March 6, 2022

The Hybrid Clinician: Finding Joy in Work at CityPT

by Monika Lukasiewicz, OTR/L, CLIPP
Monika Lukasiewicz

You may have heard the idea that "innovation breeds more innovation." Yet, many medical professionals find themselves pigeon-holed into specific expectations that are laid out for them by their employers or insurance companies, squashing any opportunity for creativity and inspiration. With rapid changes in company dynamics and the way medical care is delivered, there is a new opportunity for finding joy in work as clinicians once again.

In the story below, you will learn about one therapist’s powerful journey and the personal growth she achieved by embracing change and her non-clinical creativity. Here is Monika's story:

Table of Contents

My Experience with Technology as a Clinician

If you were to ask me about new technology a year ago, I’d have rolled my eyes. (Eeek. I know. It’s true though.) I now regret this stance and it has become a lesson and inspiration for my life and career.

The majority of my occupational therapy (OT) career had been dedicated to home health. In the setting of home health, I frequently saw that the most effective solutions for driving positive outcomes almost never involved technology. Plus, it seemed that payor sources (aka insurance) preferred non-tech treatment methods.

Rather than technology, it was often an individualized OT recommendation of a bathing tool, dressing supply (or adaptive equipment), or skilled problem solving to develop and implement a tweak of the client’s routine that led to the biggest breakthroughs. Hence, I had a poo-poo attitude towards technology.

(Again, I know. Just bringing the honesty train here.)

Yet a part of me, as a clinician, knew that I needed and wanted to stay open to how technology could help. I knew I was missing seeing the big picture of how therapy, client needs, and technology could not just coexist, but be a beautiful braid in our communities. It was having this sliver of openness in my attitude that gave me enough room to be curious.

Seeking New Work Opportunities Led Me to Tech

Within months of seeking new options for my career, a friend that recognized the immense value in technology (and co-creator of the Rehab Tech Summit would introduce me to the founder and CEO of CityPT, Andrew Shirk. She raved about his vision, demeanor, respect for therapists, and his drive to innovate. Plus, she appreciated his refreshing wellness-meets-musculoskeletal-rehab model that truly helps patients thrive in their treatment programs and lives.

Note: It only seems appropriate to also credit Sarah Lyon of the OT Potential Club and Meredith Castin of the The Non-Clinical PT who were some of the first therapists, in addition to Lauren Sheehan, who really encouraged the perspective of preparing for and getting to know the technology and "future" of therapy. A massive thank you to all the giants who have helped me attain this new awareness and experience.

Finding Joy at CityPT

Andrew Shirk proved to be the gem Lauren described and we’d end up working together for one of my first roles as a "Hybrid Clinician" (utilizing technology to tap into my creative and innovative side as both a clinician AND non-clinician). He thinks like both an artist and scientist — and I loved that. I closely related to this from my OT training and experiences.

As I began my journey at CityPT, I still worked as a home health occupational therapist (with a lighter caseload) while working as a Creative Strategist and Content Creator at CityPT. During the months of working with CityPT, a new breeze of inspiration, clarity, and growth would blow through my career.

I wanted to share a few of the nuggets I will always treasure from my time with CityPT (a community I look forward to continuing to grow with and be part of):

Get Amidst Potent Minds

Because I was mostly working solo in home health, I was not privy to high level discussions around marketing, growth, and innovation. Suddenly, I had the opportunity to be part of, and truly contribute to, conversations via online meetings or internal chats/email. With this, I noticed there was a new quality of conversation happening and interest in my input. And I liked it. I was so hungry for it.

We were challenging each other to find new solutions, to give feedback, to share the new research and to wrestle with how it applied to solutions we could bring to those we served. The team was thinking at a different level, and they wanted me to be part of it for the greater good. I watched as this process and approach to the work, worked! It was definitely benefiting therapists and patients alike.

Surround Yourself with a Fresh Attitude

It's so easy for someone to get stuck in a big rut. Once there, it's hard to see the possibilities. Fear can set in, and it can feel easier to follow the status quo even if you aren’t feeling fulfilled. Yet, it's at this time when a major change needs to happen to help you continue growing in your career and personal life.

This may start with you, or you may need to borrow it from some new friends. In the case of my work with CityPT, I needed the relationship with others on the team to help me really shift into a new, innovative, confident, and more assertive attitude. The team had a freshness in their attitude: towards each other, towards the work, towards me, and towards solving some of healthcare’s biggest challenges. And I loved this freshness and collaboration.

Marinate in Encouragement to Innovate

The inspiration that had led me to do things in the past, like create the Home Health OT Explorer podcast were on pause. I needed community and encouragement to re-engage and innovate. For a variety of reasons, over the past two years, the parts of me that loved and were born to innovate seemed to have grown brittle, feeble, and weary. That is until I started working with CityPT. Andrew and his team, including June Srisethnil and Libby Bergman, were constantly innovating and encouraging it.

What?! To have not only permission, but also encouragement and support to innovate was indescribable. It was one of the first times in my career (in a very long time), that no idea was off the table. I was working for someone who really wanted and hoped I would use the most innovative parts of my experience and skills to identify new solutions, processes, or content.

Having this option reminded me of how important this opportunity is in my work. Feeling empowered to innovate led me to say yes to the full-time dream job at Oakwood Creative Care that I was offered within months of starting at CityPT. (Hint: "innovative" and "visionary leader" were in the job description!)

Dig Into the Relationships First

As a frontline worker in home health during the pandemic, I had started to go numb and feel like a number. I was growing distant from my passion and purpose as a clinician. I felt disconnected as a team member due to how limited the team growth had become. This was in part due to the pandemic, as well as the new PDGM Medicare regulations. I had begun to lose the personal relationship, the personal connection to my work without even realizing it…until I began to work with CityPT.

After working with CityPT, I noticed how much I enjoyed really getting to know team members and interacting with them, even if via phone, online meetings or internal chat dialogue. I didn’t feel like a number or just another therapist. At CityPT, I felt like a person and a valuable team member. That was priceless and helped me wake back up in my career and contributions.

Try Something New with Your Skills

When I started at CityPT as a Creative Strategist and Content Writer, I was hesitant because it had not been a full-time focus in my past. Yet, I knew I LOVED and was GOOD at being a creative contributor. Saying yes to working with CityPT meant saying yes to walking into the unknown and trying something new. This initially felt awkward because of how accustomed I’d become to the click-box methods of the current medical model of healthcare happening in so many settings.

I had to give myself permission to go ahead and try something new. AND I AM SO GLAD I DID. Stepping far outside my comfort zone gave me a new start and opportunity to grow like never before.

Give Yourself Permission to Fumble: This is New

On this note of trying new things, I must also admit that I got frustrated. The upside of working in a click-box system is predictability and minimized communication, especially about innovation. When I came to work with CityPT, I was frustrated with myself because I didn’t know how to communicate about topics of innovation, customized projects, and deadlines. I fumbled. And I grew. I learned how to seek understanding in effective and assertive ways and to be compassionate. And I received these things. I love how the process of working with the CityPT leadership team helped me grow.

Show Up with Compassion: It’s New Terrain

As I grumbled at myself (with a former, unhelpful habit of being hard on myself) I soon learned how silly and ineffective it was to have such unrealistic expectations. Instead, I found immediate solutions, softness, and communion with the use of humor and compassion. Andrew also helped me learn through his own easy use of humor and a fun attitude.

It was so freeing and helpful to lighten up and see how we were all showing up to do something new with each other, and what a gift that ultimately was. My interactions with CityPT helped me give myself (and others) more grace to live, learn, and grow.

Sink into Fresh Resources

Before I even knew it, I noticed new links, new technology (what?!), new research, new ideas, new topics, new conversations, and new introductions happening as a result of my work with CityPT. Each of these fresh resources put wind in my sails. I had landed on a team and in a culture that valued not only quality content, but also innovative collaboration (especially with technology and clinical practice that breeds quality and efficient outcomes). And most importantly, this could be done together with an attitude of joy.

Thriving as a Hybrid Clinician

The experience with CityPT ultimately confirmed that I indeed thrive when I get to be both clinical and non-clinical, or as it is now being coined a Hybrid Clinician. I got to be a pinball in the pinball machine of my career and life, and to watch as lights flew on with the fresh encounters I was graced with during my time with CityPT.

I will forever be grateful for this time and I’m genuinely excited for the innovation, relationships, quality, and joy that CityPT is bringing back to the rehab and technology community as a whole–especially for the clinicians and clients.

Innovative Care for Both Clinicians and Clients

For any clinician, CityPT offers immense opportunities for growth, community, innovation, and beyond. This greatly benefits anyone seeking treatment (virtual physical therapy or not). Instead of working with clinicians that are burned out and following the status quo, clients will encounter inspiration, joy, and creativity that will ultimately guide (and empower) them to identify and reach their goals. It’s new territory for all parties involved and I encourage everyone to get involved!

Before you go, please read our disclaimer. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. We are not providing legal or medical advice and this blog does not create a provider-patient relationship. Do not rely on our blog (or any blog) for medical information. Always seek the help of a qualified medical professional who has assessed you and understands your condition.