Third Year Student Journal: Thomas Hammett, SPT

Entry #1

This week marked a significant milestone for me as a DPT student. I officially wrapped up the classroom-based portion of Duke’s curriculum and will be headed out to clinical internships in 3 short weeks. As I look forward to clinical rotations, I cannot help but look back first and reflect on my first two (incredible!) years as a DPT student at Duke.

The first year was filled with excitement, new beginnings, and growth. I left my home in Seattle and moved across the country to Durham, where I knew no one and had only visited for 24 short hours. Upon arriving to school, my classmates and I were immediately put into teams and tested with the core classes of anatomy, neuroscience, physiology, and introductions to PT examinations and interventions. Together we learned twenty different acronyms for the brachial plexus, the best places in Durham to get breakfast (my favorite is still Monuts), and that physical therapy school is way better when you have season tickets to watch the NCAA champs play in Cameron Indoor Stadium. We completed our first four weeks of clinical ‘STEPs’ and got out all those nervous jitters that accompany the first patient interview. Throughout this year I felt continuously surprised by the diversity and strengths of my fellow classmates. My team-based learning (TBL) team became more than just a group of peer learners, often filling the role of my proxy family away from home. Then all the sudden first year was over just as quickly as it had started.

The second year began a rapid transition away from classroom-based group work and towards practical application of skills for PT practice. Accompanying these orthopaedic based practical exams and pediatric interventions classes was a chance for me to dig deeper into my interests. I worked with a team to start a new student interest group about education in the field of physical therapy, volunteered at a week-long stroke camp in Jamaica, and further pursued my interests in global health by attending the Global Health Summer Institute with some of my classmates and faculty in Bergen, Norway. My class was given time off to attend the Combined Sections Meeting in Anaheim, CA, where I was given the chance to present research I had completed with one of our faculty members, Dr. Chad Cook. I spent more time volunteering and less time studying, giving me the chance to learn more and more about the career that I had chosen to pursue. At times I felt totally engulfed with positive opportunities and still couldn’t believe what Duke had to offer. As second year wraps up, it still takes me a while to digest all the opportunities I have taken and passed, and how lucky I have been to be in a place with so much at my fingertips.

Today I am writing this journal as a student that is about to transition from the classroom to the clinic for the next nine months. It’s an overwhelming feeling, as I have built a home here in Durham that will be difficult to leave, but I feel SO READY to go out and conquer the clinic so I can get started with my career. The next three weeks will pass in a flash, then off to my first outpatient rotation!