Susie Touchinsky is an occupational therapist who owns Adaptive Mobility Services, LLC, a driver rehabilitation company. Learn how she started her own company in a valuable and much-needed niche of rehab!
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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?
Susie Touchinsky, OTR/L, SCDCM, CDRS
Owner of Adaptive Mobility Services, LLC
Where are you located?
Where did you go to OT school, and what year did you graduate?
Elizabethtown College, Class of 2000
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
I worked at Johns Hopkins Hospital for 5 years as an occupational therapist. I started in psych, but covered a variety of departments and eventually ran their Driving Rehab program.
In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?
Currently, I run my own private practice focused on driver rehabilitation. I work with any client looking to return to driving after an injury or an illness. I also train clients to use adaptive driving equipment and help to screen new drivers for readiness to begin driving instruction.
When needed, I am there to support families as well. I help to answer the difficult question of when it is time for their loved one to transition from the driver’s seat to the passenger seat.
I also run an education program for occupational therapy practitioners. Our courses help OTs explore their role in driving. We offer education for the generalist in the clinic and the OT looking to become the specialist in the driver rehab vehicle.
My favorite course is our hands-on workshop, where we train OTs to be the driver rehab specialist in a driver rehab vehicle.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
Early in my career, I loved working with a variety of clients, in a variety of settings. I have covered long term care, ICU, inpatient rehab, outpatient, and even a little home health.
I loved the variety, but I kept returning to the basic need of clients to be able to move and interact in their communities. This eventually led me to focusing on driving rehab as a full-time position.
What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?
In my private practice, I provide both clinical services to clients and education to other practitioners looking to become driver rehabilitation specialists.
Adaptive Mobility has been the premier provider of driver rehabilitation education for OT practitioners for over 35 years. Our education prepares the therapist to be the driving specialist in the clinic and in the car.
When and why did you decide to open Adaptive Mobility Services?
I decided to open Adaptive Mobility Services in Spring of 2018.
Honestly, I had been laid off early 2018, and I wasn’t sure what I would do until my mentor and husband encouraged me to explore starting my own private practice.
I really appreciate them encouraging me when all I could seem to consider was working for someone else.
What are you doing these days?
Today I am the proud owner of Adaptive Mobility Services.
I provide driver rehab services to a range of clients, and I teach other practitioners how to become driver specialists.
I’m excited that we have been able to expand our fleet to include a variety of vehicles, including a Tesla!
I also believe strongly in supporting the interest and growth of other therapists, so I spend a lot of time answering questions through our Facebook group: “Driving Rehab for the OT” and my podcast: “OT Driving with Susie Q.”
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
I still treat about 2 days a week, and I have an apprentice I am working with for the next 3 years.
Our goal is to support her development, so in 2024, she can start her own practice.
What percentage of your time is spent clinically vs. non-clinically?
About 40% of my time is spent providing patient care.
How long have you been running Adaptive Mobility Services?
I have been an OT and driving specialist for 23 years.
I have owned and run Adaptive Mobility Services, LLC since April 2018. I signed the paperwork on my 40th birthday!
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
To support my clinical development, I achieved my Specialty Certification in Driving and Community Mobility (SCDCM) from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). This was a huge accomplishment for me! I have had my SCDCM since 2014.
I also achieved my Certification as a Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) from the Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED). ADED offers this certification to both medical and non-medical professionals.
My non-clinical training has included working with a business development coach and doing LOTS of reading!
How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?
I am in my current role because both my mentor, Susan Pierce, and my hubby, Buddy Touchinsky, believed in me. Susan was retiring and looking for someone to carry on the education program she started.
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?
Didn’t need to for this decision… I’m the boss! BUT I am a firm believer in keeping my resume/CV up to date. I work to update my CV 2-3x/times throughout the year. I use it as a way for holding myself accountable and ensuring growth.
What are some of the things you did to stand out, take initiative, and advance in your career?
I believe it is important to take downtime so you can be innovative and creative. It is incredibly important that you give yourself time to think and dream so that you can grow.
Don’t be afraid to schedule this type of time for yourself or to advocate for this as a team. It is so important for expanding and growing.
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
Interestingly enough, I get a lot of support from my family and friends! But I get a lot of questions and doubts from other therapy practitioners.
I believe our schooling and educational systems can and should do more to promote the entrepreneur spirit.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
Learning to manage my own time and be accountable only to myself has been an interesting challenge. My typical work week tends to run like this:
- Mondays – planning & organizing; adjunct professor
- Tuesdays – client services
- Wednesdays – mentorship, education development, & coaching of other OT DRS
- Thursdays – client services
- Fridays – wrap up, personal coaching, and planning for the next week
What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?
I LOVE setting my own schedule – being able to get my kiddo on and off of the bus, being off for every holiday, and not feeling guilty when I need time off.
Biggest challenge – staying motivated when you hit a roadblock. It all starts and stops with you, and it can be lonely.
How did your clinical background prepare you for this role? Which skills transferred?
Being an OT has helped me to really focus on life-work balance.
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
So much better! I provide patient care 2 days a week and more than make up for my traditional OT job. AND then I am working on my education programs, which bring in additional income.
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
Someone who has a balance of being detail-oriented, but is also willing to take risks. You need to be tenacious and determined. You also need a little bit of thick skin to keep yourself going when times get tough.
Editor’s note: Eager to meet another tenacious and determined clinician-turned business owner? Check out our spotlight on Alice Navarro Forsythe, Owner and Operator of Opening Doors Therapy!
Do you work remotely or onsite?
I mainly work remotely and I LOVE IT! I see my clients from their homes, and I work from my home office.
Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?
I hope to do so in the future!
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
What is a typical career path for someone in your role?
Become an OT, complete advanced training in driver rehab (60 hours of online & hands on training course with Adaptive Mobility), gain experience, create your own private practice, pursue certifications as needed/desired.
What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?
In 2025, I will be running a driving educational summit! I am really excited about this idea!
What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?
I would love to see more occupational therapy practitioners empowered to go into private practice. I would love to see our curriculum change to include coursework on how to start and where to go for resources.
AND, in general, I would love to see this profession (which has traditionally been mainly women), encouraged to go beyond working for someone else and dreaming about something bigger and better!
Where can people find more information about you?
Please join us on Facebook at Driving Rehab for the OT: https://www.facebook.com/groups/OTDrivingRehab
We also have a FREE course at: https://adaptivemobility.thinkific.com/courses/FREEOT