Passion for Patients and Physical Therapy

Spence Southall has been a part of the Abilene Bone & Joint team for ten years, but there are just a few who have – if any – transitioned from patient care to administration.

A San Angelo native, Spence initially thought he wanted to be a child psychologist but was concerned he would struggle with keeping his work separate from his homelife, knowing he would likely hear tragic stories.  Yet when Spence looked back on his high school and college football careers and some related injuries, he realized how much he enjoyed his physical therapist.  After seeing a classmate on campus with a physical therapy-related sweatshirt, Spence went directly to the program to learn more, and thus began his studies in physical therapy.

“Physical therapy provided me the opportunity to stay connected to football and athletics – two of my passions,” said Spence.

Joining Abilene Bone & Joint in 2010, Spence’s love of working with patients – regardless of their ages – with their respective physical condition was a natural fit for him as a PT.  After a few years, the ABJ practice manager position became open and Spence was very interested.  He had remembered how impressed he was by the person who had the role prior, and Spence believed his own skills and capabilities would be a good fit.

“Transitioning into an administrative role has been eye-opening.  I’m now helping tens of thousands of patients indirectly, and it’s very fulfilling.  From insurance to other matters behind the scenes, I’m able to enable a solid patient experience in my role as practice manager.  And, I have the best of both worlds, I’m helping with physical therapy 8-10 hours a week,” Spence explains.

What many do not know or realize is there are many moving parts to ABJ and most people are unaware of as a patient or caregiver of a patient.  For example, one patient’s office appointment has close to nine ABJ team members facilitating in different functions behind the scenes, and Spence’s role is to assure it goes as smooth as feasible.

Spence, Callie, Chayse and Scottie-Kate

Spence and his wife, Callie, have been married for six years and are the proud parents to two girls: three-year-old Chayse, and one-year-old, Scottie-Kate.  When asked how they met, Spence tells how Callie – who is from Eula – coached him on his batting technique that led to two home runs.   They both have embraced Abilene and the Big Country; and they love how “there are more churches than bars” in the community as they raise their family.

When asked what would be most surprising about himself, Spence was quick to answer, “I’m a builder of furniture – cabinets, dining room tables, home furnishings.  But my next project will be a different focus; I’m going to make a gun stock for my dad’s 42-year-old .410 shotgun!”

Spence believes the family atmosphere that has been created at ABJ has tremendous benefits to more than just the team; he feels the family atmosphere improves and enhances patient care…and we tend to agree.