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FPTA Spotlight: Sierra Hutchison PT, DPT, CSCS

Where do you practice?

I practice at Health Park Care and Rehabilitation Center's Skilled Nursing Facility (associated with Lee Health Inc.) in Fort Myers, Florida.

Tell us about your practice.

At Health Park Care and Rehabilitation Center (HPCRC), we have an extensive rehab team of roughly 45 individuals (including PRN staff) between PT, OT, and SLP services. Our typical population is geriatric, ranging from ages 60-100. I see a variety of diagnoses between the "big three categories" — Musculoskeletal, Cardiopulmonary, and Neuromuscular. But as I'm sure you can guess, skilled nursing facility life is never simple. My patients often present with a deficit and a history of multiple co-morbidities, such as Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. 

What led you to want to become a PT?

When I was growing up, I thought I wanted to be an interior designer — until my father asked, "What kind of job security is in that?" No offense to any brave interior designers, but my father's question made me think harder about what career to pursue. And as a result, I decided to focus on Athletic Training with the goal of going into Physical Therapy. A friend of mine was on the same path, and I thought to myself, "I'm athletic, and love sports — so what better career than getting to work with athletes?"

Fast-forward to many years later, as a rehab tech prior to the start of PT school, I fell in love with orthopedics. I had a clinical rotation at HPCRC, and I then fell in love with the Skilled Nursing Setting. I really felt fulfilled by helping people "return to life" and improve their overall autonomy. Thus, I fell into this career by chance, but I have been in love with it ever since.

What’s your favorite thing about PT?

My favorite thing about being a PT is walking into a room in the Skilled Nursing Setting and telling a patient, "We're going to walk today!" When they respond, "I haven't walked since my injury," I politely tell them, "I know," then I proceed to help them improve their overall mobility — and indeed walk. My patients' surprise and joy really makes this job worth it. In the setting I work in, patients are often sad and unmotivated. But as the PT, I often have to be their "motivation" — at least for a little while, until they start to see the benefits themselves. When my patients get ready to discharge, I hear comments like, "You really encouraged me and made a difference in my life. I couldn't have done this without you." I really feel like I'm making changes out here. To some that might not seem like much, but to those I help, it's everything — and that's what I love about being a PT. 


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