Hospital optimist

The Baltimore Sun

Matt Wanex

Physical therapist

Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Towson

Salary --$75,000

Age --34

Years on the job --Five

How he got started --As a biology major with a concentration in anatomy and physiology at Towson University, Wanex knew he wanted to enter the medical field. But it wasn't until he sustained a knee injury playing soccer and had to undergo physical therapy that he knew this would be his specialty. "I liked the interaction you had with patients, the time you spent with the patient versus the paperwork and getting someone through the recovery process."

Wanex began working at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center after graduating from the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Typical day --Wanex is a staff physical therapist at GBMC, which means he can be called on to treat any patient at the hospital, ranging from pediatric patients to oncology patients to those recovering from strokes, heart attacks or hip replacement surgery. He works normal business hours and sees about six to eight patients a day. He first completes an initial evaluation to determine a treatment plan. He typically remains with the same patients, seeing them once a day, usually treating them in their rooms. Wanex must also decide if patients should undergo additional therapy after being discharged from the hospital.

Motivation --Convincing patients to get out of bed and move around can be challenging. Wanex said he must decide on a plan to achieve that goal. "The best thing is to be direct and straightforward. You explain the benefits of getting up and moving around."

Favorite patients --Those who are "medically complex" and usually in the intensive care unit. With these patients you have to look at the big picture and modify treatments to avoid overstressing them. "But at the same time, give them enough activity that you're constantly progressing them."

Relationship with patients --Wanex said patients often look forward to seeing him because they know he'll spend time with them every day.

The good --Autonomy in patient care.

The bad --Trying to inspire a patient who doesn't want to be motivated.

Family members --On occasion families can be overprotective. "It can be a tight act to balance. Sometimes making people do things they don't want to do can be the best thing for them."

Paperwork --There's a lot involved, but it's all computerized.

Philosophy on the job --"A general respect for the patient. If this was someone in my family, would I want them to be treated this way?"

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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