Episode 99 VR Workforce Studio
The Value of Vocational Rehabilitation with Paige Moore
Singers: VR Workforce Studio
Paige Moore: I am just blessed to have been a part of it. It’s essential and people deserve it.
Announcer: Four…three..two….one…. VR Workforce Studio, podcasting the sparks that ignite vocational rehabilitation through the inspiring stories of people with disabilities who have gone to work.
Jered Lem: Tech Support this is Jered speaking how may I help you?
Rose Hilderbrand: I have a position at Masco Cabinetry.
Alfred McMillan: I’m a supervisor at Sedexo.
Announcer: As well as the professionals who have helped them.
James Hall: A job, and a career, you got to look at how life changing this is.
Announcer: And the businesses who have filled their talent pipelines with workers that happen to have disabilities.
Debby Hopkins: To help expand registered apprenticeship.
Announcer: These are their stories.
Megan Healy: Because there is such a great story to tell about people with disabilities.
Announcer: Now here’s the host of the VR workforce studio. Rick Sizemore.
Rick Sizemore: Welcome to episode 99 of our podcast. On today’s show, Betsy Civilette talks with Dr. Michael Kiener about VR at Maryville University as we get ready for the 100th episode of the VR Workforce Studio podcast on September 30th. Mark your calendars. We have incredible guests and celebrate International Podcast Day on September 30th.
We’re in the VR Workforce Studio and our big inspiration showcase today with Paige Moore, a career occupational therapist who has spent decades at Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center. And back in the day, Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center, helping people with disabilities along the career pathway, and you’re getting ready to retire. So welcome to the podcast, Paige.
Paige Moore: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Rick Sizemore: It’s delightful to talk with you this morning. Let’s get started. It is Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month, and you’ve helped so many people through the years who’ve had spinal cord injuries and you… Sometimes people may think you have a spinal cord injury because you use a wheelchair, but tell us about your disability to get us started.
Paige Moore: Okay. And you’re exactly right. A lot of times people have the misperception, I guess, that I did have a spinal cord injury. Just because by appearance, I might look so. But when I was 17 years old, and I was at Harrisonburg High School, I was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome. So I spent a couple months at University of Virginia Hospital and then came directly to Woodrow Wilson Rehab Center.
Rick Sizemore: Really? For therapy back then.
Paige Moore: For therapy, yes. So that was in in 1980. And back then you came directly from acute care here for inpatient rehabilitation. So I, basically and succinctly put, was here for three years. So rehab back in the day in the early ’80s was not a short ordeal. People stayed much longer, and although you can always see pros and cons to everything. In my life, I see that as having been a pro for me, because it gave me a lot of time to try to maximize my abilities and try to provide the opportunity. Well, I didn’t provide the opportunity, but others provided the opportunity for me to learn strategies and implement tools to help me become as functional as I could possibly be.
Rick Sizemore: Right.
Paige Moore: So that was a blessing. I did stay for three years on and off. So that meant I would be here for like six months. Then I would go home for a little time to try to acclimate and use what I had learned, and then return to the center to gain more skills, et cetera, et cetera.
Rick Sizemore: So in one way or another, you’ve been around this facility for 40 some years.
Paige Moore: I have, since 17.
Rick Sizemore: And how did the pathway from that experience in VOC rehab lead you to become an occupational therapist?
Paige Moore: Directly so. Honestly, it sounds funny now because I feel like I’m a much more introverted person, but at the time my path was to go to Radford University and study acting. And my life’s plan was to go to New York City and to act. So, but as it often goes with many of us, thankfully, my path was, I think, predestined for me to be an occupational therapist. And I didn’t even know of that coming into this whole rehab gig back in the early ’80s. I had no idea what an occupational therapist was or that the profession existed. So when I was here, I had wonderful staff members working with me, including occupational therapists and just ironically, the occupational therapist that I had, her name was also Paige, at the time, which is just a funny story. And she since has seen me graduate from OT school. We’ve worked together as professionals, and we continue to stay friends. But I learned from not only her, but also from other therapists, like my physical therapist. And just a quick little story, Rick, if you don’t mind, this-
Rick Sizemore: Oh, we love stories.
Paige Moore: Is that on this past Friday night, my peers gave me a retirement party.
Rick Sizemore: Oh that’s awesome.
Paige Moore: It was supposed to be a roast because I told them I would feel much more comfortable if they were roasting me, but I don’t think that kind group really understands what a roast is supposed to be.
Rick Sizemore: They’re pretty nice people.
Paige Moore: They’re very nice people. And so it was delightful, and I was surprised by a lot of things, but one included, my original physical therapist when I arrived the first day at Woodrow Wilson, back in 1980, drove in from, I believe, Ohio.
Rick Sizemore: Wow.
Paige Moore: To surprise me and her name is Joyce. And that’s the first time I had seen her since the beginning ’80s.
Rick Sizemore: That’s amazing. Well through the years, you have helped literally hundreds, if not thousands, of people along the vocational rehabilitation process and on to work, not only as a professional occupational therapist, but you’re also a client of the agency. You have such a unique perspective. I’d love to know what your advice is to someone with a disability who’s thinking of going to work or going through vocational rehabilitation. What is it you want them to know about that pathway and where it can lead?
Paige Moore: Absolutely. Well, I think all pathways in life, whether it relates to one’s journey with a disability or otherwise. There’re pathways have ruts and pathways have smooth terrain, and we’re not unique in that. Maybe our ruts are synonymous with something that might be different, like learning how to toilet ourselves again so that we can resume. That’s such an OT thing to bring up, by the way, the toileting.
Rick Sizemore: But you know it’s an essential part of life.
Paige Moore: It is, and I think we should all be comfortable talking about it. But unless you can learn that skill, that may impact one’s ability to work. Specifically to work at what their desire to do is, or what their assets lead them to be able to do. So those ruts might be different. You might not be faced with that rut, but we’re all faced with ruts, nonetheless. So I would say that honestly, and I think this is so important to talk about in this day and time, the value of work.
Rick Sizemore: The value, absolutely.
Paige Moore: Work is not just about a paycheck, although that certainly helps in a lot of ways. One of many reasons why it has been so hard for me to decide to retire, at least from this form of employment, is that I have always valued my role as an OT and valued the ability to say to people with such pride that I work at Wilson Workforce and Rehab Center, which is what Woodrow Wilson Rehab Center is now known as.
Rick Sizemore: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right.
Paige Moore: And that I have been given the gift of those needing me to allow me to serve them.
Rick Sizemore: Wow.
Paige Moore: And that’s an immense value. It’s not equal to my role as a mom, but it’s darn close.
Rick Sizemore: That is powerful and such good advice and helpful information to someone who’s thinking about, I want to work. I want to have that meaning in my life. We talked last year with Jim Rothrock, who, of course, has passed on.
Paige Moore: Absolutely.
Rick Sizemore: He had that same thing to say about work bringing meaning into his life. And I think that’s not unique for people with disabilities to seek or anyone to seek that meaning that they find through their work. I want to move right into that next question I had planned. And you gave me the perfect opportunity to discuss it. You’re a mom?
Paige Moore: Yes.
Rick Sizemore: You have a son, who’s how old now?
Paige Moore: 20, yes. 20 Monday, he turned 20 on Monday.
Rick Sizemore: Twenty years old. And so for a woman who uses a wheelchair, who has the disability that you’ve experienced through your life, tell us about the experience of childbirth.
Paige Moore: Yes, yes.
Rick Sizemore: Given your circumstances in life.
Paige Moore: Right. Okay. So I would say that it’s one of those smooth terrain moments, perhaps even not only smooth terrain, but smooth terrain with all the beautiful special effects on the side, like twinkling lights and everything.
Rick Sizemore: Right. Right.
Paige Moore: So, and by saying that one, sometimes individuals, let’s say those with spinal cord injuries, might experience otherwise. But for me, my personal story is that, I guess, almost time to deliver and Gray still had no indication that he was coming out. And that really is true to his personality. I can’t tell you how many times he’s like, “Come on honey, Come on honey. It’s time to go.”
Rick Sizemore: Right. Right.
Paige Moore: So he was comfortable and just doing his thing. So they did decide at the last minute to do a C-section, which we had not planned, but that’s true of a lot of women. And it was the most beautiful experience. It was really meant to be as opposed to a traditional birth. What probably, maybe, my disability impacted more is my ability to feel like I was adequately caring for him, especially in infancy and toddler life. I was blessed with my mom coming in, staying with us for three months when he first was born. Also, my husband just happens to be an occupational therapist and a wonderful dad and husband, so that was a big help. So anyways, it was really a blessing. And you don’t want to ask me too much about Gray because I will eat up all your time talking about Gray.
Rick Sizemore: I want to talk about the span of 30 some years as an occupational therapist. Do you have a particular story that stands out about someone who’s gone through vocational rehabilitation through occupational therapy and really achieved something incredible?
Paige Moore: Oh gosh, I have so many stories.
Rick Sizemore: You probably have hours of stories, but if you could focus on one story that really warms your heart about the way you’ve spent your life, what would it be?
Paige Moore: I’m going to talk about this young woman named Danielle. And I’m going to talk about her for two reasons. One is, she is a young lady I just literally finished up with. So it’s a very recent example. And it’s a recent example of where Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center focuses their efforts currently. This young woman… Well, and the second reason I want to focus on her is she is an example, an amazing example, of perseverance, and dedication, and humility. Just everything good in people. She’s a young woman who’s in her early 20s with cerebral palsy. She’s from northern Virginia. She has wonderful family support. This young lady is faced with a lot of the challenges that come with cerebral palsy. Many that people typically don’t even realize they have as part of their makeup. And that being not only, might they have a more difficult time walking, if they can walk at all.
And this young lady is able to walk. She just walks with a little limp. Her one upper extremity, her arm, is affected in terms of how she’s able to use it, but she is able to use it. But some of the hidden things that people also deal with, like something we call visual perception. So how their brain understands what they see of the world. That might include things like, how far is something really away from you so that you can judge it to reach out and grab it? Or is this figure that’s only halfway visually seen really a whole cup? Like if I can just imagine in my brain, filling in the rest of that visual absence, does that half image then tell me it’s a cup so that I know I can drink from it? So those are examples of visual perception. This young lady has visual perception issues.
I was part of a team including her rehab counselor in northern Virginia, her rehab counselor here at the center, her vocational training instructors who were amazing, a physical therapist, and many others. We have a program called PREP that Rick can tell more about if he would like to. But PREP… She was part of that program before she began vocational training. So it is a big team effort led by this beautiful young lady. And she went through training and then got placed locally at a convenience store. And we had the pleasure of going over when she allowed us to and wanted us to, to come see her implement what she had learned at her time at the center-
Rick Sizemore: Out on the job site?
Paige Moore: On the job site. That just myriad of examples about technology and then strategies. So that visual perception that I talked about came into play when she was doing, what I now know, it’s referred to fronting merchandise. So…
Rick Sizemore: Right. It’s all about the workforce.
Paige Moore: That’s right.
Rick Sizemore: Thirty years as a professional occupational therapist. We need to finish up and put you on the spot here. With one phrase or one reflection that you could offer to parents, and families, and employers about vocational rehabilitation. What is your advice?
Paige Moore: From a personal perspective, it really… I am just blessed to have been a part of it and benefited from it. And also from a professional perspective, those that I’ve witnessed through the years, including a lot of individuals with spinal cord injuries, it’s essential and people deserve it.
Rick Sizemore: Paige Moore is an occupational therapist at the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center, finishing up an extended, decades-long career helping others. Thank you for being on our podcast today.
Paige Moore: Thank you very much.
Rick Sizemore: Well now we join the DARS communications manager, Betsy Civilette, and hear her conversation with Dr. Michael Kiener.
Betsy Civilette: Today we welcome Michael Kiener, who is a professor and the director of Maryville University of St. Louis’s Rehabilitation Counseling Program. And Michael has developed numerous trainings for community rehabilitation providers, vocational rehabilitation counselors, and supervisors of state agencies.
Michael has a PhD in counseling education and is currently a certified rehabilitation counselor and member of the National Rehabilitation Association, American Counseling Association, and is a board member of the Missouri Rehabilitation Association, Eastern Chapter. Well welcome, Michael.
Dr. Michael Kiener: Thank you.
Betsy Civilette: Give us a quick overview of Maryville’s VR program.
Dr. Michael Kiener: Yeah, we are in our 22nd year of having the program. I came to the program in year six. We are the only rehabilitation counseling program in the state of Missouri. So that really just helps us have better collaborations with the state VR and our other community providers. We are accredited, 48 credit hours. We’ll be moving to 60 credit hours. But I would… to give a couple of highlights, I would say our graduates have an equal balance of the career vocational disability aspect, but also mental health counseling.
And so I really see our graduates, a benefit wherever they are working, whether it’s a traditional state or federal government agency, or an agency maybe that’s doing a little bit more in the community or mental health counseling. If I had to say, what’s my mission or what’s my outcome for my students or our students, is that their educational experience is transformational both personally and professionally. That they’re really evolving to become that professional that have the passion for working with people with disabilities to helping people meet their goals. To start at one point and end at another.
Betsy Civilette: If you would, give us a little background on your partnership with Missouri state VR program.
Dr. Michael Kiener: I have to just, again, give credit to Tim Gains, our director, that he is just so open to us meeting. We meet regularly. I would really consider us friends. So whenever we meet again, we have this opportunity through his leadership and in my work here as director, we really revamped both our practicum and internship to give students the full experience. And even some of the local offices here have jumped on that, and really started using the practicum internship as succession planning.
So they really… Okay, we know X number of people are retiring. Hey, let’s get some more people and really get the students in sooner rather than later. State VR has been open with sharing resources about their new counselor training with us sooner rather than later. So again, our students get this experience while in the program. We work with state VR in finding adjuncts as well. Again, any opportunity we get to bring somebody in, we do that as well.
And one of the other things that I’m really proud of is state… Missouri VR has really keyed in on employee engagement. And how can we kind of invest in the counselors? And so we have people from state VR kind of talk to our students about, “Okay, what is a job at VR? And then what do they want as a job”? And so it’s sort of, again, that mutual collaboration from there. So that’s, obviously, a positive that they’re really wanting to hear from our students. That the new generation, what do they need in a job? Or what are they looking for and how can they sort of develop as future counselors?
And the last thing that I would like to kind of talk about is, in conjunction with not only Missouri VR, Missouri also has rehab services for the blind that we developed a leadership training program, where we’ve had counselors from Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa. That we work with them to develop for emerging leaders or new leaders, how to take that back to their offices. So we do some case studies. It’s a three-part training where we do some completely asynchronous, some synchronous online. And then we come together in the summertime for sort of like a conference training, do StrengthsFinders within that. We talk about getting leadership and then have the participants bring real… They develop their own personal case study that they’re going to work on while in the training, and then they can bring it back to their home office. So those are some of the things that we do.
Betsy Civilette: Well, that is wonderful. Thank you, Michael. So it sounds like Maryville… You partner with VR and you’ve made a difference in the lives of people with disabilities. And I understand you have some success stories to share with us today.
Dr. Michael Kiener: Yeah. I would like to think all our students are success stories, but I’m really, in particular, thinking about one of our graduates, Beth Dauber, who was a Maryville undergrad. And so I remember really talking with her when she was thinking about coming into the graduate program and then really tracking her career. And she’s become a friend of the program. She’s on our advisory council. She’s adjuncted for us.
But to give a little bit of her story, so she graduated in 2009. And in 2010, she created a program through VR to work with people with traumatic brain injury. That was sort of her passion coming through the program. Her practicum internship, were working at some rehab hospitals. So again, she had a… There was a need in Missouri for that. And especially here in the eastern part of the state. And then she was given the tools to be innovative and forward thinking to develop a program. Because of that, in 2016, she received the counselor of the year award from ARCA. So that was pretty exciting for her and for us.
Betsy Civilette: That is great, what a difference. That sounds like you’re a mentor and you and these graduates, as well, are mentoring others. And coming back to Maryville.
Dr. Michael Kiener: Right.
Betsy Civilette: So what about those potential students considering a career in VR? How do you attract these potential VR students? This career path?
Dr. Michael Kiener: Yeah, great question. I always tell potential students that a degree in rehabilitation counseling is not only the degree of the present, but of the future. And I think we see that even now with the pandemic, when so many people perhaps are changing jobs because of the pandemic, wanting a better life- work balance. So career vocational counseling is so much more important now. The pandemic forced us to really even more embrace technology. So maybe working with people with disabilities, from working at home, or having more work virtual or flexible work settings is a positive.
So again, I think there’s a positive there. I also think that just, in general, the Disability Rights Movement and rehabilitation counselors have worked better with the business side. So we’re really seeing in the economic model coming through that there’s this huge hiring, economic base. That if you hire somebody with a disability that they’re going to stay at that place longer, or that will translate to people buying their services because they know these agencies or corporations are supportive of people with disabilities.
I also think that the mental health stigma of going to see a counselor is less. So again, there is this positive momentum right now for a degree in rehabilitation counseling.
Betsy Civilette: Yeah. It sounds like there is a lot of opportunities going forward in VR at Maryville. So thank you for sharing your stories.
Dr. Michael Kiener: So this podcast is just a great example how we can use it with our students to really introduce them to the field, to hear success stories of people with disabilities, to really get them a future picture of the work that they will be doing, the meaningful impact that they will be having.
Again, I think we just see students, in general, increasing their use of podcasts. So this should be a natural fit. And again, so many programs are just increasing their use of these experiential learning opportunities in the classroom. So podcasts like this just are ideal for teaching and learning.
Rick Sizemore: Dr. Michael Kiener is the head of rehabilitation counseling at Maryville University and Betsy Civilette is the communications director for the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services. It’s time for a National Clearinghouse report with the always entertaining and informative Cherie Takemoto. Welcome to the podcast, Cherie.
Cherie Takemoto: Thanks Rick.
Rick Sizemore: Well, it’s Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month. What’d you think of Paige’s story?
Cherie Takemoto: I’m just so impressed with all she’s doing for people with spinal cord injury, and you on the VR Workforce Studio podcast have showcased so many interesting people who have survived a spinal cord injury. And I wanted to share a set of YouTube videos that’s been done by the National Paralysis Resource Center on cultivating resilience after spinal cord injury trauma. Because as you know, everyone’s story is different.
Rick Sizemore: Absolutely. I mean, you can hear many of those stories just by going to the library at vrworkforcestudio.com. You have some other resources.
Cherie Takemoto: Yes. I have the Model Systems, Knowledge Translation Center. That’s funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research. This center is a powerhouse of information, resources, and research on spinal cord injury, and also traumatic brain injury, and burn injury.
Rick Sizemore: Yeah, well, we’re just a month away from National Disability Employment Awareness, but this month it’s Workforce Development Month.
Cherie Takemoto: Yes, exactly the time to get ready. So I want all of you counselors out there to check out the Vocational Rehabilitation Technical Assistance Center on quality employment. We call it VRTAC-QE. And if you can sign up for their TAC-QE Tuesday, or I call it taco Tuesday for all kinds of updates. But I especially want to highlight their training. They have recently uploaded over 20 hours of online on-demand instruction on outreach, service delivery, and employment outcomes, including 10 hours on customized employment. And as a bonus, everyone who goes can get credit for that.
Rick Sizemore: Well, that is just amazing. Thanks for your report, Cherie. We’ll see you next month. Actually that’s episode 100, which we’ll post on the 30th of September, International Podcast Day. As we usher in National Disability Employment Awareness, have some powerhouse guests, a lot of excitement built around this 100th episode. So we’ll see you then.
Cherie Takemoto: 100 episodes, that’s going somewhere, Rick.
Rick Sizemore: Thank you. Cherie.
Cherie Takemoto: Thank you.
Rick Sizemore: Here’s Lynn Harris, director of the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation.
Lynn Harris: The foundation is pleased to bring you these exciting stories of how vocational rehabilitation is changing people’s lives. Your support helps students gain the skills and credentials they need to be successful in business and industry. We thank all of our partners in podcasting who made this episode possible. The Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation, CVS Health, Dominion Energy, Daikin Applied, Hollister, Inc., and United Bank. You can find out more about becoming a sponsor at wwrcf.org, or find our contact information in the show notes at vrworkforcestudio.com.
Rick Sizemore: You can always find another exciting episode as we podcast the sparks that ignite vocational rehabilitation here at the VR Workforce Studio. Until next time I’m Rick Sizemore.
Announcer: The VR Workforce Studio podcast is owned and operated by the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation. The foundation publishes and distributes the VR Workforce Studio and manages all sponsor arrangements. Audio content for the podcast is provided to the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center Foundation by the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services in exchange for promotional considerations.