Balance Your Case With Your Client’s Real Story. I’d Love to Write it!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In her teen days my sister Janice (the Floridian) was quite adept at gymnastics, particularly on the balance beam where she made great use of her balancing skills.

When Janice moved on to college, dad cut up the balance beam he previously made for her to practice on for a new use as exit steps from a sliding glass door to the back patio during a home renovation project!

Balance Beam

Dad constructed a balance beam and re-purposed it as well!

Balancing is involved in many areas of day-to-day living and is critical to an abundant life. People balance tires, bank accounts, relationships, priorities and work. We eat a balanced meal, and I believe mostly importantly, we try to keep a balanced state of mind.

In my life, finding balance is an ongoing lifetime project. I’ve heard comments like: It’s good to fall / fail because it means you were trying. If you think about your success, you will be successful. If you think about your falls or your failures, you’ll learn to improve.

My dad’s balance had not been good lately, although he was working on improving it. He was receiving in home physical therapy through the VA and he moved continuously during each day. He was in excellent physical condition for most of his life!

But a stroke and a fall down basement steps at home lead to no return to life on earth. Before he was airlifted to the hospital in Mason City, my mom called and we drove in the middle of the night to be with him in the hospital room. And to help him die.

Highway Balance

Richard R. Prochnow

4/26/33 – 5/5/16

Dad died a week after he turned 83 in the morning on 5/5/16. I’ve blogged about Death as Part of Living, and can now fully realize one has to die from many things in order to move through life and live fully….and there’s always a story to tell.

As my dad aged, he never stopped working hard and to his best ability. There was a balance in how he lived his life, and I’ll never stop learning from him! I can calm my mind and simply hear his voice when he called on the phone.

“Hi Amy, this is your dad.”

Like I didn’t know it was him on the other end! Then he’d talk about what was happening! And it was real, interesting and well-balanced for the soul. 

In whatever situation you’re in, keep on practicing finding balance, and you’ll find a way to not fall; or a way to increase your sense of balance at its core.  You may lose direction or momentarily become blinded, but you’ll find your way again. Trust yourself. Just like my dad did driving thousands if not millions of miles on the road traveling to participate in the world around him.

On a lighter side (yes, I cried writing this, but I want you to think about your own life with no tears involved), as part of my personal story, I remember an incident a long time ago while I was working as a temporary banquet server for a hotel.

As I was walking into the room full of diners with a large tray of full drinking glasses (lemonade, tea and water)…well, never mind. Let’s say there was an imbalance that could’ve been disastrous!

Spilled Water

I learned to readjust the next tray and focus on my goal: just to get the glasses on the table safely without spilling any!

We balance our bodies in many, many ways. Balancing skills make use of poses and states of mind to focus attention on work, yoga, aerobics, tabata, healing touch, hiking, golfing, bike riding…being with the person you love. You get the drift, physical activity that involves any number of exercise moves or mental positions.

Yes, simply thinking with a sense of balance is very, very good and helps avoid failure (and falling). Jurists use a balancing test to weigh the importance of multiple factors in a legal case. If you want to highlight these factors, especially those that involve work and disability, let me know. That’s why I’m here on this earth! which is to help attorneys help their clients.

I will be prepared to help you bring a balanced case to court. I will write a report that tells your client’s real story with a concentration on their vocational background and potential future. If you need a life care plan for your client, again, I can help write about why the plan is needed and the likely costs for the person’s care.

Chinese Symbol for Balance

Please know my work is my life calling and I continuously learn and practice balancing all to help you help your client. I’m actually really good at balancing in many ways (for one I like to stand to put my socks and my shoes on!) and I am pretty happy with my physical and my mental states of mind.

Call me Amy Botkin at 515-778-0634 to tell me about your case. Or send me an email at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com   A vocational evaluation or a life care plan may provide just the balance you were looking for to tell your client’s real story.

___________________

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

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Conflicting Medical Opinions? Handle With Care!

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Upon referral of a vocational case, I review a variety of  medical data, for example, treating physician reports, functional capacity evaluations, independent medical evaluations and if available psychological data like psychometric testing, psychological evaluations, and psychiatric evaluations found within the file.

During a workers’ compensation litigated claim, or on any claim that involves work and disability, it’s important for me to understand the individual’s medical situation based on the data contained in these records.

Related imageGood thing I’ve had medical records training and enjoy the review!

If a file contains more than one FCE and/or IME, I can expect the reports to have conflicting opinions. For example, one physical therapist will recommend the claimant has the physical capacity for light work, while the other physical therapist 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 honestly and sincerely say “I Did My Best!”

Assisting the individual (who can be referred to as the injured worker, the claimant, the patient, the testee, the evaluee, and potentially the client)  in returning to work following an injury is a central role in found within 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. A person’s knowledge, skills, interests and abilities should!

Image result for opinionWith 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.

Conflicting options are influenced by components of context and can be derived from subjective views. 

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. And it can be challenging to do this if I don’t understand the conclusion of the FCE report to begin with!

WORK

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

A functional capacity evaluation is actually a term with various definitions, purposes and constructs. The purpose is to  evaluate 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 an unfortunate position of deciding whether he or she is willing to return to work. 

If willing, there’s a way. If not, there’s no way.

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 to Me? 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. I attend continuing education programs, and recall one that helped me understand various approaches to FCE’s specifically 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 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 about the results.

No senseDoes the conclusion make sense?

Are there concrete and realistic recommendations regarding strengths and weaknesses in relation to performing physical demand levels of various work situations? In other words, are there recommendations regarding real jobs found within the person’s labor market?

No senseDo the recommendations make sense?

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 and should be included.

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.

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

If I am able to square an FCE in my mind after careful and prolonged study, is it possible the evaluee could do the same? That  would be  fortunate, especially if the therapist offers good recommendations that make sense!

How does the evaluee, when not truly the therapists’  patient when referred for an FCE by their own work comp attorney; with an additional FCE visit to a different physical therapist by the defense attorney  (that makes 2 different reports prepared by 2 different therapists) 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 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 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 (which is making a medical opinion which I can’t do).

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 the doctor understand how such work is performed in a smart, safe and effective manner, many benefits arise.

Related image

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 reasonable recommendations. Yet, this type of opportunity is not frequently available (it is for me to though through processing a life care plan!).

In my reports, I document what medical records I’ve reviewed and then use the actual words from the individual during an interview (or deposition review) 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? It doesn’t make sense to me and 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!

Rehabilitation counseling is especially important if the individual is searching for a job and is requiring job seeking skills training on how to or how not to disclose disability or any functional limitation. 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.  Together, my knowledge with those of other experts, contributes to decisions about the economic losses, or damages, for which the person receives compensation.

Thank you for reading this long post! I’m here to help attorneys like you help your client. Please know I always search for a way to best express my vocational opinion. Contact me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com  or 515-778-0634 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.

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It Happens, Things Go Wrong. Need Help with a MedMal Case?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

[Original post date: March 29, 2018] Time for a health update blog, a personal one, difficult to write with a mix of questions and a couple stories about medical practice and procedures. The point is My Attorney Reader, I want you to think about Me as a forensic rehabilitation consultant, and how I can help you help your client who is involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit!

My husband’s heart took a detour late last summer, 2017 when the ticker was running really fast.  Randy doesn’t participate in races (I’m the competitive one!), but his heart sure was!

Randy donates blood on a regular basis. He’s donated 14 gallons according to the blood center sticker on our front door! In fact, he was donating early on a Saturday morning when the nurse was prepping him for the draw told him she thought his pulse was “strange”.  However, his precious blood was still drawn (double reds)!  

           Randy is a popular Type A- donor.  

Questioning here ??? Should the nurse have continued with the blood draw knowing the pulse was “strange?” Well, she did! Luckily, no harm done. When Randy got home (rode his bike at what speed I don’t know! to/from his blood donation date which is common cuz he’s an avid biker!), I took his pulse and in fact, it truly was “not right”.

A couple days later, he had a doctor appointment. Yes, I scheduled it out of wifely concern. Sure enough, we got tachycardia his heart was going 144 bpm. This means a cardiologist is needed. I want to thank the nurse at the blood center for catching this heart irregularity (ahem hubby, I told him I thought the same thing in the weeks before).

Following an array of testing, diagnostic procedures and preparations, he received an ablation early November 2017. Thank God it worked! Randy’s back down to a regular beating heart and a normal pulse. His blood pressure was never a concern.

His cardiologist did an excellent job and Randy was back riding his bike in a short period of time. He wasn’t happy to be told not to ride! In fact, I know he disobeyed his doctor’s orders one day or two.

We expect our doctor to always be right. We expect our nurse to always be right. We expect all our health care providers to always be right. We in fact, expect our bodies’ to become “right” whenever we receive treatment in the medical field.

But things can go wrong and a patient can become injured during the course of treatment. That’s why we have attorneys to help, right!?! And yes of course we expect our attorney to always be right, too!

“Dr. NeverWrong”, the cardiologist who performed the ablation on my husband’s heart has this nickname! Charlie the RN, one of Randy’s excellent nurses while hospitalized told me of this nickname and the fact that the cardiologist has a fan base. He is one of only a few docs in town who performs ablations.  Because the doctor was humble, gracious, and ever so respectful, I’m sure he would not want to be called  Dr. NeverWrong! Can you guess who I’m referring to?

What? Attorneys don’t guess! 

Okay, now on to me. Recently, I was involved in a medical situation which could be worthy of a claim. How do you help your clients decide whether to file a claim? If there’s been harm done? Here’s the abbreviated personal story. 

Image result for patient gown cartoonWhen preparing for a mammogram last October 2017 (sitting quietly in a heated gown!) and waiting for the machine set up, I informed the technician of an unusual skin issue I was experiencing thinking it was poison ivy. I’ve had my share of poison ivy issues, even a four day hospitalization for a severe case in the past (contacted through an outdoor camp fire.) Watch out when you burn wood, my reaction was horrible. Anyway, the technician dismissed my concern and we went ahead with the mammogram.

To not go into detail  uggh ; [   I ended up with a severe skin condition I believe was spread by the mammography machine.  Let it be known I truly love big machines, (especially cranes), yet this large machine is not one of my favorites following what I experienced.

I was absolutely miserable and the condition lasted too long. I ended up going to the ER once on a Sunday and urgent care twice during the weeks that followed. I made these visits because I couldn’t stand the physical and emotional toil…and my doctor’s office wasn’t open at the time of my needs!  Not until I went back to my personal MD to finally get the correct diagnosis and a prescription did I begin to feel a little better.  

Image result for skin cartoonBut the prescription did NOT help and in fact the condition worsened. I literally had to just wait this one out and deal over time with the largest organ in my system: the skin. I was so distraught I even sought mental health care. I’m okay now, thank you! Whew!

I didn’t file a claim, should’ve/could’ve I? The time, energy, money and definitely my mental health was compromised and consumed in a fashion that I certainly didn’t choose. The only time I have filed a legal claim was when my parents sued the railroad for their negligence leading to my car/train collision and subsequent injuries, hospitalization and rehabilitation.

Trust me, my Attorney Reader, there’s much to my personal story!

I think the key into what makes or doesn’t make a person seek a lawyer when they think they’ve been wronged has to do with respect or lack of respect shown  by a medical provider. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. But negligence, followed by covering up issues and not telling the truth is where the wrongs and not the rights come in to play.  That’s not where I come in just yet, that’s where you, the attorney is on the field. I enter the game by sorting out what the plaintiff needs and the costs of those needs.

If you need a life care plan for a client who has filed a medical malpractice claim, please contact me.  Following a needs assessment and subsequent life care plan, my recommendations are grounded in rehabilitation. I’m not saying I’m always right myself. 

 But I will tell you My Attorney Reader, I care and I will do what I can do to help you help your client.

Please don’t contact me if you will act more like the red devil lawyer on the left. Sorry, I’m not interested in helping. However, if you are a good attorney like the white angel on the right who truly cares about your clients, contact me! I’m here to help!

Amy E. Botkin, MS, CRC, CLCP

Forensic Rehab Consultant

515-778-0634 

amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com   

Thank you for taking some of your valuable time to read this post! I hope you enjoyed it.

___________________

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

 

 

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“Somebody Call for An Expert?” I’ll Answer That Call!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’ve written about my fondness for Eeyore and want you to know I’m a bit attached to Gopher as well, especially when he comes to the rescue! You’ve heard the story when Pooh eats too much honey (honey is often on Pooh’s mind) at Rabbit’s place, gets rotund, and subsequently gets stuck in Rabbit’s front door.

45 Awesome winnie the pooh bees clipart Winnie The Pooh Pictures, Cute Winnie The Pooh, Winnie The Pooh Birthday, Whinnie The Pooh Drawings, Bee Clipart, Friends Wallpaper, Cute Disney Wallpaper, Cute Animal Drawings, Pooh BearRabbit is not happy and help is needed! Gopher recommends using dynamite, and he’s an expert with that subject, but Pooh isn’t so hot on the idea. If dynamite was needed, Gopher was ready for the rescue!Gopher

Popping out, Gopher exclaims “Somebody call for an expert?!” 

After thinking it through, Pooh, with assistance from his friendly team, realizes how to get unstuck. He agrees with Christopher Robin’s recommendations to patiently wait until he gets thin. Time passes, and it works (he gets thin!), however, he still needs a good jolt to move through the door. The team is successful and Pooh ends up in a happy place filled with honey! 

Related imageHoney! Yummy! Yummy!

I hope you appreciate this Pooh story.  I do. When called, I too, will use my expertise to help you and your team out in complex cases. I’ll answer just like Gopher but am not an expert in dynamite, I am in forensic rehabilitation consulting

Several years ago, I made an executive decision to study forensic rehabilitation counseling at George Washington University.  I started the post-graduate level educational on-line program on April 15, 2013 and graduated on August 15, 2014.

The coursework taught me more about courtroom testimony and how to function more effectively, efficiently and confidently within the legal system. I gained valuable insight into personal injury, medical malpractice, marital dissolution, product liability, and catastrophic injury cases.

A good expert has more than expertise that you can appreciate! It’s important for me to stand up under questioning (here’s a post on intimidation), commit to my opinion, and stay within my area of expertise. Thankfully, all my training including my background in Community Health Education helps! 

I strive to educate others in a clear manner and explain a complex subject to a lay audience in simple terms.

And you know what else, a good expert like me cares.

I love my career, and deeply care for my work. There’s plenty of satisfying work to accomplish and life constantly moves forward at a really swift pace so it’s important for me to now slow down until the time is right. I work hard for my customers, for myself, and for my family!

When labeled “a firecracker” by a classmate during our 15th year high school class reunion, I had to look up what that meant!

Yes, I realize I can be a bit firecracker-like, mostly because I’m a bold individual and will do what I have to do to accomplish my goals. I believe it’s always beneficial for lawyers and experts to spend time getting to know each other.

Yep, attorneys think differently than counselors. So, please let’s spend a little quality time together before we meet in a courtroom! It will truly prove beneficial.

You’ll find I’m a genuine person who truly cares about serving as an expert in the field. I’m ready, willing and able to offer my voice to help you help your client.  

Give me, Amy Botkin, a call at 515-778-0634 or email me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com to start a discussion about your case. Thank you for reading! And don’t ask me why the font on this blog is different sizes, I’ve tried to fix it but somethings are just meant to stay as they are!

___________________

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

 

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Did You Know Rabbits are Perfectly Capable of Believing Everything at Once?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I am fond of my office rabbit Mollie. She’s getting up there in her rabbit years and mostly likes to lounge around, eat, drink and poop, but still finds time to have fun! 

Mollie 3.31.2021

Did you know that pet rabbits are affectionate, clever, trainable, well-groomed, mellow, quiet and low maintenance? Maybe you knew that.

Did you know that rabbits are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at dusk and dawn? Maybe you didn’t know that.

Did you know that although a pet rabbit doesn’t like to be held or cuddled for very long, they do enjoy attention with scratches and treats! Maybe you knew that.

Did you know that rabbits are perfectly capable of believing everything at once? That’s what I want you to know! It’s proven by a binky! What’s a binky you ask?  Remember my Attorney Reader you thrive on answers!

No a binky is not a baby pacifier. It’s a super-happy flip that you’ll find to be one of the cutest things in the world as you watch this pet do this incredible dance!

Super epic alright! See, this rabbit believes everything at once! This is proof! 

I’ve never been able to capture Mollie doing a binky on video but have seen her binky in real-time in front of my eyes many times! It’s something I wish I could do! Here’s more information about rabbit communication I consider fascinating! 

My point for this blog is simple. If there’s truth that needs to be uncovered, let me help you help your litigated case.

Maybe the person can work, maybe the person cannot. Maybe the person has significant health care needs, maybe the person does not. Maybe the person can live independently, maybe the person cannot. Maybe the person can drive, maybe the person cannot. There can be a lot of maybes!

I’ll help you develop questions and ask questions about the person’s living situation for use during a deposition, direct examination and/or cross examination. I’ll dive in and perform indepth research that always includes a make sense test and a well written report if that’s what you need. I can also provide research to help your case without being designated.

Then I’ll ask for feedback to critique my work, think about my beliefs, and rule-out errors. Upon completion, whether it be a successful case resolution via a trial win or a sensible settlement, I want you to binky!  I also want you to know that I have thought about your case needs in many ways, shapes and forms, while remaining focused on the truths and being transparent with my findings and opinions.

The rabbit transparency sketch!

See how you can see what you believe you see through the eyes of clever rabbit! I want to help you convince others of what you see to be true. I’m here to help attorneys help their clients and I specialize in forensic rehabilitation!

Contact me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com   or   515-778-0634 to discuss your case and how I can help! Again, I’m here to help attorneys help their clients. I look forward to hearing from you (or seeing you in person)! Thank you for reading my blog.

 ___________________

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

 

 

 

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Need A Good Report? Rebut No Matter What!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I was taught that vocational report writing is a very powerful form of communication and can influence the degree of success for the individual for whom it was written.  I love to communicate through the written word and have written many, many, reports! Blog posts too!

So this blog is to be sure you, my Attorney Reader, know I’m here to help critique and/or rebut a report that may cross your desk.  Image result for report

How many people do you know who really love to write reports? I do! It’s not that the report writing process is easy, it’s a challenge!!

Let me ask: Have you ever read (or tried to decipher) a vocational report that doesn’t make sense?  Is the report ambiguous and difficult to read? Does the person it was written for understand it? Do you understand it? Is it possible the report can be defended? Or should the report be ripped apart, piece by piece to get to its’ nuts and bolts? Need a critique or a rebuttal? I’m here to help!

Rebut No Matter What! 

Bull

This was my husband Randy’s Grandpa Cliff Yearington’s Bull. Cliff knew a lot about Bulls & Bulls*** too. 

Loosen, take apart and re-assemble that poorly prepared report. Will it fall apart or simple wobble on? A poorly prepared report stresses difficulties but doesn’t offer much information about solutions. It talks about weaknesses rather than strengths; deficits and negatives rather than pluses and positives. It seeks to make threats rather than suggest changes. It uses multiple words, unclear statistics, and a slick method to confuse rather than clarify.KeepitSimple

Simply, it’s not helpful to write an entire vocational report about how bad off the person is, especially without mentioning plans to help make a positive impact on the individual’s life.

I love to comb through reports and make all attempts to uncover what the contents say to the reader.  Just because it’s a report doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to make sense! A report still needs to flow, tell a story, describe details and make valid and reasonable conclusions.

Here’s a sentence commonly found in reports from the same vocational person that I’ve been asked to rebut. [Keep in mind this long line comes after results of testing are provided within the report, but they are not explained at all!]

It is important to note that the purpose of all vocational testing done and reported here is to compare an individual’s current performance with their past performance as documented by their education, training, experience, and the standard worker trait factors associated with that history.

Say what? What does this run-on sentence mean?  The writer is using testing to compare performance? Did the evaluee’s past performance have anything to do with the testing administered? Did this person take the same tests throughout their work history? And then the paragraph continues…

 It is NOT correct to confuse an individual’s current test performance with performance in work prior to injury, as current performance is likely affected by the sequelae of disability.

Okay, now who is confused? The test taker? The person administering the test? I’ll tell you who….the reader!Related image The reader is easily confused by a poorly prepared report! 

Don’t be a confused reader! It’ll get you nowhere!

My initial question regarding this vocational report scenario, maybe helping to avoid confusion from the get go, is WHY were EACH of the specific testing instruments administered at all to this specific person? What is the rationalization for administration? The vocational person who wrote the report does not come close to answering these questions. To be ethically sound, administer testing only with a direct and relative reason to do so. 

I’ve written a professional report about my opinion on ethics and use of testing in vocational evaluations. Please contact me for a copy of the report. If you are my contact on LinkedIn, you’ll find it there readily available for now.

The underlying use of testing results to try to prove a person is permanently and totally disabled raises many ethical questions. Would you want that for yourself?

A test, really, a series of tests that I was forced to take, I didn’t understand, and simply put I didn’t want to take…those results determine my fate? Absolutely ridiculous! Results of testing are meant to assist a person for true and valid reasons…..not to paint a picture of “post injury residual vocational potential”

Image result for testing cartoon

Would you like to take ~ 10 tests in a single sitting?  Heck, No!

Without testing, evaluation is merely speculative

Really now? I’ve helped to place literally hundreds of people without administering testing! And many other placement people do too! If you understand the person’s skills and match them with jobs in their own local labor market, there’s a match!

Of course I use certain standardized tests and self-assessments to help people when it is appropriate for reasons directly related to their placement goals, but that isn’t all I use during a vocational evaluation! To help, I gather knowledge and assess many other areas involving work, interests, skills, aptitudes and lifestyle. I do not rely on only the use of test results!

Back to report writing which is a very specialized skill and I continuously study, practice, and improve upon my own writing skills. As a professional writer, I never stop training! I think I gained natural talent from my Grandpa Jack, a journalist!

Image result for writing

When I’m writing, I get very absorbed! My office cat will testify to that!

Again, do you need a critique or a rebuttal? I’m Your Person to Help!

If your opinion on a case doesn’t mesh at all with the report on your desk, please contact me to help sort out the discrepancies. Keep in mind, I know opinions are just that, opinions.  And reports are meant to answer questions, not raise more!

I also want you to keep in mind that if you believe in the truth, there’s a way to show it. Contact me for expert testimony and witness services, too! Oh, and I definitely can rebut a life care plan especially if it doesn’t make a lot of sense to you!

Contact me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com   or   515-778-0634 to discuss your case and how I can help! I’m here to help attorneys help their clients.

 ___________________

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

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Hello My Attorney Reader! Want to Buy Some TIME from Me … a Consultant and an Educator?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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

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 my work and rehabilitation consulting. In addition, as I’m a well-trained educator and counselor, I can help you and your client in many ways throughout the case and onto trial, where my educational background is useful in front of a jury.

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 what I know is true.

Enjoy a piece of quality fruit (I love organic apples) and then contact me, Amy E. Botkin to discuss your case. Call me at 515-778-0634 or email me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com to connect so we can discuss your case and how I might help!

I’m here to help you help your client! Thank you for reading.

___________________

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

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Happy Rehabilitation Counselor Appreciation Day!

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March 22 of each year is designated as a Happy Day to Celebrate Rehabilitation Counseling!   

A bouquet of pink roses, along with dark chocolate layer cake with vanilla bean ice cream help make the day turn even happier!

My career choice is Rehabilitation Counseling, a unique job for high-energy people who want to make a real difference in the lives of people with disabilities.  It’s also a challenging job that requires creativity and vision to see possibilities where others see only problems. 

Here’s a great brochure prepared by the Rehab Services Administration, Department of Education describing the profession, rehab jobs, and information you’ve always wanted to know!  It’s the source for some of the paragraphs in this post.

It seems when I reply that my master’s degree is in “Rehabilitation Counseling” often the person wants to know if that involves drugs and alcohol. The answer is no (although at times a case does involve an individual using some degree of drugs and alcohol in an unhealthy way). 

I explain to my listener that I chose a different path as a rehab counselor and provide consulting services on litigated cases involving work and disability.  Then I usually get a ‘oh that’s cool’ response and I continue the conversation, keeping in mind the context and scope of what I share about my work depends on the nature of the inquisition! (In other words, do I think the person asking really wants to know more about what I do or not?!) I definitely trust my intuition.

EnlighteningRehab Counseling is a High Energy Profession! 

In short, the goal of rehabilitation counseling is empowering people with (or even without) disabilities to make informed choices, build viable careers, and live more independently in their community.

Rehabilitation counseling trains professionals who will be dedicated to working with individuals with disabilities in order to help them achieve productive and independent lives. Just as other counseling tracks, rehabilitation counseling educational programs – in order to produce competent and certifiable professionals – are at the master’s level.

Drake University, School of Education, Des Moines, Iowa offers an excellent Council of Rehabilitation Education (CORE) accredited master’s level Rehabilitation Counseling Program.  This accreditation enables graduates of the program to become Certified Rehabilitation Counselors. The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) sets the standard for quality rehabilitation counseling services in the United States and Canada.

Image result for spike drakes mascotDrake’s Mascot Spike with a Nice Bike!

Below’s another great bulldog picture. She has experience in Drake’s Beautiful Bulldog contest! Her name is Fat Amy. She owns Jeska Reese Dean, a family friend.

FatAmyFat Amy is Experienced!

I completed all required coursework at Drake University in the Master of Science in Counseling program. In addition, I took extra coursework focusing on job placement and mental health.

I was then eligible to take a national examination which I took on October 30, 2004, and upon passing, I earned the coveted CRC (Certified Rehabilitation Counselor) designation. Since then, I re-certify every five years which requites earning 100 hours of continuing education, 10 which must be in ethics.

For background purposes, there are two main sections of the CRC exam:  Counseling and Rehabilitation/Disability.  A statistical procedure called equating is used to ensure all examinees demonstrate the same level of ability in order to pass the exam. Here’s my results:

Counseling Section:

Amy E. Botkin’s Scaled Score:       598        

Passing Scaled Score:   500

&

Rehabilitation/Disability  Section:

Amy E. Botkin’s Scaled Score:      628            

Passing Scaled Score:   500

TaDa

Here’s a copy of my CRCC Certificate (I know it’s a bit blurry): I love my career and every day try my hardest to use my talents wisely!

Please let me know if you have questions about the profession, my education, or the professional  associations and groups I belong to. It may be a good career option for someone you know!

If your career is in law, please contact me at 515-778-0634 or by email at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com to ask me questions regarding how my work helps attorneys help their clients!  BTW, when is Attorney Appreciation Day?

__________________

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

 

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Patience, Persistence & Perseverance Dominate! Time for Spring!

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There’s not much growing in our back yard at this time but crocus which tells me it’s about time! Spring begins a new time in life with excitement for what will arise out of the soil!  In fact, time is the essence of all life and an honored resource.Crocus

Crocus, a perennial favorite!

I believe patience, persistence and perseverance are incredible qualities found in a person and in a beautiful flowering plant! All things produce when the time is right. Nothing can, could, will or should ever change this. It makes the most sense to follow Mother Nature’s lead and work with her rather than battle against her!

Back to my backyard where not much grows because of 2 main reasons, #1: our dog Bella the Aussie who loves the backyard and has many a good day carrying on in her canine best; and #2: the very large sugar maple tree with a huge trunk  covered in shaggy bark that supports many branches that tower into the sky!

Referred to as the Monster Tree!

Someday that part of the backyard will present itself in a better light! A professional limb trim helps, as does maintenance work and cleaning up in any home and yard (and business!) during seasonal changes throughout the year.   

I try not to grumble about picking up scattered mounds of dog poop and the thousands of sticks, branches and pieces of bark. Thank you oh monster tree for your beauty, shade, and for housing the squirrels, birds and other wild things! 

A harbinger I love to note is my first Robin sighting of the year! 

It’s impossible for me to embrace progress without patience, persistence and perseverance. I’m encouraged to find purpose in almost everything I do and strive to keep on keeping on until it all makes senseImage result for crocusI’m able to find comfort in what I’m doing now and can find that the powers-that-be will grace me with accomplishment in the future. What matters to me most is finding happiness and success in everyday life with even the most simple things! My mind is made up that way!

success If you’re going on a road trip this Spring, feel free to take this map along!

Success is found after driving safely through Patience, Hard Work & Perseverance. Hopefully you didn’t veer off Dreamer’s road and got lost; or end up in Pain because I hear it’s a bumpy trip!

Contact me to discuss how together we can help your client uncover the road that leads to a successful litigation outcome.  Keep in mind even detours can lead to places you may not have ever traveled. 

I hope you, my attorney reader, will contact me if I can help you on a legal case involving work and disability. I completely understand each case requires patience, persistence and perseverance. 

May we all experience Patience, Persistence & Perseverance through this pandemic and beyond. Stay healthy and thank you for reading! Contact me at 515-778-0634 or  amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com to discuss your case.

___________________

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

 

 

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Got Some Questions? Ask the Vocational Expert!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

My work is helpful during litigation following an injury or condition that leads to disability.  In any type of litigation, if the disability or limitation is significant, more than likely there will be questions about work and future earnings. In fact, a multitude of questions will arise as the case develops. As a well-trained and open minded vocational expert, I love to answer (and come up with) questions!

Do you have questions regarding a person’s future in the workforce?

Answers

 I’d love to find your answers!

Solid and detailed answers will describe employment related issues relevant in workers’ compensation, wrongful death, medical malpractice cases, personal injury, family law and many other areas of civil litigation.

It is important to quantify the loss, but how about going further to qualify it and define the best course of action to remedy it? Let’s characterize what is really going on by providing the facts, then finding help in the best places and describing everything in detail! Keep in mind, I pay particular attention to rehabilitation, health and safety!

Questions involve a multi-layer approach & so do Answers!

PuzzlesQs

What, Who, How? Where, Why, When?

Start with concrete observations (What):

Continue on to the specific people involved (Who):

Move to understanding (How):

Describe the locality and environmental issues (Where):

Step out on a limb of interpretation (Why):

Specify timelines and approaches that make sense  (When):

QsI know, I know, as an attorney you don’t like to ask questions that you don’t have the answer to! But you need the facts backed up by an expert, like me!

Qs
Fire Away!

These are randomly generated great questions! Remember, your answer will be multi-layered!

What occupation(s) is this person qualified to do?

Is this person employable? Where?

What is the outlook for certain occupations over the next 5 years? 10 years? etc.

What are transferable skills and how are they applied?

What are this person’s key transferable skills? How in demand are they?

How many jobs has this person held? Is that “normal”?

What did the person’s job involve? (Is there a need for job description and/or job analysis?)

What was the real reason for termination? Why did it happen?

Why has the worker not found employment?

Is the job search reasonable and effective? How can you be sure?

Is the quality of the job search material (eg: resume and cover letter) effective? How?

Are there specific criteria when targeting key occupations? If so, what are they?

How long does a job search take in a particular field? Why?

Why is motivation a factor in a job seeker’s vocational goal?

QsIs this person motivated to find work? How is that so?

How is a person’s employability assessed?

Are there places this person could work? How does one connect to that type of work?

Has this person sustained any career damage? How?

Are job seeking skills critical to the job search? Why?

What barriers influence this person’s hireability? employability? placeability? *Key Placement Factors*

What factors influence compensation and/or earnings?

What vocational services are available to assist with return to employment?

Why is this person underemployed? Will retraining for a different occupation help? How?

What are Soft Skills? (See Soft Skills Matrix) Does this person have many?

What motivates this person to work? (See Motivational Assessments)

What is the wage range for a particular occupation (or field/grouping of jobs?)

What are the statistics reporting in on this particular job?

What resources are useful for a job seeker?

Is the work physical demanding? How so?

Are there ergonomic issues in regards to this work? What are they?

What assistive technology or work tools would allow the work to be performed differently?

Qs

What markets employ this vocation? Is it viable?

What is the effect on smoking and pain? Or to overall injury recovery? Why?

Is age discrimination occurring? Why is this?

Is this person’s mobility in the workforce good or not good? Why?

What accommodations are available for work? How are they accessed?

What are the job requirements or essential functions of this work?

Does the work environment affect productivity? How?

What does this person’s future employment outlook look like?

Has this person sustained any career damage? How?

What is this person’s earning capacity? How is that calculated?

Qs

Just one more question…

Why not call me ~ Amy ~ at 515-778-0634 or email me at  amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com for help? 

FREEFree 15 minute consultation offering!

If you have questions on a case that have anything to do with work and serious disability, you need solid and detailed information to base your decisions!  Additionally, life care planning that encompasses forensic vocational rehabilitation consulting is a unique concept. It offers you, the judge and jury with information guaranteed to help your litigated case move along. 

If I could help you help your clients, please let me know! Contact me at 515-778-0634 or amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com. Thank you for reading.

___________________

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

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