The non-clinical spotlight series exists to shed light on all of the interesting non-clinical paths that physical, occupational, and speech therapy professionals have taken. Today’s spotlight focuses on Mandy Chamberlain, who went from occupational therapist to creator of the popular website, SeniorsFlourish.com.
What is your full name and title?
Mandy Chamberlain, MOTR/L
Founder of SeniorsFlourish.com
Where did you attend OT school, and what year did you graduate?
I graduated from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in 2013.
What did you do when you first finished school, and for how long?
I started my career in home health. I then transitioned to a critical access hospital, working in acute care and outpatient services, with part time/PRN at SNFs.
What did you enjoy about working as a clinician, and what did you enjoy less so?
I LOVED the patients! It sounds obvious, but I think as an OT, I really appreciate how I got to spend time with them; I was able to really listen to their needs and work with them to make a plan so they could lead full lives.
I think most clinicians are going to agree with me in saying what I didn’t like was the documentation.
I also really struggled with being told how, why, and what my patients needed—especially when I was the one working with them directly.
At what point did you find yourself wanting to do something new?
My husband is self-employed, and I was independent contracting, so we both have experience with owning businesses—I quickly realized that I could turn SeniorsFlourish.com into a “real “business.
I found that I could work from home, while taking care of my young kids, as well as get the flexibility I needed to grow my business.
Can you tell us about Seniors Flourish? Why did you start it, and what is your mission?
I have always had a love for the older adult population. I grew up in a sandwich generation family, with my grandfather living with us into my high school years. I truly love working with, and advocating for, people who I feel don’t always have a voice.
I started SeniorsFlourish.com because there were not a lot of resources for other OT practitioners working with the geriatric population.
I then expanded to creating the membership site, the Learning Lab. Both are focused on helping other OT practitioners feel confident and competent, ensuring that they feel they’re the best they can be when serving older adults. I support these OTs by providing evidence-based treatment ideas, resources, and support.
When you first started the site, was it more of a hobby, or did you always plan for it to be a career?
Initially, I started the website out of desperation! I was staying at home with my three young children, unable to find daycare, not working, and feeling like I was isolated. I wanted to connect with other professionals and I started SeniorsFlourish.com.
What were some of the challenges of getting the site up and running? How did you overcome those challenges?
Definitely starting a website in the first place. I was bootstrapping, had no budget, and initially knew NOTHING about websites. Also, I initially didn’t have a clear direction of what I wanted out of the website.
I researched EVERYTHING and watched endless YouTube videos about WordPress, and finally got it up and going. Maybe not the prettiest, but I figured it all out.
What is a day in the life like for you?
I get my kids ready for the day and drop them off at school (two days a week) and work from my office on website content, graphics, and research. I try and keep up on emails (they quickly get out of control if I don’t!) and maybe record a podcast episode for the Seniors Flourish Podcast.
On days the kids are not in school, I do “mom things,” and try really hard to only do the bare minimum with work-related tasks when they are home, which is really hard.
How do you generate income from the site?
I have a membership site called the Learning Lab, where OT practitioners and students sign up for a monthly fee. I also do some affiliate marketing, have my own OT products, and am working on an ebook and course.
What are some of the biggest rewards of entrepreneurship?
I love the flexibility with my family, and I am creating the business that I want it to be—all while fueling my need to help others and be creative.
What are some of the courses, books, podcasts, or blogs that have helped you get where you are today?
Most of my research has been watching YouTube videos, and following the Membership Guys Podcast.
Do you still treat patients?
I had been working a tiny bit of PRN in the SNF setting until about three months ago. Now, I only focus my work hours on my website.
Do you ever hire OT, PT, or SLP professionals to help out with the site?
Yes; I have hired OTs to help with content creation. I look for a skill set that includes being concise, timely, able to work as a team, and willingness use evidence to direct resource creation.
What’s next for you and SeniorsFlourish.com?
I am focusing on expanding the membership, and making it the resource that OT practitioners and students are looking for!
I am always evolving, changing, and adding to the site based upon what the members are looking for.
I think it’s so important to get their input!
Do you have any words of wisdom for readers who might want to follow a career journey like yours?
Websites can be really fun, and such an amazing way to serve your audience. Building a website definitely is a marathon, not a sprint model. But, bottom line, you find an area where people are struggling, and if you can fill that need with honesty and heart, you won’t go wrong!
Thanks for your insight, Mandy!