“You never appreciate how much you need your hands until you can no longer use them.”
In honor of Hand Therapy Week 2021, I wanted to share my journey to deciding to become a Hand Therapist, why I chose this profession, and how I quickly learned that it truly a two-handed world out there. It starts with my first career in Athletic Training. I loved being an athletic trainer and still practice athletic training, in addition to my full-time hand therapy gig. My interest in hands first sparked when part of my education for athletic training involved clinical rotations at a physical therapy clinic that had two hand therapists. While I had originally planned on following the physical therapists, I found myself more interested in the work the hand therapists were doing. It was enough for me to make a switch to exclusively hand therapy for the rest of my clinicals.
One of the major reasons I enjoyed this experience was because of the impact these hand therapists were having on their patients’ lives. It was so apparent that these hand therapists were making an incredible difference and that really resonated with me. I also loved the idea of treating a wide variety of patients ranging from traumatic accidents and disability, to broken bones, to tendon repairs, and everything in between. Although I still wanted to finish my degree and become an athletic trainer, I had my eye on hand therapy as my end goal from that clinical rotation forward.
After graduation, I worked as an athletic trainer at a high school in Chicago for 3 years, where I began planning my next professional step. At this point, my end goal was still hand therapy. I was proud to be accepted into Maryville University’s Occupational Therapy Master’s Program and graduated in 2018. With my mind still set on hand therapy, I was thrilled to get a job almost right away working as a hand therapist. I worked in different outpatient physical therapy companies for 2 years and learned a great amount about myself and hand therapy. You never appreciate how much you need your hands until you can no longer use them. Over the past 3 years, I have helped countless patients who realized this due to an injury. I also enjoy using my background in Occupational Therapy to help patients adapt and learn how to be successful in achieving their goals – no matter how big or small. Seeing my patients’ quality of life improve by regaining use of their hands is where it’s at for me.
By working locally in the world of hand therapy, it did not take me long to set my sights on working for Axes Physical Therapy. I would always tell my fiancé every time we passed an Axes location that that is where I wanted to end up as a hand therapist! Needless to say, I am excited to be on the Axes Hand Therapy team. I love how patient-centered Axes is and how the company goes above and beyond to make their employees feel supported. I have incredible hand therapy mentors as well as other mentors throughout the company. As corny as this sounds, working as a hand therapist at Axes is really a dream come true. I cannot wait to make a difference in my patients’ lives as a hand therapist for many years to come! I will be forever thankful for that initial clinical rotation because it truly led me to find my niche.