Written by Christina Vivit, Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy, DPT Class of 2019
Wholeheartedly, I would like to thank the APTA Section on Women’s Health for providing me with the 2018 Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) Student Scholarship; I am so grateful for being part of such a welcoming, supportive, and passionate tribe of individuals as part of the Section on Women’s Health. The extraordinary levels of energy, sharing of knowledge, and overall community that I have experienced the past few days is truly remarkable as this is my first time attending CSM. Furthermore, it is exciting to think that CSM had an attendance of over 17,000 individuals this year—amazing! I attended CSM alongside of around 30 DPT students and numerous faculty from Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy.
The Section on Women’s Health General Business Meeting was one of my favorite events of CSM. This event captured the section’s radiant passion, active care for its leadership and goals along with significant membership growth within the past year. Thank you all so much for your gracious welcome to the Section on Women’s Health General Business Meeting!
Something I particularly value about events that bring united, yet unique individuals together is exploring common buzzwords that we hear frequently within our profession. My top three buzzwords I enjoy exploring are underserved, vulnerability, and movement. Throughout my experiences in physical therapy school, I frequently find myself layering on more depth and substance to these words as I incorporate self-reflection into my routine. Although life may seem so routine due to the regularity of student or clinician responsibilities, I believe that the experience of routine may be accompanied by more profoundness than it may seem. Therefore, I loved obtaining others’ perspectives on these three words as I met new individuals throughout CSM. Going further, I challenge others to also consider buzzwords that may be found within our profession and explore further; you may be surprised at what you find or how others’ perspectives can challenge your own constantly evolving thoughts of certain buzzwords.
Tips for future students attending CSM
- Don’t be shy. Peers and colleagues at CSM are from all over the country as well as internationally, so it is neat to talk to others about their own experience where they attend school or practice due to differences in practice laws, demographics, and philosophies from place to place. Great opportunities for this can be before or after educational sessions, poster sessions, evening events, or even inviting a new friend to have lunch in between sessions.
- With regards to session planning, I mainly attended those that are within my personal, clinical, and research interests, however, it is good to include some sessions that may not entirely relate to your current interests to see what else is out there – hence, Combined Sections Meeting. There are PLENTY of sessions to attend, and I highly recommend going out of your current interests and exploring a couple other sessions that you can learn from; this is also a great way to build on topics discussed at school and taking it to the next step at CSM.
- As physical therapists, we know the importance of proper footwear; this is your time to practice that! You will be walking quite a bit throughout CSM so be sure to have comfortable footwear; even if it means wearing your cute dress with gym shoes, I promise your feet will thank you by the end of the conference!
- Volunteer for your section’s booth. This is an opportunity to share your passion and enthusiasm for your field of interest while also engaging with others who stop by the booth. I always love hearing about everyone else’s unique route as to how they came about loving our shared field of interest, so this is a fantastic chance to do that.
- Take it all in – every moment, interaction, learning experience, everything. You will be tired by the end of it, but it is totally worth all the learning, socializing, and walking.
Overall, CSM was an experience that I highly recommend to any student who is thinking about going. Prior to leaving for CSM, I admit I was physically and mentally exhausted from coursework, however, I am certain that this experience is highly energizing and motivating for any DPT or PTA student that is also experiencing exhaustion. I guarantee that you will take home so much new, fresh energy with the amount of community, evidence-based principles and practice, and strong enthusiasm housed within our profession and experienced at CSM.