Happy Anniversary...


...to me! This month marks my 4 year anniversary with Sunrise Medical. I cannot believe how the time has flown by. I thought that for this month’s Clinical Corner article I would write something very different and share some of my memorable experiences with Sunrise with all of you.

My notable experiences with Sunrise started even before I was hired. My interview with Mike Longo, National Sales Director, was unlike any other I had ever had. (You must remember that as an occupational therapist, I came from a clinical background in healthcare. Working for a wheelchair manufacturer is very different.) Mike is full of energy and this came through during the interview. I could tell during the interview that if I was hired, Mike would be a fantastic boss and this has proven to be true. My only wish for Mike would be that he would remember what my job title is. When Mike introduces me to a group, he often refers to me as Sunrise’s Clinical Education Specialist. I have to correct him and say that I am the Clinical Educator as my regulatory body, the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, does not permit the use of a term or title indicating or implying specialization. No matter how many times I remind Mike, he does not remember. If that is his only fault as a manager, I am very fortunate!

My job title has not always been Clinical Educator. Some of you may remember that before being called a Clinical Educator, my job title was Clinical Rehab Product Consultant. The job title was changed because it was far too wordy and Clinical Educator really sums up my role quite nicely. I should say that I am the first incumbent in this full-time position at Sunrise. Prior to being hired, the job title for the newly developed position was Rehab Product Specialist. (There’s that word “specialist” again!) During the hiring process, I advised Sunrise that an occupational therapist in Ontario cannot have the word “specialist” in her title, and from there, the “Clinical Rehab Product Consultant” title was born.

Now, the best introduction I have ever been given is “Director of Education”. One of our former account managers introduced me to some people and earnestly said I was the Director of Education for Sunrise. Wow! A promotion! We had a chuckle later.

Just as my title has evolved, so too have my speaking engagements. When I first started with Sunrise, I presented Lunch and Learns in the Greater Toronto area. This led to doing full-day education workshops in several cities in southern Ontario. Gradually this grew to presenting full-day workshops in most of the provinces. I have also presented at several conferences in the past 4 years. When I lead any form of education to a group, I strive to be an engaging presenter. When I first started with Sunrise, I learned that it is important to try to bring energy to the room and this is what I aim to do. I also learned from a public speaking course that I took. We did a hilarious exercise in which we were each videotaped as we read a boring paragraph with as much inflection and animation as possible. When I was doing the exercise, I felt like I must have looked ridiculous but on viewing the tape, it was not anywhere near as silly as I thought. When I saw others doing this same exercise, it was entertaining and amusing. It may surprise you to learn, if you do not already know me, that although I can get up and speak in front of a group of 200 or more people, I actually am an introverted person. Sometimes I think it is ironic that I have the position I have, but I love it! I cannot lie – I still get nervous before I speak in front of a group, particularly a large group, but the nerves quickly melt away as I begin my talk. People have told me that the nerves just show that I care about what I do and that certainly is the case.

Many of you reading this article have not seen or heard me speak and know me only through Clinical Corner. The clinical article that I write each month for our Sunrise Medical newsletter also gets posted to www.clinical-corner.com. I began writing the articles for the newsletter in January 2011 and in March 2011, the blog was started as a way to archive the newsletter articles and to have them accessible to those who do not receive our newsletter. My first article for the newsletter was about the importance of the hands on assessment. I was overwhelmed by the number of emails sent to me in response to the article! It was nice to see that there were people from across the country reading the article. In fact, it was just nice to have confirmation that anyone was reading the article! I have come to realize that the Clinical Corner blog reaches more and more people every month, both within and outside of Canada. In the past year when I have been at trade shows and conference, people have come to the Sunrise booth asking to meet me because they have been reading my blog articles. It’s truly an honour that people take the time to come to our booth to meet me. I love to meet the therapists and vendors that read my blog and I love to listen to their stories. The next time you are at a trade show and you see the Sunrise Medical booth, please come by to say hello!

I spoke about the evolution of my job title and speaking engagements and I would be remiss if I did not mention the evolution in the delivery of education. Many of you will know that last year I introduced our Sunrise Medical Cyber Series, which was a series of monthly clinical webinars on seating and mobility. Once again, I was overwhelmed by the response – in spite of the Ontario-centric time for which the first webinar was offered: noon Eastern. I simply had not anticipated the demand for this form of education. We had therapists and vendors from coast to coast to coast registering for the webinars. By the end of the first series, we had established two more time slots in which the webinars were repeated live to better accommodate the various time zones. These 3 times slots will continue for our next Cyber Series, which will begin this month.

People have told me that they really like the accessibility of the webinars, particularly those who live and work in more remote areas. I understand it is difficult to travel to a larger city to access clinical education opportunities. The one-hour format also works well for people who are unable to take any more time away from their busy schedules. I must say that I am starting to get used to looking into a web camera while I give my presentation, but I still prefer the visual feedback that I receive when I present to an audience that I can see directly in front of me. It’s nice to see heads nodding in agreement or to hear the audience laugh when I try to crack a joke... or to see the puzzled look on someone’s face to know that we need to spend a little more time talking about something. What I also really appreciate about an “in-person” audience is the interaction that can be facilitated amongst the group. As I have a Certificate in Adult Education/Staff Training, I apply adult learning principles when I lead sessions, which means that I really encourage participation and for people to share their experiences so that everyone may learn from each other. I also try to incorporate hands-on learning activities, recognizing that we all have different learning styles. In this sense, I am a facilitator of the clinical education experience. It’s a little more difficult in webinars to bring the same level of interaction or to allow for practical experiences, but hopefully learning needs are still being met.

I recall one webinar that I led in which I was talking about seating and therefore I was using a skeletal pelvis to show the relative position of the ischial tuberosities and the greater trochanters. Recall that I use a web cam for the webinars so that it is a little more interactive than just seeing the PowerPoint slides. The first webinar on the Tuesday went off without a hitch. When it came time for the second webinar at noon Eastern on the Thursday, the pelvis was nowhere to be found prior to the webinar. Therapists have told me that they really like seeing the bony structure of the pelvis so I really wanted to have the pelvis for the second and third webinars that were to be held that day. I sent an email to my Sunrise colleagues and without thinking, put the subject line as “Have you seen my pelvis?” In the body of the email, I did explain what was lost, but I got a lot of funny responses! The pelvis turned up in time for the last webinar of the day.

You can imagine that if I got a lot of humorous responses to my email about my pelvis that the people at Sunrise must be fun to work with and that is absolutely true! I mentioned at the beginning of this article that working for a wheelchair manufacturer is different than working in the health care system. One of the first things I noticed when I joined Sunrise was that the culture of Sunrise Medical is different than anywhere else I have worked previously. This was most evident after the first trade show I attended with Sunrise, about a month after joining. At the end of the trade show, after the booth was dismantled and everyone was set to go, we all hugged each other good-bye! That never happened in the hospital setting, except for maybe between close colleagues at Christmas-time. Sunrise really is a family that cares for each other and I am fortunate to be a part of it.

There are many other funny stories I could relate... such as what happened when I tried to take my pelvis through security at the airport and why I now ask the account managers in different provinces to please bring a pelvis so that I do not have to try to bring mine or how I almost missed my boarding call for a plane because I did not realize that printers take a long time to print multiple copies of handouts... (all learning experiences!) but I do try to keep these articles to manageable lengths so that they can be read quickly and without taking too much time from your busy days!

Thank you for reading this post! I hope you have enjoyed my light-hearted attempt to mark my 4 year anniversary with Sunrise Medical. As you can see, my job title has evolved and the education I lead and facilitate is evolving in its platform and in the topics we cover, but I remain here for you, the therapists and vendors who read these articles and who attend the education sessions I lead whether virtually or in-person.

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