Distinguished Staff Award
Photograph of Sarah Jackins

Sarah Jackins

Exercise Training Center, UW Medical Center

Nominated by Frederick A. Matsen III, M.D., Professor, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine

Awarded 2013

Since 1976, Sarah Jackins, UW Physical Therapist, has served patients at University of Washington Medicine with expertise, empathy, enthusiasm and extraordinary service excellence. Her concerns are each patient’s health, comfort, function, welfare and social support. Everyone—irrespective of age, gender, social status, or ability—receives her ultimate efforts. Her “hours of work” are “whatever is necessary to get the best job done.” I find her in the Medical Center hard at work at 5 am, after 7 pm and on weekends. What is remarkable is that this effort has been sustained in its dedication and quality since I first joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the mid 1970s, through my 23 year Chairmanship of the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine and now in my post Chair years—during all of which time I have been active in the non-operative and operative treatment of complex patients from across the U.S.. During this time Sarah and the orthopaedic physicians, the staff at the Bone and Joint Surgery Clinic and the nurses of the 6SE unit at the University of Washington Medical Center have collaborated closely to assemble a comprehensive care plan for each patient—in many of these cases the therapy as assured by Sarah, is the lynchpin to successful recovery. Her therapeutic planning goes far beyond the conventional definition; it includes an assessment of the patient, the patient’s social support system, and the patient’s individual needs and wishes. She actively participates in planning the discharge from the Medical Center, understanding that the step from in hospital surgery to outpatient status is a big one and needs to be carefully tailored for each person. Not infrequently, she visits the homes of patients with special needs to verify that this transition will be safe.

Sarah is always working to develop improved ways of assessing and caring for patients. She was central to the development of the Simple Shoulder Test, which has become an internationally used metric for patient self-assessment of shoulder comfort and function. She has participated in a number of research projects, culminating in 12 peer-reviewed publications in the premier journals of our field—a highly unusual accomplishment for someone in full-time patient care as a therapist (see http:// www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=jackins%20shoulder). She is an active teacher—of patients, of students, residents and faculty—sharing her extensive experience and knowledge. She actually defines her PT occupation as not only Physical Therapist but also Patient Teacher. To see Sarah in action, I invite you to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpHEDu8uzEY starting at minute 21.

I would like to take this opportunity to call attention to two of her innovations. By way of background, regaining range of motion is the key to successful reconstruction of the shoulder. Sarah had a key hand in designing and putting together a simple machine to continuously move the shoulder after surgery (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rToHSZ5o_F4). Now this device has been largely replaced by more “sophisticated” devices, but I must say, none work as well as her original. A second example of innovation is the ultimate in simple effectiveness the Wall Chart (http://shoulderarthritis.blogspot.com/2011/04/total-shoulder-for-arthritis_18.html) that simply displays a patient’s range of motion before the patient and their visitors marking their progress toward the range of motion necessary for discharge.

On the national front, Sarah was the founding president of the American Society of Shoulder and Elbow Therapists (ASSET), a group of multidisciplinary professionals in the area of shoulder and elbow rehabilitation who place a high value on efficacious exemplary patient care. Under her leadership and up to the moment, this organization fosters patient-centered education and treatment for shoulder and elbow disorders.

There are many high-profile candidates, I am sure, for the University of Washington Distinguished Staff Award. By contrast, Sarah is truly an unsung heroine, with a 36-year record of daily contributions to the missions of the University of Washington and UW Medicine. All she does is accomplished with the greatest possible humility. The most common words from Ms. Jackins’ mouth are “how can I help?” She is a role model for all who see her in action, making us wish we could be more like her. Having been active at the UW since 1971, I have met no one as deserving of the University of Washington Distinguished Staff Award as Sarah Jackins, RPT.

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