Advanced PT & Fitness May 2020

MAY 2020



Teacher Appreciation Week is coming up this month, so this is the perfect time to give a shoutout to two of the incredible teachers who helped shape me as a physical therapist: Dr. Banks and Professor Pettman. While I had a lot of great elementary, middle, and high school teachers, it wasn’t until PT school that I met instructors I consider major influences and mentors — and these two guys were it. Dr. Banks and Professor Pettman both taught at Andrews University, where I went to PT school. Dr. Banks was the anatomy instructor, and I took his classes over the course of several years. In the first semester of PT school, I had three hours of lecture and three hours of lab with him each week, so we got to know each other pretty well. Dr. Banks is an anatomy expert and published researcher, and he somehow made anatomy — which is known for being dry and a little stomach-churning — not only interesting but also fun. Before I tell you more about Dr. Banks, you should know that anatomy classes in PT school are particularly intense because they involve dissecting human cadavers. If you’ve ever seen the traveling exposition “Body Worlds,” then you probably have a good idea of what our lab looked like. Schools like Andrews use these classes to weed out people who can’t handle the intense aspects of working in the medical field, and when I went there,

they always put anatomy class right before lunch. You’d leave smelling like the lab, which, as you can imagine, was not a good smell. By the end of the semester I got used to it, but the first few weeks were rough. Still, because of Dr. Banks, I’d take that class again if I got the chance. His methodical, logical approach to anatomy was a perfect match with the way I think, and it actually made dissection fascinating for me. I was really drawn to his way of thinking about the body, so after that first class, he actually became my research advisor and helped me study the mechanical aspects of the ankle joint. Dr. Banks was also a bit of a crazy lab guy. He had this goofy, off-the-wall humor, and he always wore the same tie-dye hat. Professor Pettman, my post-grad mentor in orthopedics, was a great instructor, too, but in a different way. He was an amazing storyteller, the kind of professor who would stroll into the classroom, set his bag down, walk to the front of the class, and say, “Which class am I teaching today?” When someone answered, he’d say, “Oh, good,” and launch into an incredible lecture, entirely off the top of his head! He didn’t need any visual aids, and he was so descriptive when he spoke that I could practically see the bones and muscles. While some lectures feel like they go on forever, Professor Pettman’s always flew by. Considering his courses

were typically six days on-site with 4–5 hours of lecture every day, that’s really saying something. When it came to PT stuff, he had a mind like a steel trap, and I went on to work with him on two of my graduate certificates. Professor Pettman was the one who helped guide me toward biomechanically and functionally based orthopedic PT, which became my specialty. I loved his style, including how he quickly dug down to the root of every problem, and it really rubbed off on me. Like Dr. Banks, he also had an endearing sense of humor — I guess I like when my professors keep things interesting! Without both of these incredible teachers, I know I wouldn’t be the same person or the same PT that I am today. If you have a favorite teacher, I’d love to hear about them when I see you in the clinic this month. Let’s celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week right.

–Dr. Thomas Cleveland

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