This week’s spotlight is on Lynnette Bradford, an OT who became a clinical consultant for Arjo!
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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?
Lynnette Bradford, OTR — Clinical Consultant for Arjo
Where are you located?
Where did you go to OT school, and what year did you graduate?
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
I first went to contract a company where I floated between SNF, inpatient, and subacute. I finally settled down into a SNF/subacute facility with the contract company after a year or so.
In what settings did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?
SNF, acute, inpatient, subacute and home heath with both acute and chronic patient populations. I worked with a very broad range of patients over the years in many areas such as neurological (TBI, CVA, dementia, SCI, Parkinson’s, MS, etc.), cardiovascular disorders (MI, CABG, arrhythmias, etc.), and orthopedic (joint replacements, fractures, arthritis, trauma related injuries, surgical rehab, etc.).
I also worked with specialty cases such as burns, MVA, congenital disorders, and more. Generally, I’ve worked with adults and have been in home health for 14 years.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
Early on, I loved the challenge, fun and satisfaction of rehabilitating my patients. I also enjoyed collaborating with other therapists and creating treatment sessions that involved the therapies our patients needed.
For example, once we created an all-day treatment session for all the patients. We all donated the needed food and necessary items for the session. We chose meal prep as our ADL, and we got all the patients that day to participate in some form or another. SLP and OT worked on processing, sequencing, item retrieval, safety, and other things like that. PT worked on standing, ambulation to and from the grill/stove while balancing, reaching, and performing high-level, but meaningful tasks.
It was awesome.
When it was all finished, the patients and therapists shared the meal together, where we continued to work on self-feeding and other necessary things like toileting. We were able to do many things like that at that time.
What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?
In addition to continued training in my areas of interest, I have participated in mentorship for new and established therapists in both an official and unofficial capacity.
I train therapists on documentation, what I like to call the “the art of evaluating”, and necessary skillsets to be able to function in home health.
When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?
I was becoming burned out with treatment and patient care.
There is less of a collaborative nature between disciplines, and the focus for companies seems to be on numbers versus patients. It was becoming more difficult to provide quality care. Also, to be frank, I served an under-resourced population, and it became emotionally difficult to see the basic needs of so many people not being met without the ability to refer to resources for assistance. Lastly, the patients were becoming more aggressive.
At first, I thought it was just me, and maybe my specific population, but I started seeing this across the board with other health care clinicians in every setting. Colleagues and friends began to report more instances of unprovoked hostility, verbal aggression (unrelated to cognitive impairments), and general poor treatment from patients, as well as management.
I am sure there are some underlying issues and reasons, but regardless, it was becoming unsustainable for me.
What are you doing these days?
I’m now a clinical consultant, and I have quit all my contract companies to focus my clinical efforts toward learning my new position. The schedule with the position is not rigid. I travel, and some days are very long, but many days are not.
In my downtime, I have learned to make soaps and candles, and started a small business.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
I am solely non-clinical. I have no regrets!
How long have you been in your current role?
I have been with my current company for a little over a year. My first position was as a clinical specialist, where I provided clinical support and training with our products.
I’ve since moved into a clinical consultant role, where I help implement new safe patient handling programs into facilities. I have been in this role for about four months.
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
I received extensive training internally on consulting strategies, product knowledge, and even on use of software. I will be seeking external certifications in the upcoming year to help support my position (which my company pays for).
How did you find your job? Did you apply or find it through a connection?
I applied online through LinkedIn and was contacted for an interview—but that does not convey the entire story. I don’t want to give the impression that it was easy! I went online and read tons of articles and posts about how to create a resume when transitioning from clinical to non-clinical. In addition, I followed lots of people online to learn about interviewing in this arena (because it IS different).
It took hours to update my resume, get reference letters from the right people, and write cover letters. I researched different non-clinical OT positions before I decided on clinical specialist (my initial position).
Over the course of about three months, I applied to nearly 30 positions, most of which did not respond, or outright refused to even interview me. I even landed an interview with the help of an awesome recruiter. She guided me through the process, gave me feedback on my resume, and helped me create a 30/60/90 day presentation, and get the best reference letters.
I made it through four, yes FOUR, interviews, and right up to the “offer” interview where, all of sudden, they declined to offer the position. I was devastated, and almost gave up. I cried at a random gas station when I got the news. Then, I took all that I had learned, and got back out there. I applied for any position where I met at least 60% of the criteria. Finally, Arjo called, and three interviews later, they made an offer!
Did you do anything special to your resume and cover letter to land the job?
I completely overhauled it, and I made sure to highlight the skillsets for which they were looking. I made sure to use terms and verbiage that they used in the job description, and I expanded it to two pages.
Want to learn all the tips and tricks needed to launch your non-clinical career?
What was the interview like for the role?
The first company (the one that ultimately turned me down) was very formal. Lots of questions about work history, “Tell me about a time you (insert incidence here)” questions, and some problem solving questions.
At one interview, I was encouraged to try the product and provide information on how I would use it. The interview for the job I have now was much more relaxed. They wanted to know why I wanted to switch, and how I could contribute to the company. There were some formal moments, but thanks to the recruiter and my experience before, I was prepared.
What are some of the things you did to stand out, take initiative, and advance in your career?
I used to think that having an eclectic work history was a disadvantage, but it turns out my employer felt otherwise because I was well versed in many different settings and understood the inner workings, language, and culture of different health care settings.
I also think that performing well in school, being on the clinical ladder at work, and taking on leadership responsibilities throughout my career was very helpful.
You don’t have to work in management to demonstrate leadership skills.
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
Most of my colleagues are very excited for me and are interested in making the jump themselves.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you? What types of tasks and responsibilities fill your time?
There is no typical day and I love it.
Generally, I have two to three overnights a week, meaning I am away from home. I may fly or drive, depending on the location. I have two to three customer facing days a week. On those days, I am onsite at a facility, meeting with leadership and/or training staff.
On non-customer facing days, I am either traveling or working on administrative tasks like emails, creating resources for customers, taking webinars, coordinating with colleagues and working on projects.
What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?
I get TONS of perks like great benefits at low cost, a company car, a corporate credit card, a laptop, an iPad and a phone, and I enjoy the travel.
My coworkers are awesome, and I enjoy meeting people from all over the world. I also enjoy learning about the latest treatment interventions from some of the top experts in the world on a regular basis. I haven’t really experienced any negative challenges other than getting used to NOT going “full throttle” all day, every day! LOL!
Some of the biggest challenges are similar to those I encountered when working with patients. Trying to create or facilitate change in a culture that wants to be better, yet is stuck in the mindset of “this is how we have always done it” is difficult.
How did your clinical background prepare you for this role? Which skills transferred?
My clinical background was crucial. Understanding the in/outs, challenges, and general nature of clinical care is absolutely pivotal in functioning in this capacity.
I was pleasantly surprised to see OTs in the US and in other countries being a key player in product development and implementation, and to learn how people use their degree in capacities that I would have never considered.
Roughly speaking, how are the hours and pay compared to patient care?
I am salaried, and my time is focused on being more task-based than hours-based, if that makes sense.
Some weeks, work dominates my time between the travel and what needs to be done. When that happens, I have the ability to adjust my schedule the following week to permit more downtime. It balances out in the end.
With home health, I was at the mercy of patients who agreed to the appointment and geography traveled. In this setting, it is flexible and much different. I go the hospitals to train and coordinate with leadership. So, I may be there for three hours or eight; it all depends. The travel (flight, car, train) is included in our working hours, so that’s nice, but I still have to get the work done and it may end up being a 12-hour day with travel. Travel time is relaxing for me, so it works out well.
The pay as a specialist was quite a bit less than I was used to, but the perks helped to balance it out some. However, my pay as a consultant is a little more than my top pay as a treating OT in the field, plus I still get all the perks! So that’s exciting. Also, there are plenty of opportunities for advancement, bonuses and merit raises.
Although it was a risk to make the jump, it was definitely worth it.
What type of person do you think would do well in your role?
Someone who will flourish as a clinical consultant will be:
- Willing to learn
- Physically able to travel and walk long distances
Does your organization hire PT, OT, or SLP professionals into non-clinical roles? If so, what type of roles?
Yes! There is even a dietician that is a sales rep! Sales and clinical positions are available.
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
Honestly, I read articles online and asked other clinicians. I didn’t start taking courses until I was hired, and many are offered free of charge through the company.
What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?
I plan to obtain wound and other certifications to advance my career, and I may begin presenting at national conferences.
What would you recommend to someone who is considering going into a role like yours? Do you have any special words of wisdom for the readers?
Read, ask, investigate.
Educate yourself in the way that works best for you! Get feedback on everything from your resume to your interview outfit. When you make a mistake, ask how you can improve.
What would you like to change most in your profession, and why? How would you propose doing so?
I would like to change the perception of OT. We are key players, and possess many skills to make a positive and meaningful impact on healthcare. I want others to know and understand it!
What career advice would you give yourself that you wish you had during school?
Find what you love, and do it. Think outside the box. In fact, there is no box! Ha!
What would you teach to today’s graduate students in your profession, if you had the opportunity?
So many things!!! But the most important is to NOT let yourself fall into a rut. If you find yourself giving poor treatment, quit. Make it meaningful, or don’t do it. Period.
Be open to change. Change is inevitable, but growth is an option. Choose wisely.
Failure is not an option.– NASA