It was as surreal as it was powerful when I realized what was happening in the room around me, what had been happening in that room for the months leading up to this moment. The instant I recognized a confluence of events, questions and actions as one singular phenomenon, I found myself holding back the emotion that emerges when one bears witness to something truly remarkable. Something beautiful. I was proud to be in that room with the leaders of this company. I was excited, but I will also share, that I was nervous as I knew that once I stated what had just become clear to me, a mission would present itself to us all and there would be no turning back.
You see, I was here at Odom Rehab before Odom Rehab existed. Although it’s been almost 12 years, I remember my first phone call with Dr. John Odom vividly. Neither of us are short on passion or enthusiasm and we fed off one another. For more than a year we met on the weekends at his house putting together what could pass for a clinical business model, a value proposition, but more importantly, a dream and a vision. That dream was to not just accomplish two goals simultaneously but to create a paradigm shift in an industry. The first goal was to to deliver Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapy services to seniors in a way that reflected what we would want for our parents or our grandparents. Proactive, TRULY patient-centered care with the value of relationships and outcomes taking precedent over administrative standards. I am proud to say that we are excelling at this goal but that is not what this post is about.
The second goal was to change what it meant to be a Physical, Occupational or Speech Therapist in the field of geriatric rehab. At the time of that first call with Dr. Odom I was working in a transitional care unit. We had a great team, a great direct supervisor, but it didn’t take long for me to take note of something that disappointed me. I couldn’t help but feel that all the talented people around me who had dedicated huge amounts of time and money to their education and continuously refining their craft were working on an assembly line. Make no mistake, we were doing good work and improving lives but too often what was deemed good for business was at odds with what was good for therapists or patients. I was an idealist; to be honest I’m still an idealist. When presented with a “this or that” scenario my answer is almost always, “Ok let’s do both.” I was also high on confidence and probably a little low on competence but all of these factors forced me to take the leap of faith that more than a decade later led to the conversation in that room on that day.
Every month our leadership team meets in the same room to discuss the overall operations of our company. We had not just survived, but actually grown our company during the peak of a pandemic. More importantly, much more importantly, we had grown in our understanding of what’s important, and subsequently our understanding of the responsibility we hold as leaders. That understanding fueled the questions that led to my realization.
Questions including: How do we make sure our team feels completely supported in their own goals? How do we make our team KNOW without a doubt that we have their back? How do we prove that those of us in positions of leadership work for the therapists and not the other way around? Finally, I realized what was really being asked and so I spoke:
“What you are really asking can be distilled down into just one question. One very simple yet very BIG question. How do we make Odom Rehab THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD TO BE A THERAPIST?”
I was moved to say the least. To be in a room with the brightest and most passionate people with whom I have ever worked, who were asking this question, may be the highpoint of my professional life. With the context of being present for the origins of this company, I recognized that being in a position to ask this and dedicate ourselves to finding the answer is a milestone many organizations never eclipse. I will humbly say that every goal at Odom Rehab we have set out to accomplish we have achieved but I will also say with the confidence of my younger self, mark my words, this goal will be no different. That day we left the room unified around a singular mission: to make this THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD TO BE A THERAPIST.
Everyone in a leadership position at Odom Rehab has been a therapist. This has always been the case and it always will be the case. They have been with us since the beginning, done the hardest jobs and the beauty is that they still do. Not because they have to but because they want to. It’s baked into their being and the byproduct of this invaluable characteristic is the emergence of a goal like the one described above. This companies’ trajectory has been steep and it’s getting steeper. I am proud to say that our turnover is next to nothing. We didn’t coin the phrase “Hire ‘em and retire ‘em,” but it is a mantra we recite.
If we are going to meet the demands of the road ahead, of the industry in which we operate, the patients whom we serve, and the goal of making this THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD TO BE A THERAPIST, we need the best PTs, OTs and SLPs in the world to join us. To help us achieve what our team now knows to be possible. If any of this resonates or you’d like to hear more or you know you want to be a part of this mission, I’d like to talk to you personally. Send me a message and we’ll connect as speaking with those who want to join us for what will likely be the most exciting chapter in this company’s story is my top priority.