Charlene Patterson Career Spotlight
Charlene Patterson is a Physical Therapist (PT) who works in the primary health-care umbrella in Swift Current. Below is her experience working as a Physical Therapist with the Saskatchewan Health Authority:
What health-care services do you provide?
"I work under a primary health-care umbrella in Swift Current. I work out of several facilities and in people’s homes. I travel to Herbert once every two weeks, I spend my mornings in clover house in Swift Current and then complete home care visits out in the community in the afternoon. I also provide service to our Long-term Care (LTC) facility in Swift Current - The Meadows once per week."
What are you responsible for as a Physical Therapist? Please describe a typical day for yourself.
"I am responsible for helping people maintain their mobility or improve their mobility after an injury. I typically start my day in clover house where I see people who have typically left hospital recently. They are not ready for home and aren’t medically acute anymore. I see clients with neurological diagnoses like stroke/Multiple Sclerosis (MS)/Parkinson’s. I also see people recovering from acute illness- pneumonia,COVID-19 etc and then other clients who might have broken a bone and need to work on their mobility to return home. In the afternoon, I go out into the community and see clientele who are quite similar to those I see in clover house. A large part of my home care caseload is helping people improve their strength/balance after a fall or in an attempt to prevent falls."
How is your work-life balance as a Physical Therapist? Please compare your current experience with other jobs you have had in the past.
"Health-care is a busy place to work right now especially in rural communities where recruitment needs are higher. Our team is working really hard to deliver quality care to our patients. I have the privilege of working Monday to Friday 8:00AM - 4:30PM so I have evenings and weekends to coach volleyball, garden, and play sports which I enjoy."
Have you always wanted to be a Physical Therapist? Tell us more about your career path!
"I wasn’t always sure I wanted to be a physical therapist, I had also considered being a physician or an Occupational Therapist (OT). I was scared of wheelchairs so I applied to physical therapy first and was able to get into the program so I stuck with PT. It was difficult to get into PT school - I had to maintain a good average during my undergraduate degree, then had to pass an interview to get accepted into the school. Once I was in school I found that PT was the place for me. I believe exercise is medicine and as a physical therapist that’s my greatest tool for change!"
Are there opportunities to further your career as a Physical Therapist?
"There are a lot of subspecialties that physical therapists can learn and then use as a practitioner. Lots of PTs do continuing education in musculoskeletal levels, pelvic floor, dry needling, myofascial release, vestibular therapy, specialty neurological training the list continues on and on. We have a lot of areas that people can learn about and specialize in so for someone who isn’t quite sure what their niche is you can try out a few things and decide what you really enjoy."
Do you have any advice for students or new graduates looking to pursue a career as a Physical Therapist?
"My advice would be spend a day with a physical therapist in different settings. Shadow a therapist for a day in the health authority and then do the same thing in private practice. We have such a diverse scope of practice that you can really find what you enjoy and go with it. Currently, there always seems to be jobs in public and private practice for physical therapists so it’s a great career to pursue. If you want to get into this career work hard in school to get there!"
What is the number one thing you love about being a Physical Therapist?
"My favorite thing about being a PT is getting to know my clients and watching them progress over time. It is so rewarding to watch people get well! While it does not always go as planned it is rewarding when it does and I am so proud of clients when they work hard and achieve their goals."