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Helping People Have a Better Tomorrow

For Cristian Medina one of the best aspects of his internship in the physical therapy department of Orthopedic Partners in Niantic was drawing on his knowledge gained from classes like anatomy and physiology at Mitchell College.

“It felt amazing to put my knowledge into practice and be able to ask specific questions to patients based on what I had learned in class. It made the time spent in class worth it, knowing that you really learned something to apply in the real world. You’re not just showing up to class and looking at a professor,” he said.

“It makes you look like you know something, like you’re not just helping out,” he added. “You’re trying to learn and exert your knowledge.”

A health science major and Men’s Soccer and Men’s Lacrosse team member, Cristian spent the fall semester at Orthopedic Partners as a physical therapy assistant — gathering needed equipment, cleaning up exam areas, asking patients questions and participating in patient rehab.

“There were three physical therapists working there, and I was able to pick and choose who to follow throughout the day, based on who had the ‘best’ patient for me to learn from. For instance, I was more interested in an ankle fracture than balance problems, so I could seek out those kinds of patients,” Christian said.

Cristian is wrapping up his studies at Mitchell, graduating mid-year, and plans to pursue a career in the Air Force, with a goal of ultimately attending Officer Training School and taking advantage of an opportunity to participate in its physician assistant training program.

“Medicine is my calling,” he said. “I want to help people have a better tomorrow. I want to be a physician assistant in orthopedics, so I chose to intern with the physical therapy team at Orthopedic Partners. I had a practicum shadowing an orthopedic doctor there a few years back and was able to watch surgery and patient assessments and diagnoses. Working with the physical therapists, I was able to expand my knowledge to better understand both worlds.”

His favorite part of the internship was meeting so many different patients.

“Most injuries can look similar, but the recovery process for each patient is so different depending on the patient.”

Cristian said that many of the Mitchell Abilities that he learned over the years played a big part in his working successfully in his internship, especially analysis, problem solving, communication and diversity.

“I drew a lot on the Mitchell Abilities. Being able to recognize a patient’s injury and figuring out which exercises and rehab programs would work best was something that I had to do regularly. Not every patient can do the same thing and everyone has a different level of pain. I also communicated throughout the day with my supervisor and colleagues to make sure that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I asked questions to make sure that I was efficient and effective. And having respect and empathy towards people was especially important.”

There were a few challenges in the beginning of the internship.

“The PT team deals a lot with elderly people, which can be difficult. They tend to have a slow manner. But one of the things that I learned from my internship was that patience is needed. Go with the flow. Take your time. You’re going to get there. There is no need to be rushing things or getting frustrated. Trust time and be patient with everybody. That is absolutely a skill that I will take with me through life,” he said.

As he winds down his time at Mitchell College, Cristian said, “I will miss my friends and the Mitchell College campus. The environment is so supportive. People help you and the professors care. It’s easy to talk to them one on one, and the Tutoring Center also gives a lot of help.”

Another perk?

“When you walk to class and see a view of the water, that’s a great feeling. It makes you go through your day with more motivation.”

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