Katie Christensen serves as the Director of Long-Term Support and Services at Meth-Wick. She spends her days working with assisted living staff, meeting with residents and families and generally making sure her resident’s lives are running smoothly.
But during her childhood, her days looked surprisingly similar to the work she does now. Her mother was a social worker at a care facility. When Katie was growing up, she and her sister and brother would spend their afternoons playing bingo and chatting with residents.
Those childhood experiences sparked a passion for senior care. Katie attended the University of Northern Iowa where she earned a degree in gerontology with a focus on long-term care administration. But she made sure she was also getting hands-on experience. In order to enhance her classroom learning, she took a job as a CNA in a dementia unit.
Before graduating from UNI, Katie was required to complete 780 internship hours at a care facility in order to graduate. She managed to combine her degree program and her job in a unique way.
She sat down with the administrator at her care facility and worked out an ambitious arrangement to complete her internship in just one summer while continuing full-time work as a CNA. She’d spend her first shift working with her administrator on her internship and learning the ins and outs of management. Then she’d work a second shift as a CNA during the afternoon and evening.
It was a long summer but her hard work paid off. After graduation, she landed her first position in long-term care administration at Meth-Wick. That was seven years ago and she’s been with the organization in a variety of roles ever since.
In her first position, she served as a social worker and part-time wellness and recreation assistant at the Woodlands. She was able to pursue her passion with dementia care there. Part of her job involved one-to-one interactions with dementia patients.
She quickly moved up in the ranks at Meth-Wick, gaining experience all across campus. After just six months, she was promoted to Admissions Coordinator for health services areas on campus. Next, she was named manager at Arbor Place. Finally, she landed her current position as Director of Long-Term Support and Services. Katie now manages assisted living at Arbor Place and Custom Care in The Manor and Home & Health Services.
Her job is to make sure all the assisted living residences and services on campus are running smoothly. She organizes, develops and directs the overall operation of her three areas.
“Really I do whatever needs to get done that day to serve our residents well. Sometimes that means giving tours to a prospective resident and their family but other times that means I help serve meals at lunchtime.” said Katie.
Katie had never heard of Meth-Wick before she applied for that first job at Arbor Place but, after seven years, she couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
“Everyone on campus, whether they work here or live here, just loves this place. Our residents are wonderful and I couldn’t have better coworkers,” said Katie.
No matter what position she’s in, Katie’s always looking for ways to better serve Meth-Wick’s residents. It’s that philosophy that led her to complete Leading Age’s Emerge Leadership Program in 2018 and then begin pursuing her Masters in Health Care Administration at the University of Iowa last fall.
When she’s not at work or studying for her grad school classes, Katie enjoys spending time with family and friends and chasing around her busy two-year-old son Sawyer with her husband.