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Student Spotlight: Caleb Fatzinger, PT, DPT, ATC; Megan Mitchell, SPT

Caleb Fatzinger is a recent graduate from the University of Maryland Baltimore. For his final internship Caleb was selected for a highly coveted internship at EXOS in Los Angeles. EXOS focuses on proactive health and performance for elite athletes, the military and businesses. Caleb recently accepted a job offer from Rehab 2 Perform in Frederick MD. Rehab 2 Perform is a unique outpatient clinic that provides a hybrid of physical therapy and personal training to provide their patients with individualized solutions to improve their movement and achieve their goals.

Can you provide some background information on EXOS for the readers?

EXOS is a very well regarded sports performance company that holds contracts with many professional sports programs and international corporations. Although sports performance and strength and conditioning are their priorities, EXOS also incorporates wellness, nutrition, mindfulness, and recovery. The majority of the case load was college and professional football athletes. However, I also worked with other athletes including but not limited to: professional soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, skateboarding, motor cross, track and field, and rowing. Not all athletes who train at EXOS require intensive physical therapy, however, they are still screened and given corrective programs based off of any deficits and asymmetries found in the evaluation. EXOS also allows direct access, allowing many professional teams and professional athletes to come directly to the facility for rehabilitation of their injuries.

What was the application process like? Why do you believe your application was accepted?

The internship requires a fairly extensive application process. This includes but is not limited to: 2 letters of recommendation, cover letter, resume, short answer and essay questions on various PT related topics, a literature review of a current research article, and 2 Skype interviews.

I believe my past experiences set me apart. Primarily my undergraduate degree as an athletic trainer. They don't require an ATC background but it helps. I also was very involved during undergrad and graduate school and my resume compiles many activities that I participated in or organized which directly reflect my interest in sports performance and physical therapy.

What made your internship so valuable? 

My clinical instructor, the facility, and the patient population. My clinical instructor was one of the most intelligent and skilled physical therapists I've had the pleasure of working with and learning from. In addition, the facilities and access to equipment there are unlike any other internship one can acquire in a DPT program. Lastly, the patient population is one that makes a living off their excellence and athletic abilities and it is an experience to work with this population.

Are there any clinical pearls you could offer to our readers that you learned from your internship?

Clinical pearls would be, rapport. It is one of the most important factors for a PT student or new graduate. All of your classmates and peers are smart, everyone went to PT school. It's not your intelligence that will set you apart in the clinic, although that is part of it, you may know what a patient needs and how to deliver that care but if you can't get them to buy into it you won't be successful. Whether its a professional athlete or your every day outpatient orthopedic case, if you don't establish rapport and have the personal skills to connect with that patient you are already behind in their care.

What was the hardest part about working with the athletic population?

Again the rapport aspect is so key for this population. When a professional athlete comes in for rehab and their career is on the line, if you can't connect with them and establish trust it's already over. As a student it becomes even more difficult when they come in and know they are being seen by a student. You have to work that much harder to show your proficiency and make them feel comfortable with your plan of care.

What advice do you have for someone that is going into a rotation similar to yours?

Become proficient at the basics. An internship like this will give you so many things to study in preparation and you will learn so many skills that you won't learn in school or other clinical rotations. However, in the long run they will never expect you to be proficient at the sport specific rehab and training aspects of this rotation. They will expect you to be proficient at are your orthopedics and the skills you learn in school. So make sure you have a strong grasp on your orthopedic clinical skills prior to a specialized internship.

For more information about Caleb, his internship at EXOS or his new position at Rehab 2 Perform please email us at aptaofmdssig@gmail.com
Megan Mitchell, SPT