Need to Retain an Expert? I’m Here to Help! Forensic Services

As a forensic rehabilitation consultant, I could be available as your next retained expert!  I’m Here to Help You Help Your Client!  My unique consulting services help identify insights into your litigated case while first-hand testimony helps others to understand it.  In fact, listing me as an expert may spark some much needed movement in the litigation process.  rp_Professional-Expert-Witness1.jpg

And, the sooner the better! When you involve an expert like me on certain cases early in the process, you’ll be in a good position knowing you have a professional on hand for the duration of your case.

My companies Vocational Resources Plus LLC and Life Care Planning Resources Plus LLC lovingly co-exist. I’ll celebrate the beginning of 19 years in private practice on September 15, 2018 (and they say it’s my birthday too, yeah, I’m going to have a good time)! Although I’ve been in the field of vocational rehabilitation from the start….that’d be 1999, forensic rehabilitation and life care planning are both new specialties within my career!

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In celebratory style, I’m reaching out to attorneys who are passionate about helping clients.

Here on this website you’ll find various links to my writings about serving in various capacities within my field, such as my focus on life care planning (with a vocational rehabilitation component), vocational consulting, placement, and serving as an expert witness.  I like to blog about why my work is important and to help people identify how to use my services. Further, it’s fun to write and I like to showcase my credibility, methodology and expertise. (Read my disclaimer!)

LightbulbWant to help your clients even more? Consider tapping into my creative resources!

My analysis and opinion of how I can help your case will be straightforward, honest and grounded in rehabilitation. As such, this may or may not support your case. I can usually determine whether or not I can help your case within the first few hours of research, and will limit such fees based on our agreement.

Please keep in mind that permission to use my name, or in any way indicate that I am an expert witness or consultant for your side of a case, either informally or formally with other parties, is not granted until a retainer is secured. Contact me for information on retaining me!

FootballIf I have to pass on a case, I’ll do what I can to offer recommendations.

So, give me a call at at 515-282-7753 and let’s have a conversation. I promise to value your time!

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

Being Nosey, Opinions and I Make My Point Clear! Job Placement is Hard Work!

One summer while I was walking around Gray’s Lake, I eaves dropped over a conversation two young women were having about tap water throughout the city. I was right behind them, ready to make a fast pass around…and interested in their subject!

I’m not like Gladys Kravitz all the time!

One thought Urbandale water was good and the other didn’t. They agreed West Des Moines water tastes ucky.  One loved Chicago water (and I thought ewwww ucky, and the strange smell to boot).  Then their conversation turned to a cute guy jogging their way…and I made my pass.

BTW, I remember where I was,  nearly 1/2 way round where I started, not including the everstop at my brother’s plaque on the bridge!

Clearly, people’s opinions vary widely around one subject!

I don’t think I will ever find a person who is adversarial to water – and specifically why water is important to a person. 

However, in my role as a vocational rehabilitation counselor, I routinely find a person (an attorney or two) who is adversarial to my opinion regarding whether or not a person can return to work (over their stance that the same person is permanently and totally disabled.)

I’ve evaluated hundreds of people and I hold firm in my opinion that work is incredibly important to a person. Rarely have I not been able to identify work for a person. In that type of return to work situation, the person’s serious mental health condition (such as schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder) comes into play more than the person’s physical capacity.

One point I’d like to make clear! And this isn’t an opinion, it’s just the truth! It is easier to state that a person cannot work than to identify what a person can do for work.

“No, can’t work.” That’s it.  “No” “Can’t Do” “No Work is Available”  What a negative attitude.  Is it really just too much work to find work for a person?  VS  “Yes, you can work” “Here’s why, how and what the person can do!” “Yes” “Can do” “I will help you!” This is a positive attitude! Yes, and truly the fact is that it’s a lot of work to find work for a person! That’s what I’m trained to do! And I love it!

A vocational rehabilitation counselor cannot give a person a job – the professional works to define, enhance and channel the placement client’s skills, abilities, and aptitudes into the working world. 

The client is empowered with resources and strategies to perform specific and goal-oriented job seeking activities.  I’ve found the outcome of return-to-work in a workers’ compensation case impacts the placement process just as much during litigation as it does following case settlement.  Keep that in mind when forming any opinion. 

It’s a tragedy when an attorney sabotages any job seeking efforts, whether implied or not. I do not appreciate when any one tries to negatively influence any one else, especially when it comes to work.

I keep my opinion clear, based on fact and grounded in rehabilitation. No one can steal my opinion away!

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Please see a paper I wrote in August 2013 titled (it’s posted on my LinkedIn page) or ask for a copy titled:

WHAT FACTORS INFLUENCE RETURN-TO-WORK DURING A LITIGATED WORKERS COMPENSATION CLAIM?

Let me know what I can do to help you with your legal work regarding your client’s return to work!

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

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

What Did Your Grandfather’s Father Do for a Living? Need Evidence on An Occupation?

My mother Ann Dodge Prochnow, researched a book titled “Genealogy of the Dodge Family of Essex County, Massachusetts 1629-1894” authored by John Thompson Dodge Ph.D. Dr. Dodge was born in 1850 in Vermont. Dr. Dodge was a railway civil engineer. And he’s directly related to my mom!

My mom read the book (Ann’s brother Gerry Dodge accessed it for her online). It clearly took a lot of work, but my mom (with great speed, skill and accuracy of course!), typed several pages summarizing her research; and gave me a copy as a Christmas gift! I read it with fascination! While reading my mom’s paper, I heard myself saying hum, wow; and really?…and laughing a time or two!

Genealogy Book Cover Tree

It’s exciting to learn about a family’s genealogy!

Here’s my synopsis of my mom’s synopsis:

The Dodge’s are all direct descendants from Richard Dodge who was born in 1602.  My mom’s great-grandfather is Vilas Luther Dodge, born October 28, 1847 in Vermont. Vilas worked as a farmer and stock raiser in Jersey County, Illinois. He was County Supervisor and School board member, and also Director of Jersey County Agriculture and Mechanical Association. He was 5’9’ and 200 pounds! (sounds shaped kindly like someone I know….)

Vilas married Laura Dannel on February 21, 1871. Vilas and Laura had children born in Kemper, Illinois: Mary born in 1871, infant son born and died in 1872, George Dannell (my mother’s grandfather) born July 21, 1876, Ann Charlott born 1978, Fred Leroy (my mom’s Uncle Fred) born 1881 and Harriet (my mom’s Aunt Hattie) born 1886.

Genealogy of Dodge Family Book CoverThe Book Cover

George Dannell Dodge married my mom’s grandma Helen Porter in Jerseyville, Illinois in 1907 and moved to Chicago. There they had William, John Vilas (my grandpa), Helen and Laura. Later they moved to Evanston, Illinois. All their children attended Northwestern University. George died in Jerseyville in 1960s and Helen in her 90s in New York.

My grandpa Jack married Jean. They had Ann (my #1 Mom), John, Gerald and Kathleen.  By the way, Mom and Gerald (my Uncle Gerry who lives in San Francisco) are planning to get to the Plate side of Jean’s family in the future.

Throughout these years in history, the men of the Dodge name held many jobs with professions spanning many fields (read on below please…).

My grandpa John (“Jack”) Vilas Dodge was an incredible man and had an amazing career that took him all over the world! He worked in writing, as a publishing executive. I am very proud to be one of his grand-daughters! Mom tells me that her dad’s father had an insurance agency and his father’s father did too! (I need to talk more with mom or Gerry Dodge and get more detail!)

For my blog, I focus on colleges the Dodge family graduated from; and occupations employed by the Dodge family throughout the generations:

College graduates were from Harvard, Williams, Yale, Middleburg, Dartmouth, Colby, Vermont, Wisconsin, Amherst, Bowdoin, Brown, Columbia, Anion, Andover and Emory. Graduates included a few women!

Austin Hall, Harvard Law School Picture

Austin Hall, Harvard Law School

Occupations included: Farmer, carpenter, teacher, physician, lawyer, tailor, tanner, minister, legislator, shoemaker, shipping business, cooper, factory owner, cabinetmaker, blacksmith, mason, currier, leather dealer, stone cutter, stock breeder, clothier, editor, military service, insurance agent, constable, cotton manufacturer, banker, merchant, bookkeeper, newspaper business, lumber business, land surveyor, steamboat captain, harness maker, musician, and civil engineer. Pretty incredible careers  during this time!

Do for A Living

Lawyer, Teacher, Physical Therapist, Registered Nurse, Doctor, Accountant, Social Worker, Paralegal, Psychologist, Dentist, Engineer, Police Officer…..Chef! All Incredible Careers! 

I had to look up one job (not found  in O*NET but guess what, it is in the DOT!)….a cooper. A cooper is someone in the trade of making utensils, casks, drums and barrels and other accessories, usually out of wood, but sometimes using other materials. In other words, the cooper used many tools to do his work, he had craftsman skills with a keen eye for detail and a focus on quality control! I could consult with Living History Farms for a job analysis!

Plus I wanted to know the difference between work as a currier (a specialist in the leather processing industry) and  that of a tanner (a person whose occupation is to tan hides, or convert them into leather by the use of tan) so I looked it up! I’ve toured a tanning facility with my eyes bugging out at the strength needed by the tanners to throw the hides! In this case, what I could do is interview with a person who actually does the heavy work to get first hand information!

Heart

I love assessing  worker skills! I love researching workplace environments! I love analyzing jobs! I love interviewing workers! I love my work!

As far as the numerous other occupations held by the Dodges, they range greatly. The Dodges used brain power, brawn power and the power to influence others (for example: attorney, banker, musician, steamboat captain, physician, engineer, insurance agent, legislator minister and …. clothier!) They used all types of machinery, hand tools, and up-to-date-for-that-time technology. The tools of any trade are tremendous! The talent from performing daily work and the credibility in a community becomes tantamount to a successful career. Boy would I have loved to interview any one of these talented individuals in their day!

A Clothier

A Clothier Was Popular…Dapper Indeed!

I am completely fascinated by what people do for a living! If I can help you with your litigated cases, please let me know. Thank you for reading.

Take some precious time and check into your parent’s parents’ work background. You well have well spent your time and you may be quite surprised! I was with the Dodge family that helped to form part of who I am! (Guess which part and win a prize!)

Bonus: Do You Love Your Work? Why?

Contact me, Amy (Prochnow) Botkin for vocational guidance or evidence on any occupation or career!  BTW, you wouldn’t find a forensic rehabilitation counselor back in the “olden days”…..which always brings to my mind the mystery of the working world.

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

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

 

A Bouquet of Gerbera to Share, Along with My Vocational Assessment Services

Here’s a beautiful Bouquet of Gerbera as a gift to celebrate my endurance and to share with you, my reader!

I’ve had some (thinking for the right adjective to describe but am coming up empty headed) website issues lately.  And if you’re like me (a self taught web designer/blogger person who has to maintain it all, etc…), it can become quite disheartening to have your site be down. It’s not that I didn’t try very hard to fix it, because I’ve had “issues” before that I was able to resolve, but not as complex as this one! But with help, I was able to be back online!

So, Amy, with these flowers, I remind myself of where I’ve been and that I’m specially equipped to continue on with my choice to write to my readers! Yes, again, You!    

What’s rather interesting to me is the fact that when I first started my vocational consulting practice (September 1999), I was working part-time at a flower shop (Doherty’s on 2nd Avenue) as the “flower processor.” The best part of what I did for this job (besides clean up the backroom, storage spaces, the walk in cooler, etc., and other areas that needed it), was to process incoming freight. This involved (♥I loved it!♥), opening the boxes of flowers after I signed off for the delivery; and preparing the beauties for use by the floral designers. 

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My very favorite flower to process…the gerbera daisy!

On-the-job, I was taught how to unwrap the flowers, place them in the correctly prepared liquid solution, and cut the flower stems perfectly before placement in correctly prepared containers for storage in the cooler, as required for best results! I used a really big stem chopper like this: Related image

Watch the fingies, Amy!  I really enjoyed this part-time job (ahem, it’s not on my resume however)! I was working with live beauty! No, I never got injured! The work allowed me to continue on my journey (the position was only short lived because my business started getting busy…and I could no longer take calls in the bathroom) living as a flower arranger. Growing up in the 70’s, I  excelled in flower arranging, even entering fair contests and winning ribbons!  I loved Flower Club, thank you Marie Hubbard my neighbor mom who was the group leader and one great teacher! 

Related imageWhere’d my flower show ribbons end up?!

Back to this blog…for awhile there were some interesting sounding warning signs at the top of my site (not at all a good thing, right?!?). There was no danger to my readers, or to myself for that matter! And it wasn’t the end of my world (but I did fret a lot).

So after plenty of anxiety (boooh) that was overcome (we shall!); and with a big heaping of faith in myself, I dove in, performed in-depth research, made local connections, trusted my instincts, spent plenty of time and money…; and learned about my options which lead me to make a change for the better! In a nutshell, I switched hosting providers (sounds easy, but really is not!) It’s a process….just like every business or personal related transaction/step/decision which is important in one’s life. 

Related imageRelated imageI feel a tad smarter in this huge Internet world! And this learning experience gives me additional insight into who I am as a self-proficient small business operator.  And allowing me to help you even more with your client who may be just that: a self-employed small business person. My plan for my business is to continue to utilize my website for the purposes it was intended when  I started it up <link to my disclaimer!< in the Spring of 2011!

Could your plan include contacting me to help you help your client?!  If you need any sort of vocational assessment, I am definitely one of your choices (and would like to be your preferred chosen choice!)

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

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

 

 

Balance Your Case With Your Client’s Real Story

(Original post May 2016)

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 for a new use as exit steps from a sliding glass door to the back patio!

Balance BeamDad 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….you get the idea. Finding balance is an ongoing lifetime project. I’ve heard the comment that 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 moved continuously during each day, but a stroke and a fall down steps lead to no return to life on earth. 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.

Highway BalanceRichard R. Prochnow

4/26/33 – 5/5/16

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!] 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 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 banquet server for a hotel…walking into the room full of diners with a large tray of full drinking glasses (tea/water)….well, never mind. Let’s say there was an imbalance that could’ve been disastrous!

Spilled WaterI learned to readjust the next tray and focus on my goal…..just to get the glasses on the table safely without spilling!

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, I am more than ready to help you bring a balanced case to court.

This is the Chinese symbol for Balance! When I look at it, it makes sense! Because my work is my life calling and I continuously learn and practice balancing, I will help you help your client. Call me at 515-282-7753 to educate me on your case. A vocational evaluation or a life care plan may provide just the balance you were looking to tell your client’s real story.

P.S. At times I am asked to simply evaluate a specific aspect of a case. Or my opinion on what someone else has already reported. Even how I feel about various aspects of a person’s capacity to succeed….. Don’t hesitate to call me : )

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

Life Care Planning Helps Attorneys in Many Ways & in All Phases of Litigation! Yes, Really!

Litigation strategies include many a plan!  Yes, in fact many plans are involved, but have you thought of a Life Care Plan? 

Life Care Planning helps attorneys in many ways and in all phases of litigation. The actual plan itself becomes a comprehensive document that provides for the future care and associated costs of a person facing a serious illness or injury.

In earlier phases of litigation, a life care plan helps evaluate the potential value of a case. During settlement negotiations, a life care plan helps identify monetary ranges. And of course during trial a life care planner can be critical to your litigation success!

Life Care Planning Services Help Attorneys in Many Ways, Here’s A Few:

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  • Project future cost of care ~ When someone has sustained a life altering injury, trying to determine the correct and fair amount for a settlement is a daunting task. It’s difficult to properly analyze all aspects of an injured party’s condition. A professional life care planner (one qualified as I am!!) can help you assess the current needs of a patient and project future complications with a systematic approach to analyzing the injured party’s current and future conditions. After analyzing all injury-related documents, interviewing the injured party and communicating with medical professionals, the life care planner will produce a plan that considers future costs in order to ensure a fair and reasonable quality of life. The plan will consider financial, physical, and psychological factors. In the end, you’ll have a thoroughly researched document that will prove bulletproof at settlement conferences and in the courtroom.

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  • Consider likely complications ~ When it comes to catastrophic injuries and long term illnesses, you have to expect the unexpected. Almost undoubtedly, complications will arise in association with the life-altering events somewhere down the road. With that in mind, an experienced life care planner will identify the most likely future complications, allowing all parties involved to understand and adequately provide for these unforeseen circumstances.Related image

  • Expert Testimony * ~ An experienced life care planner provides crystal-clear medical testimony for depositions and trial. Life care planners can accurately and simply describe the injured person’s lifetime of needs and justify the associated costs.   *In Addendum, as a Vocational Expert, I am also qualified to testify on the injured person’s work life and earning capacity.
  • Able to be customized ~ Not all cases require a full-blown life care plan. However, that doesn’t mean a life care planner can’t help you. The injury or illness doesn’t necessarily have to be catastrophic in order to benefit from future care cost projections. Versatile life care planners offer abbreviated plans for these special situations that allow you to evaluate case value and strategize early on.

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  • Establishes a level playing field ~ Regardless of what side of the fence you stand on, you can benefit from hiring a professional for life care planning services. A life care plan helps all parties know what to expect and thus helps settlements be reached more quickly. A life care planner can aid in strategizing to ensure the best possible outcome. It’s not just a time-saver. It’s a tool that gives you the key insight of one with an understanding of medical needs and the associated costs.

If you represent someone who has suffered a serious injury or illness, or a defendant accused of being responsible for an injury, consider obtaining a life care plan. Doing so will allow you to understand the future care needs of the affected party, which will result in a speedy, fair settlement.

Source for above written article: http://www.articlesbase.com/health-articles/benefits-of-life-care-planning-in-all-phases-of-litigation-3466273.html  Oct 13, 2010 • By Nancy Fraser

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Contact Amy E. Botkin, a Certified Life Care Planner at 515-282-7753 to discuss how a life care plan can help you to help your client.          

*I have the expertise to include Vocational Rehabilitation Services and Recommendations, when needed, into a person’s plan, and am trained in expert testimony.

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

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

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

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

If a file has more than one Functional Capacity Evaluation (FCE), I can expect the reports to have conflicting opinions. For example, 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 can 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. 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?

I understand conflicting opinions are influenced by components of context and can be derived from subjective views. 

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. 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 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 an unfortunate position of deciding whether he or she is willing to return to work.  If willing, there’s a 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?” 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  would be  fortunate, especially of there’s good recommendations that make sense!

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…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 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 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 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. (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.

I’m here to help attorneys help their clients. Give me a call 515-282-7753 and let me get to work for you!

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

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

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

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

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

Specifically, at this time in my life in 1984-85, I started employment through Kelly Services.  I worked at many businesses, mostly in downtown Des Moines, but also at businesses in other areas of the city, working with 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).

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 not mine at that tine!)

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, summers were busy.

When I got a little older, I started walking beans (definitely not good at this job…not enough physical strength) and detasseling corn (I was horrible at this job, clearly a height challenge (my “accommodations” included a walker who was just a lot better than my horrible hoeing and cutting with a knife; and a cute tall guy a row over who graciously pulled 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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Iowa Corn Stalks 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, (our guest speaker at our 30th class reunion dinner in July 2011) hired many young people in town to work for at the joint…much history!  The skills to work as a food server are aplenty.  Click here for more information.

Rocky!

Often, the incredible images I find online (my disclaimer) are perfect for expressing my memory.  Not sure of which year, but Rocky’s moved 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 ~ $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.  Actually, it was 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.  I wore a black and white uniform and got to serve beer and wine!  At this restaurant, I learned the art of salad making, and eating left-over crab legs (I know, I know, right off a used plate – ugg again!).  

There’s a picture somewhere of me in my uniform, ready to go to work. Mary Dunlay, remember working together as food server extraordinaires?! The upstairs was for special dinner parties, which wasn’t too convenient…let alone accessible!

On the flip side of “fine dining” establishment and fast food (I worked at Hardees too for a time), with 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, Chris, the cute and old farmer who always wore overalls. He always tipped! Along with serving, food preparation,  clean up, replenishment of food products and dining items, my favorite job responsibility was operating the industrial dishwasher!

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One rockin’ dishwasher! 

Alice the Cook was Queen! She taught me a lot! Her bench, dedicated to her as she was quite a fisher person, is along the Iowa River in Foster Park, Iowa Falls, Iowa).

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Umm, making the incredibly yummy malts, the leftovers!

I loved working at The Junction truck stop!  So cool my brother worked next door at the stop’s fuel filling facility.  My brother Steven – I love you…RIP.  One hard worker…!

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Stop! Now Follow Me!

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

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Machine Operator and Forklift Operator! I loved it!

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

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

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

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

Stayed tuned for Part 3

Original publication date: November 28, 2011

__________________

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

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

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

HERE IS MY STORY – Part 1:

As a September baby  – a Virgo!

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

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

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Mom from Northbrook and dad from Buffalo Grove

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

The Scenic City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

panther

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

Notice Julie’s honor cords –  valedictorian!

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

Stayed tuned for Part 2

 

Nov 21, 2011 original publish date

 

___________________

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