Caring for Patients as an Occupational Therapist

Gala Norwood heard the call to healthcare when she was a child. Like a lot of employees in this field, it just seemed obvious to dedicate her life to it, but she wasn’t entirely sure which direction the path would take her. She made her moves up the career ladder bit by bit and recognized that her true passion was occupational therapy, which brought her to Baptist Health twentysix years ago.   

“At that time, it was the only place in the state that was equipped for occupational therapy,” Gala said.  

She was still attending occupational therapy school, but she couldn’t keep away from the healthcare setting. She worked as an RCA (Rehab Care Associate), only leaving Baptist Health for a brief time to finish an internship. She was elated to find a position at the end of her internship and return to Baptist Health, a place she was called to.  

Baptist has got very caring people and workers. I love my coworkers. I know it’s a cliché, but we’re very patient-focused, especially in Home Health. You have to address everything that is going on in that home as far as the patient and their family’s medication and living situation, everything.   

Gala continued to stick with us, knowing we had what it takes to fully evaluate everything happening in our patient’s lives to provide the best care possible. Our hospitals and facilities have been celebrated for providing that excellent care, and our employees have had the opportunity to grow their skillsets as they help patients with a variety of ailments. 

I was mostly on the neuro team when I worked for Baptist Rehab, so I saw a lot of stroke and brain injury patients, which was very fascinating to me. But when you’re in Home Health, and you walk in, it’s whatever that person has. I still encounter stroke patients, but I also work with people who have hip and shoulder injuries, general weakness, COPD, or a long-term diagnosis. There’s a lot of patient education about the lifestyle and diet and checking their bodies for wounds. It’s different, but it’s made me a better therapist because there’s something challenging every day. 

For her, there is a familiarity in the variety. When therapists like Gala receive patients from acute care hospitals or local doctor’s offices, they have a personal relationship with that person for as long as it takes to achieve their goals.  

I usually see the same person 2-3 times a week for several weeks, but it changes every day. You can get a new person and have to work them into the schedule, but when you discharge someone whose met their goals, you can use their slot to help another person.  

There are three things that a person needs to do to thrive in occupational therapy, according to Gala: flexibility, communication, and caring.  

Flexibility is one of the biggest things because a lot can change when people are sick. It’s important to be a communicator because you are calling other doctors and educating families every single day. And finally, you have to be caring and compassionate, of course, because you’re caring for someone in their environment while they’re sick. Caring is just a given. You don’t need to be in healthcare if you don’t care about people. 

 Above all else, Baptist Health puts caring at the forefront of our values. Working in healthcare means that we’re interacting with people at a stressful and scary point in their lives, and we tend to them on an emotional and professional level. 

If your values reflect a caring heart, visit our career page to learn more about what we do at Baptist Health.  

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