Three Physical Therapists – One Family

When Tess Jenkins joined the physical therapy team at IU Health Saxony last May she became the third physical therapist in her family and the second one working with IU Health.

Ask Tess Jenkins when she decided to become a physical therapist and her response: “I literally don’t remember making that decision. I just knew I always wanted to do it. The hardest part was getting into PT school.”

A graduate of Yorktown High School Jenkins was a three-sport athlete with 11 varsity letters – soccer, basketball and softball – but had no desire to pursue athletics in college. So she went to IU Bloomington where she studied exercise science and then completed her doctorate in physical therapy at IUPUI.

The career was one she had learned about early on. Her father is a physical therapist at IU Health Ball Hospital and her sister, Alyssa Keys – 10 years older- works as a physical therapist at a Fort Wayne hospital.

“I grew up seeing how my dad loved his job. I went to the outpatient clinic after school and then in high school when he worked at Ball I’d go once a week for a shadowing experience for credit,” said Jenkins. “Having an athletic background I had my share of sprained ankles and I saw from both my dad and sister what a broad field this is. There are so many things you can do that you never get tired of your job.”

Steve Schlatter is proud of both his daughters.

“It was not a surprise to me as they both decided early in their educational careers to become physical therapists. Tess and I frequently communicate via texts or actual phone calls to discuss clinical items but also how to interact with co-workers, patients and physicians,” said Schlatter.  “She was very helpful and encouraging to a 66 year old PT who is not tech savvy when we recently transitioned to a new Electronic Medical Records system.”  They are also attended a continuing education course together. Steve and Susan Schlatter live in Muncie.

Jenkins who was married in October to Ryan Jenkins said the best part of her job is being creative. “There’s variety every day. No two patients are the same and there’s endless knowledge when it comes to finding the best approach for their care. Being a new therapist I love learning from those around me,” said Jenkins.

One her first patients was a woman who had a double knee replacement. She worked with her to help strengthen her legs.

“It really impacted her life for some time but now she’s back and at the gym working out and really doing well. She still emails me to tell me how she’s doing,” said Jenkins. “The idea that I get to help people get back their lives before they were injured or had a life-changing experience is what I love.”

— By T.J. Banes, Journalist, IU Health.
   Reach Banes via email