The New Team Player
For more than a year now, the physical therapy department at the skilled nursing facility where I work has had no staff turnover. This has enabled my colleagues and I to develop an efficient therapy team with excellent communication and interpersonal rapport. As each therapist has unique strengths to offer, from the seasoned specialist to the eager "newbie" (me), it's the patients who benefit.
Recently an additional full-time therapist was hired and the group dynamic has surprisingly not changed. Our new team member is an experienced PTA who has worked all over the country for many years at a variety of different SNFs, hospitals and PT clinics. With her vast experience comes a huge personality as well.
Immediately, I noticed this therapist was quite outspoken and much louder compared to the "team." Honestly, I was more than a little put off when she insisted on giving me her (unsolicited) clinical opinion on a patient -- in the middle of the treatment -- when I was simply trying to follow the plan of care established by the primary PT.
I wasn't the only one who noticed, since one physical therapist had to remind this PTA that she had to "tone down her voice" due to the easily over-stimulated patients. After a year of quiet efficiency, it felt like someone just did a "cannonball dive" in the therapy "hot tub." The waters were indeed churned.
It took a few months of integration and observing this new therapist in action daily but she now is one of my favorite people on staff. As I discovered, she is one tough cookie -- standing up for her patients' needs whether confronting a CNA or the rehab director. She is a wealth of knowledge for this new therapist and is generous with her time to stop and answer a clinical question. And finally, she's a "working mom" just like myself -- amazingly the only other mother working full time in the PT department. This is a huge commonality and support to have with a fellow colleague.
The new team player is working out and we're a stronger rehab department with her in it. I'll be keeping this in mind if I allow my first impressions to pass judgment on another "spirited" colleague or patient.