Assistant Physical Therapy Professor Ali Boolani, Clinical Assistant Professor Christopher Towler, Assistant Occupational Therapy Professors Alisha Ohl and David Schelly, and Jeri Reid, M.S. ’17, teamed up with Texas A&M University Professor Matthew Lee Smith, to publish a research article titled, “Health Differences in Didactic Versus Clinical Stage Graduate Allied Health Students.” The experiment studied Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Physician’s Assistant students’ health habits, both at the classroom stage of studies and the clinical phase.
“As the next generation of healthcare professionals, it is necessary that we are able to have meaningful conversations with our patients about living a healthy lifestyle and how that can help prevent many chronic diseases,” Reid said. “Yet, I found that despite our extensive training and knowledge about healthy lifestyle choices, myself and many other students around me were guilty of not implementing them in our own lives.” Reid said it is typical of graduate students to prioritize studies over everything, including physical and mental health. “It was important to me to conduct this study so we could identify what aspects of our health were suffering and during which phases of our training,” said Reid.
The study found that students in the classroom stage reported significantly higher tension/anxiety, depression, anger, confusion, fatigue, the total intensity of mental work performed and time spent sitting. Overall, the study showed that students in the classroom stages have worse mood and decreased health relative to their counterparts in clinical stages. “My hope is that this information can be used to make interventions and improve the health and wellness of students in the future,” Reid said.