Student Corner

By Angela Anderson, DOR, Gateway Transitional Care, Pocatello, Idaho
We had a unique opportunity a few weeks ago for three Pennant Idaho/Nevada DORs to present to Idaho State University PT and OT students as alumni of the very same program. Jason Balls, OT and DOR of Monte Vista Hills in Pocatello, Idaho, had the foresight to schedule a Lunch and Learn with ISU about a year ago. When the time came for this to happen, he was able to coordinate with Cory Robertson, Pennant Idaho/Nevada resource, and Jace Briggs, PT and DOR of Temple View Rehab in Rexburg, Idaho, as well as myself, Angela Anderson, PT and DOR of Gateway Transitional Care Center in Pocatello, Idaho. With the help of the recruiting resources — Scott Hollander and Stephanie Cole, who allowed us to use her PowerPoint she had put together for student presentations — we were able to pull together a Lunch and Learn at our Alma Mater.

Jason, Jace, and I all have in common that we graduated from the same program but we also all intended to work in different settings when we graduated. One by one, we found ourselves the happiest and most successful in the SNF/LTC setting at different Ensign-affiliated buildings. I received an email from the clinical coordinator a few days ago that had feedback from the students and it was mentioned a few times that they could all tell we were passionate about the setting. If one thing from our presentation to the students stuck with them, I am glad that it was this. We all love the elderly and the SNF/LTC setting.

Jason Balls and family

It was so fun to talk to a room full of therapy students about how we fell in love with geriatrics, how the myths of long-term care weren’t true. We talked about the opportunities for therapists there and how the need for talented and intelligent therapists and strong leaders was so great in the SNF/LTC space. We talked about how this setting is the ideal space to practice at the top of our license with the geriatric patient population and how we had the most opportunities to promote Physical and Occupational therapy as well as SLP in the Post-Acute Care space.

Jace Briggs and family

You could see the recognition sparking in many of their eyes when Jace talked about how he never intended to do anything but sports and orthopedic PT, and he even tried to leave an Ensign-affiliated building for a time to follow what he thought was his dream and why he went into this field. But he missed the culture, the teamwork, the complexity of the patients, and the IDT involvement. He realized he was meant for geriatrics and came back soon after becoming a DORiTO graduate and then the DOR of Temple View. The eyes of the PT/OT students followed that story word for word, seemingly incredulous, but each of our stories added to the one before. Jason relayed a similar story, only along the lines of Pediatric OT. The lifestyle and patient engagement in the SNF setting, the flexibility, and the work/life balance was highly preferable to the pediatric setting.

My own story began when I was pregnant during the physical therapy program. My focus through school was always women’s health, pre/post-natal, and pelvic health. I did not intend to work in LTC either. However, when my final clinical ended at the beginning of PPS, my CI, who was the current DOR, was just about to abandon his post and I was just about to graduate. He thought I had a gift for working with the elderly and recommended to the administrator that I replace him and stay at the building. I fell in love with the geriatric patient population at that building. I now have devoted a large portion of my life to leading SNF/LTC therapy teams. I am passionate about our residents and our setting. I know Jace and Jason and our DORs are as well. I am proud of us for conveying that passion to a class of students because hopefully they will seek out LTC/SNF settings in Ensign-affiliated buildings for student rotations and employment thereafter. If not, someday if they are at a job wondering whether they chose the right field because they don’t feel purpose or passion in their jobs, they will remember three other graduates of their program who found employment where they could be successful in their profession while finding joy and fulfillment in their day-to-day work. We had so much fun that we scheduled it for next year already!