Clinical Instructors: One of the Most Influential Parts of Our Professional Growth

By Joseph Benzon (JB) Chua, PT, CEEAA, DOR, Summerfield Healthcare, Santa Rosa, CA
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” — Anthony J. D’Angelo

Clinical Instructors (CIs) are individuals who will create, mold and influence our personalities as we tackle the ever-changing world of healthcare. I, myself, started as a student who was trained by some of the best therapists in our organization.

Janet Weinberger, PT, was a lead PT at Summerfield when she took me under her wings and taught me not only great clinical skills, but also strong clinical documentation skills. She’s now on our ADR and Appeals team. Janet’s DOR was Lori O’Hara, SLP. She led her team in Summerfield with her great knowledge and driven attitude and had inspired me to do the same. Lori is now the lead therapist helping us navigate the new payment system of PDPM. Lastly, my former DOR and resource, Gina Tucker-Roghi, OTR, helped me to identify the unique talent of every individual and foster these individuals to really shine (much like her Abilities Care Approach, right?).

When the pandemic hit us in March 2020, our student program at Summerfield halted and we had to send three students back to their school because of the strict restrictions given to skilled nursing facilities. Every single month, therapists as well as academic site coordinators were asking when we would be ready to get the students back in our building. In May 2021, we accepted our very first PT student post-pandemic from Samuel Merritt University, where one of our therapy resources, Ciara Cox, also teaches. The student’s name is Natalia Gonzalez-Smith. Her CI, a newly hired PT (in the same month that Natalia started) named Siddharth “Sid” Mourya, PT, is ready to tackle the challenge of teaching his first student.

Both student and CI inspired me with their willingness to learn from each other, to identify clinical approaches to provide the best care for our residents, and to develop programs for our long-term population to minimize their risk of decline in function and learning the Ensign way. Natalia finished her clinical rotation with flying colors, providing us with a great case study backed up with evidenced-based research that helped even the seasoned therapists in their clinical approach. In return, we sent her off with a piñata party, where she showed her happiness by hitting the piñata as hard as she could and shared the candies inside it. As for Sid, he was set to take his Credentialed Clinical Instructor Program course mid-July. He enjoyed the experience and encouraged his wife (who is also a PT) to do the same.

Our profession as well as our organization is shaped by each and every talented and driven therapist. Share your knowledge and keep the passion for learning alive.