Student Post

Combined Sections Meeting 2017- A Student Perspective

Sarah Poinski-McCoy, SPT Class of 2017
Hometown: Tallmadge, OH
Undergraduate: University of Cincinnati College- Conservatory of Music
Degree: Dance

What were you hoping to get out of CSM? Did you achieve that?

I hoped to be re-invigorated and excited about what we can accomplish as future physical therapists. Yes, I definitely accomplished this, and I discovered new avenues of PT I hadn’t thought about before.

How did CSM benefit you as a student?

It is really great to see the scope of the profession before we graduate to give us ideas about the many possibilities of our future. Since our courses are divided into Neuromuscular, Musculoskeletal Conditions, and Medical Conditions, it’s easy to see the world of PT as a student in just these three areas. CSM is like going from the basic box of crayons to the 100 color box of crayons.

Previous post-graduate classmates and now PT students at Duke and University of Missouri

What was your favorite lecture and why?

I got really excited about ALL the lectures I attended. The one that was the most inspiring personal journey was the Shumway-Cook lecture: You can let go of me now: Harnessing Neuroplasticity for Good and the Road Not Taken by Dr. Andrea L Behrman, PT, PhD, FAPTA. The most excited I got about policy and advocacy was after the lecture Love Global Health? Then Care About Policy! featuring our own Dawn Magnusson, PT, PhD and three of her public health peers, including Ira Gorman, PT, PhD, MSPH of Regis. I could go on, but those two stuck out the most for me.

Why should future students attend CSM?

Students should attend CSM to get a break from the daily grind of school and be reminded of how big and beautiful our profession is. It is also exciting to discover the new growth our profession has achieved. It’s like an active rest from exercising. You are still focusing on your future as a PT, but in a whole new setting.

What advice would you give future students when attending CSM?

Don’t spend too much time in the Exhibit Hall as it can be overwhelming. When you do, go in with a plan, visit the APTA section booths or poster presentations, and get out before too long. Educational sections are one of the best ways to spend time at CSM. Use twitter while you are there and follow the hashtag #aptacsm to avoid FOMO of all the other lectures, since people tweet about the cool key points often. Use twitter also to tweet about the cool stuff you are learning as well! Don’t be afraid to check something out that looks interesting if none of your classmates or peers are going to attend. This is the best way to reach out and get to know the PTs and fellow students who have the same interests as you!


Combined Sections Meeting 2017

This past weekend many University of Colorado students, faculty, and alumni made the trip down to San Antonio, TX for this years APTA Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). Students were able to attend lectures taught by physical therapy experts in their respective specialties, network with future employers, and learn about new technology that is being used in today’s clinics. In addition, many current faculty and PhD students were able to present their research in a variety of different platforms. We hope that CU will continue to make a strong appearance at CSM for years to come!


Faculty Interview

Dan Malone


Dan Malone, PT, PhD, CCS is a core faculty member at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He teaches Medical Conditions. In addition, Dan works as a clinician at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, CO.

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. I left Philadelphia for a short period of time and lived outside of D.C. as a child.  All that I remember from that time is that we had an in ground pool and nobody is more popular than the in ground pool kid.

Where did you go to Undergrad?

I received my undergraduate degree in Exercise Science and Athletic Training at the University of Pittsburgh.

What are your hobbies?

I’m a sports nut, I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve with sports—I’m a Philadelphia guy. You can take the boy out of Philadelphia, but you can’t take Philly out of the boy. Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers, 76’ers, Phillies, they’re all my teams (as ESPN App notifications ding in the background). I will go and watch the Rockies and I was happy the Bronco’s won the Super Bowl, but if they were playing the Phils or Eagles I would’ve wished the Denver teams lost 66 to nothing!

I’m also a civil war buff. I came to that later in my life, but I think American History is really cool. The only history class I ever took was my last year in undergrad about the history of medicine (Magic, Medicine & Science), which was very cool but otherwise I never really studied history. I think the Civil War era is a fascinating time in our history, and as much upheaval as we’ve seen with our recent election, thinking back to the 1850’s-1860’s and how the country was divided then and we overcame that, I’m still very optimistic and hopeful.

I also love hiking and I bike a little bit; I like the Breckenridge area in the summertime. I’d love to be a regular skier, but I don’t know if my schedule would allow it.

I also play the guitar very poorly. I try to tinker around and I took lessons as a way to relax when I was getting my PhD. I can’t sing—I couldn’t carry a tune if you strapped it to my back; I have one note and it’s flat. But I’m a huge music guy and I’ve always got music playing in my office. I love rock and roll and the blues.

Do you have a favorite place to eat in the Denver area?

Not yet, I’m still exploring. My wife and I rarely go back to the same place twice because we’re always trying something new. Denver has a really good food scene, but we don’t have a favorite yet. I’m a huge fan of microbrews, and I loved gastropubs in Philadelphia—I really wish they had more places in Denver with both really good beer and really good food (not a food truck).

Do you have a favorite quote and if so what?

The best way to predict the future is to create it.  (A. Lincoln)

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give (W. Churchill)

If you had to recommend one book to read what would it be?

A Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It’s basically the history of Abraham Lincoln and how he got the candidacy as the first Republican presidential candidate and formed his cabinet. There were three other rivals for the presidential candidacy (E. Bates; S Chase; W Seward) and each of the other guys were well known and well respected. People made fun of Lincoln as the “prairie lawyer” – essentially a country bumpkin.  He was not the first choice as a candidate by anybody, but he positioned himself to the second choice of everybody. None of the rivals could get enough votes to become the candidate. Eventually voters came to the second choice, which was Lincoln, showing how politically savvy he truly was. His rivals held him in little esteem, calling him the ape in the white house because he was a tall gangly guy, but Lincoln had each of those three rivals as part of his cabinet. Over the course of years, Lincoln’s brilliance of learning to put the goal ahead of personal bias led each of his former rivals to respect and admire him. The idea of being able to put the goal ahead of individual desire and bringing together a team of individuals who don’t necessarily get along, but are the best and the brightest for the better part of a goal is pretty impressive.

Where did you go to Physical Therapy school?

Temple University. It is also where I received my PhD in Physiology.

What made you interested in PT?

I was in 8th grade playing football, which was really funny because I was probably 85 pounds soaking wet. I played wide receiver and I tore my ACL, but no one knew it at the time. I remember jumping up and coming down and my right knee hyperextended and then it blew up. I went to my PCP and they gave me crutches and then eventually the swelling went down and I got better after some time. During the basketball season I remember going up for a lay-up and coming down on my right leg and it shifted on me, causing me to fall. My knee swelled up again and I got put back on crutches. I spent probably 3-4 months of that year on crutches. It wasn’t till high school that I was referred to an orthopod. It took him maybe 2 minutes to figure out I tore my ACL by doing a Lachman’s or anterior drawer test. I had surgery on it where they trimmed up the edges of my ACL and meniscus. They didn’t do an ACL repair on me because I was still growing and didn’t want to disturb the growth plates. I’m still hoping for that growth spurt!  At the physician’s office a physical therapist there gave me some exercises to do. That physical therapist sparked my interest in physical therapy as I went through rehab.

What was your first PT job out of school?

My first PT job was at the Hospital at University of Pennsylvania (HUP). Initially I planned on working there for 3 years, but ended up staying for 20 years. During PT school I was totally sport’s oriented, with the goal of becoming the head PT for the Philadelphia Phillies. Like I mentioned earlier my undergraduate degree was in exercise science and athletic training, and that’s why I wanted to go to PT school. My final clinical affiliation was at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, a major rehabilitation center for TBI and stroke. This clinical experience steered me towards neuro and was a setting that I liked. Before working in the rehab setting, I wanted to see acute neuro trauma and this led me to work for HUP since they were a level 1-trauma center.

What is some advice you would give to new graduates in finding a job?

I would say keep your options open. Many students often come into the program with a designated career path in mind. If I think of myself as an example, I came in as an orthopedic sports guy, I finished out my clinical as a neuro rehab trauma guy, and I ended up as a cardiopulmonary guy. Before I even got to become involved in cardiopulmonary physical therapy, I was a generalist in the acute care setting.  I think the profession needs “generalists”. I think the “generalist” PT is often viewed as “unsexy” but this clinician has to possess an incredible breadth and depth of knowledge to be successful.  I think that is totally admirable.  On the other side of the coin, if you know what you want to do then follow your calling, but if you’re waffling and aren’t sure, there is a lot of benefit in being a generalist. Secondly, with regards to clinical development, I would say be a sponge. Not just with your physical therapy mentors, but with other professionals as well.  Many of my mentors were nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists and physicians.

What made your pursue getting your PhD in Physiology?

I was a late bloomer to getting my PhD; I didn’t start the program until after a decade of working as a physical therapist. I think my interest in pursuing a PhD was based off what I did clinically for a living.  I was the primary physical therapist in the medical ICU and cardiac ICU and I really wanted to understand in particular why these patient’s hearts and lungs were failing and my physical therapy education didn’t adequately prepare me for that. Also, part of it was that I really wanted to better myself and understand the medicine and science behind cardiac and pulmonary pathology, since much of medical treatment is based off of that physiology.

How has your PhD contributed to your career as a physical therapist?

My degree is in physiology with an emphasis in pulmonary physiology. When I was getting my PhD, I would have full semester courses on the physiology of all major systems, and that really helped me understand all of the organ systems of the body. In clinic, you see patients with comorbidities, and if you have a deeper understanding of normal physiology it will help you understand pathology and medical management to a greater extent.

What made you want to get your Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Clinical Specialization?

I was the lead therapist for the cardiothoracic team at HUP and gained so much clinical and medical research knowledge. After about 5 years of working at the hospital I was introduced to a physical therapist who was a cardiopulmonary specialist and put that bug in my ear.  I didn’t know much about specialization at the time. Specialization was still developing in 1998, and there still aren’t too many CCS certified therapists now. I wanted to affirm what I already knew about cardiopulmonary practice and the preparation for the exam was really helpful in my job because it helped me dive deeper into areas I wasn’t as familiar with. Afterwards, once I had my CCS I started getting opportunities to teach courses and assist with labs at regional PT programs, as well as step into a mentor position at my job.  The CCS also facilitated a promotion up the clinical ladder at HUP.

Since you had such an established career and loved Philadelphia so much, what brought you to Colorado?

Even before I finished my PhD, I was looking for faculty positions where I could teach Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation. My wife and I decided we liked certain parts of the country, Colorado included. I had never been to Colorado, but thought it would be a cool place to live. The job opening at the University of Colorado was for someone with a Cardiopulmonary background to be in charge of the medical conditions track courses, as well as participate in an ICU rehabilitation study.  So coming here married my clinical and research interests with what I wanted to teach – a perfect fit.

Where do you see PT going in the future?

Hopefully, upward and upward. I certainly hope that physical therapists are in the conversation of who is necessary for patient care. When we think of what a big push there is to keep people out of the hospital and prevent readmissions, and we know functional status is a huge part of that, who else is better than physical therapists? I think we have the background and knowledge base to put together the pieces to improve and optimize patient outcomes. I think we’ve started that conversation, but I don’t know if we are a regular part of it yet.

The advocacy piece is really huge. Legislators and payors don’t always think of physical therapists. We need to be a part of the first line of healthcare. Educating our patients on what we do will help them be our greatest public relations resource, and then we have to go up to our physician and nursing colleagues, and to local and federal legislators to really advocate for our profession.

Interview done by: Courtney Zwetsch and Victoria Borbas

Student Interview

New Manual Therapy Student Interest Group for CU PT Students: An Interview with Group President Paige Williams

CU AAOMPT sSIG President Paige Williams

What is AAOMPT sSIG Local (ASL)?

AAOMPT stands for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists, and sSIG stands for student special interest group. AAOMPT is a national professional organization committed to excellence in orthopaedic manual physical therapy practice, education and research. The purpose of the AAOMPT-sSIG is to serve its members by fostering active student involvement and networking within AAOMPT and developing a community of students committed to the advancement of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy, ultimately developing future leaders not only in the field of orthopaedic manual physical therapy, but the physical therapy profession as a whole.

AAOMPT sSIG Local groups are groups or clubs formed at local universities where students meet to practice manual therapy skills, engage in journal club discussions, network with mentors or fellows in the area and develop their orthopaedic skills. There are currently only 7 AAOMPT sSIG Local groups nationally and University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus is now one of them!

Why did you decide to start this AAOMPT sSIG?

I attended the AAOMPT conference in St. Louis, Missouri in October and went to a sSIG meeting where we practiced manual skills and met the national student leadership team.  I met with the current Member at Large of the sSIG and learned about the vision for AAOMPT sSIG Local Groups. I knew students at CU were passionate about manual therapy and orthopaedic practice, so I figured it would be a great fit. We are lucky to have 3 fellows (FAAOMPT) on faculty here at CU (Paul Mintken, Amy McDevitt and Mike Bade) that are available and willing to mentor students.

What is the goal of this group/what is your vision for the group?

My vision for this club is to create a space for physical therapy students at the University of Colorado to delve deeper into manual therapy skills and higher level orthopaedic clinical practice, as well as engage in discussion and mentorship with fellows. We plan to invite fellows from the area to our campus to mentor and teach the group new skills, clinical pearls, and expose the group to specialty areas of practice. This group will meet once a month to practice manual therapy skills or discuss journal articles. Once a semester the group will meet with invited fellows to learn specialty skills or listen to presentations.

What’s happening now?

We just had our first meeting last week, where we introduced the new leadership team; Laura Jorgensen (2nd year), Drew Courtney (1st year), Jared Knappe (1st year) and myself. To kick off the meeting, we listened to award winning presentations from the AAOMPT and IFOMPT meetings by Paul Mintken and Amy McDevitt. We then split up and first years practiced MMT and length testing on second year students, and second year students practiced screening and cervical, thoracic and lumbar manipulations on first year students.

Our next event will be a journal club held January, where a student member of the club will choose an article for discussion…. STAY TUNED!

Student Post

Working While In Physical Therapy School

Michelle Stauffer, SPT Class of 2017
Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Undergraduate: Northern Arizona University
Degree: Exercise Science. Minor: Chemistry and Health Wellness Coaching

I work as a waitress roughly 25 hours a week (3-4 shifts) outside of being a full-time PT student. Seem crazy? I agree. Do many recommend doing this? No, definitely not; however it works well for me.


Since I was 15 I have always worked one if not two jobs while going to school. I got my job immediately after moving to Colorado (and a kitten, hello overload), prior to the start of my first semester of school. I decided to get a job to maintain a consistent schedule in order to stay on task. Without a job I would have weekends free making it easier for me to be unproductive with school work. For the first few semesters I started out with fewer hours (ranging from 10-15), but as I gained a better understanding of time management I slowly increased my hours.


I love having a job that enables me to get away from the stress PT school creates. At work I worry about catering to my customers rather than remembering hand placement for an inferior shoulder mobilization. Plus, as a waitress I can interact with my community and feel more connected (the friends I have made through serving I wouldn’t trade for the world). My job gives me an added purpose to be here in Denver. I also meet great people outside of school who can inform me about all Denver has to offer (sweet hole-in-the-wall restaurants, where to go hiking, CONNECTIONS, etc.). In addition, waitressing provides a passive income for me that is interest free! It is a personal goal of mine to borrow the least amount of student loans while in school and one way I do this is by working. As I mentioned earlier I got a kitten upon my arrival in this great city and she has not been cheap. Unexpected vet bills can be paid for through work rather than adjusting how I budget dispersed student loan money.

Recommend it?

If you never worked a job unrelated to your field of study while attending school I would not recommend getting a job that doesn’t pertain to PT. Many of my classmates work as caregivers working less than 10hrs a week and they really enjoy it. Personally, I would recommend completing your first semester (maybe even 2nd semester) before getting a job so you can create a foundation for your life during graduate school. When you feel ready to start working start slow with minimal hours and see how you do as you can always increase from there.

If you want to ask me more questions about having a job during physical therapy school I am more than willing to talk with you. You can contact me via email:

Faculty Interview

Paul Mintken



Paul Mintken, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT is a core faculty member at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He teaches musculoskeletal conditions along with advanced joint manipulation. In addition to teaching, Paul works as a clinician at Wardenburg Physical Therapy at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Where are you from?

I was born in Lincoln Nebraska, but we moved to Boulder when I was 9 months old.  I consider myself a native.

Where did you go to Undergrad?

I went to the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and got my degree in exercise physiology and athletic training.

What are your hobbies?

I love to play guitar, ride dirt bikes with my boys, play softball and hike.  When I was younger I was an adrenaline junky and my body has paid the price.  Playing football, rugby, basketball and riding motocross and endurance races left me a wounded warrior.  I have had 3 knee surgeries and a hip resurfacing, more separated shoulders than I can count, a vertebral compression fracture and 3 herniated discs in my low back.  I have a wonderful wife (Stacie) and 3 amazing kids (Frankie and fraternal twins Jacob and Josie), so my hobbies now revolve around helping them grow up.  I am an assistant scoutmaster for the Boy Scout Troop that Frankie and Jacob participate in, so we do a lot of camping.  In 2015 I spent 26 nights in a tent!

Favorite place to eat in Denver area?

We like this small restaurant close to where we live in Wheat Ridge called Tellers.

Do you have a favorite quote, and if so what?

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

If you had to recommend one book to read what would it be?

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

What made you interested in PT?

I played football for 9 years and rugby for 6 years, so I had a lot of injuries and had a lot of PT.  I initially thought I wanted to go to medical school, but after shadowing 3 physicians and 3 PTs I asked them all if you could start all over again from the beginning, would you still pursue the same career?  All the PTs said yes and all the physicians said no.  I applied to both PT school and medical school, got into both, and had to make a decision. My advisor in undergraduate was a retired family practice physician who worked 100+ hours early in his career.  His wife left him and it took him 2 weeks to figure out she was gone! In addition, I liked the aspect of being able to go home without a pager and be with my family.

If you had to do it all over again would you choose PT?

Absolutely. I love my job and have no regrets.

What was your first PT job out of school?

My first job out of PT school was with a contract PT company that would send me for short-term stints to cover for PTs that were taking time off. This varied from 1 day for sick coverage to 3 months for maternity leave.  I don’t recommend it as I got all the new evals, had no mentorship, and the workload was tremendous.  When an opportunity opened at Wardenburg, where I am at now and where I did a clinical rotation as a student, I jumped at the opportunity, and it has been an amazing experience.

Did you ever have an interest in starting your own practice?

I actually did start a small private practice where I worked out of a friend’s clinic 5-10 hours a week making custom orthotics.  I had that company from 1997 until 2004 when I became faculty here.  I found out very quickly that I was not a very good businessman, and I ended up doing a lot of pro-bono work and didn’t make a lot of money. I was almost relieved when I became a faculty member here and they made me sign a non-compete clause and had to close the practice for good.

What is some advice you would give to new graduates in finding a job?

The biggest advice I would give is to not jump at the first job offer.  You really have to make sure that the position fits you and your personality.  Take time to look into the clinic and talk to the therapists that work there. Having spent time in a lot of clinics in my first job, there are some places that your gut tells you to run away from, and some that feel like home. Listen to your gut.  It is rarely wrong.

What do you recommend doing in your first year of work post-graduation (continuing education, etc)

I really recommend to new grads to review your schedule for the next day (if possible) and plan out your examination for your new patients.  Highlight the things you NEED to know, those that are nice to know, and those things that can wait until subsequent visits.  Having standardized forms for each body part or diagnosis can help.  For example, if you are seeing a patient with hip pain, you need to do a lower quarter screen (LQS), clear the lumbar spine, and prove to yourself that the symptoms are originating from the hip rather than somewhere else.

In addition, I am a big fan of residencies. It is a way to really accelerate your knowledge and career. Many residents that I see when they get done with the one year look as though they have been out of school practicing for 3-5 years. My favorite type of residencies are the brick and mortar type with an actual building where you go to both treat patients and receive mentorship. The other tract is more online, where the majority of coursework is done. For online residencies you have to pay for tuition, but you are making a full salary; whereas in the brick in mortar type residencies your tuition is paid for, but you are not making a full salary. Both types have good outcomes and are worth looking into.

Where do you see PT going in the future?

I really envision PT becoming the primary care providers for neuromusculoskeletal conditions.  It seems to me such a colossal waste of time and money to have a patient with low back pain or an ankle sprain see a primary care physician first.  They don’t know how to examine these patients, and they don’t know how to treat them.  PTs have the knowledge and skill to screen, examine, and treat these patients most effectively.  I also see that PT can play a role in being specialists in the movement system.  Just like you see your physician, your dentist or your eye doctor on an annual basis, an annual visit to a PT could prevent many debilitating conditions as we age.

Interview done by: Rachel Troup and David Treichler