By Gail Braun, PT
My name is Gail Braun and I am one of the owners of Grand River Physical Therapy Specialists. This is my first time putting my thoughts out there on a blog, so please bear with me.
The year was 2000, and circumstances were setting me up to make the choice to seek a new job, or go out on a limb and start my own private practice with a close friend from physical therapy school. This was definitely Not on my bucket list, but after weeks of talking and praying Karen and I decided that the opportunity of continuing to practice therapy in my hometown was to important to both of us to not push forward. We knew how we wanted to treat patients, but needed to find the where to fit our needs. My husband kept saying, “why don’t you look at the old racquetball club”, but for some reason I continued looking everywhere but there. I had to admit a couple weeks later that he was absolutely right. We spoke with the owner, initiated the lease, started cleaning the building (sat empty for a few years), and pretty much on my 40th birthday we opened our doors! The first few years kept us extremely busy, between setting up insurances, treating patients, designing forms and more forms, fixing a leaking roof, fixing freezing pipes, and shoveling icy sidewalks. We had two therapists, a front office person, and a PT technician out in the gym. We sometimes were flying by the seat of our pants, but had a passion for helping people that seemed to keep us going. The UPS driver that delivered to us those first 3 years informed us on the day of his retirement that he thought day one we would never survive. (80% of start up businesses fail) He decided that when we were still going strong year 3, he knew that we were here for the long haul!
Fast-forward 16 years! We now have seven therapists, 2 front office people, four PT technicians, and an athletic trainer. Wow. We are responsible for 12 other people and their families. This can be scary, and also exciting at the same time. We never actually advertised to fill these positions, but somehow the right people kept showing up at the exact time that we needed them. I like to think this is something that Karen and I caused to happen, but we truly feel there was a higher power involved in putting together this team! We are therapists and support staff who come from a variety of settings, from different backgrounds, and with different strengths and gifts, but have the common goal of working with patients to achieve their maximal potential and mobility to resume life as they envision!
People often ask what is the worst part of this job, and for me that answer is definitely the paperwork. I did not go to school to write notes 50% of my day, but I went to learn evaluation and treatment techniques to assist patients along their journey to wellness. People also ask what I like most about my job. I get to spend each day helping empower people to be the best they can be, and return them to their activities of daily living. I help promote a culture of positivity and happiness which seems to be infectious. We use hands on techniques, education, and plain old kind words to motivate and inspire people.
I am sure that we have made many mistakes along this journey, but we have made decisions from our heart, and I think that keeps us along the right path. We want to make each day better for our patients, our staff, and our community. We promise to persevere and keep evolving to meet the needs of you, our “neighbors.”