Meet Jenni Ribbens, our Physical Therapist (PT) of the Month. With her nominator — a physical therapy assistant (PTA) that works under her — saying such things as “I’ve been extremely lucky and privileged to work under her as a PTA for the last year,” and how after 13 years in the field “I’ve never worked with a PT of this caliber and she deserves a nod,” — we were excited to sit down and learn more about her. Of course, she didn’t disappoint.
Unlike many physical therapists who are first exposed to the field after an athletic injury, Jenni stumbled into the career through an unlikely source; her college lab partner. “I wanted to be in a helping field of some sort. My chemistry lab partner introduced me to physical therapy and I tried some classes out and fell in love,” says Jenni.
Jenni joined the Foothills Sports Medicine team in August of 2014 and works in general orthopedics. She treats everything from post-surgical joint replacement to back pain, vertigo, and TMJ. A future goal of hers is to get into a niche specialty; serving breast cancer patients.
“It’s an underserved population,” Jenni explains. With the physical toll on the body from treatments and procedures, it is beneficial for all cancer patients, but especially breast cancer patients, to undergo physical therapy. Scar tissue restricts range of motion while the medicines and cancer itself contribute to muscle loss. A tailored program that stretches and conditions the muscles is formulated for these patients.
If you weren’t aware that physical therapy can help cancer patients you’re not alone. After asking her more about it, she explains that much of the medical industry is still learning about the benefits and starting to add physical therapy to the patient’s treatment program. Often, the doctor serving the patient needs to be informed about the merits first. In the future, it may become more popular.
To achieve this goal Jenni would need to obtain a continuing education certificate. She talks about wanting to do this certificate the “right way” and I get a suspicion that Jenni received the highest marks in classes throughout her physical therapy training; there’s a passion there.
The driving force behind that passion? People.
Her nominator echo’s this passion, “She goes out of her way and her patients appreciate it.”
When I ask Jenni about the best part of her job she says “I really enjoy meeting with different people from different walks of life, the social aspect. My patients tend to teach me as much as I teach them.”
She says she’s learned everyday things like new recipes to larger, impactful lessons like putting everyday stressors into perspective. “I treat people that are in pain all day; we’re all doing pretty well in comparison. I can get through these small things… my patients are going through things much larger,” Jenni says.
When Jenni isn’t at the clinic, her cattle dog, Saddie, keeps her busy. She’s often frequenting dog parks and taking Saddie on hikes and camping trips. Another hobby is reading. Her favorite author is legal thriller writer John Grisham — “I like that he’s very unpredictable. He’s killed off main characters” — and her favorite local restaurant is Floridino’s.
True to form, at the end of our talk, Jenni brings the conversation back to her work. She tells me she has no plans on leaving the career and closes by saying “I feel very blessed to have found this occupation.”
We left the conservation feeling inspired by Jenni. If you’re looking for a physical therapist in the Chandler area that has a heart and drive for her patients, schedule an appointment with Jenni Ribbens.
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