Years before the pandemic, Jess had been working in a hospital as a physical therapist doing acute care inpatient rehab. However, when her daughter was born, she decided she wanted more flexibility so that she could spend more time with her daughter. She left the hospital setting for the more free schedule that came with home care therapy, which she was able to do for about three and a half years. When her son was born last October, she took another break from work to welcome him into the family.
Jess started looking to return to the workforce in January of this year, but after discussions with her husband, they decided the home care path was not right for their family. With a new career path on the horizon, she started interviewing, but the one opportunity that presented itself was for the late evening shift. With a daughter around five years and a son only a few months old, she knew that wasn’t the right fit.
As she was getting ready to look for new jobs to apply to, Jess started hearing about Covid-19 and watching the news to find out more about it. Since it was so new, she decided to just wait to see how this virus would pan out and since that time, she has been at home mom. She noted that it was quite an adjustment and something that she had never planned on being.
“As far as not wanting to be a stay at home mom. Part of that is just I know myself. I know what my strengths are. I have great strengths, but I also have weaknesses, of course. To be a stay at home mom, you have to just be super organized and disciplined to get everything done during the day. That’s not necessarily one of my strong points. I’m not one of those stay at home moms who has an immaculate house.”
Jess missed a lot of firsts for her daughter because she was working full-time at the hospital. She found the job mentally and physically draining so when she finally had time to spend with her daughter she was unable to be fully present, which was the catalyst for why she made the transition to home care when her son was born. She realizes that she’s fortunate that her husband’s job is good enough that she can not work. Also, she is trying to appreciate the time that she has with her children and getting to see the new firsts in their lives.
With her daughter being five, Jess has tried to explain the pandemic to her. She explained that she tries to use the truth as much as possible with her daughter but on a level that her five year old can understand. “We talk about the virus and that there’s a virus that makes people really sick and that if she got it, it might not make her really sick, but she could pass it to other people. And so because of that, we’re gonna wear our masks in public. We’re gonna be really good about washing our hands. We want to be able to go see grandma and grandpa and we don’t want them to get sick.”
Jess also tries to make going out fun by making the masks an accessory and buying fun masks that have Elsa or a unicorn. So now her daughter will gladly wear the mask because the unicorn matches her outfit.
Even though she’s enjoying her time with her children and it gave her a sense of purpose in this difficult time, Jess still keeps an eye on the job market. Physical therapy as a profession has mostly been put on hold with the elective surgeries not happening.
“A lot of departments and hospitals are hurting financially because when everything hit, they shut down all elective procedures, which physical therapists, joint replacement surgeries, like knee replacements, hip replacements, shoulder replacements, all of these elective surgeries are not happening.”
She has friends that are still working but have been going through rotational furlough schedules so that they can just have some money coming in. The hospitals and clinics just don’t have enough work to keep everyone on staff and with the new Covid-19 safety requirements, the jobs just aren’t there. They just aren’t hiring a physical therapist right now.
Jess hopes that one day soon, the situation will change. “I really enjoy my job. So being unable to do it right now is kind of a bummer. Then, of course, there’s the longer I go away from it that it gets a little bit nerve wracking to try to jump back in. I’m hoping that by the time [my son] is one in October, I’m really hoping I’ll be able to find something to get started again.”
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