Working on a Case Involving Work & Disability? I’m Here to Help You…Depose & More

I can help you in a number of ways with any case you’re working on that involves work and disability, whether it be medical malpractice, personal injury or workers’ compensation or other litigation. One way I can help you is to design creative questions skillfully as part of the discovery process allowing a much deeper inquiry into the person’s “world of work”.

My goal is to inspire you even more to do what you love to do…ask questions, right!? And to be the best attorney you can be, double right!!


I’m sure questions you ask a deponent include those to: determine the nature of previous jobs; amount of money making; for whom s/he was working; why employment was terminated; and what qualifications and experience s/he had for the type of work s/he was doing [when injured].

You also question what work the individual has done, if any since the disabling condition, describing job duties; and determining previous employers and earnings.  Questions posed to encourage a deponent to detail what it is s/he can and cannot do are important, too.

These are all good questions from you yes, and critical of course (although kinda boring in my humble opinion!). Would it help you to have at your fingertips specifically designed questions (based on evidence to date) at deposition that will produce a much deeper inquiry into the person’s vocational background? I get excited when I think of sooo many other questions you could ask that really get into the meat of the matter!

meatAnd I don’t eat meat!

I’ve heard 90% of malpractice cases are settled before trial, and the deposition often is the turning point in those cases. I’d like to help you prepare questions that will lead to responses offering plenty of material for you to work on your case. My aim is to help you skin that cat in many ways and be ready for the most likely responses from your witness. I hope my help with your deposing techniques is valuable pre-trial as well as if the transcript is used for court.


Plus, please keep in mind, I can definitely help you in more ways to better understand the individual’s disabling condition. A life care plan is perfect for that! Expert witness and testimony services are available as well.

I am here to help you help your client!

Call me ~ Amy Botkin at  515-282-7753 or shoot me an email message at and I’ll get back to you. Thank you for reading! Good luck with your legal work.


 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.


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!


 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


 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).

Image result for malt icecream

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…!


Image result for flagger cartoon    Image result for follow me truck

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!

Image result for ear of corn cartoon       Image result for forklift operator cartoon

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.


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!


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.

Working on a Litigated Case Involving Work & Disability? A Job Analysis Can Help!

Are you working on a litigated case involving work and disability? A Job Analysis can help in many ways!  A job analysis involves the process of gathering, evaluating, and recording objective data about a specific job. It evaluates what an employee does, why the work is done, how the work is done, results of the work, the skills, knowledge, and abilities required to perform the work, and the context in which the work fits into the organizational structure.


A Job Analysis is Helpful in Many Ways

A complete analysis involves visiting the job site to witness the job being performed and interviewing supervisors and employees about the accuracy of existing job descriptions. Consulting with management and incumbents of the job along with digital video recording allows for a critical analysis of the parameters of performance pertaining to physical demands.

Once the job analysis describing the critical duties of the job, an evaluation of the work environment is completed, and a report written and presented, there will be a greater understanding of the essential functions of the job.

JA Matrix

This understanding allows me as a vocational expert to make recommendations for reasonable accommodations and to testify to the efforts of the employer to provide reasonable accommodations.

Need help with a litigated case involving disability and work? I help with plaintiff/claimant and defense cases. Call me, Amy E. Botkin, today for a free 15 minute consultation.

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * * 515-282-7753  *


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

Nice Talking to You Randy! Never Stop Using Your Soft Skills!

I just got off the phone after a gentleman named Randy called my business inquiring on my needs regarding this website. I responded after listening to the purpose for his call… I’m it as far as who’s in charge of this site! He had good verbal communication skills, so our discussion continued. It was unusual I answered this call, as I was right in the middle of something, but I liked Randy’s soft skills!

After explaining the meaning of being mainly a creative writing blog about work and life; written solely by me as a relationship builder, he asked what I do.

My response “As a life care planner and a vocational rehabilitation counselor I help people with acquired disabilities move on with their lives”, Randy thought that was a good concept. And he thanked me for my work!

Our phone conversation continued,  and I explained I write for the people I mentioned and also for the attorneys who help the people.

Image result for attorney love cartoonRandy said, yes attorneys need the love too.

Randy told me he has a couple of attorney buddies who are not happy with their legal  careers. He told me they’re frustrated, stressed out, and quite depressed.

I realize many attorneys are disenchanted with their work and are in remarkably poor mental health, having serious problems with depression. If I can help you through vocational counseling, please, please let me know.

Randy, please have your buddies fill this questionnaire out!  It’s titled Why Do You Do Your Work? The results of this assessment may help decipher what is missing from their current work.

Please take a serious look at your work, gather all you can about why you do it. Understand your personality, build up your choices and make an informed decision. Do you want to be happy and productive where you’re at in your legal career or do you need to make a move?

Image result for attorney love cartoon

Happiness is….being a lawyer and loving it!

Then stick with your decision, get help and support in every way you can, and most importantly enjoy life while you’re here on Earth and prepare your way to what lies ahead.

I hope reading my blogs will help you unwind a tad and you also find useful information that can help you to help your clients.

Let me know what I can do to help you on a case or even with your practice. It may help to take some time out and assess your career. Any recommendations you agree with and changes that’ll transpire will only serve you better, as long as you trust your instincts and never give up on yourself!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * * 515-282-7753


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

A Job Analysis Would Help You Win a Prize!

Have you been to the Williamson Pumpkin Paradise? We visited on a beautiful October Sunday afternoon and I was in awe at the creative produce! After wandering around in the fields and looking at plenty a pumpkin looking for a home, we selected one. As I’m writing this, I realized that I really am not knowledgeable about “how to pick the perfect pumpkin”! So, what I’d do, I did the research!  Indeed, pumpkin is a fruit!

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Pumpkin seeds…nutritious and tasty!

I really like the sidebar from the publisher of a pumpkin site, it reads:

“I’ve always thought that we don’t choose pumpkins. They choose us! There is an unwritten magical connection when when you find the perfect pumpkin.”

This is the pumpkin we selected, being one of my favorites, it made it home:

2015-10-26 17.10.27

Even though I am green, you can still carve me into a beautiful Jack O’Lantern!

What’d you think Randy paid for this pumpkin at a cost of .40 per pound?

Pumpkin Head Randy

What do you think it weighs? 10, 15, 25, 35, 40 pounds, what about 50?

Randy was probably not carrying this pumpkin as safely as he could (read: wheel barrows were available.)  I lifted it and carried it in my arms as well for a time while walking through the field, gauging how much I thought it weighed. I was a little too high . . . and I really couldn’t carry it for very long. The load was just not being carried correctly.

Recommendation: Do a job analysis Amy!

2015-10-27 15.25.25This baby was much easier to manually handle!

Guess the correct weight of the green one and you’ll win a prize (a free consultation or maybe something just as valuable!)

Answer to be made available on Halloween! ….. continue to read on about another Randy (yea, not my husband…the KC fan above with the pumpkin head) … who just called me……!


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


I Retired from Writing for Women’s Edition…Skills Gain!

[Repost 10/22/2015] I retired from my stint as a freelance magazine story writer for Women’s Edition after enjoying monthly job assignments from January 2012 through September 2013. Shortly afterwards, the magazine’s owner and founder left our Des Moines, market. They continue to publish from Omaha, Lincoln, Denver and Colorado Springs.

I gained many skills, read on after reviewing this brief summary of the business owners and associates of companies throughout Des Moines, Iowa I interviewed about their business and wrote creative stories:

Summary of My Writing Stories for Women’s Edition

By Amy E. Botkin

  • LuGene Isleman & Heidi Wilson “Your Center for Wellness, Rejuvenation and Body Balancing”, for a Healthy Living Story
  • PrimeSource Mortgage “Meet the Ladies that Walk You Home” a Business Style Story
  • Attorney Diane Dornberg “Passionate About Helping Families”, for an Out & About Story
  • Burgin Drapery Workroom “We Do It All!”, a Business Style Story
  • Things On Douglas An eccletic blend of new and consigned furniture and home décor”, for an Out & About Story
  • Douglas Dental, “A Dental Clinic With Experienced Staff At Your Service”, for a Healthy Living Story
  • Dr. BJ Foust, Foust Family Dental Care, for an Out & About Story
  • Noelle Carroll at Simply Organized, “Organizing Clutter and Chaos”, for a Business Style story
  • Dale Carnegie, “Turning Potential Into Performance”, for a Business Style Story
  • The Funky Zebras an Out and About story
  • Anderson Animal Hospital, We Care for ALL Critters” a Business Style Story
  • Barb Diment Law Office for A Business Style story
  • Dan Bishop owner of A-1 Concrete Leveling for a Business Style Story
  • Ann Hartz, CPA for a View From The Top story
  • Applebee’s, a Healthy Living Story

After participating in a Murder Mystery back in 2001, with my good friend, I had an incredible story to tell. But I didn’t do it! I swear. I was too busy. Not me! I’m the maid here, how could I? Maybe I’ll post it someday! [Another update as of 10/22/2015, I actually just found pictures from that evening  (going through pictures & stuff)! As sneaky killer suspects, we were particularly odd looking….I may scan 1 or 2 pictures in.]

I will find that story I wrote and link it……have you ever participated in a Murder Mystery? It was fun to travel to Bellevue, Iowa for this work assignment, spend the night in a beautiful mansion, be involved in a murder, write and get paid! I remember meeting a white cat with secrets near the river…..

I love to read and I love to write!

I hope to write for publications in the future. At this time, with my business rocking (tons of reading, research and report writing); bloggin’; the need to study, research and write out responses to discussion questions, prepare term papers and projects for my current rehabilitation counseling forensic coursework through GWU….it would be way too beastly wild for me to do it all. [Update from original post Oct 7, 2013…Yep! Completed that goal!…no not becoming a wild beast, but receiving a post graduate degree!]

Wild Beast Amy

Seriously however, I benefited in numerous ways during this time of writing for publication. My interview, research, creativity and writing skills improved! I met many professionals in my community and made great business connections. Interviewing business owners provided me indepth insight into self employment and small business ownership. (I knew quite a bit however, being in this same boat since 1999!)

Plus, I requested a recommendation letter, which Kelcie Warren kindly wrote. Thank you Kelcie!

I personally give thumbs up recommendations for several of the  businesses from other than my angle of writing their story because I became a customer of their establishment/business (if you need your driveway raised, Dan Bishop owner of A-1 Concrete Leveling does an excellent job); became a business connection of their services…and yes even gathered new friendships! (Ann Hartz, CPA, she and I were in boot camp together!)

Thumbs Up:  Attorney Diane Dornberg, The Funky Zebras, Anderson Animal Hospital, Dan Bishop, Ann Hartz, CPA, Dale Carnegie and of course Applebee’s!

I’ll likely add to this blog in the near future, because of an important part of my retirement…….asking for a reference letter…..from the publisher of Women’s Edition…it’s in the mail to me! And you can find the reference letter on my website over yonder under documents for download.


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



Happy Labor Day 2015 to All of Iowa’s Workers!

Iowa has a great reputation for strong work ethic (from what I heard, ask most any Floridian employer and if you’re from Iowa….you’re hired!)! Click here for a free online Occupational Work Ethic Inventory (OWEI).

Personally, I am proud of my children (and my husband’s) work ethic. Recently, my son Jake covered for a person who called in sick; resulting in working 11 hours in one shift. The next day, his boss from Jimmy John’s offered him a raise!

Image result for zombie burger

Jake is a fan of Zombies!

Arin, although at this time she still works her two jobs at the Des Moines Public Library (Library Aid at the Franklin branch) and Zombie Burger as a host; is dropping down to only one day a week at the library through September. She will then be working only one job….as she needs time to be a 19 year old! Working 60 hours a week takes its’ toil on a person. Plus Arin’s considering going to college! (She has strong interest and entry level skills in sign language.) Psssst:  Arin, check this out about DMACC’s program in ASL.

Workers Monument, by Artist Michael Stutz, State Capitol Grounds, Corner of East 9th Street and East Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa

As you know, I’ve written many times about my husband’s work ethic….he’s amazing! And now, I’d like to write a bit about Randy’s father, James C. Botkin. Jim worked for over 30 years for AT&T. He was a union member.

2002-12-30 AJ with Gpa Jim

AJ and Grandpa Jimmy, Christmas Eve, 2004

James Botkin Union CardJames Botkin’s Union Card, Communication Workers of America

I am pretty convinced we learn work ethic from our parents. Here’s 2 more plaques/awards G’pa Jimmy received for his dedication to his work…they read:

AT&T Jim Botkin 30 YearsTELEGRAPH SERVICE 1887 – 1991 JIM BOTKIN In Recognition of Your Invaluable Contribution. (I’m thinking 1887 is when American Telephone and Telegraph Company was a start-up!)

Happy Retirement G'a Jimmy!

HAPPY RETIREMENT JAMES C. BOTKIN     ~ 30 Years Service With AT&T   1961 – 1991

A fond memory I have of my very loving and silly father-in-law is how is always answered his home phone so professionally and succinctly: “Botkin Residence”.  My dad on the other hand would say before he picked up the receiver, “it’s your nickel.” And Dick raised it to  .10 Cents…and up…as time progressed. (Need to do that with the minimum wage here in Iowa…….$7.25 is one of the lowest states.)

To all workers out there, THANK YOU  for each and every day you work. All workers deserve dignity and fair wage.

And to all those workers who are no longer able to work, BLESS YOU. Be sure to take some time to be grateful for how our workforce operates.

Statistics for You: As of July 21, 2015, Iowa’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent in June from 3.8 percent in May. The state’s jobless rate was 4.4 percent one year ago.  The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 5.3 percent in June.  Source:

Please let me know how I can help your client return to work. And if the client cannot return to work, I can help with that too! A life care plan that incorporates vocational rehabilitation or a loss of earnings evaluation become valuable tools to help resolve complex matters of employment.

Enjoy a Safe & Memory Filled Labor Day 2015!


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