By: Dr. Beth Templin
As mentioned in my previous post, my lifelong dream of becoming a nurse soon changed. Even as I realized that nursing was not the profession for me, I couldn’t imagine being a college drop-out. That wasn’t me. That wasn’t my identity. I was a straight A student who loved to learn.
I didn’t stay out of school long and during the next semester in my new major of Exercise Sciences, I felt a new identity emerging for myself. Unlike in the nursing program where I was exposed to sickness and illness, I was exposed to health, wellness and fitness. I was actually required to take classes like Jogging, Volleyball, Swimming, Bowling and Weight Training as part of the curriculum. I loved it.
Needless to say, the rest of my undergrad career went by quickly. I continued to volunteer in physical therapy settings to make sure it was the profession I wanted to pursue. It was. I knew even before I started my schooling that I wanted to work with older adults. I loved my time in the nursing homes and hospitals, because it gave me the opportunity to work with and make a positive impact on older adults.
My rotations during school reaffirmed my belief that I wanted to be a geriatric physical therapist. I loved working with the aging population and knew after graduation I would want to continue specializing and make this the main focus of my career.
During physical therapy school we took a class which focused on the business side of things. For one of our group projects, we had to create our dream clinic. I remember being very unexcited about this project. As I recall, all I wanted to do was come up with the logo and color scheme. I really was not interested in learning how to come up with budgets or projections. I could have cared less because I was never going to be a clinic owner.
The reason I had such certainty that I would never start and own a physical therapy practice, was there were no specialized geriatric clinics. If you wanted to work with the aging population, you worked in the hospitals or the nursing homes. Wellness and fitness weren’t even on my radar at the point as a possibility. It just wasn’t being done.
After graduation, I started to work in the hospital setting, just like I always thought I would. Instead of being a nurse on the floors, I was a physical therapist helping people in a different way. It was perfect. I got to be in the hospital setting, working with people who were weak or injured or recovering from surgery. I got to help them learn how to stand and walk again.
Not long after starting my career, I found my way into the home health setting. Here, I really got to use a combination of my two strengths: a love for working with older adults and getting to work with medically complex patients. This was my happy place for 11 years.
After a while, I began to feel a disconnect, just like I did when I was in nursing school. I no longer found the same joy in what I was pursuing. This time I turned to my husband, Keith, for guidance and advice. I expressed to him that I was frustrated about how I would graduate people from our services without an effective plan in place to help them continue to be successful. To help them not need our services again in a few months.
I told him about how I had been day dreaming about creating my own practice, one which I could help people stay active and healthy instead of always going downhill and losing their health and independence. That I wanted to shift the focus of my career. Even though there weren’t that many examples out there of what I wanted to create, I thought there was a need out there that I could serve. A way I could find joy and fulfillment in my profession again.
With his blessing and full support, I started the process of creating my own business.
It’s funny to look back. When I was in school, I remember telling a classmate that I never wanted to do home health because I thought being out on my own would be terrifying. Overcoming that fear and trying something out of my comfort zone ended up being an amazing part of my career, which helped me truly hone my skills as a clinician.
When I was in school, I also said I’d never start my own business. I thought my fellow classmates who had those aspirations were crazy. Then, I felt called to start my business and create a new way to serve the aging population. To help them better meet their needs.
Once I took the leap to start my mobile physical therapy practice, I said I never wanted a physical location. Maybe one day down the road I’d have a small office space to serve as a home base and a meeting place for my team, but I had no big dreams of every having an actual outpatient clinic. Now, I have a 5000 square foot gym space.
What I’ve learned is to never let fear of change stop you from becoming who you want to be. Never let yourself feel trapped in an identity that doesn’t feel like it belongs to you. Never let fear stop you from doing something you feel called to do. Even if you fail, you won’t regret taking that risk.
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Dr. Beth helps adults 55+ understand the changes of aging and how to live a healthy active lifestyle, so they don’t start to miss out on the good things in life.