Wednesday, February 5, 2020

1818 Community Engagement Grant

Figure 1: The children enjoyed the large parachute used at the end of the program
1818 Community Engagement Grant Event
by SLU DPT Students Kelsey Bequette (Class of 2021) and Lauren Foster (Class of 2022)

The Saint Louis University Physical Therapy Student Association (SLU PTSA) successfully applied for and was awarded one of 18 “1818 Community Engagement Grants” for the second year in a row. These grants aim to provide the foundation for students to make a positive impact in the community through partnership with local organizations. On Friday, January 31, 2020, PTSA, in collaboration with the SLU Athletic Training and Nutrition and Dietetics Programs, hosted the 2nd annual ‘Building Bridges for the Future’ event. We partnered with a local community organization, Unleashing Potential (UP), to bring children ages 3-12 years old to the Saint Louis University Campus to learn about the health science professions. This project specifically focused on providing the children with an introduction to how the study of science bridges to health care professions, including Physical Therapy, Athletic Training, and Nutrition and Dietetics. This event was also designed to bring the children to the Saint Louis University Campus, providing them the opportunity to envision themselves pursuing higher education in the future.

Figure 2: SLU students were excited to volunteer

During the event, the children participated in various educational activities centered around our three health science professions. Activities focused on basic human anatomy through coloring, exercise and stretching techniques, nutrition, and healthy food choices, as well as wound care and balancing. SLU student volunteers from each of the three respective programs had a great time participating in the activities and engaging the children of UP throughout the activities. Many of the children had attended the program last year and were excited to be back on SLU’s campus and learn more about the health science field. As always, we had a great time collaborating with our community partner to advocate for our professions and for the futures of the children in our community. We are looking forward to working with these children again in the future and continuing to develop our relationship with Unleashing Potential!

Figure 3: SLU students assisted UP children in tracing their bodies to learn about human anatomy

Figure 4: SLU Students and UP children participated in exercise activities such as a jumping jack circle

Saint Louis University DPT Students Kelsey Bequette (Class of 2021) and Lauren Foster (Class of 2022) are former PTSA Co-Presidents.

This is one of several posts featuring SLU PT Student experiences. For more information about Saint Louis University's Program in Physical Therapy, please visit:

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

SLU PT Study Abroad Opportunity - Madrid, Spain

Hola! from Madrid
by Emily Redpath (DPT Class of 2023)

Studying abroad was always a dream of mine growing up. One of the main reasons that SLU’s PT program stood out to me was because it gives students the opportunity to study abroad for an entire semester – which is difficult to find in other 6-year PT programs. Deciding to go to Madrid was sort of a ‘no-brainer’ for me because I wanted the chance to travel around Europe as much as possible while still being able to work on my Spanish. The months leading up to leaving I was very stressed and anxious, but as the departure date grew near, I was so unbelievably excited for the opportunity ahead of me.

We arrived in Madrid and got the chance to meet our wonderful host parents, Marta and Jacobo.  They only spoke to us in Spanish, but they made the experience so memorable for me and my roommates. Marta and her housekeeper, Margarita, cooked us the most incredible meals that we would look forward to every single night. Marta also loved to talk to us about all things Madrid – the restaurants, the nightlife, her favorite spots, and all the touristy places she always wanted us to avoid (but we went to anyways). We got a great look into the family dynamic in Madrid on Sundays when some of Marta’s 10 children and 22 grandchildren would come for lunch. Her children loved to talk to us, and the best part was that three of her daughters are physical therapists – so we got an idea about the differences between PT in the U.S and in Europe.

 Myself, Olivia Hinkel (SLU DPT Class of 2023), Meredith Miller (SLU DPT Class of 2023), Eva Dougherty (SJU Class of 2021) and Alexis Landry (SLU DPT Class of 2023) with our host parents.

I also really enjoyed my classes at SLU Madrid. Due to the way the physical therapy curriculum is set up, I only had to take 4 classes and I had many different options. I was in two classes taught completely in Spanish so that I could complete my minor. I was also in Latin Rhythms and Dance, a class that made me completely step out of my comfort zone.  Even though I am not the best dancer, this was one of my favorite classes ever!

10 SLU DPT Class of 2023 students (and Eva Dougherty SJU Class of 2021) and I at our class dance recital.

My final class, Oceanography, was also unforgettable. Through this class we got to go on a weekend trip to Murcia, Spain. This was one of my favorite trips because we got to do and see so many of the things that we had learned about in class. We also got to go scuba diving in the Mediterranean, which was one of my favorite experiences abroad – until I got an awful jellyfish sting! I still have the scar, but it reminds me of the incredible experience that I had on the trip and in the class.

Rhadika Patel, Olivia Hinkel, Griffin Lebeau, Nathan Breckenkamp, myself (all SLU DPT Class of 2023) and Logan Williams (SLU Class of 2020) before scuba diving in the Mediterranean.

The jellyfish sting the day after it happened!

One of my favorite parts of my experience abroad was the opportunities we had to travel all around the continent.  Our first weekend trip we left Europe and went to Africa! We went with a travel group and a bunch of other physical therapy students to Morocco. We got to ride camels in Tangier and then spend another day exploring Chefchaouen - also called “The Blue City” because everything is painted blue. This trip was quite the culture shock for all of us, but I felt as though it was really eye opening and truly allowed me to experience a different culture than my own.

The group of SLU DPT Class of  2023 students on the Morocco trip.

Nathan Breckenkamp, Griffin Lebeau, myself, and Olivia Hinkel (all SLU DPT Class of 2023) riding camels on the beach

The next weekend we travelled to London, which was a stark contrast to our previous trip.  Everything was in English which was a nice change after the previous three weeks being in Spanish.  The following weekend we went to Lisbon, Portugal - which truly surprised me by its beauty.  We got to spend time exploring the hilly city, relaxing on the beach and seeing all of the amazing sites of the area.  Highlights of this trip included going on a boat cruise along the coast and meeting up with our fellow PT classmates to see the Pena Palace in Sintra!

A group of SLU DPT Class of 2023 students at the Pena Palace.

After that, we got to go to Italy, a trip that I was very excited for. We spent a day exploring the canals in Venice and two days seeing as much of Rome as we could. Both cities were incredible in completely different ways and I cannot wait to go back to Italy to see what else it has to offer. The second weekend in October we met up with more PT students and traveled to Barcelona. Everyone’s favorite part was definitely a 30-minute hike up a hill to get an incredible view over the city. Our day unfortunately ended with every traveler's nightmare - bedbugs in our Airbnb! Don’t worry, we ended up in a really nice hostel that was all paid for by Airbnb so it ended up working out better.

The view after our 30-minute hike.

At the end of October, we headed to the Netherlands to check out Amsterdam. The weather was beautiful, so we spent our days riding bikes through the park, walking along the canals, and stuffing our faces with endless amounts of Dutch Apple Pie, Stroopwaffle, and Frites. Amsterdam was one of the most beautiful places that I had ever been - which took all of us by surprise.

View of the beautiful buildings in Amsterdam.

The month of November consisted of trips to Munich, Ireland, and Seville. We were some of the few physical therapy students who did not go to Munich for Oktoberfest, but we loved visiting the city in November because we got to see all the Christmas markets! We also got to spend the afternoon at Dachau, one of the first concentration camps. The following weekend we went to Galway and Dublin.  We took a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher where we were absolutely blown away by its sheer beauty and size.

Griffin Lebeau, Alexis Landry, Nathan Breckenkamp, myself, Olivia Hinkel (all SLU DPT Class of 2023), and Eva Dougherty (SJU Class of 2021) at the Cliffs of Moher.

Our last trip to Switzerland was probably my favorite. I was stunned by the pure natural beauty of the mountains. I decided to make this last trip special by going paragliding over the Interlaken which was an experience I will truly never forget. It is truly difficult to put into words how beautiful this country was, and I know that I will be back one day.

The view over Interlaken, Switzerland.

Even with all our traveling we still found the time to explore Madrid during the week and on the few weekends that we did stay home. We did not have class on Mondays or Wednesdays, so we used that time to check out all the big sights of Madrid. We loved heading to Gran Via to shop, to Sol to check out our favorite dessert places, and to Parque de Oeste to enjoy the beautiful weather. Usually, on these days we would try and eat lunch in a new neighborhood so that we could really explore the city. I grew to love Madrid - the people, the culture, the places. I loved living right in a big, bustling city.  There was always something going on, yet everyone was so laid back and was truly enjoying their lives.

Nathan Breckenkamp (SLU DPT Class of 2023) enjoying a churro at San Gines in Madrid.

Another one of the highlights of my experience was being able to teach a free English class. I worked with a permanent Madrid student and we taught a beginner English class. No one in my class spoke any English so I had the chance to work on my Spanish. It was really rewarding to get to see how they improved and how happy they were to be learning the language. We also got to know our students, who ranged from ages 18-65, and it was beneficial to me to be able to talk to them about their lives and get to know their culture.

Overall, I learned so much on my trip abroad. I feel as though I gained a lot of independence and confidence. Being thrown into places not knowing the language or the culture really makes you step out of your comfort zone, but I loved the opportunity to do so. Things do go wrong, whether it was getting stranded outside an airport for a night, missing our buses, bedbugs in an Airbnb, or getting stung by a jellyfish. But the hard times made for the best memories and gave us the chance to truly learn about ourselves. I can really go with the flow and make the best out of difficult situations that maybe we did not plan for, which was something I was not great at before coming abroad. I formed so many bonds with people that I know will be my life-long friends. While I am glad to be back in St. Louis, I would give anything to be back in Madrid exploring the amazing city. I look back at all my pictures and memories and am so thankful that I had this opportunity to experience one of the best 4 months of my life so far.

Myself, Alexis Landry, Olivia Hinkel, Meredith Miller (all SLU DPT Class of 2023) and Eva Dougherty (SJU Class of 2021) at the metro stop right by our house on our last night in Madrid.
This is one of several posts featuring SLU PT Student study abroad experiences. Because of its unique format, the SLU PT program gives students the ability to study abroad the fall of their junior year. For more information about study abroad experiences at SLU go to:

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Embracing Uncertainty: One Minor Decision at a Time, by John Schaefer (Class of 2022)

Embracing Uncertainty: One Minor Decision at a Time
by Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy Student John Schaefer (Class of 2022)

When I first arrived on the campus of Saint Louis University (SLU) in the Fall of 2016, the only immediate constant in my life was change, along with an unwavering sense of dubiety. Although I possessed a quiet confidence, I still found myself tiptoeing through the first week of orientation, trying to find steady ground amidst this new and ever-changing environment. Being over 500 miles away from home, uncertain if I had selected the right institution of higher education, and blissfully unaware of the work and rigor I had cut out for me in the direct-admittance Physical Therapy program, 18-year-old me plunged into my first semester of classes.

As I’m sure you can imagine, I experienced the typical roller coaster of emotions and newfound realities that are inevitably paired with one’s first semester of college. Those include, but are not limited to: an unprecedented sense of complete and total freedom, confusion and unease surrounding relationships back home, and most notably endless opportunities accompanied by “important” decisions.

Now, by no means am I suggesting that the decisions students face when they are freshmen are trivial, but oftentimes they present themselves as being a matter of “life-or-death” in the moment. Although these decisions may have a tremendous impact on the course of one’s college experience, they are made on the basis of the knowledge available to the student and what’s important to them at the time. With that being said, in retrospect, people rarely make a blatantly “wrong” decision. More often than not, the individual did what they thought best given the information they had, and for that reason, should not lose any sleep at night. Furthermore, in the end, things typically work out far better than you could have hoped for or imagined.

As my freshman year progressed, I found myself in what I believed (at the time) to be one of these “life or death” scenarios during my first visit with my academic advisor at the end of Fall 2016.

“John, it’s time to select a minor, what’re you thinking?”

What am I thinking? I’m currently thinking about what I’m going to have for lunch in about 20 minutes…

That’s a stretch, but truth be told, I hadn’t given this decision any thought and instantly felt sick to my stomach. Surely this choice, if used incorrectly, would have serious implications that could negatively impact the foreseeable future. My mind raced.

However, the one pearl of advice I distinctly remember climbing to the forefront of my mind was something I had heard at PT Admitted Students’ Day. This was to pick a minor in a subject area that I love, something I wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to study in depth at the university level.

This led me to ask myself, what would I be studying if physical therapy wasn’t on the table. My mind immediately zeroed in on two options, English/creative writing or marketing. After careful deliberation, I decided that there would always be opportunities for me to showcase my authorship and it would be more beneficial for me to explore the business world. Soon after, I declared marketing as my minor, stood up, and left his office.

It hadn’t quite sunk in for me yet that I was committing to studying marketing until I found myself in various discussions that following Spring semester with my peers in the PT program. In these exchanges with my classmates and friends, many of them proudly announced that they were studying psychology. These proclamations often continued with something along the lines of, “psychology is arguably at the root of therapeutic treatment and understanding someone else’s psychological makeup and processes will be extremely useful as a future clinician.”

Uh oh. I felt impending doom, as if I was an outsider letting an amazing opportunity for growth slip through my hands, as my peers all spread their fingers and caught it. This potential loss bothered me for a few days, until I shifted and recentered my focus on myself. I had been intrigued by business, captivating the attention of others, selling, creativity, and studying cash-flow ever since I can remember. Why back down now due to external pressure?

After this brief period of reflection and recommitment, I resumed studying, both inside and outside of the classroom, and I promised myself I would not let others’ personal choices or desires impact my goals ever again. From that point forward, there was no looking back. The opportunities began flying in at an unprecedented pace. Two years passed and my marketing minor had already allowed me the ability to join various organizations (SLU Marketing Club/Entrepreneurship Club), fly to London to work with Fordham University on an international marketing pilot project in which I had the opportunity to pitch a business model to a board of professionals, and expand my knowledge of social media to the point that I was able to serve as a consultant for multiple student organizations.

Above all else, I have learned to effectively market myself personally and professionally, each and every day. Whether it is through the daily personal interactions I have with others and trying to get a point across, or expanding viewership of my online blog articles to over 300,000 views, my minor has taught me the essence of human nature in terms of capitalizing on wants and needs. I am grateful for this skillset as I know it will benefit me greatly as I transition into my role as a future clinician.

The point of this article is not to showcase any successes I have had. Instead, it is a call to action to discover your interests and move forward with them, whether or not it is the popular thing to do. Furthermore, it is a plea to stop being so hard on your past decisions. Every choice you make was made for a reason. Whether or not you saw immediate or long-term benefits from it, you (hopefully) were able to learn from it and become a more refined version of yourself as a result. If you take nothing else from this article, let it be this: be thankful for the opportunity to choose your own destiny and when faced with a decision, commit yourself fully and don’t look back.

SLU DPT Student John Schaefer (Class of 2022) is the Physical Therapy Student Association (PTSA) newly elected co-president.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Coming Together in Support of Spirit Week and the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research

PY1 Students dressed in white for "Class Color" Day.

November 2019 Spirit Week is a Success for the SLU Program in Physical Therapy
by Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy Student Emily Gier (Class of 2022)

This past week from November 9th through November 17th, the Physical Therapy Student Association (PTSA) hosted the 3rd Annual Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy Spirit Week.

Left: PY2 Students celebrate "Grout-Fit" Day with Dr. Levenhagen. Middle: Sophomores on "PJ" Day!
Right: Program in PT Faculty, Dr. Beckel and Dr. Austin on "Color" Day.

Spirit Week is a week-long competition between all classes and the faculty/staff to see who has the most spirit in the program. 

Turkey Bowl showdown!

Spirit Week kicked off with the annual Turkey Bowl flag football tournament. All grades showed great effort and determination but, in the end, the PY3’s took home the win. 

DPT Students Kelsey Bequette (Class of 2021) and
Lauren Foster (Class of 2022)
counting every penny.

Throughout the following week, classes demonstrated their spirit by participating in dress down days and Penny Wars. Dress down days included PJ Day, Grout-fit Day (all gray outfit), Class Color Day, Sports Day, and PT Apparel Day. Additionally, all week an intense Penny Wars took place to raise money for the Foundation for Physical Therapy Research which benefits various PT research initiatives. In the end, everyone in the Program came together and raised $496.23 for the charitable donation.
SLU Program in Physical Therapy Spirit Week is for everyone!

Points were awarded based on the percentage of the class that dressed up that day. The week concluded with an Ice Cream Party to celebrate another successful Spirit Week where the winner…drum roll please…was the Faculty, who were crowned champions of Spirit Week. PY1’s took home second place while the Freshmen were able to clinch third. 

SLU Program in Physical Therapy Faculty and Staff on "Sports" Day.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Spirit Week and made it another successful and memorable SLU Program in Physical Therapy event!

Left: PY3s on "Sports" Day.  Middle: PY2s on "Sports" Day.  Right: PY1s bring the spirit.

SLU DPT Student Emily Gier is the Physical Therapy Student Association (PTSA) Vice President of Philanthropy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Celebrating October as National Physical Therapy Month

Help celebrate National Physical Therapy Month by picking up a free pin,
sticker or card in the Program in Physical Therapy Office.

SLU DPT Student Jamie Brew Shares Reasons Why We #ChoosePT
by Saint Louis University DPT Student Jamie Brew (Class of 2020)

Every year, we celebrate October as National Physical Therapy Month. When I say “we”, I include physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, students in both PT and PTA programs as well as those who have or are currently benefitting from physical therapy. The American Physical Therapy Association uses this time to broadcast our campaign, “Choose PT”. We urge those who are experiencing chronic pain to choose PT over pain medications and opioids. We encourage those who are susceptible to injury to choose PT to prevent those injuries from occurring. At the same time, I use this campaign to continue choosing the profession of PT for my future. I too am reminded to “Choose PT”.

As an ambassador for our SLU Physical Therapy Program, I provide tours to prospective students and their families. One of my favorite yet most challenging questions during this time is “why did you choose physical therapy?” While there are a multitude of reasons that I chose to attend school for physical therapy, I often answer that I am still choosing physical therapy. It’s not the time I spent as a patient after a knee injury in high school or even the fact that my grandmother was a Physical Therapist that keeps me pursuing this profession. It is every experience I have had since committing to SLU that inspires me to Choose PT.

I have spent some time volunteering in the rehabilitation department at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital in Saint Louis over the last couple of years. I get the opportunity to observe physical therapists in a combination of an outpatient and inpatient setting. While I learn a lot though these observations, it is not the techniques that I see, or the new tools used that get me excited about a profession in physical therapy. It is the way a young girl smiles in disbelief at her father when the physical therapist teaches her something new that promotes her independence in walking. Or the face of determination when a young boy can’t quite coordinate his movements enough to make a basketball shot. These interactions encourage me to Choose PT.

I also spent a year as a representative and a year as the Vice Chair for the Missouri Student Special Interest Group. As a representative, I acted as a liaison between the group and SLU. As the Vice Chair, I collaborated with students from different universities in Missouri to advocate for the profession of Physical Therapy. In February, I attended Lobby Day in Jefferson City with some of the members of MSSIG to discuss with State Representatives the importance of Direct Access in allowing individuals to continue to Choose PT. In order to do so, I had to reflect on why I wanted to Choose PT in order to encourage others to do so. Interacting with the community of students and therapists fighting for our profession gave me just another reason to Choose PT.

So while October is spent promoting the profession of Physical Therapy to other healthcare professionals and future patients, I encourage those students and therapists reading this to find moments that give you a reason to also #ChoosePT.

by Saint Louis University DPT Student Jamie Brew (Class of 2020)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

SLU Program in Physical Therapy Faculty Member Dr. Carol Beckel Leads Fundraising Effort and Raises $2000 for Clinic in Belize

Saint Louis University Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni Contribute to Fundraiser for Hillside Health Care International

Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy Faculty Member Dr. Carol Beckel joined forces with alumna Carley Kirsch (DPT Class of 2013) on June 29th this summer to raise money for a non-profit medical clinical in Southern Belize, Hillside Health Care International (HHCI). Dr. Carol Beckel and Carley serve on the Board of Directors for HHCI. Carley volunteered at HHCI for a year as the Rehab Director and Dr. Beckel provides short-term volunteer coverage as a PT as well. HHCI is a clinical affiliate for students in the Program in Physical Therapy.

Dr. Carol Beckel and Carley collected items from around the midwest including donations from family and friends as well as Program of Physical Therapy faculty, staff, and alumni. Emma London and Bailey Flynn (both 2019 graduates) who both completed clinical rotations at HHCI donated items after wrapping up their lives in St. Louis. 

Several Program alumni helped prepare for the sale and on the day off the sale including a classmate of Dr. Carol Beckel's, Katherine Meirink (1992), Meg Robben (2006), Lexi (Modglin) Wisch (2018), and Caitlin Whiteley (2018) spent time sorting items ahead of the sale. 

On the day of the sale, Katherine along with her daughter and a Girl Scout from their troop came out to support the sale. In addition, Program Staff Kristin Hrasky and current student Remy Arnold (Class of 2020) who will complete a rotation at HHCI in January of 2020, also helped to make sales, carry items to cars, and clean-up at the end of the sale.

In total, the yard sale raised $2,000 to support the work of HHCI to provide primary medical care, pharmaceuticals, physical therapy, and communication education in the Toledo District of Belize. To learn more about HHCI please go to  Although it was a hot and humid day in St. Louis, it was a fun way to raise money, help folks clean out their own basements, and help others find that perfect new item for themselves!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

SLU Program in Physical Therapy Student Laura Seadler Uses Scholarship to Travel to Clinical Site in Belize

SLU DPT Students: Laura Seadler (left) and Claire Thoelecke (right)
Cheryl L. Cavallo Memorial Scholarship Spotlight - DPT Student Laura Seadler Heads to Punta Gorda for 2019 Clinical
by Laura Seadler (DPT Class of 2020)

Thanks to the generosity of the Cavallo scholarship, I was able to spend my last four weeks of clinical for 2019 in Punta Gorda, Belize at Hillside Healthcare International providing outpatient and home health care to the wonderful, awesome, kind people of Punta Gorda and surrounding villages in and around the Toledo district of Belize.

On this rotation, I was given the opportunity to work alongside a PT classmate and SLU faculty member, Physician Assistant students from North Carolina and Pharmacy students from Butler University as we treated patients and interacted interprofessionally to provide cohesive patient care. It was seriously a blast.

SLU Program in Physical Therapy Students: Laura Seadler (left) and Claire Thoelecke (right

Hillside is an incredible, sustainable organization that provides a variety of pro bono services to those in need.

I would recommend spending time and volunteering at Hillside to all friends and family, please support and continue to engage in conversations pertaining to public health, global health and healthcare for the underserved!

Dr. Carol Beckel and SLU Program in Physical Therapy Students, Laura Seadler and Claire Thoelecke.

by Laura Seadler
Class of 2020