Digication Scholars Conversations

In this episode of the Digication Scholars Conversations, we dive into the impactful world of high-impact practices and experiential learning. 🎓✨ 

Host Kelly Driscoll chats with Kyle Hewson, Vice Chair and Clinical Associate Professor in the Doctorate in Physical Therapy program at Stony Brook University.

From clinical experiences to service learning, explore the transformative journey of becoming a skilled physical therapist.

#ExperientialLearning #HighImpactPractices #PhysicalTherapy #StonyBrookUniversity #EducationInnovation

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#ExperientialLearning #HighImpactPractices #PhysicalTherapy #StonyBrookUniversity #EducationInnovation

What is Digication Scholars Conversations?

Digication Scholars Conversations...

Welcome to Digication
Scholars Conversations.

I'm your host, Kelly Driscoll.

In this episode, you'll hear part one of
my conversation with Kyle Hewson, Vice

Chair and Clinical Associate Professor
in the Doctorate in Physical Therapy

program at Stony Brook University.

More links and information about today's
conversation can be found on Digication's

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Full episodes of Digication Scholars
Conversations can be found on

YouTube or your favorite podcast app.

Welcome to Digication
Scholars Conversations.

I'm your host, Kelly Driscoll.

And today I'm so excited to
introduce our guest, Kyle Hewson.

Kyle is the Vice Chair and Clinical
Associate Professor in the Doctorate in

Physical Therapy program at Stanford.

Stony Brook University.

Welcome, Kyle.

Thank you so much for

having me today.


So I happen to, uh, So I'm going to
track Kyle down, uh, after seeing

some extraordinary student portfolios
Digication where the students,

I feel like, are just showcasing
this exemplary use of high impact

practices across their education there.

And uh, I discovered that many of them are
creating this beautiful showcase of both

their undergraduate work and what they're
doing at Stony Brook University within

the platform in really remarkable ways.

And, uh, I discovered, Kyle,
that you created what looks like

possibly a beginning template that
the students were using as kind

of a springboard to this process.

So I wanted to reach out because
you're kind of the powerhouse.

What they're doing in this area.

And I'm so excited to celebrate what
you do and learn more about your

background and how you started using
these tools with your students.

So I would love Kyle, if you could
share with our listeners a little

bit about how you found your way to.

Stony Brook University.


All right.

Thank you again, Kelly.

Um, so I am a physical therapist, graduate
from Hunter College, and for almost 20

years I was clinician, uh, love working
in the hospital setting, long term care,

uh, and a little bit of outpatient.

Um, but I always had the
dream to be a teacher.

I do have the gift of gab.

I love to communicate, um, and I've had
a lot of great patient stories through

my life, which I'm very grateful for.

So I, um, started to teach a
course at Nassau Community College

in their PT assistant program.

And I was lucky to start, um, as
a Clinical Coordinator at a new

program at New York Institute
of Technology in Old Westbury.

So they were starting a program
there and I was able to start

with the chair and that was my
first full time job as faculty.

Um, and I loved, uh, I learned so much.

The, the, the The jump from
clinician to academics is huge.

Different language, different
ways of being viewed and ideas.

And your, your really, your brain explodes
a little bit, but also your heart.

Your heart is like, I get to
share all of the, Richness and

challenges of being a clinician.

And, uh, and we always know
more than our students.

So you, you feel confident initially.

Um, so there I was able
to do some great things.

Um, with a colleague, we did
a pro bono clinic and it was

just a great, great experience.

I also started my doctoral degree and
education, which helped me, you know,

give some foundational, uh, knowledge to
the different areas that I was learning.

I always was kind of in the
professionalism and ethics.

So that was kind of my area, and
that's what I did my dissertation in.

So then I got the call from a colleague
that there was an opening at Stony

Brook University for a similar position.

So I moved over, and I have
been here for 20 years.

Um, and I've had different roles.

Um, Usually involving some type of
administration, which is really, I guess,

one of my strengths in the sense of, I
love, I call myself a process person.

I like to make, I like to make the
whole thing smooth and clear to

whatever the students have to do.

Um, so we're very, it's a customer service
here and having our students do the work.

is happening.

Um, at the same time, every year
you get to go to a conference, which

is the American Physical Therapy
Association Combined Sections Meeting.

And that is when educators from
all over the nation come together.

And either you go to something in
your area like orthopedics or, so I

used to go to things about clinical
education, ethics, professionalism.

And kind of, you know, how
education goes in waves.

So definitely the portfolio was
mentioned, um, and, uh, they were

talking about showing growth over time.

So they were talking about art
and different areas like that.

And, you know, when you go to
go for a job, you bring this

large portfolio of your work.

So they started talking about this.

So the light, like.

I would say maybe 2010, 2009,
um, we started, um, creating a

portfolio in a binder with, you
know, tell us about yourself.

Um, I did connect it to one of my
classes, kind of had a portfolio.

Pre and a post.

Uh, so be something that you did
in the beginning of your time.

It's a three year program.

So that, and then getting
ready to graduate.

What is the information that you'd want
to have in case a boss asks you, you

know, tell me about yourself, you know, a
future boss, I should say, that you have

a chance of kind of tooting your own horn.

So then in 2013 or so, we heard
about Stony Brook University

having Digication and having the
opportunity for an ePortfolio.

I had gone to a meeting with Nancy,
who was our head of our area there,

and she brought together someone
from PA, also the medical school,

and we just talked about, because
now this is the buzzword out there,

kind of what is electronic portfolio.

And I thought, oh my goodness, this is so
So much nicer and so much easier than me

collecting 85 portfolios in the back of
the room and the binders and everything.

So, so that's when we
started that ePortfolio here.

So I'm going to stop for a second
if you have any other questions.

Oh, I have, well,

I have so many questions.

So, um, just hearing you talk,
I'm very curious how you, uh, you

know, where the interest in, um,
physical therapy really started.

You mentioned that you've always been
interested in becoming an educator and

how did you find your way into the field?


I read it in a career corner
when I was in high school.

Always loved science and
math, believe it or not.

The future STEM girl, without
even knowing that that was around.

The column basically said, did you want
to do something medical, but you didn't

want to be a nurse or a physician?

And I'm like, mm hmm.

So, um, I just thought it was so
interesting and I did some shadowing

at a local, large hospital and I was
put into some situations that I saw.

I saw a patient that had burns
and I saw another patient that had

amputations and I saw someone who was
mentally challenged and I thought, wow.

I didn't never have these experiences,
but I was able to communicate and help.

And I got home, went home
and I remember talking to my

parents saying, I can do this.

I feel comfortable and I feel
like I can have learned the

skills of what I needed to do.

Um, so then I went to a community
college, applied to 10 universities

and I got into Hunter College.

Um, It was very difficult.

So we do have empathy still for our
students that this is a very rigorous

program, very intense, partially.

I think what it is is you, uh, have
a conscientiousness about, I want to

remember everything because it's all
building blocks and things don't go away.

So you can't just study for
an exam and forget about it.

So that feeling is kind of on
them, weighted on their shoulders.

It's a good thing because it
kind of keeps them on track.

But we all can relate to that, even
if we had a bachelor's or a master's.

The programs years ago were
bachelor's degrees and now, of

course, it's a clinical doctorate.

So it's at least seven years to become
a physical therapist, so it's four

undergrad and then the graduate.

So, um, yeah.

So, and then I was always,
um, involved with students.

So as I, you know, you can move up
as your clinician, it's like a senior

position or the head of a unit.

Um, so I was in charge of the student
program, I think at my third job.

And after that, you know, Who's coming
in and what level and, and then who's

having some personality issues or
who's having knowledge issues and

trying to be that like a mediator.

My parents joke around that I've been
born a mediator because I have four

brothers and I always was like, you know,
mom, dad, you know, you know, Lawrence

or Michael, they didn't mean to do that.

And this is what, so
that's kind of my thing.

Oh, I love it.

So I have one daughter.

So, I'm just curious.

So where were you in the lineup?

Were you the oldest?

Okay, so is she.

Oh yes.

I'll talk to her later.

I'm sure you guys could
have a very good chat.

It's an exciting time.



And she definitely, uh, does a good job
at kind of leading, leading the pack.

That's when you say, was your
career chosen for you or you

were chosen for the career?

Yeah, absolutely.


well, thank you so much for, for sharing
that background and, uh, you know, as

you're Speaking, I can tell that you do
have this incredible passion for being

able to communicate and, um, you know,
kind of provide support for individuals,

even just speaking about your family.

You know, you were trying to make
it clear to your parents that your

brothers did something by accident.

Um, and it sounds like this has
been a really useful experience.

Full skill for you to bring into
what you're doing in your work

with patients and also with your
work with, uh, the students too.

Um, so I wanted to talk a little
bit about, uh, some of the, so I

mentioned when we started speaking
that it just seems like what your

students are doing really exemplifies.

A lot of high impact practices
that are a big focus in


education today.

You know, you've got experiential
learning built in, you've got

project based learning built in.

They're clearly having a very integrative
and reflective experience as they

move from Each course to the next,
as you mentioned, kind of building

upon that foundation of knowledge
and making connections throughout.

So, I wanted to spend some time talking
about that a little bit, because I

think some of our listeners are really
familiar with the Hyatt practices,

some are not, you know, and how
that might fit into these kinds of

healthcare education I think is really
important for people to understand.

Um, so, if you could talk a little bit
about what the kind of experiential

learning opportunities that your
students have at Stony Brook University?

I'm imagining there's probably a great
deal of kind of field work and beginning

to have connections with patrons.

Could you describe that a little bit?


So, as a kind of connected together, at
the same time, I want to say probably

it's maybe 2010 also, um, I had spoke
to my chair about the idea of including

a service, uh, uh, requirement.

So they had to do 30 hours.

We tried to...


Figure out as a faculty how many hours
When should they be able to start this?

And, you know, service learning
is incorporated in many physical

therapy programs as a course.

Um, it's also, especially if someone
has a faculty clinic or a pro bono

clinic, then they have hours in there.

So I wanted to keep it, uh, looser and
more open, um, with different areas.

The idea was to kind of get
out of the classroom and do

something good for the world.

And, um, if they already had been
a coach for their child's team,

You got to do something new.

So you can create something or not.

So anyway, it was really good.

And, and the idea that this actually
fit into the portfolio beautifully.

So they have to log their hours and
then they have to write reflective

paper, um, about, and with different
questions, you know, some of it is,

you know, what was your best moment
in the 30 hours that you chose?

What do you do?

Um, do you think that physical
therapists should be advocates?

And do you see that this is something that
you would do once you become a clinician?

Like, so now you are in a
small outpatient practice.

Do you sponsor a health fair?

Do you pick a charity for the
year that you do things for?

So, it's to kind of open their
mind and see that even if you're

busy, you can fit this in.

So, um, so that was a great,
so it was a great place on

the portfolio to put that in.

And through the three Classes that
I have with them, we would always

spend time on the last class.

All right, we've updated
our portfolios, let's go in.

And they would look at each
other's and we would share.

What have you been doing in service?

Okay, everyone that
helped on interview day.

Everybody that helped
with the health fair.

Let's go into some
groups and talk about it.

Open up the portfolio and see, Oh
my gosh, there's great pictures.

Our students have been at
the New York City Marathon.

Um, you know, we're very lucky.

We're the east end of Long Island,
but we have access to the city.

Having a large faculty,
we have over 16 of us.

Everyone has different interests
and different, um, you know, Some

things have been created by them,
um, and it's on our website.

They're different.

And then other ones we just join.

Um, so it's just to kind of get them
up and out, you know, to take a walk

or a run with one of your students
on a Saturday is a very different

experience than, you know, but there
we're done, so it's been really good.

And every year is different.

Some students have.

Spearheaded some very, you know, involved
things and then everything is okay.

Like we have a Super Bowl going on now.

Bring some cans of soup.

Very easy, you know.

And so, yeah.

So that's, we don't, um, we, the
first semester is very difficult.

And so is the second.

So we just start kind of talking about
service right now for the first year.

So they have, you know, now how,
where can you put an hour or two in?

And they have plenty of time, but, um,
it is really, uh, initially they always

say, Oh my gosh, this sounds like such
a difficult thing, but then it's good.

So that's one piece of it.

Very fulfilling.



And you know, they've done some
great things as undergrads too.

So, so that's for me.

That's the ePortfolio too is,
um, it's two pieces for me.

It's toot your own horn.

And also in the beginning, who are you?

So they get to come in and I'm asked
and it did create a template and

the first page is a welcome page.

And basically it's fun.

Five, five fun facts about yourself.


Tell us, you know, someone, look, I
love spaghetti, or you know, I have

four dogs, or there's a of thing
about food and pets and travel.

Um, but we'll have something
like, oh, I play six instruments.

Be like, what?

You know?

So, um, and then we, you know, so
these type of things, and there's

pictures and videos and quotes.

So the first page can kind
of be, and it's really fun.

So they, um, so I of course
look at that and I'll get to

know them through the summer.

And then I tell their faculty
advisors, okay, you know, uh, your

students have put up their portfolio.

They told you about themselves, um, and
there's pictures and they get to put up

their diploma, pictures of undergrad.

It's just like a, you know, initially it's
kind of like electronic scrapbook, uh, but

it's just kind of everything about them.

Um, and then I tell them, you
know, Some of the faculty then

use this to kind of use as ice
breakers throughout the courses.

So it'll be like, all right, I heard that
two or three of you are into surfing.

All right, stand up, tell me.

So, and then they use that, you know,
as kind of like, or, or something funny

about, you know, oh, someone's who's
been to Alaska in this, in this class.

I know who it is.

And then, you know, that person.

So, so it's just a nice way to, and
you know, we, we've done that through

the years and it's been a lot of fun.

So just like a little area.

And then.

Sometimes while we've done reviews at
the end, even in the third year, I'll

say, okay, pick someone in the room that
you don't really know that well, even

after all these years of being together.


Open up their portfolio.


I didn't know that you've gone to
26 countries or that you, your goal

is to hit every national park in
America, you know, so they still

can learn things about each other.

Um, so, which is great.

So again, it's definitely, yeah.

Yeah, and the fact that, so it kind
of, so at Digication, we talk a

lot about students being able to
use the platform as a way to be

seen, be heard, and be recognized.

And it sounds like you've had a number
of different opportunities for the

students to use it like that before
they're even thinking about possibly

using it as a career advancement tool.

It sounds like you're using
it as a tool to kind of build

community within the program.


I love that the advisors have
an opportunity to see it.

It sounds like before the students
even arrive, is that correct?


So in the summer, it's kind of quiet.

Most of our faculty.

Only two of us teach them, and they
have a very large anatomy class.

So, kind of full, full
blast is back in the fall.

All the faculty are back, and
they get to meet their students.


How wonderful that they have that kind
of introduction to them and already have

a face to a name before they have their
kind of first in person interactions.

And I love that it's being used
as a tool for the students.

To connect to one another
in their classes as well.

I'm sure going through this program
as rigorous as it is to have as

many, you know, strong connections
to other peers is really valuable.

Um, and it sounds like this is being
used as a great way to kind of set

the stage for where they may have
some common ground or interesting

things to learn about each other.

I love that.



Um, and as we're talking about service,
um, I just wanted to bring up as I was

kind of preparing to talk to you today,
I learned about some of the service work

that you're doing on in your, um, bio
and, um, I believe it's called parfore.

Am I remembering that correctly?



So, um, yeah, this is a great program.

It's actually not at Stony Brook
anymore, but it's, um, it's over

at Toro's been using at MIT.

So, but I'll talk quickly.

So this is, um, how we, yeah, it was
a golf program for children in middle

school where gangs are prevalent.

in Suffolk County.

So, um, again, it's one of
those kind of brainchilds.

It was my good friend, Alex Lopez, who
was an OT and the two of us work together.

Um, and then we would have our, open it
up to our students and able to let them,

um, you know, join, um, basically golf
is, has rules and, you know, you, someone

does a good shot and you, you know, Give
a little proper clap, you know, and you,

you walk, you walk around fresh air, um,
one of the students, I'll never forget.

He was so funny.

He says, Kyle, it's so beautiful
out here on the golf course.

Um, you know what?

They should really put houses up here.

I'm like, no, no, no.

The idea is, it's just, you know, so
we, we laughed, you know, but, um,

Kids who wouldn't join a normal club in
their school, everyone would join our

program and the idea was that everyone
is equal and everyone has a chance to,

to try and learn and mentorship that way.

So we had, it was really, uh, the
whole model was just wonderful.

And that's kind of how the other programs
that we have presently, it's, there's

always, uh, our students being, you know,
in their twenties is that, you know,

between the actual whoever's involved.

It could be an eight year old who's
now working out for the first time,

or it could be someone, you know,
older, who's having falls recently.

Like they're the ones to kind of give
that extra, um, warmth and knowledge

and make the person feel comfortable.

So, and that teaches them again, how to
adapt to different types of audiences.

You know, they have four clinicals
and they have different experiences

and some of them are very nervous.

Some of them have never worked in a large.

So, um, this lets them do that.

Um, the other idea with the ePortfolio
is that it's a scrapbook for them.

So they only get this beautiful note from
a patient, you know, it was so great to

work with you, you know, you're going
to make a great physical therapist.

What do you do with that?

I'm like, Oh, you can scan it in.

and put it in your portfolio.

Um, the idea, you know, I said it, so
it's kind of like a meet and greet.

Who are you?

But also then of course, like
typical growth over time.

So the idea that they put up a PowerPoint
that they did in their first year with two

or three people, even just to show them
how advanced they've become in some of

their presentations by the third year, you
know, they have this and that, and they're

just, their references are awesome.

And they're able to pull
in a video or something.

So just, and they feel.

cause I'd say, Oh, I was such a
nervous person that first time I

had to get up in front of 80 80
students, you know, so, so it's kind

of neat, you know, that, that happens.

Yeah, we find it's very empowering for
students to be able to look back on where

they were and really in just learning.

It's a short period of time in the
grand scheme of things, you know,

who they were and what their skills
were when they joined your program.

And this incredible transformation
that happens over those few years.



It's so telling, you know, being
able to not only see kind of their

reflections about the experience, but
to be able to look at some of the actual

work and projects that they created.

Um, again, it just kind of supports what
you said about how rigorous the program

is that the students have this really kind
of longitudinal showcase of what they've

done throughout your program at various
levels and this beautiful way that they

connect pieces of what they've done.


I also love there's an area, um,
where I think some students have a

presentation and some have written
these beautiful personal statements

about, you know, maybe why they've come.

To study physical therapy.

Some of them have very powerful stories
about, you know, maybe their connection

to past physical therapy when they
were younger or a family member that

needed that and the impact that it has.

Um, what kind of, uh, maybe
mentorship or scaffolding do

you give the students as they're
creating those personal statements?

Are they doing that as part of the



So that is actually, um, The
application, we use a company, P.


Cass, and every year
there is a new question.

So that is their physical therapy essay.

So they are given the option to post
that essay or to actually just then

share Why did you want to be a therapist?

If, if it was, you know, because
sometimes, um, you know, one year

it was a little more like, uh, tell
us about qualities that you feel a

healthcare professional should have.

And that would be the essay,
which was again, very powerful.

But then, so I kind of
give them the option.

I said, you can go back into
your essay that you had posted,

which is very, Really great.

And usually there is part of their story
of why they, something in their family

or on themselves, or again, why did
you want to be a physical therapist?

So that's up there too.

And it's just, again, more
information about them.

It kind of starts the
beginning of their story.

I, uh, in the summer, I joke around
like, all right, so, you know, again,

how many people here were into sports
and then they, you know, they hurt

their knee and then, you know, a third
of them stand up or, you know, so

we kind of talk, cause we talk about
my classes in the summer with is.

Professional Practice
One and its foundations.

So it's all about physical therapy.

We kind of bring them all together like,
Oh, who's, who's worked as an aid and

who's had therapy on them and who, what
do you know about physical therapy?

Um, some of the legal
and some of the ethical.

And so it's like, it fits
really nicely in there.

Like who, who are you bring?

And then everyone will be
like, and there's connections.

So it'd be like, Oh, I worked with
a therapist and she was a wonderful

clinician with vestibular problems.

Oh my gosh, me too.

They know this same person.

So you'll find all these connections
throughout the summer of people

who have worked together or know
each, knew a therapist and, uh, they

talk very proudly of the therapist
they have worked with either as a

volunteer or as, you know, employed.

They said, Oh, I, I watch this person
across the room and I see how they're

able to temper their voice or they're
able to, you know, Use their non

verbals or they're able to bring kind
of people together through a funny

story or so the feeling of community.

So, that's really what
they're learning then.

So, they bring that because then we,
you know, of course, you always talk

about what a professional isn't and
of course, there's some, some good

stories with, with no names mentioned.

Right, right, right.

Yeah, but it really speaks to this
power of storytelling really in, uh,

creating connections with others,
which is a huge part of what they're

going to be doing as part of their
field experience and after graduation.

Um, so it makes a lot of sense that
it's kind of built into, um, kind

of that initial essay as they're,
they're joining the program, then

you continue to give them opportunity
to, I think the students know

that I always say that, that you, and
again, that's why if you are a good

clinician, hopefully you become a good
teacher because you may explain, this

is the medical diagnosis and these are
all the signs and symptoms, but then

you share a story about someone that
you work with who, you know, Again, was

not able to take their medicine and look
what happened and that, or that they were

able to handle a very traumatic event.

Those things, they remember those
stories, you know, kind of how

it happened and the pieces to it.

Here's a preview of what's coming up next
in part two of my conversation with Kyle

Hewson, Vice Chair and Clinical Associate
Professor in the Doctorate in Physical

Therapy program at Stony Brook University.

I think it's three classes that
they really enjoyed and did some

kind of project like you mentioned.

So, um, you know, I, I always say to them,
by the time you graduate, after three

years, you'll have every type of learning
methodology, teaching methodology to you.

You know, there's.

Group work and there's presentations
and there's, um, going out to a clinic.

Uh, so we use our, um,
veterans home right on campus.

And so you learn something in neurology,
neurological, physical therapy, but

now you actually go and try it and
connect with one of our residents.

See you next time.