First day jitters were followed by excitement as the physical therapy (PT) class of 2016 gathered to meet their new classmates, get to know their professors, and learn more about what to anticipate over the next three years. “I’m so excited to be a part of this program,” said Nick Ienni, a first-year Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) student at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS). “I love the program’s small class size and the individual attention that each student receives.”
Senior Associate Dean for Health Sciences Joseph Bocchino, Ed.D., M.B.A., welcomed the 41 students who make up the DPT class of 2016. “Our DPT program is quickly becoming one of the best in the country,” he said. “I’m going to jump the gun by almost three years and tell you that when you leave here you are truly going to appreciate the incredible faculty members we have here and their dedication.”
“Creating a positive atmosphere for our class was one of the most important things we did from the very beginning,” said Josh D’Angelo, DPT ’13, a student physical therapist at Virginia Therapy and Fitness Center. “We felt that, as a class, if we spent time encouraging one another and making sure that everyone understood the material, we would have more success as a class,” he added. D’Angelo offered his words of wisdom to the new PT during orientation. Success is about being an active learner, said D’Angelo. “Be comfortable raising your hand and asking a question.” He also encouraged the new class to take advantage of SMHS’ expert faculty. “Having that one-on-one connection with my professors was so important to my learning experience,” he said.
“This is one of the strongest classes we have ever admitted,” said Joyce Maring, DPT, Ed.D., chair and program director for the department of physical therapy and associate professor of physical therapy and health care sciences at SMHS. The first day is always exciting, said Maring. Adding, “It’s a new beginning for the students and for the faculty.”
The new PT class is the largest in SMHS history. The students hail from across the United States. The class is composed of 12 males and 29 females with an average age of 25.
“This new cohort brings new energy and new experiences, as well as the opportunity to learn from one another,” said Elizabeth Ruckert, DPT, assistant professor of physical therapy and health care sciences at SMHS. “The students teach us, just as much as we teach them,” she said. Orientation is all about laying the foundation for the future. “It’s going to be a challenging three years,” Ruckert acknowledged, but added “It’s always amazingly rewarding to see each student grow.”
Like most of her new colleagues, first-year DPT student Allison Lovering is eager to shake off any early anxiety and hit the books. “I’m actually excited for classes to begin and to start studying,” she said. So much for first-day jitters.