Staff Spotlight: Joy Cohn, PT CLT-LANA



After almost 42 years of practicing as a physical therapist, Joy Cohn, PT, CLT-LANA is embarking on a new adventure at the end of March 2018 – retirement. She reflects on her career with Penn Medicine and Good Shepherd Penn Partners, her role as Lymphedema Team Leader, the impact of cancer rehabilitation services that has been made and the colleagues that have worked alongside her for the past 14 years.

How has working with an organization that values education andresearch influenced your role a clinician?

One of the most gratifying things about being part of this organization is the degree of commitment to and expertise that employees at Good Shepherd Penn Partners have and the overall amazing collegial atmosphere. People don’t just punch a time clock when they come to work here.

Good Shepherd Penn Partners has a prominent presence at places like Combined Section Meetings, and it is clear that there’s a commitment from our organization to help therapists in contributing to their profession, along with their research and literature endeavors to enhance practice efforts. We have a Team Leader in research, who is designated to help everyone do research- does everyone have that at their workplace? I don’t think so.

How has the commitment to education and research as an organization helped our clinicians continuously grow in their area of expertise? 

One of the most satisfying parts of the role that I do is mentoring other staff in treating more challenging patients, and help them develop their own careers. We have one of the largest teams of CLT-LANA certified therapists in the country (and our entire team takes one of the gold standard courses), varying from 12-15 members, while at other places therapists are treating alone or only are with a team of two or four others. Penn covers a wide area, so our therapists are spread out across our system. 

When Good Shepherd Penn Partners decided to support the creation of a Women’s Health Residency Program, we already had a long term commitment by the organization to having a special interest model in mentoring people who joined the various teams. We already knew how to mentor and how to teach others on how to be experts in specialty areas of practice. That kind of mentoring and training was already something we did. We have been able to implement real-time feedback and add to the mentors involved through the residency program as well. The residency coordinators do an amazing job and we are all prompted to ‘up our game’ as a consequence.

Is there any achievement in your career here that stands out?

Having the opportunity to staff and develop cancer care inside the Abramson Cancer Center has been one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in my career. Once Good Shepherd Penn Partners came about, there was a two-and-a-half-year effort to get space for an outpatient clinic in the Perelman Center.

Since the clinic opening in 2012, we’ve learned that so many of the cancer patients were left with unmet rehabilitation needs in the past. Now they can schedule an appointment the same day they’re here for another one, so that they can get their rehabilitation during the time that they really need it, and in a way that doesn’t increase their level of fatigue.  It’s really gratifying to see how much we can help people during rehabilitation that makes their post cancer treatment recovery easier.

Do you have any special plans or projects planned that you are looking forward to during retirement?

I’ve spent 42 years being proud of being a physical therapist, so suddenly not being that person is kind of weird. Right now it seems this moment in time is a really good time to transition my professional involvement and to start slowing down. However, I’m not retiring cold turkey, as I plan to continue to mentor therapists, continue to teach for a national lymphedema training program and I am involved in writing a clinical practice guideline with the Oncology Section of the American Physical Therapy Association that will help therapists identify and treat cancer related fatigue. I feel like I’m leaving on a high note.

Traveling is a very high priority on my list. To celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, we will be visiting Paris and the Normandy Beaches in April since I’ve always wanted to see that part of the world. My daughter is getting married in the fall and then we plan to go on bigger and better trips. I also plan on spending more time at our house in Vermont hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing.