The WellSpan Spotlight

It's all in the family for father and daughter occupational therapists

2024_Web and INET_Tom and Shea Beierschmitt

Shea Beierschmitt was exposed to her dad’s work at a young age. Boxes of hand splints made by Tom, who is an occupational therapist, could be found all over their basement. She would often see her dad’s signature splinting technique on people at the grocery store.


So, when she approached her parents in high school about becoming an occupational therapist, Tom says, “I was not surprised. I was absolutely delighted.”


Today, Tom and Shea work “hand-in-hand” creating hand splints for WellSpan Orthopedics patients in the York area.


Tom’s story

Tom is a certified hand therapist at WellSpan Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the Apple Hill Medical Center in York. He recognizes the importance of the role the human hand plays in everyday life.


“I have spent 45 years in this field,” says Tom. “Every year has been dedicated to helping my patients regain not just the function in their hand, but also their independence.”


Throughout his 15 years at WellSpan, he has also taken great pride in his appearance and looking presentable in the office. Shea shares that he always sets a good example for her and others. “You will never catch him not wearing a tie.”


Shea’s story

Shea is an occupational therapist at WellSpan Rehabilitation at Bannister Street in York. She can also be found lending a hand to her father and the orthopedic hand team at the Apple Hill Medical Center. 


While shadowing a nursing home with occupational therapy staff during her summers as a teenager, Shea gained a better understanding of what Tom’s work entailed and found herself attracted to the staff’s fun interaction with residents.


“I have always been hands-on and loved the idea of being a professional caregiver,” she says. “However, I quickly saw what attracted my dad to the importance of having function return in the arm.”


Tom was a mentor in Shea’s splint education out of his department and the rest is history. After five years at WellSpan, Shea is continuing her passion of caring for patients.


Father and daughter, neighbors, colleagues

For Shea and Tom, working together has many benefits.


“WellSpan is a teaching health care system and what better way to learn from my life teacher?” says Shea. “I am honored to have a father who is so wonderful and respected by many.”


Since Beierschmitt is not a common name, they both enjoy being recognized by patients they share and hearing positive or fun stories about each other. But not everyone immediately makes the connection.


“Most of my dad’s patients try to explain who made their splint or share positive notes about their experience with him. Sometimes I like to pretend I don’t know him just to get more details from them. I feel like we see our parents in a certain light but hearing others explain them with such brightness has been so rewarding,” she says. “I also like to dig into some of his secrets for a fun back-and forth-relationship with him and the patients. They love reporting back his reactions to me when I tease him and send my critiques on his splint. I try to keep him young, but I think that adds gray hairs.”


Tom is grateful to have such a special relationship with his daughter and looks forward to many more years of working together. “I am thrilled that I was able to, and continue to, work with my daughter and integrate her into my working family,” says Tom.


In addition to being a close-knit family, the pair are also literally close as neighbors, with just one house separating them.  


Speaking of family, Shea’s mom and Tom’s wife, Marilyn, also works for WellSpan as a registered dietitian. Shea’s sister and Tom’s other daughter, Grace, continues to keep health care in the family as she currently pursues a doctorate in audiology. 


“Hopefully,” Shea says, “someday we can carpool as four and work as one.”


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