Providing personalized care for orthopedic patients

Jennifer Ferden photo
Jennifer Ferden, MS, LAT, athletic trainer in the Department of Orthopedics.

When Jennifer Ferden, MS, LAT, sees patients in the UI Health Care Sports Medicine Clinic, it’s often because they seek a second, third, or even fourth opinion to help quell their pain.

“Our patients often come here as a last resort,” says Ferden, an athletic trainer in the Department of Orthopedics. “These appointments can sometimes be stressful and bring on strong emotion, so I just want to make patients comfortable.”

To help ease patients’ uneasiness, Ferden works to quickly build rapport.

“It starts with just approaching them, introducing yourself, and then talking to them,” she says. “Not only about what’s wrong, but about them. We don’t just treat the patient and their symptoms; we treat them as a person.”

Seeing the payoff

Ferden’s efforts—along with Ryan Kruse, MD, sports medicine physician—to build rapport makes a noticeable difference.

“We collaborate all aspects of patient care, including their specific case and goals, which leads to a great experience for the patient,” says Ferden.

For the Sports Medicine Clinic staff, those communication skills are one of the best ways to make their patients feel comfortable and reassured about the care they receive.

“We work to remember personal things about the patient,” says Ferden. “We may have multiple patients with knee osteoarthritis, but they all have different lives. It’s easy to have a standard approach for patient care but knowing the personal lives of our patients creates rapport that is hard to come by and promotes a personalized plan with their goals in mind.”

Finding fulfillment

Many health care professionals feel a sense of great fulfillment from their careers, and Ferden’s no different.

“It’s so huge to get confirmation directly from patients,” she says. “I feel like it affirms that we are actually helping people.”

Ferden’s special relationship with her patients is noticed by many in the clinic, including Kruse.

“I’ve seen her bring patients back for their appointment and their eyes just light up when they see her,” says Kruse. “I’ve even had numerous patients that I have seen without her for follow up and almost invariably, at some point in the visit, the patient asks, ‘So do I get to see Jennifer also?’”