Taryn Wright is a new graduate Physical Therapist. Originally from New Castle, PA, Taryn graduated with her DPT in 2018 from Gannon University. Taryn chose to travel to not only adventure to new places and meet new people, but to work with many different clinicians. A well-rounded student, Taryn enjoyed all of her clinical rotations and needed to experience more settings prior to deciding on a setting to work in permanently. Taryn’s first travel assignment was in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) in Abington, VA for 13 weeks. Currently, Taryn is completing a 6-month home health assignment near the Outer Banks, NC! Having been on the assignment for 2 months, Taryn is ready to help other new graduates and younger clinicians take the leap into the home health setting.
Taryn was gracious enough to take the time to interview with me regarding making the transition and tools she used to help ease the process.
Why home health? Taryn replied, “I wanted to experience a different setting that I had not been in yet. They were open to new graduates, so I decided to give it a shot!”.
Like any new graduate, Taryn had some nerves prior to jumping into home health. When asked what made her most nervous about the home health setting, she replied, “The OASIS documentation…and being out there alone”. Two months into the contract, Taryn feels very confident in both of those areas!
To new graduates wanting to experience home health, but afraid to make the jump, Taryn says, “Just go for it! You’ll never know what it’s like until you try it”. To elaborate, she gives these SIX tips:
1) Make sure you ask questions about orientation and training time when you start
2) Ask if they supply your equipment that you’ll need in the field (Taryn received a bag containing a gait belt, thermometer, blood pressure cuff & stethoscope, pulse oximeter, etc).
3) GET COMFORTABLE TAKING VITALS!!!! Vitals are vital, especially in the home health setting. You have to take vitals every visit. There are parameters in the system that you have to know and will come up with a red flag. You will have to contact the physician if the vitals are not within the parameters. If you aren’t comfortable with vitals I would suggest practicing on family and friends often to get comfortable. VITALS ARE VITAL!
4) Mileage: You keep track of your mileage from patient to patient, so you can track it in the system and get paid. Sometimes I’m not great at math so I keep a planner that I write down my odometer reading between patients and the times I leave/arrive and spend with my patient. Then I can do math later to figure out mileage and travel time.
5) Documents: There are different types of documents that you will do in home health. There is an admission that includes the OASIS document plus your PT evaluation. Then there is just a PT evaluation if a nurse has done the admission. And for discharges there is a discipline discharge which is all the PT relate
things and an agency discharge which another OASIS document plus the PT discharge is. (OTs can’t do the admissions but can do the OASIS discharges)
6) Vehicle: A good vehicle is definitely important. Doesn’t have to be fancy or new but you will spend a decent amount of time in your car each day. You want it to be reliable, preferably good on gas, and comfortable. (I have an essential oils diffuser that connects to the car! You can find them on Amazon. It’s awesome!) Make sure you take care of your car! (oil changes, tire rotations, etc when needed)
Prior to beginning her assignment, Taryn went through a unique experience in which she completed 11 hours of OASIS training required through her agency. She tells me, “It was definitely worth the time. I was paid for the training hours through my travel company. It was not a requirement for the position, however, the travel company basically requires you to complete it! Which is great because it is so helpful!”.
Taryn completed the OASIS MedBridge training. She commends the program by stating, “They provide a lot of detailed instructions on how to complete and the specifics that Medicare is looking for. While I had some training time with my supervisor when I started, I was very comfortable with it because of the MedBridge training. It is very detailed and there are demonstration videos along with each lesson”. She also notes that the program included a full OASIS printable document, so you can see all of the questions and responses. The only thing she didn’t like about it, “It was long”, but again, worth the time!
One of the benefits of having a MedBridge subscription is having access to unlimited CEUs who are taught industry-leading professionals. MedBridge offers courses for every setting and every patient population. There are 415 courses for the Home Health setting. When switching between settings this can be an invaluable tool to not only increase your confidence, but your competence. Taryn tells me, “I looked at some stuff about wounds/wound care. I don’t have to do wound care but in the OASIS there is a section on Integumentary and you have to describe any wounds the patient has on their body. I just needed a little refresher”.
Taryn was also gracious to describe the on-site training & orientation she received in addition to what a typical day looks like in the setting.
“I had about two weeks for orientation. During that time, I rode with my supervisor and observed. Then I started some of the documentation. The next step was to do an admission (either with her there to ask questions or go out on my own and come back with questions). By the second week, I was getting very antsy, so I went out on my own to see a patient and came back to the office in case I needed help. The first couple of days, I started with one or two patients and then worked up from there”.
As for a typical day, Taryn describes:
“Each day I usually get to the office by 8am. I figure out what patients I will have for the day. I usually have a rough schedule at the beginning of the week and add to it as the week goes on when we get admissions/evaluations. The tablet we use has google maps, so I map out the patient to find the best route so I’m not driving back and forth all over the place. I figure out how much time it will take to travel then the estimated time I will need with the patient. Then I make calls to the patients and give time ranges (usually 30 minutes) of when I will be there. I am usually able to head out of the office by 9-9:30 to get started seeing patients. I don’t normally take a lunch unless I have time in the middle of the day if my estimates were off. I eat protein bars, protein shakes, and things that are quick and easy that I can eat sitting in my car. I travel throughout the day and see patients then head back to the office in the afternoon to do documentation and schedule my patients with the PTAs/Scheduler. (You don’t have to go to the office but if you want to get paid mileage to the first/last patient then you have to leave from and return to the office.)”.
As with all settings, there are certain productivity expectations. For Taryn, “I don’t get to do a lot of treatment visits. It’s mostly admissions, evaluations, re-evaluations, discharges. I normally see 3-4 patients/day. Admissions take a lot longer, so I don’t do more than 2 in a day”. For documentation, “I try to document some when I’m with the patient, but I am very hands on and talkative, so I end up not getting very much into the tablet. I write a lot down though, so I can add it later. I go back to the office in the afternoon and usually document for a few hours. Sometimes I document at home if I don’t feel like staying at the office to finish everything, but I add it to my daily hours”.
In the end, home health has pros and cons:
· The pros = FREEDOM – getting to make my own schedule, getting to travel and learn the areas of a new city
· The cons = not getting a lot of treatment visits, a LOT of documentation, being in the care all day gets boring.
Taryn has had a really enjoyable first experience in home health so far, stating, “My coworkers and supervisor are great! They make me really love this assignment and I know it’s going to be hard to leave!”.
Where will Taryn venture to next??? Right now, she’s unsure of her next destination or clinical setting, however, she is contemplating heading out west! Thanks Taryn for taking the time to help other new graduates looking to branch out into home health!
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