Thursday, February 21, 2019

SLU PT Student Expands His Professional Horizons at First CSM

DPT class of 2020 posing for a picture at Lost & Found DC
CSM: A Student Experience
by Richard Guillen, DPT Class of 2020

For the past few years, I have heard a lot about APTA Combined Sections Meetings (CSM) and how I would be able to go when I was PY2. I have helped some of the faculty in the past with tasks pertaining to CSM, so I got a little a taste of what CSM was before I even got to go. I was so excited when I found out that CSM was going to hosted in Washington DC this year because I have never been to DC. In fact, the farthest I’ve ever gone east in the US is probably to Chicago. I took advantage of my APTA membership and registered in the same week registration opened. Once I registered, I immediately started counting down the days until I landed in DC. Registering for CSM was probably the easiest part of my CSM experience. I was put in charge of social media for my program, manning the registration table of our alumni reception, and coordinating a gathering for the students and faculty. 

I and a group of my classmates managed to get the same flight and 2.5 hours later, we were in DC. We had arrived early and luckily one of my friends is from Maryland, so we were able to stay with her for the night. The day of CSM we woke up around 5 am and got a ride to the metro station by my friend’s mom. Being on the metro allowed me to experience how it is to be a regular commuter in DC. I saw people wearing suits, other people wearing sweats, some people were on their phones talking business, and some were just sleeping. I saw people from a variety of socioeconomic statuses, professions, and race. I really did feel like I was a part of their community. 

Once we arrived at our stop, we still had to do some walking to get to the convention center. When I entered the convention center, all I could see was the sea of people that were there. Thousands of physical therapist, physical therapist assistants, and physical therapy students in one location with the goal of learning something new. My goal was to make the most of this opportunity and attend sessions from different fields of physical therapy. I was able to attend sessions about resistance training for runners, how to make treating geriatrics “sexy”, using positive psychology, and LGBTQ+ barriers in physical therapy. I learned information that I would not have learned in the classroom and I am incredibly humbled that I was able to attend this conference. I talked to representatives from different clinics, hospitals, and vendors just to get my foot in the door. 

When CSM was officially over I got the chance to explore the city a little bit and saw some historical monuments. Overall, I can safely say this experience at CSM was probably one of my favorite experiences in my five years at Saint Louis University. I will definitely be looking forward to attending CSM in the future.

This is one of several posts featuring SLU PT Student experiences. Because of its unique format, the SLU PT program provides students the ability to travel to CSM the spring semester of their PY2 year and not miss classes. For more information about Saint Louis University's Program in Physical Therapy, please visit:

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