations and he always brings his “A” game, so make sure you do to.  Regis is very fortunate to have him in our program.

Wendy Anamaet:  She is very passionate about wound care, geriatrics, exercise prescription, and actually, a bit of everything.  She has funny stories about working with rats during her PhD work.  She was one of the professors that if we had a question about anything PT related, either she’d tell us right then and there or she’d find the answer and source for us.  She’s extremely passionate about PT.  She also has a mini-farm with horses, chickens, rabbits, a dog (I may be missing something) for her teenage daughter.

 

Here's the first "harvest" of our little garden. Spencer was especially excited about it because he helped plant it.

 I believe one of the best things right now about being out of school is finally getting a paycheck.  I have forgotten what those are like, so it has been nice not being reliant on school loans and getting into the working life.  Each day is full of it’s own challenges and fun experiences.  For example, just recently, I have seen a very broad spectrum of both people and emotions.  For example, just on Thursday, while helping my first patient, an older gentleman, lie on his back for a moist heat back, he asked me to wait while he grabbed his “concealed weapon,” a pistol hand-gun (without a holster, so he just had it tucked into his pants), and put it on the table.  “Why’d you bring that in?”  I asked.  “Well, I’ve heard you guys torture patients.  I don’t want you to get any ideas with me.”  :)

 Later that morning, I had a new evaluation from a middle-aged woman with back pain.  As soon as we sat down in the treatment room to get her history, the flood-gates opened.  The pain has been taken a major toll on her quality of life.  We spent the majority of the treatment just talking about coping mechanisms and the nature of her diagnosis (when she received recent imaging, she wasn’t told anything more than the name, and she had been terrified since then).  Before she left, she gave me a hug and thanked me for my services.  I look forward to working with her.

 Right before lunch, I had another new evaluation for a lady with knee pain.  I had her warm up on a bike and was about to explain some foundation exercises when her eyes got wide and said, “I am feeling a migraine coming on.  I occasionally pass out for a while due to my blood pressure dropping.  If it happens, do not call 911.  They can’t do anything for me.”  Within a minute, her words came true.  I sat by her and took her blood pressure every few minutes.  She was able to sit up after about 15 minutes, and with some help of a mountain dew, I was able to help her out to her husband’s car.  Thank goodness she told me what to expect or perhaps I may have ended up on the ground with her.

 These are a few of dozens of stories I have experienced in the first 2 months of my career.  It has its ups and downs, but I am loving my career choice as a physical therapist.  I get satisfaction out of helping people get back to what they enjoy doing, and I am grateful for the education and training I received at Regis University, especially when it comes to helping others cope or deal with what’s going on.  During 3rd semester, we had a class called Psychosocial Aspects of Healthcare (or something to that effect).  We were taught how we can be more sensitive to the needs (and not just physical needs) of the people we work with.  The training has been very helpful as I meet with patients every day.

Spencer picked out his own outfit (and accessories) for July 4th.  CO Springs was full of festivities that day.  We first got to meet “Abe Lincoln” at Rock Ledge Living History Farm (we live about a mile from it).  Then it was off to Woodland Park that night for the fireworks.  I had to work the next morning, so we didn’t stay up too late, though.

It has been so nice not having homework or upcoming tests.  Now our evenings are spent going on bike rides and spending time outside.  This bike attachment was for Spencer’s birthday.  He loves it.

Ashley and Spencer were such a support for me during the last 3 years of graduate school.  It was one big rollercoaster ride.  Spencer was such a good sport through it all.  Grandma got this for him and I put it together while they were visiting Utah.  He is always on it now.  No broken bones. . . . yet.

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