Having so many ties to small towns, many with populations around 2,000 or less, it’s pretty clear we have a soft spot for rural healthcare (in fact, it’s our specialty). We strongly believe that communities of all sizes deserve quality therapy services. New hires without small-town roots are often pleasantly surprised at what they encounter working in the rural healthcare space.
Growing up and going to school in larger cities, the small-town atmosphere has been well-received by occupational therapist and 2017 College of Saint Mary graduate Rachael Freml. “You definitely notice it’s rural. A lot of patients I’ve worked with are farmers or come from a farming background, and there is a small-town feel to the facility. I really like it,” she said.
The cliché of “everyone knows everyone” rings true. Rachael has seen the combination of small-town values and strong community, be it a farming background or the local Mennonite community, manifest as respect and kindness towards others and openness to working with therapists.
“It gives me ways to build rapport with them, since so many people here have a similar background. Going into working with a new resident I know what to chat with them about,” says Rachael. “It’s been useful to building rapport with all of my patients.”
Working as the sole occupational therapist at the skilled nursing facility in Kalona, Iowa straight out of college caused feelings of uncertainty. Rachael put it as, “I was fresh out of school and wondering who would be a resource for me?”
As our therapists discover, you’re never really alone. Rachael was able to grow and learn as a therapist through taking advantage of weekly visits by the previous supervising therapist. Over the past nine months, Rachael says she has also become more resourceful. She has benefited from getting better at seeking out information, using tools like Facebook groups to stay in touch with peers, and learning from questions being asked within the group.
“Kalona has been a really great place to learn. Coming to a small town was definitely the right choice for me,” Rachael said.