A knee injury as a high school student athlete was the impetus that led Aaron Poirier to a career in physical therapy.
Aaron, who also had interactions with family friends who were in the profession, learned more about the career and decided it was the field he should study. He earned a doctorate of Physical Therapy from Grand Valley State University and is now the Rehabilitation Coordinator at the Comprehensive Care Center. He manages a staff of seven at the skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility.
The native of Michigan hadn’t initially planned to stay at the CCC permanently. He’d been what’s called a “traveler” for about three years, working around the country at different facilities. He’s worked in Michigan, Alabama, Phoenix and Chicago before arriving at the CCC last December.
“I’ve always seen myself more in the outpatient world, so coming here was a little bit unexpected,” he said. “But I really do love working with the elderly population and the team here is awesome. Getting the chance to manage the rehab team here is a great opportunity. The leadership has a great vision for the future and truly values patient care. I'm excited to be a part of that.”
Aaron opted to become a permanent employee after realizing he loved the area, and because he could live near his close college friend and his toddler goddaughter in Santa Barbara.
“I’ve been traveling for the last three years,” he explained. “I can’t say I wanted to stop any time soon. It just worked out. This was a point, as far as location of where I’m living; the job that I have; the friend group that I have, I just don’t know how it could get much better. I figured why not make that leap and become permanent staff?”
At the CCC, he’s responsible for the physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy staff. He facilitates communication among those disciplines to ensure patients receive appropriate skilled rehab services customized to their needs.
“It’s all about what’s appropriate for the patient, the best patient care,” Aaron said. “We’re all collaborating together, to see how much therapy this person needs, what will benefit them and working as a team to meet all their needs.”
Prior to starting graduate school, Aaron completed an internship at the University of Michigan with the Olympic strength and conditioning staff and during Physical Training school, he did a clinical rotation with EXOS working with athletes from youth to Major League Baseball and the National Football League. His first job after schooling was as the primary Physical Therapist in an outpatient orthopedic practice in Birmingham, AL working closely with Dr. Andrews surgical group.
With his position at the CCC, his team assesses the long-term patients for any decline in status, and adds therapy if needed. He also works a great deal on discharge planning for short-term patients, communicating therapy goals with family members.
“I’ve always liked the geriatric population,” Aaron said. “I enjoy geriatrics because it’s a little bit more meaningful. You focus on whole body changes that improve their quality of life. With outpatient, you do improve someone’s quality of life, but it may be returning them to a sport, or being able to do something without pain. Working with geriatrics, it’s giving them the freedom to actually get out of a chair again or walk again.”