Want to Buy Some TIME From Me…an Educator and a Counselor?

You’re a good attorney, and you care about the people you represent. You’re also busy and spend a lot of time on time. In fact, you even buy TIME. And, I’m writing to help you make a more comfortable purchase from me!

MoneyTime

I fully realize attorneys buy TIME

Time – Because you bill by the hour (and so do I), I promise to help you be more productive and, thus, more successful by providing value laden services.

Pinky SwearI promise to always respect your time.

 

Information – Because I totally understand why you HATE looking stupid (and so do I), I will provide accurate information that you want or need.

Pinky SwearI promise to always ensure you have a good reason for working with me.

 

Money – Because saving money and making money are the goals for almost every law firm (and for every consulting firm too), I will effectively use all the resources available to help with your case.

Pinky SwearI promise to be accurate and fair with my billing.

 

Education – Because lawyers always need continuing education (and so do I) to maintain your license, I am available to present to any group that would benefit from learning about work and disability. In addition, as I’m an educator and a counselor, I can help you and your clients in many ways.

Pinky SwearI promise to bring new light to your litigation strategies.

 

Time on HandsHow much TIME would you like to have on your hands…especially when working on a complex case that has to do with work and disability? So there it is!  But wait, there’s more

I, Amy, promise to Always Be True at My Core, Apple Butterflybecause that’s all I have ever had and have ever needed! And I’m willing to share.

Enjoy a piece of quality fruit (preferably on an empty stomach!) and then give me, Amy E. Botkin, a call to discuss your case. 515-282-7753

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Central Value of Consulting with Me…What You’ll Find!

I provide forensic vocational rehabilitation consulting services that focus on life care planning and placement. My goal as a consultant is to work with attorneys with passion; those who truly care about their clients.

You’ll find we make a nice pair when we focus on your client!

Life care planning involves identifying and facilitating health care recommendations so complications to daily living are minimized. Placement involves valuable counseling sessions and access to creative resources so obstacles to return to work are circumvented.

Please take your time to review information about my professional services. Life care planning and forensic rehabilitation counseling are unique to vocational rehabilitation. That’s why I chose to work in this field! It takes a lot of knowledge yet common sense to truly help others.

Work Hard Stay HumbleYou’ll find I work hard for you and just as hard for your client!

If you, Attorney Person, need help with how to quantify AND qualify an individual’s earnings capacity within a life care plan, I am the consultant you need.

I believe work is central to the existence of adult functioning. It provides funds needed to live and supplies status and security for an individual. You’ll find value in how I approach my own work in a qualitative way. You’ll see I’m grounded in neutrality, sincerity and resolve to never give up until the facts make sense.

Ask some questions and learn what I, Amy E. Botkin, can do to help.

Amy Pic 9-29-15

You’ll receive a humble reply!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * lcpresourcesplus.com * 515-282-7753  * VocResources@gmail.com

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Yoga Yogi to the Rescue…What’s Your Favorite Pose? Helping Myself to Help Others!

I’m a strong proponent for practicing yoga as a form of complementary and alternative therapy.  Well, for me, I practice yoga to relax and rejuvenate thee ole’ muscles after strenuous physical activity.  Yoga is great to reduce stress, strengthen and tone your body, and increase your flexibility.  What I really love about yoga is you can do it right in your living room!

Yoga Yogi to the Rescue!

I practice many yoga moves and have been practicing since fall 2010.  My favorite yoga poses include those I can describe as fire hydrants, salute to the sun, shoulder stand, t balance, triangle, mermaid, spider, butterfly, fish, tortoise, camel,  gliding swan, kneeling dolphin, pigeon…….I could go on and on! But for my ultimate vote I’d recommend Sun Salutation!

The Sun Salutation (or salute to the sun) is an incredible move that stretches ligaments and muscles to increase the elasticity of the vertebral column and joints. It’s actually a series of 12 yoga moves performed in a single, graceful flow.

Sun Salutation

Yoga has helped my mind, body and soul in many, many ways! Thank you Noreen Gosch, for being my first excellent yoga instructor.  She teaches through the Des Moines Community Education Program and I highly recommend any course, whether exercise related or not, that catches your interest!

Yes, it’s time to roll out my mat!

Keep in mind there are many variations of yoga! Many poses provide a wonderful stretch for the entire length of the body. Like the crocodile pose! Be sure to try the horse posture, it works on the outer thigh/hip pocket area ~ yea the saddle bags; and the reclining warrior, excellent for stretching the thighs and strengthening back muscles….and…and…and….oh I love Yoga!

As on update to this blog posting, (which is an evergreen one in my eyes), I recently (July 2016) obtained a dream goal, which was to lead a yoga class! Hum, a calling? No, I just want to share my gifts with others. And I want to make myself as good as I can be do help others (BTW, I love healing touch too!)

If you’d like to discuss the benefits of yoga, or any therapy that catches your interest, let me know. I guarantee if you practice any form of yoga that works for your body, you will be in a better state.

Amy E. Botkin, MS, CRC, CLCP * Vocational Resources Plus, LLC 

lcpresourcesplus.com

VocResourcesPlus@gmail.com

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Need Help in Telling Your Client’s Story? Here’s One About Bowling & Rehabilitation!

My husband Randy had his cardiology checkup in early February clearing him to see the doctor every two years now. Luckily he only had to make visits for a little over three years following his cardioversion and rehabilitation.  As you may know, anytime work is done on any electrical system there’s a chance something could go awry. Here’s a personal story about health with a caveat to all……and it all begins with…..

2015-01-23 Botkin Bowling Ball

Botkin’s Black Ebonite Bowling Bowl 

I was on a business trip in Mason City, Iowa, with my favorite chauffeur Mr. Botkin during the summer of 2013. On the way out of town we stopped at the Rose Bowl for a little entertainment. There’s a tendency to drive around even hundreds of miles with our bowling balls (yes, safely in the trunk). Ya never know when the mood to make some strikes (or gutter balls) will hit!

Randy really makes a racket when his ball strikes the pins! His posture at the end of his follow through looks like he’s ‘a hoppin’ on one foot ballerina! And the noise that emits from his vocal cords….with Botkin embroidered on his shirt above his heart, he’s a bowling man alright (just not that high scoring…me neither)!

Steerike!Steerike!

10 pinsI’m more of a slow and steady, aiming for good form, keeping the ball lined up with the directional arrows kind of bowler (the concept how I prefer to golf too) and hope for that distinct noise of scattering pins!  Steerike! On this summer day we bowled a few games and had a great time! I don’t remember any scores, but who cares! Okay, fine I’m sure he beat me….

A couple days after the business trip, Randy’s neck was tilted. Questions about how he felt and the reason as to why the askew head revealed no valid answer and no comprehension he was even guarding his head. Then came complaints of “feeling out of wack.”

I took his pulse…and ahhh, felt long gaps of time before the next beat, and those beats I could feel were not the same strength.  I swear his heart was skipping a beat (and not because he is sooo in love with me), and knew this was not right. His timing was off [literally!] Randy made a visit to our family doctor who referred to a specialist. Low and behold Mr. Botkin was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

He was placed on Warfarin; his INRs regularly taken. The stress tests, too. We had to watch out for vitamin K sources (and I love blueberries and kale!) and be sure he took care of himself especially now more than ever; and not miss any medical appointments! This is just like my dad, who has chronic AFib. They shared stories about their health. How’s your INR? Pretty darn good, what about you? Well, I could lower it a point or two…! My dad actually does his own testing.

Related imageKale, A Superfood!

Dad “can’t eat” kale, but Randy sure missed eating kale, and loves it now (not true!) Back to the summer of the “heart scare”… I remember Randy wearing a holter monitor strapped to his chest. The day it went off with a loud bang (not true!); and it goes in a plastic baggie for return to the cardiologist we were at an outdoor wedding!

It was determined Randy would need to have a heart restart. OMG. He had a cardioversion procedure performed on September 20, 2013. I will never forget waiting and waiting at Iowa Lutheran Hospital trying to read but not being able to focus on the words in front of me. Finally the nurse came out (the procedure really isn’t that long) and said I could see him. I couldn’t wait any longer!

I entered the procedure room and saw Randy the love of my life lying on the procedure table groggily repeating “Did she do it?” “Did she do it?” Dr. Clark, replied, “What are you talking about?” Randy muttered again with some sort of humor (funny man) in his voice, “Did she push the button?”

button

No I did not push that button. But if he continues to make fun of my bowling posture…and my scores…we might reconsider...

The bottom line of this blog is to be sure to pay attention to symptoms in your body. (and I’m really good at getting people to discuss their health!)  Your body and those of men like Randy whose body does a good share of talking is made to be in balance.  When your body is out of balance, it will tell you and people who care will notice. Listen to it. Listen to others. Do what you need to do to restore your sense of balance. I can offer recommendations!

Thankfully the cardioversion worked and Randy’s been back in the rhythm ever since. There’s no rhyme nor reason why his heart decided to act up. Frankly, I love to check Randy’s pulse and his heart is really strong! He loves to brag that his blood pressure is perfect (a quote from the nurse!) The beater is good to go for a long, long time! Rehabilitation was successful!

I could also blog about my son Nick and his blood pressure problems (thankfully much improved; he’s on long-term medication); and my mom’s blood pressure health which is good but needs watching. Or I could blog about Randy’s dad’s serious heart condition (which ultimately took his life while asleep in 2005). But instead I’m going to end with saying to my readers (including my husband of course!),  “I love you with all my writing heart. Please take great care of yourself!”

Pistachios

Eating Tip of the Day: Pistachios are Heart Healthy.

Let me know what I might do to help with educating your client; or better yet, let me educate others about your client by writing his or her story!

I would love to help with litigation regarding work and disability. I firmly believe in exercising, eating right and balancing! Give me a call at 515-282-7753 and let’s discuss your case. I offer free initial consultation!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

How to Handle Conflicting Medical Opinions? With a Forensic Approach, of Course!

Upon referral of a vocational case, I review a variety of  medical data (i.e., treating physician reports, FCE’s, IME’s) and/or psychological data (i.e., psychometric testing, psychological evaluations, psychiatric evaluations) found within the file. During a workers’ compensation litigated claim (for that matter, all claims that involve work and disability), it is important to understand the individual’s medical situation based on the data contained in these records.

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Good thing I’ve had medical records training…and enjoy the review!

If a file has more than one Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), I can expect the reports to have conflicting opinions. Commonly one physical therapist will recommend the claimant has the physical capacity for light work, while the other says medium work. Often the therapists also have conflicting information about the individual’s maximal (or lack of) effort put forth during the evaluation.

I Did My Best

The claimant needs to say honestly and sincerely  “I Did My Best!”

Assisting the individual (who used to be referred to as the injured worker, the patient, the claimant, the testee, the evaluee, and potentially the client)  in returning to work following an injury is a central role in my specialty of placement. This involves finding the best occupational match within the individual’s own labor market. A person’s “doctor imposed restrictions based on an FCE” should not direct the provision of placement services.

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With conflicting opinions from professionals, what data should I rely upon to perform a beneficial service?

To resolve discrepancies I first ask myself, why is an FCE being used for this specific claim? The utility of this type of scientifically based evaluation, the training sources, performance methods, test protocols and standards to measure them are numerous. Professionals may have opposing views for their own reasons but I must be able to articulate their reports into vocationally-relevant terminology and tell a story about meaningful and gainful work.

WORK

I love writing reports rich with detail about a person’s world of work! And I love reading medical data rich in detail about a person’s world of functioning!

A functional capacity evaluation is actually a term with various definitions, purposes and constructs. A functional capacity evaluation (FCE) evaluates an individual’s capacity to perform work activities related to his or her participation in employment. It seems that in essence, by having a functional capacity evaluation a person is likely to be put in a position of deciding whether he or she is willing to return to work. This is unfortunate.

From what I know, there are approximately 10 different types of commonly used functional capacity evaluations. Here in Iowa, I am most familiar with FCEs with names like the Isernhagen Work System, the Blankenship, Matheson, WorkWell and X-RTS. The reliability or validity of any system is somewhat irrelevant to me because the testing is already entered into “evidence.” What is relevant to me is whether or not I comprehend the results and recommendations contained within the evaluation. Sometimes I can, sometimes I cannot. I always use a “Does This Make Sense?” test!

Image result for conflictingIt’s up to the dualing physical therapists to make their best points during litigation, I’m not in that ring!

I feel fortunate of connections with several physical therapists allowing insight into their clinical practice. Recently I attended a continuing education program that helped me understand various approaches to FCE’s and I am rather fascinated with the X-RTS Lever Arm.

Thinking Cap

The X-RTS Lever Arm passes my make sense test!

So within the context of my vocational consulting work while cautiously putting any judgment aside (which seems hard when I know I know certain things), I analyze and compare each FCE while considering the testing results.

I analyze and compare FCEs! Whoa!

I note whether the FCE report is readable and user friendly. I assess if I understand terminology and methods used, how long testing was administered, what actually was administered, the claimant’s behavior during the test, and how the evaluator came to his or her conclusions. Does it make sense? I look for descriptors regarding the results of testing in relation to real jobs. Are there concrete and realistic recommendations regarding (strengths and weaknesses) in relation to performing physical demand levels of various work situations? I definitely look for the goals and expectations for the evaluation, and whether maximum and consistent effort was made by the evaluee. Comments on the suitability of the testee’s future employment options along with the evaluator’s observations are valuable!

Thinking Cap

Continuing on with analyzing and comparing FCEs! Whoa! It’s important to note what body part/extremity the therapist focuses on in relation to what body part/extremity was injured. For example in one report, the therapist discussed lower extremity activities, when in fact it was an upper extremity injury. If the report cites examples or uses too many percentages, it’s important to understand how the therapist justifies examples. I’m familiar with a therapist who changes the percentages of the same examples from report to report. That doesn’t make sense to me.

I try really hard to make sense of most things and situations!  No sense

If I am able to square an FCE in my mind after careful and prolonged study, is it possible the claimant could do the same? That is fortunate!

How does the claimant (not actually a patient at this time in a workers’ compensation case when referred for an FCE by their own attorney; with an additional FCE visit to a different physical therapist by the defense attorney) perceive discrepancies in the results? Sadly in my eyes, the FCE often gets “interpreted” through an attorney. The repeated pattern of thinking of one’s functional capacity as “poor” does not help me to help anyone return to work.

If there is an IME (Independent Medical Exam), it may seem more geared towards one of the FCEs. Regardless, I try to comprehend all reports, noting the one I understand the most. I’m not so sure that an IME is really a “fresh set of eyes” in the workers’ compensation cases I’ve recently worked on. This topic is another blog in itself.

Putting both, or multiple opinions in a vocational report and making use of other documentation to support my ultimate and final opinion is a great idea, however I have to be cautious to not put myself in a role that isn’t mine (making a medical opinion).

If I am able to provide a doctor (ideally the most recent treating occupational health or rehabilitation doctor) detailed information directly related to a specific occupation or line of work and any resources that could help understand how such work is performed in a smart, safe and effective manner, many benefits arise.

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Clean your lenses!

There’s a clearer understanding of the vocational rehabilitation process and with agreement from all involved, there’s a higher likelihood one could see a successful common outcome (return to work). This certainly helps solidify my vocational opinion and make recommendations. Yet, this type of opportunity is not frequently available (certainly is though with a life care plan!). Please know I always search for a way to best express my vocational opinion.

In my reports, I document what medical records I’ve reviewed and then use the actual words from the individual during an interview describing how s/he details their physical impairment.  Often I hear verbatim what one doctor wrote in their restrictions. The evaluee will respond to my open questioning about any physical limitations (sometimes after the evaluee refers to his/her doctor’s letter) and read or have it memorized saying: “no lifting over 20 pounds, avoid twisting, bending, stooping, sit and stand as needed.”  No sense

What do those words really mean in real life? The individual doesn’t seem to know either. Ask an employer if they have a job that involves no lifting over 20 pounds, no twisting, no bending, no stooping, no this, no that …. and that’s not talking their language!

The evaluee who responds to me in this fashion (using verbatim restrictive words) needs future vocational counseling. Vocational counseling (which may or may not be provided depending on the nature of the litigation) helps to gain a clearer understanding of how the person’s medical situation has changed their daily living (especially in the context of their own world of work). This understanding leads to the ability to articulate the individual’s capacity for success to others (family, friends, job interviewers, etc.).

Please keep in mind, the term “restriction” is not conducive to a successful job search. The ability to explain who you are and what you can do from a functional perspective to help a business make or save money is what is conducive to a successful job search. Restrictions should never be the focus of job placement. Skills are!

Counseling is especially important if the individual is searching for a job, requiring job seeking skills training on how to or (how not to) disclose. The personal attributes gained from training helps the placement process move forward with common goals avoiding getting stuck within a few words that don’t apply to working reality.

WORKWhile staying true to my convictions and firm beliefs that a person can work if the person wants to work and has the capacity to work, I need to understand the dichotomy between science and clinical practice is more imagined than real.

If healthcare professionals submit conflicting reports on the same individual, I need to be able to resolve inconsistencies to better understand and appreciate the opinions offered. It is not my role to determine which opinion is correct. It is my role to utilize available information, provide a beneficial service, and make a sound vocational opinion regarding the individual’s strengths and weakness in relation to work capacity and employability.

Matching People With Their World of WorkIt’s rewarding when I can clarify a person’s sense of their own world of work.

I strive to extend the value of FCEs in the litigation process. I am trained not only in understanding a client’s functional abilities at work, but at home and at leisure. (Need a life care plan?) Together my knowledge with those of other experts, contributes to decisions about the economic losses, or damages, for which the person receives compensation.

Give me a call 515-282-7753 and let me get to work for you!

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

How My Past has Brought Me to The Present – as a Rehab Counselor! Part 4

My story leading up to my career as a rehabilitation counselor who focuses on job placement continues!

Many of my first jobs in the big city of Des Moines, Iowa were secured through temporary staffing agencies.  I find the benefit of staffing agencies invaluable! From a personal perspective, working for a staffing agency really helped me to develop my career. Here’s a link to an article of the benefits of staffing agencies from a business point of view.

The View Wasn’t Quite Like This When I Started as  Kelly Girl!

Specifically, at this time in my life in 1984-85, I started employment through Kelly Services.  I worked at many businesses, mostly in downtown Des Moines, but also at businesses in other areas of the city for about a year. I worked around a variety of people, and in diverse environments. It was great!

The clerical skills I used (and greatly enhanced on the job) to help these companies included ~ 95 words per minute typing speed, (can’t quite reach that speed anymore!), reception responsibilities such as greeting clientele, answering phones, taking messages, filing, and other general secretarial office procedures. Again, it was great!

To name a few of my assignments from memory (come on little computer in thy brain):  American Can, The Embassy Club, Chamberlin Kirke-Van Orsdel, Sears Credit Card, Younkers Department Store (in the Marketing Department). Besides the tragedy, this is another reason why I shed a tear over the Younkers fire in March 2014…

Image result for many jobs I loved my temporary clerical jobs!

While working for Kelly Services as a temp during the day, I also worked part-time at the Target Café on the weekends (when the Target was on Fleur Drive).  I catered to all the hungry shopper’s food needs.  I made pizzas, pretzels, popcorn, nachos, sandwiches, chicken tenders, fries, and the rest of the snack bar options.  It was a nice job to have. And I never left hungry! At that time, I also lived right across Fleur in an apartment with my sister Janice, so I just walked to and from work!

Additionally during this time period in my life, in the evening I worked on the top floor of the Federal Building for the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.  (I remember watching the construction of The Plaza across 3rd Street…which was completed in November of 1985) After receiving on-the-job training, I called farmers and asked specific questions about crops and livestock, while entering codes and farmer responses into the computer. It was an interesting job to have! Data entry was valuable, as was good communication skills.

I’ll never forget one farmer, who upon listening to my introduction replied “I’m sleeping.”  I appreciated his ability to sleep and talk….and respected his underlying wishes (and politely wished him good night – it was like 8:00pm, and hung up…farmers=hard-workers.)  Because of my direct experience with telemarketing in a call center environment, I have insight into the nature of work as a telemarketer and its business value.  In other words, it’s a viable occupation and the person on the other end simply has job to do.  Please respect that.

Work as a telemarketer requires excellent communication skills

In 1986, I applied and was hired at Mercy Medical Center as a correspondence clerk.  The medical records clerk job description is very important to healthcare. Click here for a job description for medical records clerk.  Commonly a medical records clerk needs an associate level college degree.

I was hired at Mercy because of my nursing background, my knowledge of medical terminology and the courses I completed in anatomy and physiology, as well as my clerical abilities.  At this job, I worked days (the medical records department was a 24/7 operation). Each day, the phones were incessant with callers wanting medical records and the incoming mail filled with correspondence from patients, doctors and other medical facilities requesting records.  Oh, and the back log – stacked to the ceiling in my supervisor’s office…

My work as a correspondence clerk was a lot!  After opening the mail, I logged everything in.  Then, I had to locate the medical record file.  The storage area containing medical records was vast as was the sheer size of some of the files.  There was a lot of paperwork, nursing notes, testing results, surgical records…on and on and on.  At times the record was on microfiche, which required visiting the basement to locate boxes near the (aahhhh) morgue.

After locating and retrieving the file (which involved accuracy and a check and balance process), the contents of the file were reviewed, the information that was requested was clipped and copied.

Image result for copy machine cartoon To this day a bit of animosity to large copy machines remains within. 

Then the requested information was prepared, a cover letter attached, and mailed, faxed, or delivered via internal mail procedures.  Again, a lot of documentation of what was done and to who, oh and how much was charged.

One day, I learned about the availability of civil service tests to work for the government.  So, I took a test or two or three, did well, and applied with the State of Iowa.  I was hired as a Clerk Typist III-IV for the State of Iowa at the Bureau of Disability Determination Services (DDSB) in the Department of Education.

At that time DDSB was located in the Jessie Parker Building, 510 East 12th Street, Des Moines.  I have lots of good memories, met many friends  (I love you Chele Ridout!), and learned a lot about work and disability.

As I blog through time and space both forward and backward, I have no idea how many parts this story will go!  I hope you enjoy it.  Please provide me with feedback or comments.  I love to learn about what people do with their skills and abilities!

More to come, please stay tuned for Part 5.

Initial publication date: December 12, 2011

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Why I Got Into Rehab Counseling….I Love Placement and Life, Too! – Part 3

HERE IS MY STORY, continued oN – Part 3

To understand my passion for job placement (and caring for others!), I’ve blogged about my former jobs and learning experiences.  This helps me (but I do feel kinda old going waaaayy back in time) look at a variety of occupations from a unique advantage.  Thank you for reading….and continue on!

In June of 1983, I enrolled at North Iowa Area Community College, Mason City, Iowa  and took practical nursing coursework.   Here is a list of the coursework along with the everyday tasks in a Licensed Practical Nurse Career.

NIACC, known at times as Tinker Toy College!

While at NIACC, I lived in the dorms. Yes, many interesting stories in my memory bank! I recently visited campus and my room looks exactly the same (read outdated)!  It was cool to walk around the campus and relive some memories : ) .  The dorms are on one side with a path across a lake (read waaaayy  COLD in the winter) leading on to the classroom buildings.  When not taking campus courses, we were doing practicums at the hospital or at a nursing facility.

The hospital training was at Mercy Medical Center North Iowa.  Keep in mind it’s a bit of a driving trek from the NIACC side of Mason to the hospital. I remember one extra cold morning (aren’t they all!).  I went out to the parking lot carefully, it’s dark, windy, icey and cold. Brrr. There’s my little blue car (a Plymouth Champ – fondly called Chump). The Chump was frozen solid in the dorm parking lot. Originally Chump was my mom‘s car, and I eventually acquired her and drove many a trip back and forth from Iowa Falls to Mason City, mostly on Highway 65.

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The Chump, she had a 5 speed stick shift and a sun/moon roof!

I had to go back into the dorms and locate help! Hey, don’t forgot how butt cold I would’ve been, and am right now just thinking about the cold. BTW, I have Raynaud’s syndrome, probably related to this day!?! No, there have been many many times growing up in Northern Iowa for a young lady to freeze her arss off!

I found help from a maintenance worker to unfreeze the locks, and ultimately I ended up going through the hatchback of the care (not the first time this would happen in my lifetime!)  I was wearing my light weight nursing uniform (coat too of course) and it wouldn’t been either a dress or top with linen pants). BTW: The average temperature in Mason City (population 28,000) is like 15°F in January! I’m pretty sure I had a fellow nursing student with me and we made it to the hospital for our clinical practicum on time which was 6:30 AM, or close to it! Our class had two males in it; and I’m curious what they’re up to so many years later.

Another update from Amy and hey, this is a great result from my decision to revise/repost some older writing material!  FYI: Mason City, Iowa, boasts the largest collection of Prairie School architecture outside Chicago.  A local non-profit organization, Wright on the Park, Inc. has information for me to share with you! I love architecture. Her’s an idea leading me to plan another trip to Mason in the future!

As an LPN student I wore a little white hat!

Another portion of the LPN clinical practicum was work at a nursing home (yes in Mason City….can’t recall the name of it at this point in time).  I recall caring for a man deep in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease.  When his wife came to visit, their interactions were …. well it’s hard to find the right words.

But it’s something I will not forget, as were many other experiences in the hospital and in the nursing home during my nurse training days.

Image result for nurse training cartoonI’ve always had a strong desire to care for all life!

Back to my nurse training days. During my clinicals, I learned the importance of being aware of other’s reactions and understanding why they react the way the do (Social Perceptiveness).

Nursing requires talking to others to effectively convey information (Speaking Skills), actively looking for ways to help people (Service Orientation), knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services including needs assessment techniques, quality service standards, alternative delivery systems, and customer satisfaction evaluation techniques (Customer and Personal Service Skills).

Nursing definitely requires the ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem (Problem Sensitivity) and using logic and analysis to identify the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches (Critical Thinking).

Image result for valueI value my nurse training immensely!

And of course, I also value my nursing career that followed! : )

Please note that Our country has a critical nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows.  This four page document titled Nursing Faculty Shortage Fact  was last updated: March 16, 2015 reveals many facts.

The value of positive clinical learning experiences is invaluable if we as a society want to attract, and retain good nursing students.  Click here for a article to reinforce the statement I just made. And we need to support our students and existing nurses. Here’s a link for information on the importance of nurse mentoring.

Image result for nurse cartoonI admire and respect nurses considerably.  

When hospitalized myself a few years ago in the summer at Iowa Lutheran Hospital from a severe reaction to poison ivy I paid a lot of attention to the staff. I was sent by ambulance from my doctor’s office to the ER, where I was treated and watched for a few hours, to be released home.  …Only to have to return hours later to the ER after calling out in the middle of the night [to my husband] that I really needed help!

I was full of poison from inhalation of smoke from burning logs / sticks in a firepit out at Cottonwood (Saylorville Lake). The sticks (I collected the sticks from my own back yard……..and made the fire) had the nasty nasty resin that I’m highly allergic to. I was an inpatient for about a week recovering from severe allergic contact dermatitis. And I made sure to give thanks and praise for such good nursing care.

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Be sure you do the same when you encounter a nurse!

Again, back to my nurse training days. I remember my initial CPR training with the full size dummy’s (Annie)! And I’ve received training ever since (oops Amy, update 12/16/2015: I need to recertify in First Aid, CPR and AED and I know my instructor training certificate has expired.)

Some training for you:  : ) Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure which is performed in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person in cardiac arrest. The source for your training is through wikipedia : )

Anyway, I have been trained through the American Heart Association and through the American Red Cross.  In later days I would become more involved in both these agencies through the progression of my career. Ahh, time to link you to my resume….it’s in the download section of my website.

I’ve been wanting to design an interactive resume, as it will help me pronounce what’s most important in my background for a specific case where I may be called upon to serve as a vocational expert!

CPR is hands-only (no breaths) nowadays.

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On with my story… At some point, hard to pin that exact time in history at this moment, I traveled to and stayed in Irving, Texas for a month and a half or so, to help a friend with her growing family (play with babies and have fun). Right Tammy & Tony (RIP) Silvey!  I had one job interview, but never worked anywhere during my visit and returned to Iowa. Then I moved to Des Moines, Iowa in 1984 and stayed with my sister Janice who had an apartment on the Southside near the airport! I eventually moved in after her roommate moved out!

More to write about next week! Stay tuned for Part 4

Original publication date: December 5, 2011

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

My Passion for Job Placement! Here is My Story – Part 2

To understand my passion for job placement, let me tell you a little about some of the jobs and experiences I’ve had growing up.  I mentioned in an earlier post the fact that childhood interests can help you find the right career.  This is so true!

To Thine Own Self Be True

My first job at age 13 was babysitting (okay, child care provider). Besides gaining transferable skills, Click here for transferable skills of a Childcare Provider, clearly “babysitting” sets the stage for good parental skills (I have 3 children).

However, even before this time in my life, I “held a job” as a swimmer.

Starting at age 6 through about age 17, I was a member of the Iowa Falls Scenic City Swim Club.  The coach, Bruce, was one hard arss.  Swim club is where I learned the art of practice, perseverance, perfecting a stroke, team work, and how to really hold your breath!

I recall the feeling of free style swimming the full length of the olympic-sized swimming pool (164 feet) without turning my head even once to take a breath.  I pretended I was a fish!My favorite trophy! (Body shape certainly wasn’t like mine!)

With babysitting, mowing neighbors’ lawns and swimming, along with cleaning my dad’s office space and the shop’s bathroom (ugg) at Culligan Soft Water, my summers were busy.

When I got a little older, I started walking beans (I was not very good) and detasseling corn (I was horrible.) Could be a height challenge (and my “accommodations” included a walker who was just a lot better than me with that horrible hoe and worse knife; and a tall guy who liked to help me by pulling the stalks way down to my level.) Because these were not reasonable accommodations and I knew that back then!, I voluntarily left….or I wasn’t called back to work a field, a mixture of both probably.

Randy, my beloved hubbie, on the other hand was retained by a farmer who “fired” the other boys because they ditched the hot fields in lieu of a cool dip in the nearby pond. Yes, he has a history of walking entire bean fields by himself……ahhh…..could you do that?

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Corn Stalks in Iowa Are Way Tall!

My first official job – with a real bonafide paycheck – was at Rocky’s Pizza as a food server (waitress is what we called it in the 70s, duh!) Rocco “Rocky” LaValle, (he was our guest speaker at our 30th class reunion dinner in July 2011) hired many young people in town to work for him for many years….there is much history.  As a food server skills in need are aplenty.  Click here for more information.

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Rocky’s Pizza Box Sign

I found both the above and below images online (click here for my disclaimer!!).  I’m not sure of the year, but Rocky’s moved into to a beautiful new location on Washington where you could really see the pizza making action in the front window!

I worked at the original location in about  1978 at about $1.85 hour,  plus tips of course! There’s a Facebook page about The History of Iowa Falls that gives great historical information about Rocky’s . What’s cool is how many past workers, including myself, post our memories!

Original Rocky’s Pizza

Along with the pizza joint, I also worked as a food server at an “upscale” fine dining restaurant – The Chateau.  It was actually a brick mansion on Rockyslvania “converted” into a restaurant. This food server work required a tweak on approaching customers and serving food, and I enjoyed it greatly.  Oh, I also wore a black and white uniform and got to serve beer and wine!  At the Chateau, I learned the art of salad making, and eating left-over crab legs (I know, I know, right off a used plate – ugg again!).  I have a picture somewhere of me in my uniform, ready to go to work. Mary Dunlay, remember working together as food server extraordinaires?! Remember the upstairs where we had to serve for special dinner parties, that wasn’t too convenient…let alone accessible!

On the flip side of “fine dining” establishment and fast food (I worked at Hardees too), I also have food serving experience working at a small truck stop in the country called The Junction north of Iowa Falls on the way to Hampton.  I remember some of my favorite customers, like the old farmer named Chris, of course in his overalls. He always tipped me! Along with serving, I did some food preparation and of course a lot of clean up and replenishment of food products and dining items. And I was responsible to operate the industrial dishwasher!

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The dishwasher was fun to run! (Most recently I am back into operating an industrial dishwasher, at our church when I volunteer for funeral meals!)

Alice the Cook was Queen! And she taught me a lot! There is a bench dedicated to her along the Iowa River in Foster Park, Iowa Falls, Iowa).

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I really loved making the incredibly yummy malts.  The leftovers!

I loved working at The Junction truck stop!  It was also really cool that my brother, Steven, worked next door at the truck stop’s fuel filling facility.  My brother Steven – I love you…RIP.  He was one hard worker…!

 

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Stop! Now Follow Me!

I also worked as a  heavy road construction flagger, the person who moves the stop sign to control traffic.  I remember some interesting motorists who long ago passed through….! And I also drove the follow-me truck, But that got un-nerving to me as each time I made a back and forth pass through the zone, the [male] construction workers would stop and stare at me…how silly of them. ? Would’ve that been sexual harassment on the job? Nahh, these were just the big old road crew boys…! I just thought it was annoying, and just wanted to do my driving job!

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Machine Operator and Forklift Operator! I loved it!

Additionally over the course of my early work history, I worked light industrial at the Alden Corn Processing plant in both the corn processing facility…standing at a de-shucking machine and shoving ears of corn through; and in the packing facility….working at the labeling conveyor as well as shrink wrapping pallets, and watching out for the fast moving forklifts. I was trained and did drive a forklift!

I held other good jobs at the Red Rooster Grill as a waitress, at Kmart as a cashier and at Hardees as a fast food service worker. All links provide further information on transferable skills!

In the summer of 1981 I took a nurse aide training course.  Following the training and upon receiving the certificate to be a Certified Nurse Aide, I was hired at Ellsworth Community Hospital.    I gained experience working on each shift over the course of my employment.  Each shift has its unique characteristics.  Talk about gaining incredibly valuable nursing skills.

On to nursing school……..stayed tuned….as I explore my past…..and realize it turned into a passion for job placement.

Stayed tuned for Part 3

Original publication date: November 28, 2011

__________________

My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

How did I Get Into Rehab Counseling? Here’s a Little Story

To understand my passion for rehabilitation counseling (my beloved career), let me first tell you a little about myself.

HERE IS MY STORY – Part 1:

As a September baby  – a Virgo!

I was born in 1963 in Libertyville, Illinois, into a hard working family.  My parents are from Chicagoland.  During my infancy and toddlerhood, my family lived in a small house in Mundelein, Illinois.  My father Richard “Dick” Prochnow worked for Sears Roebuck and Co earlier, and then later hired on with Culligan Soft Water.  He would end up working for the company for many, many years.

My mother Ann Dodge Prochnow cared for their five children (we are each 13-15 months apart!) and I am the “baby” of the family. Siblings are Julia born January 1959, Michael March 1960, Janice April 1961, Steven July 1962 and me Amy in September 1963. Ann & Dick’s first child, Richard, died in infancy in 1955, the same year my parents were married.

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Mom from Northbrook and dad from Buffalo Grove

Culligan promoted Dick to management and moved him (along with the crew later on) to Davenport, Iowa in 1966 and later we relocated to Battle Creek, Michigan when I was a preschool age, before moving to Iowa Falls, Iowa in 1968 and settling in. I started kindergarten at age 4.

The Scenic City

I’ll expand on my family and their work in another post.  Read all about it!  But on to me (well, I am the one posting this on my website!)

In a nutshell:   I was in a serious car/train accident in June 1979, the summer before my 11th grade.  I was 15 years old. I was a passenger in a car, sitting in the back seat. The car slammed into the train, and me, well, my body through the bucket seats and the nonexistent windshield with my head being smashed into a bolt on a box car. But the creepier thing is the train actually started to move, as the conductor was moving it into the yard. Of course, I had no idea what was going on at all. Thank God.

The car was totaled.  There were 3 other people in the car, all who sustained serious injuries, but we all lived. I used to have a disdain for the make and model of that green car, however in a sense it did save my life.

The train stopped moving, having only traveled a few years, stopping inches from a culvert. A passing car with a young couple came upon us. And for me, what I know now, is that a woman named Teri saved my life. Thank you Teri.

I was first transported by ambulance to Ellsworth Municipal Hospital to the ER and then moved by ambulance. I was hospitalized (in Mason City, Iowa) for a week with a broken right arm (ulna and radius), numerous lacerations, and a severe head wound requiring extensive plastic surgery.  We’re talking a lot of stitches, and bruises. I don’t remember any of this time in the hospital until I came out and was clearly doing better…

The accident kinda screwed up my life at that time (sure wish I had a rehab counselor to work with me!)  I dropped out of high school ½ way through 11th grade.  At the time, my mother  was working at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls in the placement office.  She “forced” me to enroll at the college, which I did reluctantly.  I was 17.  I first had to take the GED and pass!

State of Iowa High School Equivalency Diploma ~ Amy Elizabeth Prochnow November 10, 1981

After this positive life event, I moved on and audited courses at ECC ~ Ellsworth Community College (with much older classmates).  I then enrolled officially and took secretarial coursework….and in 1981 also graduated with a certificate in secretarial science.

To clarify these dates, 1981 was the year I should have graduated with my original high school classmates.  But instead, I went to college with “older” people, and my sister Janice Prochnow, two years older than me. I think we had one class together.

In the ECC Class of 1981 program below I’m listed under the first section, One Year Secretarial, the fifth student.  Janice, her name is the second to last column under the last section of the program titled Associate Degree Diploma, has 3 asterisks *** because she received honors and was a mid-term graduate.

Other people in the program are a couple friends who Janice graduated high school with in 1979, Patti Rieber, Janet Roozen and Melinda Rutzen. I remember being in class with some of the ECC male (read tall to me) basketball players!

panther

Here’s a picture of me and my older sister Julie Prochnow who is five years older than me, on the day we both graduated in October 1981.  (No picture of me and Janice for some reason, at least that I have!) I graduated from ECC with my secretarial science certification and Julie did from Iowa State University in recreational studies.

Notice Julie’s honor cords –  valedictorian!

After this robe wearing event, time to move on again!

Stayed tuned for Part 2

 

Nov 21, 2011 original publish date

 

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Transferable Skills…..Where to Apply Them Today?

In the context of careers and employment, “skills” are broadly defined to include a broad range of abilities and talents, as well as technological expertise.

One could focus on skills related to communication skills (writing, presentation, etc.), computer skills, analytical skills, and any number of other attributes – some easily measurable and some more a case of perceptions.

Transferable skills are competencies learned in one environment that can easily be employed in other settings.  These are all good things to offer a prospective employer; and one does not so much “transfer” these qualities as one “applies” them.

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I perform transferable skills analyses by hand. I do not use a computer program because I can use my own brain power!

Amy’s Methodology for Transferable Skills Analysis

For a multifaceted manual, primarily paper-based transferable skills analysis, it makes good sense to use a person-centered-approach (rather than relying on procedural-based computerized software that offers only quick suggestions based on input).

Allowing for the person’s background, there are many valuable transferable skills checklists to draw out detail on past work skills that provide data for vocational consideration. Here’s one >  TRANSFERABLE SKILLS CHECKLIST

I find it useful to access Occupational Information Network referred to as O*Net  along with other vocationally specific career resources.  In addition, a good source of desirable transferable skills can be found in job postings. These research activities to collect and process all relevant, reasonable and appropriate skills that comprise the person’s capacity set the stage to justify results.

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 Setting the Stage is Just as Important as the Production

To connect the person’s transferable skills with real occupations that actually exist, I research the person’s labor market and connect with those local employers using a search strategy over time. I find this is the best medium to achieve results.

5 Steps to Take Include:

  • Examine complete work and volunteer history and any other vocationally significant background
  • Compile skill set represented by general work requirements (aptitudes, knowledge, and capacities)
  • Analyze and translate skills relative to specific occupational areas of work, which could be broad or narrow in range
  • Research other work to identify new jobs with same general work requirements and similar skills
  • Match the jobs within the data and group according to what skill is needed in various work settings/situations

But that’s not the end!

Keep in mind a job seeker wants to “fit in” with the company culturally, and this is where work style and personalities come into play. I find at times that using a personality assessment (which is concerned with the process of qualifying or describing a person’s behavior in specific circumstances) is helpful.

Linus van Pelt has Many Transferable Skills…at such a young age!

Linus is highly intelligent, so much that he totally has faith and anticipation in his own legendary being, the Great Pumpkin, and with good reason….because he refuses to be defeated.  Linus is also skilled at baseball (2nd baseman and pitcher when Charlie Brown is nonfunctional; but not so much boxing (Lucy knocks him out!)

I am fully cognizant of the fact that every industry believes that there are certain skills that apply only to their industry, but in fact it has been proven over and over again that skills are transferable across industry lines.

I have good reason to believe that Linus van Pelt would make a good construction manager! He might also be successful at being a counselor, considering he knows what it’s like to feel insecure and take action to overcome his feelings.

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Linus Would Also Make a Great Security Guard!

Here’s another Transferable Skills Worksheet (it’s pasted below as well) you can download. This one helps with interviewing for a job where you plan to apply your skills!

Transferable Skills ~ are those versatile skills that you can apply and make use of in many job situations. Below is a list of common transferable skills. Think about your own past experiences at work, school, while volunteering and through leisure activities. Describe the experiences using the STAR * Method to demonstrate you have the skill.

               * Situation        * Task you were involved in        * Action you then took                     * Result of your efforts

Work Ethic

Being punctual:

Meeting goals:

Setting high standards for self :

Produce quality projects/work:

Communication

Speaking effectively:

Writing concisely:

Listening attentively:

Perceiving non-verbal messages:

Facilitating group discussion:

 Teamwork

Willing to share credit/power:

Collaborating with others:

Including others:

Empowering others:

Managing conflict:

Representing others:

Initiative

Initiating new ideas:

Promoting change:

Accepting responsibility:

Interpersonal

Cultivating relationships:

Conveying feelings:

Perceiving feelings, situations:

 Problem-Solving

Identifying problems:

Developing evaluation strategies:

Demonstrates web-like thinking: 

Analytical

Forecasting, predicting:

Extracting important information:

Constantly learning and reflecting:

Flexibility/Adaptability

Cooperating:

Enlisting help:

Open to difference:

Detail-Oriented

Follows directions:

Gathering information:

Managing details:

Organization

Reporting information:

Coordinating tasks:

Managing time:

Setting and meeting deadlines:

Leadership

Finding a common purpose/goal:

Articulating a vision:

Motivating:

Delegating with respect:

Managing groups:

Coaching: 

 Self-Confidence

Expressing ideas:

Asserting one’s self appropriately:

Defining needs:

 Friendly/Outgoing

Being sensitive:

Providing support for others:

Counseling:

 Tactfulness

Providing appropriate feedback:

Enforcing policies:

 Creativity

Suggesting ideas:

Imagining alternatives:

Initiating new ideas:

 Strategic Planning

Identifying resources:

Setting goals:

 Entrepreneurial/Risk-Taking

Negotiating:

Persuading:

Selling ideas or products:

 Attitude/Sense of Humor

Has a positive attitude:

Optimistic:

Acting appropriately in workplace:

 

Note: The above Transferable Skills Worksheet Revised in part using information from The University of Iowa Pomerantz Career Center Career Guide 2010

 

Identifying Transferable Skills is a Fun Process. It Sets The Stage and Allow Your Production to Shine! Let me know how I can help!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * lcpresourcesplus.com * 515-282-7753  * VocResources@msn.com

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.