In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with Herman & Wallace instructor Jennafer Vande Vegte, MSPT, BCB-PMD, PRPC
How did you get started in pelvic rehab?
A supervisor of mine suggested that I go to a course and develop a pelvic floor program. I thought she was nuts. As a late twenty-something, I wanted to work with athletes. Finally she convinced me to go. Imagine my surprise when I felt like a duck in the water in the Pelvic Floor Level 1 class.
Who or what inspired you?
Truly I was smitten by Holly Herman at PF1. Her unique teaching style combining her incredible knowledge and fascinating stories with compassion and clarity is something to behold. Later I met Kathe at PF2A and was so inspired by both of these amazing women.
What have you found most rewarding in treating this patient population?
It is such an honor and a privilege to do what we do. At times we share a facet of our patients lives that even their spouses or best friends don't know about. It is not rare for someone to tell me, "I've never told anyone that before." Being trusted to share in these private experiences with others is a blessing to me.
What do you find more rewarding about teaching?
That's easy! I love the "ah-ha" moment when the light comes on in someone's eyes. When they "get it", whether it's finding the ATLA for the first time or understand another treatment direction for a complex patient, this is the moment that I love. I also treasure being around other people who love to do what I love to do!
How did you get started teaching pelvic rehab?
My hospital hosted the PF series years ago and I got to TA. I invited Holly and Kathe out to dinner and basically begged them to think of me if they ever had a teaching position open. Luckily the company was growing and I was shocked to have an opportunity to teach PF2B within a year. I was thinking maybe in 5 years, but I jumped at the chance.
What was it like the first time you taught a course to a group of therapists?
I was SO nervous. I studied like crazy for 6 months! I thought I did a horrible job until I read the reviews at the end of the course and realized I did okay.
What trends/changes are you finding in the field of pelvic rehab?
The amount of knowledge and research in our field is exploding. There are amazing blogs and recourses online for both patients and therapists to get information. Patients are coming in much more educated. Doctors seem to be getting the message that pelvic floor PT is a good first line option for their patients.
If you could get a message to all therapists about pelvic rehab, what would it be?
Every therapist should know a pelvic floor therapist and know when a consult would be appropriate. All therapists should try to feel more comfortable asking appropriate patients about elimination and sex.
If you could make a significant change to the field of pelvic rehab or the field of PT, what would it be?
I would love to see more of a team approach between physicians, PTs, therapists, pain clinics, nutritionalist, etc. especially in treating complex pelvic pain.
What have you learned over the years that has been most valuable to you?
Oh so much. Listen to your patient and hear what he or she or he is telling you. Don't feel like you have to have everything figured out on the initial evaluation. Treat what you find and continue to evaluate and listen.
What is your favorite topic about which you teach?
I think it changes each time, but right now I am really interested in relaxation techniques and down training especially as we understand more about the brain's involvement in pain responses.