Wednesday, June 6, 2012

OT Leaders that Shine... Rebuilding Lives

By Barb Phillips, MS OTD, OTR/L

            As Occupational Therapists (OTs), we are leaders; whether we are treating a patient, running a meeting or planning a large event. We find ourselves in leadership roles professionally which often roll over into our personal lives.  For the next several months, this “OT Leaders that Shine” blog will highlight the leadership qualities of one therapist who is in the process of planning a large fund-raising event for the brain injured population at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center (Rancho) in Downey, California.  There will be monthly updates with exciting and helpful hints that you may wish to apply to your role as OT Leader.  Make sure to check it out!

            Amy Salinas, MS OTR/L, OT supervisor on the brain injury service, recently promoted to the role of chairperson of the brain injury interdisciplinary team at Rancho.  As chair, she recognized that an effective team provides seamless intervention, maximizing the treatment effects for the patients. This results in more successful therapeutic interventions as well as happier patients and happier staff members.  Amy was looking for a structure to bring her team together, and to gain recognition about brain injury in the community. 

            From the time she was a child, Amy had a special bond with her father who loved old cars.  She kept him company while he refurbished cars as his hobby and proudly remembers his 1969 Corvette. She now enjoys watching him work on his 1937 black Ford Coupe.  Amy has accompanied her dad to many car shows over the years. To this day, she enjoys watching him win trophies and increasing his social circle with many  of his “car” friends.  Amy and her dad were chatting about her new role at work when they came up with the idea of hosting a car show at Rancho Los Amigos.  Once she got the idea, there was no stopping her! This is often the case for most of us. Once the dream is created, there is no way to stop it - other than to make it come true!

            Using the leadership skills that Amy developed over the years, she initiated conversations with the administration of the hospital and the gentlemen in her father’s car club. She created advisory committees and made arrangements for the different groups to come together. She researched the available dates for car shows in southern California and because this is such a popular event, she reserved the date (September 29, 2012) before she had final approval!  In March, she presented a written proposal to the hospital administration, then using that feedback; she continued to develop the plan.  The hospital expressed concerned about having this be a safe event for all involved. Since Amy’s husband is part of the LA County Sheriff’s Department, she was easily able to recruit their assistance for the day of the event. The LA County Sheriff’s Department County Services Bureau is now working in association with the event. They will be actively assisting in planning before the event and with the security on the day of the event. The primary host of the event is the Rancho Los Amigos Foundation in collaboration with The Rancho Brain Injury Interdisciplinary Service.

            It seems that every group that Amy speaks with wants to help in some way.  The gentlemen from her father’s club are eager to teach her how to run a car show and the administration from the hospital are eager to host such an exciting event linking the community with increased awareness of person’s living with disability.  The patients and staff are excited to participate in a fun and exciting popular community event.  There will even be a unique display at this car show: patients who drive with adaptations will be displaying their cars to increase community awareness about driving with a disability. 

Here are some of the leadership skills that Amy has implemented:
·         Identify a need.
·         Find and follow your passion.
·         Talk to as many people as you can and be open to their suggestions.
·         Talk to the appropriate people to ensure that your event will meet any necessary criteria.
·         Utilize people you know as links to accomplishing your goals.
·         Identify the goals of your project.
·         Recruit people who share your passion to move your project along.

You can see the brochure at the following link:

Check out the blog next month to see how Amy is establishing committees to help her.

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