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Home Health Travel Jobs Deliver Adventures, Personal Rewards for Traveling DPT

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By Ed Lamb, Contributor

Mention “home health allied jobs,” and you will probably hear more concern than enthusiasm. Committed traveler Stephen Stockhausen, DPT, OCS, understands.

As written in a May 2016 PT Adventures blog post, the “misconception regarding home health care is that we only treat dehydrated little old ladies who recently fell and couldn’t get up.” This blog post was written by Stockhausen and his wife Ellen (doctor of physical therapy), to keep documentation of their experiences helping homebound patients.

We asked Stockhausen why the generally negative view of home health allied jobs should give way to appreciations of the flexibility and unique patient care opportunities such assignments afford. He detailed how each patient demands full use of his clinical knowledge and emotional capacity.

He also noted that taking home health allied jobs allows his family to pursue wilderness activities and extreme athletics to extents they never otherwise could.

Home Health Allied Jobs Range ‘From the Mundane to the Extravagant’

Stockhausen wrote that he treats “patients with just about every condition possible. From the mundane to the extravagant, if they cannot safely leave their home for care, that care is in our hands.”

While he specializes in orthopedics, pain management, and motor skills retention, he emphasized that home health allied jobs exist for providers with experience and certifications in neurological care, wound care, chemotherapy, and hospice care.

Stockhausen commented that he takes every chance to dispel the “prevailing (i.e., incorrect) perception that working in the home health setting is like being stuck in the doldrums. In fact, it is completely the opposite.

It’s in nearly every other rehab setting that a clinician’s skill set is boxed in by the inherent parameters of the job. Outpatient therapists will see 90 percent orthopedics; inpatient rehab will be largely neurological.”

Stockhausen wants allied health care professionals to know that “in home health, you are exposed to it all. I have treated everything from the most basic TKA [total knee arthroplasty] to postsurgical patients with left ventricular assistive devices placed.”

Clinical, Emotional Capacities Expanded by Home Health Allied Jobs

As the U.S. population ages, patients in need of home health care also grow older and more impaired by chronic conditions like dementia and cardiac disease that complicate therapy for acute problems.

Stockhausen confirmed this, noting he regularly “breaks out the old cardiopulmonary knowledge.”

Stockhausen also noted that entering a patient’s home confers a responsibility to act as a friend. For every exercise routine, there is a search for misplaced reading glasses.

“True,” he wrote, “there are some ‘needy’ clients that can be a headache to help out, but for the vast majority of them, it is a sort of honor to do so.”

The honor for Stockhausen comes in realizing that “for a shockingly high number of my patients I might be the only other human face that they will be seeing that day. If I am not willing to assist them, there is literally no one else who will.”

Mixing Pleasure With Home Health Allied Jobs

The Stockhausens met in the University of Kentucky DPT program and built their relationship from a shared love of rock climbing. They thought taking full-time positions in southwest Colorado would satisfy their desire for backcountry pursuits, but they decided to travel in the spring of 2014.

Now joined by a daughter and two dogs, they carry all their permanent possessions in the bed of their truck.

“We have been told on many occasions that we are ‘not normal people’," admitted Stockhausen.

“The adventures are the very best part of travel therapy,” he wrote when asked how he would sell travel home health to a colleague. “But adventure doesn’t happen all by itself. You have to go out and find it.”

To help others enjoy this aspect of home health allied jobs, Stockhausen advised, “Take advantage of the time you have when you have it. Contracts are only 13 weeks at the short end, so make a plan in advance and get after it.”

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