Clarke: Tell us a little bit about your life since your time at Clarke.
Theresa: After graduating from Clarke’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, I worked as a Physical Therapist for UnityPoint Health at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids for about two years. I loved my time there and had the opportunity to work in multiple different settings. I then took a leap into leadership on the clinic side as the Sr. Clinic Administrator for UnityPoint Health Marion Family Medicine. In May of 2023, I completed a Master’s in Business Administration and I have enjoyed putting my growing education to good use in my current role!
I now live in Marion, IA with my husband, Sean, and two children, Anna (3) and Ryan (1). Anna loves to sing and ask lots of questions and Ryan loves to run around and make loud noises! We are also very involved in our faith community at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Marion. We became quite popular by leading song for Mass with Anna sleeping in a car seat on the floor! Baby number two, Ryan, is a wild child so we haven’t been able to continue that feat!
Clarke: Wow! A growing family and a growing career certainly makes life exciting, but it can bring challenges too. Can you talk about how you’ve had to grow as a leader in that time?
Theresa: Like many industries, healthcare has been hit hard by the pandemic. Moving into leadership in the midst of staffing and budget constraints, team member burnout, safety concerns, and shifting patient expectations was not easy. As a team we had to work through some extremely challenging situations that I had never before had to endure as a person, much less a leader.
During the hard times, Sean was my biggest supporter and I relied heavily on my mentors: fellow clinic administrators, my director, managers I’ve worked for in the past, past teachers, and of course, my parents! There were times I didn’t know how we would make our way through, but we did! I was always so amazed at the strength of our team when we worked together. This spring, our clinic was awarded “Most Improved in Patient Quality and Experience” with a 5-Star Rating. This was something the team worked very hard to achieve and we enjoyed celebrating!
I love healthcare, strategic thinking, and problem solving and hope to continue growing in healthcare administration. I naturally recognize problems at a bigger scale and find excitement in taking them on. To dive into some larger-scale initiatives, I’ve been working on numerous regional projects for UnityPoint Clinic and have started mentoring new Clinic Administrators, which I’ve really enjoyed.
Clarke: How do you feel your experience at Clarke created a foundation for you to take on leadership roles like this?
Theresa: Clarke allowed me to engage in a variety of experiences —leadership especially— that positioned me well to take on a challenging leadership role at a young age. I had a lot of dreams and aspirations at Clarke and the faculty and staff always supported me in my endeavors, giving me a safe space to learn and experiment with my gifts and talents.
That included activities outside of the classroom too, like being a Resident Assistant. I have so many great memories of RA training, including the RA NERF gun war in the library and of course, meeting my husband for the first time!
I had so many important people in my life at Clarke so it’s hard to name them all! Laura Hecker was always a great mentor for me. I loved neurology and she kept me challenged in the area I loved! Sean and I also find ourselves quoting Michelle Slover Anatomy and Physiology lecture material! I was also blessed to learn from a very dedicated DPT faculty and staff team. They were all tremendous in helping me progress from student to professional and challenged me in ways I didn’t know I needed to be challenged. I hope to work with many of them again!
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Theresa! Do you know a member of the Clarke alumni community we should highlight? Submit your nominations for a future Alumni Spotlight by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.