News and Stories 2011

Nearly $17,000 in Alumni Scholarships Awarded

For 2010, the Health Professions Alumni Association announced it awarded 12 scholarships to entering students, and renewed scholarships to 13 returning students in the College of Health Professions. A total of $16,900 was given out to assist students as a result of alumni gifts! Did you know: a total of 295 scholarships have been given out over the past 16 years; and, 19 percent of CHP graduates have received a scholarship from the alumni association since it began awarding scholarships?

Congratulations go out to these deserving 2010 recipients!

Entering Students
Cardiovascular Perfusion: Tyler Kelting,’12, Robert Thompson, ’12
Clinical Laboratory Science: Brittany Thomas, ’12, Nadia Mbarki, ‘12
Medical Imaging Science: Ronald Flesher, ’12, Katie Jo Rospendowski,’12
Physical Therapy:  Jennifer Cady, DPT ’13, Christine Elliot, DPT ’13
Radiation Therapy: Jenny Rappleye, ’12, Derek Kurtz, ’12
Respiratory Therapy: Ann Schoff, ’12, Nazneen Akther,’12

Returning Students
Cardiovascular Perfusion: Trevor Smith, ’11, Nicole Tomasello, ’11
Clinical Laboratory Science: James Bowen, ’11, Megham Stewart, ’11
Medical Imaging: Christopher Wallon, ’11, Samantha Scott, ’11
Physical Therapy: Jael Schlafer, ’12, Brittany Burr, ’12, Brittany Hatch, ‘11
Radiation Therapy: Brandi Storer, ’11, Renay Kelley, ’11
Respiratory Therapy: Nikolay Smirnov, ’11, Kuffour Augustine,’11

Dr. Pamela Gramet Scholarship Endowment Launched

Faculty, including Dr. Pamela Gramet (center in red), students
and alumni who gathered to connect and launch the Gramet Scholarship Endowment
while attending the APTA’s Combined Sections Meeting recently held in New Orleans.

Career of Caring and Compassion --
Pamela Gramet, PT, PhD, has devoted her notable academic career at Upstate to promoting and developing those values among her students. Recently retired from a 33-year teaching tenure in physical therapy, Gramet has provided leadership, teaching, mentoring and involvement in clinical education to hundreds of graduates. 

In honor of Dr. Gramet, the Department of Physical Therapy Education and its alumni initiated an endowed scholarship fund in her name at the recent American Physical Therapy Association’s Combined Sections Meeting held in New Orleans. PT faculty who attended along with students were joined by a number of alumni there for a reunion gathering, an ideal opportunity to launch the endowment.

“We are so excited to launch the fundraising campaign for the Dr. Pamela Gramet, PT, PhD Endowed Scholarship,” said Susan Miller, program chair. “Dr. Gramet has the longest tenure of any faculty member in our department and the number of lives she has touched throughout her career is amazing! I can think of no better way to honor her than to establish this scholarship that will continue to recognize the values and characteristics she spent her career successfully cultivating in students.”

“Our students are the future of the physical therapy profession,” commented Gramet, “and I am honored and thrilled with this opportunity to help be a part of raising funds to support their education at Upstate Medical University.”

Funds will be raised to support a scholarship that will acknowledge students who exemplify the qualities of a caring physical therapist to the highest degree in both the clinical and classroom settings. The Health Professions Alumni Association is pleased to sponsor this first named PT scholarship fund. The initial goal is to raise $10,000 to create an endowment that will support an annual student award for a third-year student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

Alumni and friends, help us reach our goal to create this meaningful PT student award!

Checks may be sent payable to Endowment Growth Fund #15050 (writing “Pamela Gramet” in memo line), Upstate Health Professions Alumni Association, 750 Adams Street, CAB 326, Syracuse, NY 13210; or give through our secure website:

$3 Million Awarded to PA Program

The College of Health Professions has taken a lead role in helping to alleviate the expected void in physicians statewide over the next two decades with its Physician Assistant program. The college’s PA master’s degree program was recently awarded $3.1 million from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Believed to be the largest ever received by the college, Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, said: “The grant awards reflect our college’s support of Upstate’s regional mission to address healthcare needs.”

Sandra Banas, MST, RPA-C, a medical technology alumna (‘77) and founding director of the Department of PA Studies, said Upstate will use a $2.1 million grant to cover student tuition, fees and stipends over the next five years for 50 students. “This support will ensure a ready supply of well-trained physician assistants who can serve small rural communities at a time when access to healthcare is becoming more problematic. We want to eliminate any hurdles for students who want to pursue this in-demand healthcare career.” 

An $829,000 PA training grant will be used to expand the program’s clinical affiliate training sites for students, adding up to 40 more sites over five years in underserved communities. Another $236,000 grant will purchase simulation equipment—life-sized adult and infant manikins to facilitate training of acute patient care, invasive procedures such as IVs, and birthing procedures.
Upstate began its two-year, PA master’s program in 2009. It is the only SUNY-affiliated PA program outside of the New York City area.

Hugh Bonner, PhD Recognized for Leadership

Hugh Bonner, PhD, professor and dean of the College of Health Professions since 1995, received the Darrell Mase Presidential Award – the highest award for leadership in allied health education from the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professionals (ASAHP). A fellow of ASAHP, Bonner accepted the award at its annual conference in last fall held in Charlotte, NC.

PT Students Earn National Fundraising Award

Kudos go to PT students who won a national fundraising honor for the 2010 Annual Marquette Challenge in support of the Foundation for Physical Therapy. At the annual American Physical Therapy Association’s convention in Boston, Upstate participants won Third Place, raising $18,273. They competed with over 60 PT schools across the country. 

New RESP Simulation Technology Benefits Clinical Training

Upstate distance learning students in Watertown train in realistic
simulations for cardiopulmonary assessment and
management with the newly acquired Laerdale
SimMan® 3G system, housed at Samaritan Medical Center.
Photo courtesy of Laerdal Medical

Students in the Respiratory Therapy Education’s distance learning (DL) program in northern New York are benefiting from a significant acquisition for advanced clinical simulations. Through a US Department of Labor grant obtained by Jefferson Community College, a Laerdal SimMan® 3G was purchased for approximately $100,000 (including simulation software) and is being employed at Upstate’s clinical affiliate site, the Samaritan Medical Center (SMC) in Watertown.

BS degree students in respiratory care (BSRC) in Watertown began classes in Fall 2010, and are undertaking clinical experiences at the new $66 million Samaritan hospital. The simulator laboratory is located in a former operating room in the soon-to-be renovated SMC surgery center, according to department chair, Joseph Sorbello (RESP ‘75/’77). 

“We in our department and all those at JCC connected to our distance learning initiative are very happy, both with the purchase of this special piece of equipment and where it will be housed,” said Sorbello.

The SimMan is a portable and advanced patient simulator for team training, he explained. “It has realistic anatomy and clinical functionality, providing simulation-based education to challenge and test students’ clinical and decision-making skills using computerized patient care scenarios. The technologically interactive manikin allows learners to practice emergency and critical care treatment of patients, particularly in Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support.”

All department faculty are being trained on its use, according to Sorbello, “and they will be using the simulator as an integral part of the curriculum.” He noted that not only RT students, but other nursing students and medical providers/staff will be able to train and practice on the new simulator.

Upstate’s classes are presented in the newly-built distance learning classroom in the Higher Education Center at JCC. “Classroom instruction is accomplished through interactive video conferencing using the web. Some online courses are asynchronous, so the student completes the coursework independently,” Sorbello said. “Students will come to the Upstate campus for a few classes and clinical rotations, depending on course requirements. Neonatal and pediatric critical care clinical rotations, for instance, must be in Syracuse or in Rochester, since North Country hospitals do not offer those experiences.”

“The SMC clinical rotations and lab training for these students are taught by one of our 2005 alums, adjunct instructor, Lindsay (Lawrence) Bickel, RRT, who is a staff respiratory therapist there,” noted Sorbello. “We are very fortunate to have her on the faculty. She is a true asset to our students and entire department (see Bickel profile).”

“We continue to be grateful to the teamwork and cooperation of key faculty and administrators at both JCC and SMC,” Sorbello said. “They are true visionaries and dedicated to improving the health and welfare of the communities they serve.”

RESP Alum Enthusiastic Clinical Instructor

Alumna Lindsay Bickel (4th from left) with her class of
2012 Respiratory Care students in Samaritan’s clinical laboratory.

“I love it!,” registered respiratory therapist, Lindsay Bickel (RESP ’05), says of becoming a  clinical educator for Upstate’s distance learning program in Watertown. A mother of two toddlers and a full-time therapist at Samaritan Medical Center, Bickel takes on new opportunities with enthusiasm.

“It’s wonderful that I can add teaching to my career by sharing my knowledge and helping students to apply it. Upstate gave me a great education and now has offered me this exciting opportunity to teach on-the-job.”

After she earned a nursing degree, Bickel chose to attend the College of Health Professions to work specifically in respiratory patient care. Part of her SMC duties includes performing all the outpatient pulmonary function testing. 

She teaches students on their clinical day each week at the hospital, instructing a four-hour clinical laboratory and shadowing them with patients on different units. “I supervise them as we give treatments to patients together, while reviewing procedures and answering their questions.” “The new ‘SimMan’ equipment for training is absolutely amazing,” Bickel said. “It allows students to apply what they have studied to real life situations on a fully programmed mannequin, instead of a non-functioning one. They are given simulations that are computer-driven to see responses in different situations. Each simulation is simultaneously being recorded and the teacher can stop it at any time to explain something or to review how they did.” 

Prominence in Perfusion


College faculty and students continue to be busy contributing to conferences and, as usual, excelling at what they do. The Cardiovascular Perfusion (CP) program is no exception with its leader, Bruce Searles, CCP (‘93), associate professor/chair, honored with the 2011 American Society for Extracorporeal Technology (AmSECT) Award for Excellence, presented at its conference in New Orleans. Searles, an international authority in the field, was presented a plaque and monetary award for his career excellence, exemplifying creativity and intellectual honesty. Searles was also an invited speaker to the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiology’s Annual Update on Cardiopulmonary Bypass in March. He spoke on “Safety in Perfusion” at the American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion’s (AACP) annual seminar in February, along with Ed Darling, associate professor/clinical coordinator and AACP President, who delivered the Thomas Wharton Memorial Lecture. Class of 2011 student Ashleigh Trew, received the Lawrence Award there for best student presentation for “Perfusionist Fatigue and Performance behind the Pump.” Other 2011 students presenting were Nicole Tomasello, Trevor Smith and Robert Brown. Trew and Smith were also published in the Spring AACP newsletter. CP alumni who presented at AACP were: Richard Gunther, Jr. (’03); Joshua Walker (’07); Craig McRobb (’99) and Karen Jones (’02).

Alumni Profile

PT's Boyland Retires, Continues to Serve Community

Alumnus Dave Boyland, PT (’90), DPT, assistant professor emeritus, retired this January, having been a dedicated, motivational teacher since 1995. His legacy includes increasing knowledge in exercise prescription and functional movement assessment and awareness of the patient as a whole person.  A board certified sports PT specialist, Boyland has been in private practice as a licensed athletic trainer/physical therapist with Goldwyn and Boyland Physical Therapy, PC, in Cortland since 1992.  He also is an athletic trainer for the Homer Central and Cortland Enlarged School Districts and was Director of Athletic Training and Rehabilitation for the USA Women’s Handball Team in 2006-2007. He was a member of the athlete’s medical staff for the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, and has volunteered as a trainer for the Empire State Games. In addition to his BSPT degree from Upstate, Boyland obtained an MS degree from Eastern Illinois University and the PT doctorate from University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.

“It’s hard to imagine the department without him,” said chair Sue Miller. “Dr. Boyland brought his outstanding clinical expertise and, of course, ‘Davisms’ to the program. Having team taught for a number of years with him, I know personally of his ability to teach and inspire.  We will miss his positive outlook on life and daily reminder of what is important. Our loss is his patients’ gain as he ‘retires’ to his clinic and other activities.”

“I am enjoying being able to focus more specifically on treating patients and managing my private practice,” said Boyland. “Our practice has diversified to include wellness programs, and injury prevention services to high school athletes. We also will be able to expand our clinical affiliation with Upstate. This spring, I taught the Interventions III course and will continue to teach Contemporary Issues in Sports Physical Therapy in the fall. However, I will miss the ongoing contact with students and faculty in a very dynamic and always growing PT education program









News and Stories 2010

Largest Class Graduates at Commencement

The 2010 graduating class is the largest ever for Upstate since joining the SUNY system in 1950. The College of Health Professions awarded 154 degrees in Cardiovascular Perfusion (BS); Medical Biotechnology (BS) and Medical Technology (BS/MS); Medical Imaging Sciences (BS/BPS - radiography, CT, MRI and ultrasound); Physical Therapy (DPT/T-DPT), Radiation Therapy (BS/BPS) and Respiratory Therapy (BS). At Commencement, T-DPT graduate, Joel Grimshaw, receives congratulations from Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD, and Program Director Dale Avers, DPT, PhD, PT (left).

CLS Medical Scholar Graduates

Four graduates among the Class of 2010 received the MS Medical Scholarship in Clinical Laboratory Sciences (CLS). The scholarship, for economically disadvantaged and underrepresented minorities funded by state grants, gives recipients who successfully complete the program acceptance into medical school at Upstate. CLS scholars obtain the MS degree in CLS with a concentration in microbiology – and are eligible for national certification, according to Susan Graham, CLS program chair. “These MS medical scholars have the choice of pursuing medical school, or joining their current profession to help meet the demand nationally for medical technologists.” The 2010 medical scholars are seen here with Josephine Przepiora (center), director of the Medical Scholars Program and MT Class of 2000 alumna. Going on to medical school are: (l-r:) Marsha Peart, Bronx, NY; Soyika Richardson, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; Beth-Ann Ollivierre, Fort Bend, TX; and Nicole Sanders, Los Angeles, CA. Congratulations!

Healthcare Education Expands in Northern NY

A new partner institution with Jefferson Community College (JCC), SUNY Upstate Medical University is offering educational programs to benefit the North Country region’s workforce and economic development. Formalizing a partnership with JCC’s Higher Education Center this January, Upstate provides increased access to bachelor’s, master’s and professional certifications for area residents.

Initially, Upstate is offering four programs on the JCC campus in Watertown, two of which include the College of Health Professions’ bachelor of science degree in respiratory therapy and a bachelor of science degree in medical technology. Student recruitment has begun for both the respiratory therapy and medical technology programs with planned starting dates in Fall 2010 and 2011. Prerequisite coursework is available at JCC for those without sufficient transfer credit. Both bachelor’s degree programs are full-time study with degree completion in two years.

For years, Upstate has had a productive relationship with JCC, “with Jefferson students among our very best recruits,” commented Upstate President, David R. Smith, MD. “This agreement allows us to expand that relationship in ways that help the region and support the healthcare needs of the next generation.” 

The College of Health Professions also is working closely with Fort Drum’s Regional Health Planning Organization to arrange clinical rotations for a number of its programs in the 50-mile radius around Fort Drum, noted College Dean Hugh Bonner, PhD. “They would provide housing payments and mileage reimbursements for students doing clinical rotations in the area. There may also be job opportunities for our alumni from that area to be able to return and work in that region.”

An example of clinical outreach is the Radiation Therapy program, which began this year a “Closer to Home” clinical option that includes the North Country. “It allows students the option to return to their home areas for clinicals and helps meet the need for radiation therapists in those regions,” said program chair, Joan O’Brien. The program option modifies the sequencing of courses, and offers students six regions for their full-time clinical requirements: Central New York, Rochester/Finger Lakes, Buffalo, Southern Tier, Capital District/Hudson Valley and the North Country.

Scholarship Celebrates Robert Councilman - Respiratory Leader-Clinician

Robert J. Councilman (AAS/RT ’85), an outstanding clinician, alumnus and friend, is memorialized in a new scholarship endowment for students in the College of Health Profession’s Respiratory Therapy program.

“Bob was my lifelong friend – I also referred to him as my surrogate big brother. He was an example to students of what it means to be an outstanding respiratory therapist and patient advocate,” commented his best friend and SUNY Upstate roommate, Ed Coombs (AAS/RT ’86). 

“Bob died unexpectedly of a sudden heart attack in May 2009 at the young age of 46, despite the fact he led an active and healthy life,” Coombs said.

Councilman, originally from Johnson City, NY, was co-owner and clinical operations manager of Oxypros, a homecare company in Stuart, FL. This had followed many years of serving patients as a respiratory therapist and then director of a hospital respiratory care department. Bob not only was a leader in the respiratory care field, but was known for his compassionate nature, according to Coombs. “One example was he personally looked in on my grandparents, who had each fallen ill while in Florida. During visits at my grandmother’s home to check her oxygen, he spent many hours reassuring her, and putting her mind at ease.”

With a generous donation, Coombs initiated the Councilman Scholarship Endowment in homage to his friend and fellow classmate: “This tribute will ensure Bob is forever remembered as a most caring professional and wonderful humanitarian,” he commented.

“Our family is so honored, and Bob would be so pleased about this scholarship,” commented his sister, Sandy Hancock, an X-ray technician from Marcellus. “He loved his work and was really missed by his patients – many of whom sent cards telling us how special his care was to them. His was a great loss to our family and friends.”

With further help from alumni and friends, the Department of Respiratory Therapy plans to award an annual Councilman scholarship.  Please consider a generous gift!

Please make checks payable to: Robert J. Councilman Endowment Scholarship
Mail to
 Upstate Medical University Foundation
750 East Adams Street, 326 CAB  
Syracuse, NY 13210

Three Generations of Sanborns
Serve Medical Imaging 

Not only do identical twins, Kevin and Ryan Sanborn, 24, share a close personal bond, but now they share a professional one as well – and it extends across three generations. With their grandfather, John (Jack) Sanborn, MD, 80, a radiologist (semi-retired), and their father, John, a senior medical imaging technologist (board certified in nuclear medicine), the young men continue a family tradition of service in healthcare -- all having graduated from Upstate.

The brothers graduated this May as medical imaging professionals having taken dual tracks in X-ray and CT. While one is considered outgoing and the other introverted, they both share a hard work ethic, consistently making dean’s list, and Kevin graduated with magna cum laude honors.

They have always been each other’s greatest support system from playing high school football, both as running backs, to studying together. “We are best friends and are always there for each other,” noted Ryan.

Having dad there to help them practice for imaging science exams was a real bonus, they said. “Both our father and grandfather would help us out if we had questions on case studies,” Kevin said.

How do the brothers feel about graduating from the family’s alma mater? “I feel great about it. It’s nice to know we will be working alongside in the same field. I can’t wait to get out there and get started,” said Kevin. “All the faculty and clinical instructors were always there to give us a hand. They prepared us well, and I can’t say enough about them and the great influence they’ve had on us.”

“Upstate was a great choice,” Ryan agrees. “We fell in love with the profession and I’m excited to go out and gain experience. We were provided all we needed to know to perform in the clinical setting. We couldn’t have asked for better teachers – they are passionate about their profession and will be there for us even after graduation.”

“I’m proud of them,” their father said. “They know I’ve enjoyed my work immensely and it’s an excellent field to be in.”


Searles on Simulation:
Upstate Leads Internationally in Perfusion Simulation Training

Perfusion educators from 12 European countries gathered in Berlin, Germany last December to hear Upstate’s own Bruce Searles on how to integrate operating room (OR) simulation training into the perfusion curriculum – a new and growing trend. A 1993 alumnus and chair of the Cardiovascular Perfusion Department in the College of Health Professions, Searles implemented this nation’s first high-fidelity Orpheus Perfusion Simulator Laboratory last summer in Silverman Hall, and is a foremost expert on its advantages for student practice.

The Orpheus lab functions as a complete patient substitute for the training of perfusionists in the use of the heart-lung machines and other related equipment that are essential to conduct cardiopulmonary bypass procedures, such as open heart surgery. “Using this simulator is so realistic that our students are not simulating bypass, they are doing bypass on a simulated patient,” noted Searles.

To the invitation-only delegation at the Berlin Heart Institute, Searles advocated for the “high value of simulation training in perfusion education because it holds several advantages over solely offering operating room experiences to students. First, it’s a better way of teaching,” said Searles. “This simulation training is first and foremost student-focused, whereas, the OR is centered and directed, as it should be, on the patient. All standards of care must be met and no mistakes made in the operating room, so the student cannot learn from their mistakes, because the clinical instructor can’t allow mistakes to be made.”

Because the simulation experience is controlled by the instructors, it also can be tied directly to the current lecture topic, added Searles. “If the lecture is about coronary artery bypass grafting that week, the student may not see that procedure performed in the OR for weeks, but with the simulator, we can provide that experience simultaneously - synchronizing the didactic with the clinical. We are letting the experience be the backbone for the curriculum.”

“Another advantage is that our highly trained instructors can create a set of standardized, objective criteria for what is acceptable and unacceptable performance in the simulator for teaching and student evaluations.” It is assured that the student will be assessed without rater bias, he explained, using a set of some 80 risk-valued criteria that were developed for use in the simulator lab. 

A final advantage to the perfusion simulator experience is that, “it provides exposure to low volume events frequently, so that the student gains direct experience with such rare situations as misplaced arterial cannula or oxygenator failure,” said Searles. “They may never see these events in an OR, but should always be prepared to deal with them, and we can provide these crisis management experiences in the simulator.”

In the perfusion simulation race, “Upstate Medical University is at the cutting edge internationally,” asserted Searles. “Of the 17 perfusion education programs in the US, only three have started using high-fidelity simulators, and throughout Europe, there are only 2 fully functional perfusion simulation facilities (at the time of the seminar).”

RRT Builds Rewarding Corporate Career

Ed Coombs (AAS/RT ’86) brought 17 years of clinical knowledge  to the corporate side of healthcare, currently as Regional Director of Marketing for North America at Draeger Medical (DMI) –Respiratory Care Division (DMI), an international medical products corporation. Coombs still fulfills his dream of helping patients -- now by promoting and developing state-of-the-art ventilation products and related services.

“I love the diversity of my responsibilities – if not clinical product development, it’s product training or customer outreach,” he commented. “Being well connected to the clinical aspects of technology has been beneficial in my understanding of both products and customer needs.”

His job spans product management and outreach for mechanical ventilation equipment used in transport, critical care and neonatal applications. Coombs develops clinical and product training programs, interacts with industry leaders and organizations, and travels both domestically and internationally to promote best practice among his colleagues. Since Coombs joined the company in 2007, DMI has received several industry recognitions within the respiratory care community.

“It’s been very rewarding. I have to give credit to the professional values I was taught and shown during my respiratory therapy education at Upstate – particularly the excellent faculty and clinical instructors who played such a big role in shaping my career success.”

Prior to DMI, Coombs worked at Maquet, Inc. for four years. He was a clinical instructor and Respiratory Care Department therapist/shift supervisor at SUNY Stony Brook from 1989 to 2003, where he obtained his Master of Arts degree and certificate in healthcare management. Earlier, he owned and managed a medical supply company for six years, and worked in hospital settings.

Coombs remains involved with the respiratory therapy profession through various editorial board appointments, including Neonatal Intensive Care magazine and Respiratory Therapy Journal of Pulmonary Technique. He is a neonatal resuscitation program instructor for the American Academy of Pediatrics/American Heart Association, and holds memberships in a number of professional organizations such as AARC and SCCM.


Kristin Kawzenuk – DPT ’11
Horseheads, NY
First Clinical an Eye Opener for DPT Students
Brooklyn Hospital Rich in Real World Practice

Raised in a small upstate community, Kristin Kawzenuk, a 2011 PT doctoral student, wanted exposure to a diverse mix of patients. So, for her first clinical, she selected a large inner city hospital.  She returned from the Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn after an eight week assignment that “opened my eyes to a diverse cultural and socio-economic population in an acute care setting.”

Kawzenuk worked primarily on the adult medical surgical floor, where patients were “very sick with multiple health complications.”

“It was very interesting and a bit intimidating at first,” she commented. “It’s not the typical setting one thinks of for a physical therapist. I wasn’t sure what to expect. No one patient was the same as another. My basic responsibility was to help individuals get out of bed, focusing on functional activities such as walking and improving balance. A big part of my responsibility was their discharge care – was it safe for the patient to go?”

“Lutheran had a wide variety of people from the inner city, a number of whom did not speak English,” she added. In addition to Spanish, she came across other languages such as Mandarin and Russian. “It was a challenge to communicate with and care for these patients.”

“I learned quickly that in an acute care setting it’s important to build relationships because patient care is a team approach involving nurses, doctors, surgeons and case managers. I had to learn to consult with all the medical team individuals to give each patient the best care and safety they needed.”

Kawzenak had to face the issue of discharging individuals who were homeless. “In these cases we worked very closely with the case managers to determine if these patients were safe and functionally capable to be placed in various shelters and assistance programs, or if they would have to return to the streets upon discharge. It was an aspect of care that was difficult at times and showed me a side of healthcare and of life that I would never have experienced had I not chosen this clinical site.”

“I also had a great supervising clinical instructor,” she said. “As I progressed, I was given more independence, and my instructor pushed me to figure things out on my own. I learned a lot about what it was like to be in actual practice.”

“I didn’t anticipate receiving so much from this first clinical experience that I could apply to my future PT practice.” With three more clinicals to go before graduation, Kawzenuk is considering different specialties in PT to pursue, including sports and pediatrics. “I can’t wait to experience as much as I can.”

Baron Tang, DPT ‘11
Elmhurst (Queens), NY
Also a first-year DPT student, Baron Tang was raised in Queens. He chose Brooklyn’s Lutheran Medical Center as a “close to home” clinical opportunity. He was placed in the sub-acute setting of Neuro-Orthopedic Rehabilitation (NOR).

“I think of myself as a fast-paced, outpatient person,” said Tang. “I was under the impression that sub-acute would be a little slow for my taste. After my first day, I knew I was in for an amazing experience. It only took a few hours for me to see how I would enjoy working with patients in this surprisingly fast-paced setting and working closely with doctors, occupational and speech therapists, social workers, neuropsychologists, and the rest of the team.”

Tang had to train patients to climb stairs, ambulate and transfer them to appropriate levels for their discharge. “I educated patients on proper body mechanics and how best to approach functional tasks while minimizing risk of injury, provided home exercise programs, ensured they had appropriate assistive devices and coordinated discharge planning.”

“This experience taught me how to most effectively and respectfully communicate with other health care professionals and how to charm uncharming patients,” noted Tang.  “Being a first-year student, I thought I would merely get my feet wet; instead, I was in the midst of the real world along with the social and neuropsychomotor complications that all the hypothetical situations couldn’t prepare us for. My clinical instructor made sure that by the time I left the clinic, I would be able to recognize when a patient presents abnormally and quickly make the appropriate change or consultation needed.”

“Working in a site where the real world seems to bite down harder than most, I have never felt more empowered, more needed or more honored to be in the healing arts. This has made a lasting impression that I will take with me for the rest of my days.”

In DPT class, Baron and Kristin practice measuring a patient’s knee flexion with a goniometer. 










© 2014 Foundation for Upstate Medical University