Benjamin Kim, DPT, is a Physical Therapist at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital-Bradford. We recently caught up with him about his career, and the rewards of working at Whittier.
How many years have you been at Whittier?
I started in 2005 as a rehab aide in the original Whittier hospital location on Summer Street. In 2011 I became a PT.
Where did you start your career, if not at Whittier? Recent Grads Click Here
I started at Whittier. I graduated from Georgetown High and UMass Amherst. I always thought physical therapy would be a rewarding career choice, and wanted to be sure so I became a rehab aide first to see how I liked the profession. I googled “PT clinics,” and Whittier came up in one of the top spots! So I started calling around to see if they needed a rehab aide. Laurie Faust Lemire called me for an interview right away, and I told her I was in a t-shirt and shorts. She said, “Come in!!” She hired me on the spot, and I was her first hire! To this day, I still have the t-shirt photo on my ID badge – it’s my Georgetown football shirt!
After working as a rehab aide at Whittier for three years, I knew that becoming a Physical Therapist was for me. At the time, many of the Physical Therapists at Whittier were Umass Lowell DPT graduates, so it was my top choice to further my education. Over the next few years, I took courses at Umass Lowell to satisfy the prerequisites to enter the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. My education at Umass Lowell was terrific! I have stayed in touch with many of my professors and got the opportunity to work in their clinics, part time. For the past six years, I have been teaching various labs for the UMass Lowell DPT program.
What is your area of specialty in PT?
I call myself the ‘Swiss Army Knife of PT’ because I bounce around from inpatient to outpatient patients and work with everyone from individuals requiring prosthetics, to medically compromised geriatrics, to young athletes with sports injuries.
What type of patients do you work with?
I work with the entire age range of patients, but at this point, a good bit of my patient load is elderly. I like being there for them, helping them with their transition from inpatient to outpatient, which is good for them because they can continue to work with me – a therapist who they know and trust from their inpatient experience. I also work with patients in the neuro day program, as well as many dependent patients who cannot yet move on their own.
Do you feel that you get a level of experience at Whittier not found elsewhere?
Yes! I feel there’s a lot of autonomy here, and that I have a say in what I do – I am able to build a clientele of patients who fit the areas that I am most interested in working with. The variety of patients from the LTAC, to acute rehab to outpatient settings is remarkable and so diverse!
What do you enjoy most about the PT team at Whittier?
The team is the biggest reason I’ve stayed here – I love the people I work with! We are all very close – we even see each other socially outside of work! I love all the doctors – especially Dr. Liguori – because we have mutual trust, and we make a great team.
What are your thoughts on professional development and certifications that can be gained at Whittier?
We do a good job, especially with new grads and students, something I particularly like. I like being a teacher – part of my job is getting to teach students and I get to help mold their clinical development and inspire them to want to learn more. For example, I train clinical staff to transfer patients while also protecting themselves – protecting their backs – so that they don’t hurt themselves in the process, and of course, to keep our patients safe!
The Continuing Education courses that I have taken over the years were always paid for and supported by Whittier. After taking those courses, I enjoy coming back and giving an educational inservice to the other clinicians in the department so they can benefit from the new information as well.
Whittier has also given me an opportunity to be a teacher. I’ve mentored 14 PT students during my time here. This spring we plan to bring the Umass Lowell DPT class of 2024 into our pool to learn about aquatic therapy. I look forward to teaching this course in our outpatient clinic for the first time. I’m hoping to bridge a long-lasting relationship between Umass Lowell and Whittier. Also, I have a responsibility to teach all new clinical staff how to safely move patients while protecting themselves from injuries. Obviously, sharing my expertise with others is extremely important to me and Whittier has always supported me in my endeavors.
What would you say to recent graduates about considering a career at Whittier?
It’s an excellent place to start! You have the ability to work with a variety of diagnoses and age groups – both inpatient and outpatient – and to hone your skills and figure out what you like; what area you want to specialize in. You get to work with stroke, spinal cord injuries, amputees, total knee replacements, wounds and other ortho patients and at Whittier we have all the equipment and space necessary.
Our outpatient clinic has built a reputation for rehabilitating patients with severe mobility needs. Many of these patients require special transportation and live in homes where they receive dependent care. We are successful in treating these patients because of our extensive equipment. We have a chair lift in the pool, standing frames, hoyer lifts, and the Anti-Gravity Treadmill. Other outpatient clinics in the area would not be able to have success with this patient population. Also, our therapy staff has the experience and the clinic skill to rehab these patients. It is so rewarding from an inpatient perspective to have patients bed-bound upon admission requiring maximal assistance, to mobilized, to having them walk out of here at discharge!
New graduates or PTs making a career change will benefit from these resources and clinical experiences, which will help them to grow their careers!
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience working as a PT at Whittier?
It was nice when I started because the PT’s of the department were incredible mentors to me! In addition, also having a background as a rehab aide helped me understand so much already. In my career at Whittier, I get to be an educator AND a therapist in inpatient and outpatient – all the things that I love to do and are so important to me!
At Whittier, we’re looking for enthusiastic candidates to provide compassionate physical therapy care in our inpatient and outpatient settings. See why our patients rate us at 4.8 stars.