Falling in love with the Skilled Nursing Facility Setting
After graduating as a Physical Therapy Assistant, Scott Balahoski began his search for a full time position. Balahoski had mostly worked in an outpatient setting during school, but as he searched for full time, he found the position for a PTA at Providence, a skilled nursing facility in West Michigan.
Balahoski knew from a clinical rotation in long term care that he enjoyed working with geriatric patients, and decided to pursue the position. For most cases, patients come with a wide range of factors that need to be considered, and caring for them involves working closely with a team of social workers, nurses and doctors, as well as other therapists. With complex cases, all of these individuals, working in sync with one another, creates a great atmosphere that Scott greatly appreciates.This team environment caused him to fall in love with working in the skilled nursing setting.
Being Successful in Long Term Care
With all of these layers of care in a skilled setting, patience and compassion are two qualities required for success. “Patience is a key thing to have,” says Balahoski. But compassion and trying to see things from the point of view of the resident will ultimately bring the most reward. Balahoski states, “If you have compassion you are going to be the most rewarded.”
Challenges and Hindrances to “Going Home”
Most of the patients who attend physical therapy in SNF have one desire–to go home. There are times, however, when patients cannot make it home, which Balahoski finds to be one of the big stressors of working as a therapist with an elderly population. Another big stressor is that because the population is elderly, there are some cognitive deficits, dementia being the most common. Dementia and other medical impairments can cause difficulties when communicating about what needs to be done for rehabilitation.
The Assets of a Team
When stressful situations arise, the solutions is to ask for help, says Balahoski. One of the strengths of working in a skilled setting is the variety of resources at your fingertips. And don’t forget, Balahoski reminds each therapist, that “you bring something to the team.”
Becoming a Director of Rehabilitation
It was Balahoski’s ability to work on a team with complex cases that have allowed him to move on up to being the Rehabilitation Director of Therapy at Providence, which he enjoys a great deal. He says that as a director, “You are the go-to person.” He adds that you also have a vantage point that allows you to see the progress in people’s lives a little more clearly. He hopes one day to move even farther up the ladder and be a regional director. “It’s great to be a part of the solution,” says Balahoski. By working in skilled nursing as a director, Scott feels like he is making a difference in the care given to the whole facility.