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Journey of a DPT Student

Reflections on a Student's First CSM

Published January 28, 2013 6:36 PM by Lauren Rosso

I just returned from my first trip to the APTA's Combined Sections Meeting, and I'm left with a variety of feelings about the experience. Overall, I would consider the trip a success, but there were definitely some aspects of CSM that left something to be desired. I did a lot of reflecting on the flight home, and here's what I came up with.

There were some very enlightening and intriguing lectures about emerging research that really served to supplement my current knowledge base. I attended a lecture about pediatric lower-extremity injuries and the differences between treating children and adults, as well as how their injuries develop. We've had limited exposure to pediatric physical therapy, so it was great to attend a lecture that addressed some questions I had regarding pediatric treatment. I was also very intrigued by the research of Amy Bastian. I unfortunately missed her lecture, "Cerebellar Contributions to Sensorimotor Function and Learning," which I heard was fantastic, but I was really excited to hear her talk during a different gait lecture.

As exciting as some of the lectures were, others were a letdown. I will take partial blame for my disinterest in some of the lectures -- I went out on a limb in selecting some that I'm really not interested in. Others, however, namely some in the neurology section, left very much to be desired and I was disappointed. In an effort not to make enemies I won't name specific lectures, although most took place on the first day. This unfortunately left a bad impression, and I was much less motivated and excited about subsequent days of the conference. Other lectures, while interesting, were exactly the information we have recently covered in class. I suppose that speaks volumes about the faculty at Pitt, but I still wasn't thrilled to sit through a repeat lecture. I'll just have to be more careful about what I select next year.

I was very proud of a few of my classmates, which alone made the trip worth it. Matt Debole, who is on the student board of directions, was nothing short of inspiring as I watched him fill his days from start to finish with lectures and meetings without a single complaint. My other classmate Eric Lehman was recognized by the Orthopedic Section as "Student of the Year." We all went to the awards ceremony and it was great to see the University of Pittsburgh so well represented. Another cohort of my classmates successfully launched Log ‘N Blog to raise money for the Foundation for Physical Therapy. It's wonderful to be surrounded by such involved and exciting people!

I'll definitely have to change the way I approach CSM next year, but I think I'll go back again. I hope I can iron out some of the kinks to make CSM 2014 an absolute success.


I was able to attend my first national conference this year at the 2015 CSM in Indianapolis, Indiana. I traveled with one of my classmates and had a great overall experience. I tried to plan out my conference schedule before arriving, but ended up changing my plans quite a bit after reading through the program booklet I received upon check-in. The program guide was extremely helpful with descriptions of each educational session, a list of platform presentations, location and titles of poster presentations, and maps of the convention center. Like any other conference, I enjoyed some of the educational sessions more than others. Overall, I thought the material presented was worth while. The primary purpose of my attendance at the conference was to present my lab's research in a poster presentation. The guidelines and directions for poster presenters were well-communicated and all the resources I needed were provided. The posters were presented in the exhibit hall where the vendors and other exhibits were located. This allowed for people to float between vendors, exhibits and posters on their own time. As a student, I enjoyed speaking with recruiters and hearing about job and residency opportunities. I was also able to hear about equipment/tools to be used in the clinic and had the opportunity to sample these products. Overall, I thought CSM was a great experience - especially for a student. I would recommend it to anyone who is considering attending in the future.

Rebecca, Student Physical Therapist March 1, 2015 8:09 PM
Greenville NC

I wasn't able to attend the CSM this year but did attend the NSC in DC. My feelings about the NSC closely match yours for the CSM. It was a great networking event but the vast majority of the material has been covered in my curriculum. I did attend a class on nerve conduction studies that was enlightening about potential endeavors post-graduation. The private practice section meeting was also encouraging and motivating for someone like myself that has considered private practice. If someone were to ask my overall opinion I would say to go. Ideally, one should attend the NSC their first year of PT school. I attended in my third year and much of the information I had already received. Overall, it was a good experience and I would rather view it as positive networking opportunity than a redundant learning experience.

Kristen March 24, 2013 10:00 PM
Greenville NC

Toni- it's been reassuring to hear from a lot of people, clinicians included, that the first day or two were not the best.  It makes me think next year will be better.  I also found conversations and networking opportunities to be really useful- especially as a student.  I'm glad you have some new research ahead of you!  I'm interested to hear what it's about.

Lauren Rosso February 2, 2013 9:08 PM

I agree. Most of the neuro lectures on the first day left something to be desired.  But on the 3rd day they hit it out of the ballpark.  Park of the problem is the vagueness of the descriptions.  Another problem I run into is everything I want to hear is offered at the same time.

I actually got to speak to some of my favorite researchers and got emails for future projects.  I was excited to be speaking to people who understood what I was saying. Which goes to show CSM is somewhat you make of it.  I learned more in those conversations than in an entire presentation.

Hang in there.  There's always next year.

Toni January 31, 2013 6:36 PM

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