For Jennifer Kearsley, physical therapist and clinic director at Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy – St. Johns, getting to know what makes each of her patients who they are – from family to pets to hobbies – supports her passion for creating individualized programs to help them reach their goals. Beyond the clinic doors, this young mother rarely slows down, from fostering her love of a sport she started as a kid, to raising her own son, to walks, bike rides and coffee shop visits, she’s taking in all the adventures life offers.
Q&A with Jennifer Kearsley
Q: What is your favorite sport?
My favorite sport to both play and watch would be water polo. I grew up playing since I was probably 11 years old and then played through college and then still play with a group of ladies. Now we’re on a team, most of them are based in Seattle and then some in Oregon kind of spread throughout. Our team’s name is Aurora Borealis, and we travel usually to a couple tournaments a year. I definitely was a water baby growing up. And then I played soccer and basketball and everything. Water polo kind of takes all of those and combines them together.
Q: Water polo requires a lot of different skills and qualities. What would you say is the most important personal quality that you bring to your career as a physical therapist?
As a physical therapist, I feel my strongest attribute that serves me is being curious. I’ve always been curious about how things work, whether that’s like the body or some tool or whatever it is, and I think the first step to fixing something is learning how it works, so it kind of blends in with how we work as a physical therapists.
Q: Your curiosity serves you well as a PT, what inspired you to pursue a career as a physical therapist in the first place?
I was always interested in health care and anatomy in the human body, but I was very squeamish growing up, so I didn’t want anything to do with bodily fluids or wounds or scrapes or anything like that. So, when I was in college, I shadowed a bunch of health professions and physical therapy really resonated with me. I like the fact that we look at the person as a whole and we’re really trying to get them back to what they love without just covering something up but by getting down to the root of the problem. We don’t go to school and specialize in one specific body region; we learn about the whole body and how the different parts interplay.
Q: What's your favorite way to spend a day off?
My perfect day off probably is waking up slow with my husband and my son, who is a great sleeper, which is awesome and means our Saturday mornings can be a little slow. We make breakfast at home and then we’ll head out on a walk to one of our local coffee shops, maybe walk around town and then head home for some sort of home renovation project, because I’m always conjuring up something that we need to do to the house to renovate or make something a little bit more usable. And then in the afternoon, usually we’ll go out on a bike ride, either as a family or for a solo ride.
Q: Home renovation? Is that one of your passion projects?
Yeah, outside of work, I really enjoy home renovation projects, so, currently we’re working on redoing our closet. Which, organization is a passion of mine — everything needs to be in its spot and kind of clear to clear your mind. But we’ve done everything from painting the whole house, redoing our floors, we added a bathroom last year, so these projects always keep me going.
Q: That seems like a great way to take your mind off other things. So, outside of that, what’s your favorite stress buster?
My favorite way to kind of reset from a stressful day or a stressful week is to go on a walk with friends. It can be really refreshing to be out visiting with friends, and kind of taking my mind off of whatever was causing the bad day or week.
Q: What about binge watching a show? Do you have a favorite?
My favorite show in the past … I don’t know if I binge watched it necessarily, but I definitely wanted to see every episode … was Downton Abbey. I love the old British style shows, so anything that comes up with that is typically going to draw me in.
Q: And do you have a favorite book?
I do spend my time reading a lot of toddler books lately, so you know I can probably recite Little Blue Truck to you with no problem, but my favorite series is probably the same as so many people, but it would be Harry Potter. I tried to read it when I was little, didn’t get into it, but in my early 20s a family member got me into it, and so that’s my favorite series. But, otherwise, any book that draws me in after a couple chapters, I’m going to be up until like midnight or one o’clock trying to finish it and will have trouble falling asleep unless I do so.
Q: Staying up late to read doesn’t sound so bad, what about your phone? What is your most used mobile app?
The most used mobile app on my phone is super boring. It’s the weather app because I feel like I’m always planning for the next day or the next week or whatever is to come, and so I’m constantly checking the weather to see like, OK, what day could I go to the zoo or what day is going to be great for projects inside at home, that kind of thing. I’m on the weather app daily.
Q: Alright, so if you were going to be a contestant on Survivor, whatever the weather, what would be your one “luxury item” that you would take with you?
I would try to take with me a fully functional shower. I love to spend time outdoors, but it’s really contingent on how often I get a good shower and if that’s a daily thing then I could be out there for quite some time, I think.
Q: As a PT, what do you wish that everyone knew about physical therapy that they probably don't?
So, I wish that everybody knew you don’t have to be completely broken to need physical therapy. Don’t wait till you hit your rock bottom. A lot of people wait to seek physical therapy until they’re in a ton of pain, or can hardly move, but it’s so important to know that physical therapy could help, and it is even more beneficial if you start at that first sign of a twinge of pain. Also, there’s no silly question! You can come in and think like, oh, it’s just this minor thing, but you know, a minor ache or pain can turn into a bigger thing. I think it’s so important to know that physical therapy can help with those little things to get you over them quicker, so they don’t become bigger problems down the road.
Q: What do you like most about Therapeutic Associates?
My favorite part about working with Therapeutic Associates is we have a wide web of people that support us from administrative to other PTs. We have access to a lot of things that the smaller clinics or smaller companies wouldn’t be able to do on their own. I think it provides really great tools and resources that we can offer our patients. Also, sometimes I may not be the perfect person to see someone, then there’s likely someone close that I can either refer them to or even just ask questions and get a little better idea of how to best serve this person. So really, the vast amount of resources and support that we have is super beneficial.
We look forward to being a part of your healthcare team.
At Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy – St. Johns we customize treatment plans to fit our patients’ lifestyles and goals while maintaining a focus on recovery and rehabilitation. Here, every patient can depend on our experts to get them back to the things they love as quickly and safely as possible.