Trine University DPT Program Newsletter
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Students Return to Fort Wayne Center for Health Sciences

As with all aspects of life the last few months, DPT education at Trine University has looked very different during the spring and summer terms. 

Students and faculty alike did an amazing job adapting to virtual learning. They were creative with the use of Zoom and other virtual platforms for everything we normally do in the classroom - lectures, labs, guest speakers, and even practical exams (thanks to all the roommates and family members who acted as patients during practicals) - as well as social connection with virtual workout groups, happy hour, book club, and just chatting. It was hard in some ways, easy in some ways (we all love our pajama pants and guest appearances by kids and pets), but this amazing team stayed on track. We have been so impressed with our students' adaptability, flexibility, and advocacy in speaking up for what they need as they learn in an environment that is new to all of us and constantly changing. 

When the pandemic was first declared this spring, our third-year DPT students were partway through their final full-time clinical experiences. Since some were local while others were spread out across the country, they were affected in different ways and on different timelines. Unfortunately, most clinical experiences were cut a little short as hospitals, clinics, and extended care facilities were creating and updating their response plans. We're so grateful to our Clinical Instructors who pivoted on a dime and rearranged schedules to accommodate additional students on different schedules - at least until their facilities closed to students, as well. But the Trine DPT students continued to do what they do best - learn and adapt in changing situations - and were all rated as "entry level" by their Clinical Instructors. Unfortunately, the Hooding and Commencement ceremonies were postponed, but the DPT Class of 2020 was able to celebrate together on Zoom with a commencement address, announcing names of each graduate, and time for fellowship and reminiscing. 

June 1, our first-year students returned to campus on a very limited schedule for labs. Lectures remained virtual, and classes were split to allow students and staff to maintain physical distancing while on campus. It has been wonderful to have students back in the building! While we miss their smiling faces (we can only see their eyes above the masks), we love seeing students working together to learn and hearing the laughter. Never again will we take for granted the energy and excitement students bring to this DPT program - even on those early, coffee-fueled mornings. First-year students are also engaged in CARE, where they are getting exposure to TeleHealth Physical Therapy. Thanks to our partners at Parkview Health for your willingness to try something new and allow our students to continue their engagement with patient care. 

At the end of June, our second-year students were back in the classroom to interact with technicians and patients using orthotics and prosthetics. We are so grateful for our colleagues and friends who are willing to share their experiences with our students to help them help their patients. The students also completed CPR re-certification. They will start their first full-time clinical rotation in July. 

We are in frequent communication with the Class of 2023, who will be arriving in Fort Wayne soon for classes starting in August. While masks, physical distancing, and virtual learning weren't on the radar when these students applied, they are ready to jump in and start learning. 

As Trine University evaluated how to best fulfill our commitment to provide an excellent education to our students while keeping the university community safe, the decision was made to condense the fall semester to reduce the risk of new exposure or transmissions as a result of travel. The semester will start a week earlier - August 17 - and we will work straight through until Thanksgiving. Then students will return home to finish the semester virtually. 

Our team of Trine DPT students, incoming students, and our newest alumni have done an incredible job staying focused through all the changes the last few months. While it would be easy to be frustrated, our students have shown us the characteristics that will make them great PTs - they are focused, engaged, adaptable, and maintaining a positive outlook. They are supporting and encouraging each other and showing understanding and grace to those around them. We are so proud of our Trine DPT students! 

CI Spotlight: Alyssa Keys

It’s hard to catch Alyssa Keys and get her to talk about herself – she keeps busy working as a Physical Therapist at Parkview’s Inpatient Rehab unit, mentoring Trine students as a CARE Instructor, hosting students for full-time clinical rotations, adding to her list of credentials with a Neurological Clinical Specialist designation, and serving as the APTA Northeast District President – not to mention family life with active little ones! And when the pandemic changed clinical availability for our CARE students, Alyssa didn’t hesitate to welcome more students to help provide additional access to patient care experiences.
Following a clinical rotation at Parkview Randallia when she was a student, Alyssa started her career there about 12 years ago. She typically puts her NDT certification to use in the Inpatient Rehab setting, but she has also worked in acute care and in the Continuing Care Center, which was an in-house skilled nursing facility, prior to its closure in 2019.

Alyssa’s dad is also a physical therapist, and she always thought his job sounded like so much fun. She said she knew at age 10 that she wanted to be a PT.
“I love seeing the passion and energy that the students have for the field of physical therapy, and their willingness to jump in on the first day," Alyssa said. "I often feel that their enthusiasm is infectious, and it is a great reminder to me about why I entered this profession.” It's telling that Alyssa and her students describe each other's enthusiasm as infectious. Nana Aikins said, "Alyssa was incredibly encouraging with me. I had a lot of self-doubt about the setting and entered it with a lot of resistance. I think the energy she brought was infectious and sparked an interest in the rehab setting." 
Alyssa has been mentoring Trine DPT students since 2016 and advises current DPT students to step outside their comfort zones. She says many students have arrived at their clinical feeling very worried about working in the inpatient rehab setting with neurological patients. But with time and experience, they grow to love it! “I have enjoyed 'converting' several students who were positive they were going to only work in an outpatient orthopedic setting,” Alyssa said with a grin. “It's so much fun to teach my students new strategies and then watch them implement these techniques to help our patients improve.”
Courtney McPheters isn’t necessarily a convert, since she was already thinking about a career in inpatient rehab. “Because of her passion and knowledge, Alyssa helped solidify my decision on a career path in inpatient rehabilitation. Alyssa is a great example of all seven core values instilled in physical therapists. Not only is she always advocating for her patients, she continuously demonstrates social responsibility and excellence through her work with students, the community, and her involvement in the APTA. I will never forget my experience working alongside Alyssa and am so blessed to have had such a great professional example come into my life - even for a short period of time!”
Alyssa has an interesting perspective since she supervises students through both part-time and full-time clinical experiences. “I truly love the CARE program, and I think that sets the Trine students apart from their counterparts in other programs,” she said. “They are so well-prepared when they enter their first full-time clinical rotation because of the experiences they have gained in CARE.” Alyssa's students are grateful for her mentoring. Chelsee Journay said, "It was an honor to learn from Alyssa during CARE! All of her patients light up when she enters the room. I enjoyed learning so much from her and only wish we had more time to work with her!"
Alyssa became the NE District President three years ago. “I have always valued my interactions with various APTA members and time spent at different APTA events,” she said. “I think it's a great way to represent the profession and network with other clinicians.” Alyssa has enjoyed watching the growth of our district over the past 12 years. “With the development of the Trine DPT program and the involvement the University of Saint Francis PTA program, plus the enthusiasm of so many skilled clinicians in the area, we have really increased our membership and participation in APTA events over the last few years. I attribute a lot of that to the growing passion of our students and clinicians for the field of physical therapy.”

St. Anne's Wellness Group

Students pair with assisted living residents for exercise, friendship

To apply what they're learning in the classroom during Lifespan - Geriatrics class in the spring, second-year DPT students created and facilitated an exercise and wellness group with the residents at St. Anne Home and Retirement Community.

During the first visit, students performed outcome measures that were appropriate for the geriatric age group and gained an understanding of the participants' abilities and limitations. Second-year DPT student Torrey Christopher said, "I loved performing the outcome measures with the residents. It was great practice on how to give the directions and to become familiar with common outcome measures used with the geriatric population." 

Each Wednesday, a group of three students created an hour-long fitness activity for participants. Each student was paired with a different resident each week to complete the activities. The residents enjoyed the variety of wellness activities, but some of the most engaging options were cornhole, exercise bingo, and putt putt golf. Students were allowed to come up with any activities they wanted and they were instructed to have modifications available if a resident was unable to complete the task as it was designed. Many groups provided stations so that residents could pick what activities interested them. "Going to Saint Anne’s was a benefit for all who were involved," Christopher said. "The residents got the benefit of physical activity, while students were able to learn more about exercise prescription."

While the learning objectives are important, perhaps the greatest benefit was the connections that were built. It was often hard to tell if the students or residents were enjoying their time together more, and staff said that residents looked forward to the Trine students visiting. While the program was unfortunately cut short due to the pandemic restrictions, students were grateful for the opportunity. "I think both the students and the residents benefited from the relationships formed over the semester and it’s too bad we weren’t able to say goodbye or retest them on the outcome measures to see how much progress was made," Christopher said. "I hope they continue to work with Trine University DPT students in the future so that more students and residents can benefit from this experience.”

Guest Speaker: Dr. Derek Paris,
Geriatric Psychologist 

In March, clinical geriatric psychologist Dr. Derek Paris shared how physical therapists may better motivate, communicate with, and promote mobility in patients with psychological disorders. Taking into consideration a patient’s root motivation, techniques can be applied that allow practitioners to create a sense of relationship and belonging with their patients. Dr. Paris suggests that physical therapists can utilize the tools of psychology to improve patient outcomes.

First-year student Natalie Bussie said, “Psychological health has an important role in our field. We need to understand how to be empathetic and respectful of all of our diverse patient population. Dr. Paris did a great job making his presentation relevant to our field and I look forward to implementing what he taught us.”

Alexis Neyman, another first-year student, reflected, “I think that we take for granted how big of an impact something as simple as making eye contact and smiling can have on a patient encounter. We cannot forget how transformative it is that our patients know that they are seen and heard.”

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Congratulations to second-year Trine DPT student Sarah Boettner, who kept learning during a week off between semesters. She attended a training course for Spinal Cord Injury and was certified in the ASIA classification system. Way to go, Sarah!


Upcoming Events

Monday, July 6
Class of 2021
First Day of Clinical

Tuesday, July 7
1 - 4 p.m.

Class of 2023
Virtual Orientation

Friday, July 24
10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Class of 2023
Virtual Orientation

Friday, August 14
1 - 4 p.m.

Class of 2023

Monday, August 17
First Day of Class

Monday, Sept. 7
Labor Day
Classes In Session

Contact Annie at
or 260-203-2916
for more information.




Family Ties


Class of 2019

Congratulations to Anna and Riley Miller on the birth of their daughter! Elliana Joy Miller was born at 6 pounds, 19 inches on Saint Patrick's Day (March 17, 2020) in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Riley said, "At that time, we were still allowed to walk the halls and leave the room. We left the hospital on the 18th, the day the policies changed to being much more strict. My position was then furloughed on April 1 (yes, I asked if it was a joke), which has allowed my family and I to grow together and to refocus ourselves and our faith during a season that is anything but stable. Elliana means 'My God has answered me' and we used the middle name to indicate 'My God has answered me with Joy.' She is growing well, cooing all the time, hates when she isn't able to see everything going on, and has a big sister, Aliyah, who adores her!"

Class of 2021

Congratulations to Colin Lelito and Mollie Lovasko on their March 21 engagement! Mollie is in her final year of Huntington University's Doctor of Occupational Therapy program.

Congratulations to Jeremy Messersmith and Grace Connelly on their March 7 engagement! 

Class of 2023

Congratulations to Colin Brockhouse and Sloane Alexander on their May 30 engagement! Colin said, "We are so fortunate to be able to spend forever with each other! She truly is amazing!"

The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Trine University is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE), 1111 North Fairfax Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314; telephone: 703-706-3245; email:; website:

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