PT Month Spotlight: Leah Jurek, PT
It’s officially October—and in the travel therapy world, that means it’s officially PT Month! PT Month is an opportunity for the healthcare community to honor the impact that PTs everywhere have on their patients and showcase the hard work they put into their practices every day. To help begin the celebration, we wanted to spotlight one of our own—meet Leah Jurek, a Med Travelers travel PT who knows how to get people moving.
Originally from Indiana, Leah has been a PT for 12 years along with her husband. After getting married in 2009, the couple migrated to Oregon, where they stayed for 10 years and had two children. Two years ago, they decided to live full time in an RV and transition to travel therapy—alternating PT contracts, so the other parent can homeschool the children. So, how did Leah find her way to travel therapy?
Getting Her Start
Reflecting on her therapy beginnings, Leah looks back fondly.
“I originally pursued PT because I was an athlete and witnessed many of my teammates getting PT through the years. I was always drawn to the medical field and decided that might be a good fit for me. Since graduating 12 years ago, I’ve enjoyed working with many types of patients in all different settings—I think I’m just one of those people who are wired to help others.”
After 10 years, Leah and her husband decided to make a change.
“My husband and I decided to pursue travel PT to allow us to spend more time doing what we value, which is traveling and connecting as a family. Our minimalist lifestyle and travel PT wage allow us to take about 3-4 months off each year to just travel and visit our family in Indiana.”
Travel has clearly offered its fair share of benefits for Leah and her family—but it has not come without its challenges as well.
Part of the career challenges Leah has experienced has been the product of a changing industry.
“Even though I’ve only been a PT for 12 years, I’ve seen a lot of change in that time. Like everyone else in the field, I feel the pressure to do more with less grow heavier, constantly. The hardest part for me is working to please my employer while not sacrificing the quality of care and clinical excellence.”
Leah hasn’t let this deter her efforts in making a positive impact on her patients.
“I try my best to understand the business aspect of PT and be cognizant of how I can have an impact there, but at the end of the day the thing that lets me sleep well isn’t how productive I was, but it’s knowing I’ve done all I can to help my patients. So, when I get overwhelmed, I just focus on how I can benefit the one patient in front of me at the time. I like to think of it as making small ripples, they all matter, and we will never know our true impact.”
That impact can shine through, however, with the many interactions that therapists have with their patients through the course of their work.
Special Patient Moments
Leah’s career has been no different.
“I’ve had so many touching experiences in my career that I’ll cherish forever.”
However, there are a few special moments that stand out to her.
“I’ve helped an elderly man be able to dance with his wife to their wedding song. I’ve had patients tell me if it weren’t for me, they would have given up long ago. Recently, I’ve enjoyed working in the deep south. The culture is so different from where I grew up and I’m relieved everyone laughs with me when I can’t understand their accents.”
She even got to test out her wrangling skills recently.
“A favorite moment recently is having a stroke patient bring in his lasso and give me a lesson! We all had a good laugh from that!”
Staying in Motion
In addition to the moments that she has shared with her patients, Leah has enjoyed the work-life balance that travel therapy offers.
“My favorite part of being a travel PT is that I never get that burnt-out feeling anymore—I also really enjoy learning and collaborating with other PTs all over the country. I’ve been fortunate to work with great teams so it can be hard at times to say goodbye but it’s easy to keep in touch these days.”
While Leah’s profession allows her to help other people move, she has worked extra hard to make sure she stays moving at home.
“This is something my husband and I have struggled with for years since having kids. So, we decided to create a solution to our own problem. This past year we created a family fitness card game called Flip Fit! We began selling it on our website over the summer and it’s been such a neat experience! We plan to produce more products soon that help
parents and kids enjoy staying active together.”
What a way to keep yourself and others in motion!
Aside from Flip Fit, Leah and her family also “enjoy hiking, swimming, biking, and just playing as a family!”
We want to thank Leah for taking the time to share her PT story with us and extend another hearty “thank you” this PT Month, to all the PTs out there who continue helping people get moving.