Today’s spotlight is on Abby Waters, a COTA who is now an Employee Retention Specialist with PeopleScience Solutions!
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What is your full name, title, and company name for your current, primary role?
Abby Waters. I’m an Employee Retention Specialist with PeopleScience Solutions. I specialize in healthcare leadership + team coaching, and professional training.
Where are you located?
In the Midwest.
Where did you go to school, and what year did you graduate?
I graduated with my COTA degree in 2008 from Milwaukee Area Technical College.
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
I worked in pediatrics for over 12 years.
In what setting(s) did you work, and what types of patients did you treat?
I worked in school-based and clinical settings treating primarily pediatric patients. I transitioned into private and group consulting later on.
What did you enjoy about your early roles? What didn’t you enjoy?
I enjoyed being mentored by excellent therapists!
I didn’t enjoy paperwork or updating reports.
What else have you done since then, prior to your current role?
I’ve done consulting and private contracting work.
When and why did you decide to do something non-clinical?
I officially left clinical OT work around 2018. Since I also have a nursing license, I helped out during the pandemic until spring/summer of 2021.
What are you doing these days?
I run my own coaching practice.
Are you still treating patients, or are you solely non-clinical?
I am solely non-clinical.
How long have you been in your current role as an employee retention specialist?
Almost three years.
Did you get any special certifications or training along the way to help you get into your current role?
Yes, I pursued additional certifications in the industrial/organizational psychology and coaching realms.
How have people reacted to you leaving patient care?
People have reacted with skepticism and surprise that I would go out on my own and start my own company.
What’s a typical day or week in the life like for you as an employee retention specialist?
Days often include some combination of:
- Facilitating weekly or monthly coaching sessions with clients
- Administering assessments, and reviewing them with employees and managers
- Facilitating the certification process for healthcare professionals who want to receive more training and tools
I also teach at several universities and speak at conferences throughout the year.
What are some of the rewards of your role? What are the biggest challenges?
One of the biggest challenges I face is finding forward-thinking clients and professionals who acknowledge that they need more than just “clinical sciences” to be successful in the healthcare industry.
How did your clinical background prepare you for being an employee retention specialist?
As a clinician, you are trained to use a variety of tools and assessments to help you diagnose and treat a problem.
I do the same thing with clients that I coach.
I utilize evidence-based tools, complete interviews, observe behavior, and come up with plans for monitoring success that can be measured over time.
What type of person do you think would do well as an employee retention specialist?
An employee retention specialist needs to be outgoing because you have to put yourself out there and not be afraid of rejection. You also need to be kind, and show empathy, because people tell you really personal things.
A lot of coaches come from the corporate or HR world, but anyone from any background who has a passion for coaching, can become a coach or consultant.
Do you work remotely or onsite?
Both, but mostly remote!
Did you read any books, take any courses, or do anything special overall to get you where you are today?
Yes! I did take additional courses in coaching and sciences that have to do with human behavior, emotional intelligence, and the science of motivation.
I am constantly reading books and taking courses to help myself grow as a leader.
What is next for you? What are your high-level career aspirations?
I am planning to finish more education with a concentration in psych and coaching. I aspire to train and certify as many healthcare professionals as possible in the sciences that I offer through my platform.
It’s important to me to support people who desire to have practical tools for self managing workplace development in their own clinics or organizations.
Do you have any special advice for others who want to follow in your footsteps and become an employee retention specialist?
Watch out for bad advice. If you want to work for yourself and you love what you do, then go for it. Your experience and strengths are what make you good at what you do anyways! You’ve got this!