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Inclusion Inspired: Selena's Journey
Published Aug. 8, 2022

Selena Escalante, Physical Therapist and Area Vice President of Therapy, celebrated her 17th Aveanna anniversary on July 20th. Over the past 17 years, she has been an incredible team member and asset to our company. She is now also an Inclusion Ambassador. Selena has faced bias herself and is passionate about increasing inclusion, acceptance, and representation on her therapy teams and throughout our Aveanna family.

There are so many aspects of my identity that I celebrate. I am a woman, Hispanic, the first child and grandchild in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree, a servant leader, a manager, a healthcare professional, an aunt, and compassionate about the service we provide to our Aveanna patients and families.

I work with amazing women in the same position as myself who lead clinical and operations at Aveanna. I am involved as an Inclusion Ambassador for Aveanna. Inclusion means representation. It is important to learn, identify, and talk about what representation means to healthcare with colleagues and peers. It also means being unbiased with recruitment, retention, and professional growth for team members.

In 2001, I started as an entry level physical therapist at a 300+ bed hospital in north Texas. As a physical therapist in a hospital setting, I wore a gait belt and carried a rolling walker with me at all times based on the level of need of client. I also wore a badge that had my name and title to identify myself as a staff physical therapist. One typical workday, I received orders to provide gait training to an elderly individual with general deconditioning and weakness. Upon walking into the client’s room, the wife of the patient said to me, “I am so glad you are here. Our trash is overflowing, and we have asked our nurse several times to get someone to come empty it.”

At that moment, I introduced myself to the client and his wife and said, “I am more than happy to help do that. I am also the physical therapist who plans to help your husband get out of bed today. Once he walks some, I will empty the trash can.” I was able to motivate and encourage the client to get out of bed and ambulate safely to the door of his hospital room.

I knew at that moment that representation matters. At the end of the day, I met with my supervisor and explained the event that happened earlier. Within 2 months, the hospital started a diversity team, and I was a member. I have faced challenges to acceptance throughout my career, and when I do I strive to gain a seat at the table and be part of the solution.

At Aveanna, I have encountered many individuals who continue to inspire my journey. My clinical and operational team and my therapists over the past 17 years have always contributed to my journey. What inspires me the most is to receive a patient success story or colleague giving a shout out to another therapist or team member for their commitment and dedication to our patients. This always reminds me of MY why.

Another inspiration on my journey is owed to my family back in Texas. I relocated to Colorado in 2017 to begin a new adventure with Aveanna. My family's constant support and motivation is key to my success.

I have learned so much over the past 17 years. Professionally, during my time at Aveanna I have learned that learning is constant. If you are not learning, then you are not living. You must learn to adapt to people, processes, changes, and (recently) managing through a pandemic.

I have also learned professionally and personally that relationships are so important. We are in a business of helping people. You may not know each family or client personally; however, you must connect with the caregivers who do. Some other lessons I have learned are to learn your boundaries, that it’s okay to admit when you make a mistake, take vacations, and, finally, that leadership requires empathy.