Here at Advantage Therapy Centers, we believe in continued growth and learning as the key to achieving the clinical excellence our staff demonstrates. Not only will students learn within our program, but having their fresh perspective helps keep our therapists’ skills fresh and leaves everyone open-minded to new perspectives on how we all can provide quality care. This program is considered an unpaid internship otherwise known as volunteer work that provides the experience and education of treating patients that can only be learned when interacting with them in person.
Which Therapy Specialties Are We Hosting For?
Physical Therapy: For several years, our Director of Physical Therapy Dr. Rocco Gervasi has been taking students in to show them physical therapy firsthand in our unique comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation facility. Gervasi accepts university students at all levels; undergrad, PTA, DPT, rotation needs at all phases, volunteer work, and internships. Dr. Gervasi shares why he began hosting students for fieldwork at Advantage Therapy Centers, and why he enjoys educating them:
I used to give presentations on balance at the Gibson House Community Center, and ever since that experience I wanted to continue to educate others about physical therapy. I discovered I love to teach. So, at Advantage, I began hosting students for their fieldwork. It keeps my skills fresh by bringing in new minds and ideas and it helps give back. I am passionate about the psychology involved with treating patients for physical therapy, sharing that point of view with students can change the way they see treatment and ultimately change the game for physical therapy. The goal of fieldwork is always to get students to see what they have not been taught yet; knowledge only gained from interacting with patients during treatment. Fieldwork here requires you to think outside the box to provide quality care for the individual, not just the symptoms.
Occupational Therapy: We are proud to announce that we have just recently started taking in students for OT. Currently hosting the first round of students is our Director of OT Kaltrina Pakucu. Currently we are only hosting level 1 OT students, however we hope to expand this in the future. Pakucu shares her perspective on why she began hosting students for the Occupational Therapy discipline:
I love having students and being able to enhance clinical skills for future therapists! Recently, with the current pandemic, we were hearing that many students were struggling to find placements or that placements had cancelled due to COVID. This made me really want to help. Graduate school can be difficult enough with juggling classes, assignments, and fieldwork. However, now I feel like with everything going on the stress for these students has intensified. The last thing I would want them to worry about is falling behind because a clinical fieldwork site backed out. It was a great idea to take in students for Occupational Therapy. Our patients love interacting with the students and having them in the clinic.
How Long is the Program?
The program length depends upon the student’s needs. DPT students have rotational rounds in phases that vary in length, and other tract requirements may require more or less time. Some examples of these ranges include six weeks, eight weeks, ten weeks, twelve weeks, and up to three months.
What Will Students Learn?
In their time here students will learn principles, be quizzed on them, and then apply those principles to the treatment of patients. For Physical Therapy, this always begins with two weeks reading the book “The Divided Mind” by Dr. John E. Sarno to introduce students to neurolinguistics, the psychosomatic elements they may encounter with patients, and how to treat not only the patient’s pain but the patient as a whole. This first step will provide the groundwork for the whole program as students learn bedside manner, gaining patient trust and confidence that motivates them throughout treatment, and how to really listen to patients to understand the problems they are experiencing. This connection with patients is what Gervasi believes truly differentiates expert care and treatment.
Additionally, Students here for either discipline learn a mix of skills that vary depending on the length of time they will be spending with us. Some of these skills include the main body parts and some conditions treated in Occupational of Physical Therapy, adapting treatment to fit the specific needs and goals of a patient, how to do orthopedic research for metanalysis correlations, blood gases, patient populations, and more. What we feel makes our program so different from others is the communication component in which we teach and practice optimizing patient-practitioner interaction to provide open communication that facilitates quality treatment that everyone is motivated to be a part of.
Which Students Do We Accept?
We welcome any student who demonstrates an interest in physical therapy or occupational therapy who is part of a related educational tract, demonstrates the ability to value constructive feedback, has a passion for expanding knowledge beyond just the basics, and is genuinely excited to put in the effort to learn what caring for patients is really like. Ideally, we are looking for students that want to change the game and look at physical therapy in a different light. We are currently working with Temple University and Rowan University programs, however, we have hosted students from many other universities as well. Some of these include Stockton, Penn State, and Rutgers.
If you are interested, please bring our hosting program to the attention of your advisor. We look forward to sharing this unique experience with the students who represent the future of occupational and physical therapy.