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Long, dark and crispy cold December nights beg for quiet reflection. Yet, the world busies itself around us as we complete the academics semester, juggle work leave schedules so everyone gets to participate in some portion of the holidays, prepare for get togethers and traditions, anticipate the future of changes in healthcare post-election, and witness the changes caused by nature’s strength – as with the wildfires in southeast Kentucky and the Smoky Mountains. Amidst this, it can be difficult to slow down to nature’s pace and soak in all that has happened in the past year. As I enjoy the soft glow of lights and candles we use to both celebrate the season and augment my need for light to guide me through the short days of winter, it becomes easier to contemplate the events of the past 12 months.

Four short weeks ago, I was in Columbus in November for a wonderful continuing education program that highlighted the depth and richness of the dedication our Consortium’s CCCEs and CIs have to student growth and learning – and the future of our profession. I learned of the involvement that some of our acute care sites have with brain injury and concussion research, met with CIs who have been able to skillfully extract the best of educating students and keeping abreast of current trends through students to ultimately benefit their patients, and have continued to discern how to best approach novel and challenging situations in clinical education.

A month before that, I spent a few days amidst cacti and desert mountains in Phoenix at the APTA/ACAPT Education Leadership Conference with several hundred of my favorite other physical therapy educators. Our Consortium was well-represented in the multitude of presentations and platforms available. Our academic and clinical partners presented on topics ranging from developing international PT student programs so that they make lasting global impacts to the restructuring the value of a clinical education partnership – and many more! Among the attendees was our Consortium’s Peter D. Mosher Award winner, Gina Boerger, a dedicated clinician educator and a first time attendee. Her excitement at the clinical education offerings for CIs spilled over to those around us. ELC 2017 is slated to be held in Columbus – we will keep you posted on scholarship offerings and more as the time approaches. In reflecting on what I have learned and participated in this year, I find myself looking forward to building on this foundation in the coming year.

As the winter darkness envelopes us, I hope to continue to absorb all of the ways in which I have grown, with the input of the national, consortial and local physical therapy communities I am a part of. I learn from my students and the patients whose paths cross mine. I hope that with all of the uncertainties of darkness and the changes that winter and a new year inevitably bring, I am able to absorb and reflect light it in the months of winter and beyond with the communities that have shared so much with me in this past year. A Japanese proverb resonates as I work to balance this all: "One kind word can warm three winter months." I hope my winter reflections on all of the kindness, skill and wisdom I have been gifted this past year can help me fuel warmth in others across this upcoming winter. Kind words allow us an inroad to paths of action in many cases. Here’s to a new year of sharing our love of physical therapy with our patients and students!

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