Jason Lunden DPT, SCS wins Emerging Leader Award from APTA

Excel Physical Therapy is pleased to announce Jason Lunden, a member of their physical therapy team, has been awarded the 2013 Emerging Leader Award from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA).

This prestigious award honors a physical therapist that has demonstrated extraordinary service early in his or her physical therapy career and has exceptional contributions to the APTA and the physical therapy profession. Jason has been recognized in the APTA’s October PT In Motion Magazine issue. Excel Physical Therapy has served the Bozeman and Manhattan communities since 2001.

Here is the article from the PT In Motion Magazine October Issue:

APTA’s 2013 Emerging Leaders: Translating Vision into Reality

American scholar Warren Bennis once said, “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Many of APTA’s 25 Emerging Leaders for 2013 started translating visions for their career, their patients, and the profession even before they graduated.

  • By Lisa Iannucci
  • October 2013
Feature - Emerging Leaders

Christine Ross’ vision of the future in physical therapy began with the love for her grandmother. “I was very close to my grandmother and I worked with the older population at the YMCA, so I knew that I wanted to take care of patients who are older,” says Ross PT, DPT, GCS. While completing her studies at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, she founded the Geriatrics Physical Therapy Organization, a student organization designed to promote awareness and understanding of geriatric physical therapy within the university community.

Today, Ross-a staff therapist with the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas-is developing an innovative neurodegenerative fellowship to merge neurology and geriatric aspects of patient care.

Ross also has developed programs for specialized populations. She created a Stationary Bike Class in the MS Bike Ride for participants who could not complete the entire ride due to their condition. “There was an opportunity to raise money with individuals who have MS, and their caregivers, who are not functionally able to ride long distances, to ride stationary bikes,” she explains.

She also contributes to research on the participants of the National Senior Games in Nevada. “I’m helping Becca Jordre, PT, GCS, physical therapy professor at the University of South Dakota,” she says. “We collected 700 results on a fitness screen, looking at walking speed, balance, flexibility, and strength. Even though the individuals are playing in a senior game, we want to make sure they aren’t at risk for a fall or something else. If they have any issues, we provide them the resources in their community. They can address their problems and continue to play and participate in their sport.”

“One of my goals is to promote experts in the field of geriatrics to develop residencies that further educate the residents or graduating students to become experts and provide best practice for patients,” says Ross. “It makes sense to focus on the neurology aspect of this population, who might have Parkinson disease or Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a perfect example of APTA’s mission and provide the best practice and learning opportunities for practitioners who want to focus on working in these populations.”

Emily Sacca, PT, DPT, had a different yet equally clear vision. Sacca developed the Frankfort Advocacy Day in cooperation with the Kentucky Physical Therapy Association (KPTA) as part of her capstone project at Bellarmine University. Frankfort Advocacy Day has become a well-received annual event. This year, more than 130 KPTA members visited the capitol and advocated for physical therapy services to serve the citizens of the state.

As a staff physical therapist at Baptist Health Lexington, an acute care facility in Lexington, Kentucky, Sacca serves as the technician coordinator, the department’s representative for the facility’s ICU intensivists’ meetings, and a representative on the Patient Care Council. Her activities focus on patients in the hospital’s ICU, cardiac, neurological, orthopedic, and wound care areas.

“Not many new clinicians are committed to intensive care units,” she says, “It’s more of a niche and few are comfortable in an intensive care setting. However, I work with my community of doctors, nurses, and families on behalf of the patient.”

Sacca says that research shows benefits of early mobility programs for acute care patents. “Traditional bed rest is a thing of the past,” she asserts. “The quicker you can get people moving, the more capable they are of being able to tolerate procedures. I enjoy walking with patients who are on ventilators. We have seen incredible progress in strengthening with those patients.”

Unlike many other physical therapy settings in which PTs work with patients for weeks or months, the turnaround time in acute care is typically 3 to 5 days, Sacca says. That short time frame brings its own challenges. “The fast pace of acute care means you have new faces and challenges. That forces you to look at things differently.”

Speaking of looking at things differently, Sara Chan Reardon, PT, DPT, WCS, BCB-PMD, says that describes her career choice. From her early days of track and swimming in high school, she knew she wanted to help others, not sit behind a desk all day. She finished her physical therapy program and chose to specialize in women’s health.

“Entering the women’s health field was atypical for graduates,” says Reardon a physical therapist at the University of Texas Southwestern-Medical Center in Dallas.

She treats men and women with bladder and bowel dysfunction, sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain. She educates them on the relationship between the pelvic floor and their symptoms. She uses internal and external techniques, strengthening exercises, education, and modalities to improve muscle and tissue function along the floor of the pelvis throughout the pelvic girdle.

“I love what I do because of the relationship I develop with my patient,” she says. “It’s very personalized. There’s no cookie-cutter approach because everyone presents differently.” But although it’s been less than 7 years since Reardon graduated, she says times are changing quickly in women’s health. “There were 63 graduates in my class and only 1 had any interest in women’s health,” she says. “However, today there are more options for PTs who want to study in that area-including student special interest groups, mentorship programs, and women’s health residency.”

Reardon has focused some of her career on pelvic floor research, having abstracts published in the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy and presenting at the Missouri Physical Therapy Association annual conference.

But not all of the Emerging Leaders knew from an early age what they wanted to do. For example, Jason Lunden, PT, DPT, SCS, a graduate of the University of Minnesota, got a late start determining his career. It wasn’t until he became a physical therapy patient following knee surgery that he realized that physical therapy was the right career for him. Today, he works as a physical therapist at Excel Physical Therapy in Boseman, MT. He since has developed programs for injured runners and cyclists. In addition, he has developed injury prevention and treatment programs for athletes who play volleyball, soccer, and basketball. He also volunteers as a physical therapist for the US Snowboarding Team and the US Freeskiing Team.

Lunden says he’s pleased with the way the profession has expanded its focus. “There is more emphasis on injury prevention and screening and on the biomechanics of sports incorporated in one’s rehab,” says Lunden. “Today, we’re embracing more technology, including video analysis, to enhance what we’re able to do in the outpatient setting.”

When Megan Jahraus, PT, DPT, was growing up, she spent many years as a member of 4H and helped at a camp for children with disabilities. “As a lifeguard, I worked with campers with cerebral palsy and was amazed how much physical therapy helped them. 4H encompasses the head, heart, hands, and health, so it all ties in.”

Today, she works primarily with cancer patients at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She improved an existing program in the head and neck department that addresses discharge planning, resulting in a smoother, less traumatic transition to the patients’ post-treatment world.

Jahraus was nominated as an Emerging Leader by the Oncology Section. Lisa D. VanHoose, PT, PhD, CLT-LANA, president of the Oncology Section. VanHoose describes Jahraus’ accomplishments: “When moved to the stem cell transplant unit, she contributed to the Motivation and Moving program, an interdisciplinary group devoted to encouraging and rewarding these high acuity patients for their efforts to get out of their rooms and participate in physical activity. Central to these efforts was a unique group exercise class which she helped mold to meet the singular needs of this patient population.”

VanHoose adds, “She continued to demonstrate innovation when she moved to the outpatient unit of the Rehabilitation Department at MD Anderson. Here she developed exercise programs for the outpatient stem cell recipients, a program essential to their recovery from the rigors of the transplant process. In this setting she has been able to extend her inpatient experience with patients with head and neck tumors to their outpatient needs, creating a clinically useful and important continuity of care for these survivors.”

Jahraus comments, “These patients resonate with me. If I can do something to help them have their lives restored, that is great. The nurse, case worker, social worker, and chaplain discuss the patient’s needs and mobility. Is the patient in the right place? That’s a big deal when you’re going home.”

Committed to APTA’s Vision

In addition to following their own visions-whether it involves conducting research, helping patients with injuries, or injury prevention-this year’s emerging leaders also have embraced APTA’s vision.

“How we live is based on how we move” but there’s insufficient emphasis on teaching people how to move properly, says Reardon. “Physical therapists aim to be instrumental in everyone’s life.”

Addressing APTA’s new vision statement-that PTs should be involved in “transforming society by optimizing movement to improve the human experience”-Ross says, “We get physicals and gynecological exams every year, so ideally we should get PT exams every year too. We create plans to decrease pain, and create workout programs for New Year’s resolutions, or teach how to optimize health and fitness goals.”

Sarah Gross, PT, DPT, has focused her career on chronic pain intervention and management. She currently is the sole physical therapist in the Kaiser Permanente Pain Management Clinic in Portland, OR. Gross’ involvement and interest in chronic pain management connects with multiple elements of APTA’s strategic plan, including “improve the quality of life of their patients and clients” and “explore alternative and innovative models of care and promote implementation of innovative models of practice that target patient and client-centered care.”

Gross is a big proponent of motivational interviewing. She says, “Motivational interviewing is an approach for patient-therapist interaction that has its roots in helping patients change addictive behavior. I figured if the approach is successful in helping patients work through addiction, it also would be useful for improving adherence to the physical therapy plan of care and therefore improve patient outcomes. Instead of the usual information push, motivational interviewing draws out the patient’s reasons for wanting to make a change. It also allows for discussion about what obstacles they face.”

Gross says that she likes this approach because she partners with patients and work as a team. “We as PTs sell ourselves short if we just think of our role as treating a tissue, a bone, or a joint,” she says. “We are treating people.”

Another element of APTA’s strategic plan calls on PTs to “demonstrate and promote interprofessional and intraprofessional collaboration.” Gross created a regional pain management committee comprised of both physical and occupational therapists in order to improve how they treat patients with chronic pain. Further, says Chris Murphy, PT?-president of the Oregon Physical Therapy Association-“She also leads her clinic’s efforts to consult with pain management physicians in coordinating patient care, imaging needs, and differential diagnosis.”

Evidence-based practice is another focus of APTA’s strategic plan. Anson Rosenfeldt, PT, DPT, an emerging leader and a staff physical therapist at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, has embraced that principle. According to Pamela Dixon, MOT, OTR/L, who nominated Rosenfeldt, “She is heavily involved in our Evidence Based Practice SIG in our health system which has the goal of elevating the use of evidence-based practice and increasing quality and education of all therapists.”

Advocating for the Profession

Not only are the emerging leaders hard at work at their day jobs, but they go beyond a 9-to-5 routine to advocate for their profession. “We have to advocate for ourselves and fight for what our patients need,” says Sacca, who developed the Frankfort Advocacy Day. “The community at large should learn what we do and how we can help as health care reimbursement and coverage expectations evolve.”

Reardon, who is treasurer of the Section on Women’s Health, revamped the budget process and worked to educate her fellow board members and committees on how the budgeting process works. “I wanted everyone to understand what the goals are-to put money in reserve and to help support the vision of our board members,” she says.

Reardon is dedicated to giving back to her local community, speaking several times a year at local prostate support groups. She also is a member of the Section on Women’s Health, committing 20 hours per month. “Getting involved in the community and the section is being part of something bigger than myself,” says Reardon. “I’m dedicated to advocating for women’s and men’s health and PT in the medical community.”

Claire Melebeck, PT, DPT-an emerging leader nominated by the Louisiana chapter-is working closely with the chapter’s New Orleans District Chair to put on a first-ever physical therapy public awareness fair this month as part of National Physical Therapy Month.

Lunden gives regular community lectures on topics ranging from injury prevention in running to overuse injuries in cycling and injuries in skiing and snowboarding. Even as a student, he devoted much effort to advocating for the profession. While at the University of Minnesota, he won both the Mary McEvoy Award for Public Engagement and Leadership and the President’s Student Leadership and Service Award. He adds, “Being an active member in one’s community is an essential part of improving the quality of life around us.”

Erik Jacobs, PTA-the only physical therapist assistant in this year’s class of Emerging Leaders-has served as the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association’s PT Conduit Chair, which raises money for state legislative activities. According to WPTA president Kip Schick, PT, DPT, MBA, “Under his leadership, the PT Conduit balance has grown significantly, and the PT Conduit has increased contributions to support state legislative activities.”

Words of Advice

What advice does this year’s crop of emerging leaders offer for new PTs? Sacca encourages up-and-coming PTs to be continuous learners, benefitting from daily interactions with colleagues, supervisors, patients, and their families. “Being a PT means more than the credentials behind my name,” she says. “I encourage everyone to be involved in as many aspects of our profession as possible. Become saturated in patient care and understand the business and the advocacy side. These are huge components that can allow us to treat patients the way they should be treated.”

Lunden is as committed to involvement in the community as he is to his position as a PT. “Whether it’s educating on injury prevention or simple activities people can do if they are injured, all of that is within the APTA vision.”

Gross says, “I like being part of a team. I look for more ways to get educated and collaborate with other people. Stay open to opportunity. You may be outside of your boundaries, but what makes you happy?”

Megan Jahraus advises students and new grads to make a name for themselves. For example, she makes it a point to introduce herself to everyone she can. She explains what happened when she struck up a conversation with the plastic surgeons on the floor of the hospital at which she works. “From that conversation, I learned what they want their patients doing and not doing. And I got to watch a 12-hour procedure in which they took a bone from someone’s leg and rebuilt their jaw with it. It was incredible. You have to be willing to approach someone and try new things.”

Lisa Iannucci is a freelance writer.

Emerging Leaders Criteria

The purpose of the Emerging Leader Award is to identify and honor 1 physical therapist or physical therapist assistant “emerging leader” from each APTA chapter or section who has demonstrated extraordinary service early in his or her physical therapy career. The individual should have made exceptional overall accomplishments and contributions to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the component, and the physical therapy profession to advance APTA’s vision.

The nominee must be a current member of APTA for at least 5 years and no more than 10 years from formal graduation. The nominee must have current or prior service on 1 or more appointed or elected groups at the component or national level.