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Patients Turned Interns

Life-changing Care Attracts Patients to Careers in Pediatric Orthopaedics

Two impressive interns joined the rehabilitation team at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City last summer. The two students shared a special connection to the hospital as former patients. Aubrey sought treatment for speech therapy, and Kylie, born with the rare disease osteogenesis imperfecta (OI), started coming to Shriners Hospitals for Children when she was 5 years old for care at the hospital’s OI clinic.

Kylie’s Journey

Kylie’s family didn’t have any luck finding specialty care in their home state of Wyoming. After some research, they discovered there was a Shriners Hospitals for Children location a few hours away in Salt Lake City. They were delighted to learn the hospital had a devoted clinic for OI. Kylie remembers what a different experience coming to Shriners Hospital was for her. She found the staff to have an understanding that she hadn’t experienced before. “I never came to Shriners Hospital and felt like anyone thought that I was being dramatic or being a baby,” said Kylie. “Everybody was just great!”

As Kylie entered her teen years, a severe form of scoliosis affected her spine. Because it was progressing quickly, a surgery date was scheduled right away, and she ended up spending Christmas in the hospital. That week ended up making a lasting impact on Kylie’s future in an unexpected way. Kylie remembers that after surgery, physical therapists, including Scott Jerome, MPT, CPSI, visited her every day to help her get out of bed and get moving. She was not happy about their prods to get moving, and remembers being unkind to the therapists. They all seemed unfazed by her grumpiness, and were unfailingly kind to her.

“They were like, ‘nope, it’s okay, you have to get out of bed, let’s go,’” Kylie said. “Later I reflected, first, that I need to be nicer, and also, I want to be that person for kids.” Kylie decided she wanted to become a pediatric physical therapist and help kids just like her. That focus continued through her college experience. She graduates this month from the University of Colorado with a physical therapy degree and feels honored to have been an intern in the rehabilitation department at the same hospital where she once received life-changing care.

In Kylie’s first week as an intern she met a patient with OI who had her spine fused. She was delighted to connect with her on their similar experiences, and let her know life was going to get better. As an intern, Kylie shadowed physical therapist, Jennifer Janowicz, D.P.T. Her time with Jennifer was her third and final rotation, and she ultimately became independent with Jennifer’s caseload of limb lengthening, sports medicine and developmental therapy patients. Notably, not available at many hospitals, Kylie was able to spend time in the motion analysis center, wheelchair and seating department, Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services (POPS) department and the speech therapy department. She also shadowed the hospital’s chief of staff, Kristen Carroll, M.D.

Aubrey’s Internship

A student at the University of Utah in the recreational therapy program, Aubrey interned with the hospital recreational therapist, Laura Lewis Hollingshead, CTRS, TRS. Born with cerebral palsy, Aubrey received speech therapy from Laura Barnett, MCSD/CCC-SLP, for close to 13 years. An incredibly formidable part of her childhood, Aubrey was inspired by what she saw during those years. Witnessing children with disabilities doing things she knew the outside world might think them incapable of made a huge impact.

“I always knew I wanted to work with kids with physical disabilities because of what I saw at Shriners Hospital,” said Aubrey. “Growing up with cerebral palsy, it was important for me to find ways to recreate and engage in activities.”

Aubrey knows she was lucky to have parents who didn’t let her off easy because of her disability. They signed her up for every sport and recreational activity they could. Recreational therapy can play a huge part for children with disabilities, as they are often put on the margins when it comes to activities. Aubrey learned this first hand, and wants to bring the experience of inclusion that recreation can provide to children with disabilities.

As an intern with the recreational therapy program at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City, Aubrey loved getting to work with the kids and play. Play is the work of children is the mantra of recreational therapy, so integrating that with the children’s care at the hospital is the challenge and thrill of working in recreational therapy. As an intern, she helped prepare for the activities at weekly play groups, which has new themes every week and requires a lot of preparation and coordination. Laura felt it was important during Aubrey’s time with her to recognize Aubrey's strengths and help her find ways to utilize those strengths so that she can become an amazing recreational therapist. She found Aubrey to have a great presence and an amazing light about her, and knew she’d contribute wherever her journey took her.

Most significantly, Aubrey helped prepare one of the hospital’s most ambitious projects, the annual Halloween Costume Clinic, which accommodated a record 40 children this year. Buying all the supplies and readying a kit for each team took hours of preparation. “Working with Aubrey was amazing,” said Laura. “I honestly don’t think I could have pulled off the costume clinic without her help!”

Aubrey shares the sentiment and was grateful for her time with Laura. “I just love it at Shriners Hospital,” said Aubrey. “My dream is to work there one day!”


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