We sat down with Melissa Andhor, a physical therapist at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Petersburg in Virginia, to talk to her about what it is like to work in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital and her favorite part of coming to work. Here’s what she had to say:
Why did you choose PT in an inpatient rehabilitation hospital setting?
Previous to this job I worked at a skilled nursing facility. An inpatient rehabilitation hospital would have been ideal out of school, but I didn’t live near an Encompass Health at the time.
The most rewarding part of working with these patients is seeing how rapidly they can progress and also having the whole team approach. We always talk about stronger together (as one of Encompass Health’s core values) so having the availability of a nursing staff, medical doctor and case management to work so closely with, as well as your other therapists, is great. We work together in teams so I’m discussing all day every day with my occupational therapist teammate about how to achieve the patient’s goals. So I would say this setting is the most rewarding in that we get the time and intensity to work with the patients to achieve goals quickly.
What does your typical day look like?
Our typical schedule is six patients in a day. That fluctuates based on census, or if we are doing evaluations versus typical treatments. Sessions vary between an hour to 90 minutes based on patient tolerance and also what other therapies they are working on. Some patients are on speech therapy, and others are not. You always have to be aware of what the patient is going through and how they’re feeling. Patients are sometimes coming directly from acute care and you need to be aware of their medical issues and communicating with the team.
In general coming to work every day I think the golden rule, treating people how you want to be treated, is the culture of the company. Treating every patient as if they are your own family. Showing up every day with a smile on your face. Being empathetic to what the families are going through.
How is the relationship between PT and OT?
I always tell patients that occupational therapists work a lot on your day-to-day tasks—grooming, bathing, dressing. I work on getting you place to place to be able to do those tasks. So if I’m working with a patient on how to walk to the toilet and sit down and stand up from the toilet, the OT works with them on their ability to pull their pants down and clean themselves. I think there are a lot of grey areas where we are both working towards the same activity but different components of it. I’m more mobility and they are a lot more focused on fine motor and activities of daily living.
What motivates you to come to work?
As I said, my job is rewarding because I get to see how quickly patients progress. Not any day is the same as the one previous. I’m challenged every day to think outside of the box and do things that aren’t necessarily ordinary to achieve the patient’s goals. And I do think that we have the resources here available I haven’t had in previous positions to achieve those goals.
Why Encompass Health?
Not only do we have great equipment to help our patients, we have multiple different technologies to help us work on standing, walking and other movements. We also have the personnel support. Other places I have worked haven’t had the techs. We have therapy techs here to help us keep our patients on schedule. They are also able to help us physically if we need some hands-on assistance. As I said, the teamwork part of things is huge here, and I think it is great and unique here.