Inaugural Leadership Development Program for Middle Managers Meets Real World Needs
By Stephanie Yamkovenko
Imagine you have just graduated from college, fresh with a degree in occupational therapy, and during a job interview your future employer tells you that you will be a manager at the facility and that the other staff think you’re ready for it.
This is exactly what happened to Shelly Boldman, director of Rehabilitation, EnCompassCare. “I had no mentors, no training, and no background in management,” she says. “I’ve been quasi-successful so far, but when I heard about an opportunity to learn, especially from my peers who are not only managers but also occupational therapists, I knew it would be a lot richer than just reading a book [on management].”
In May 2011, AOTA invited occupational therapy practitioners in middle management with 5 to 10 years of experience to apply for this new leadership development program. The 15 practitioners selected for the inaugural group, including Boldman, met at AOTA Headquarters in mid September to develop their leadership and management skills.
The participating occupational therapy practitioners had many reasons for wanting to participate, ranging from gaining leadership skills, to facilitating their staff members’ growth, to wanting to model future leaders. “We learn a lot about occupational therapy in school and in our clinicals, but there is this lack of ‘what am I doing now that I am in this position,’” says Amanda Graham, OT Clinical supervisor, Washington Hospital Center.
The 2-day program featured lessons on leadership, power, management, strategic planning, and advocacy presented by AOTA leaders and staff, including AOTA President Florence Clark, PhD, OTR, FAOTA; AOTA Vice President Virginia Stoffel, PhD, OT, BCMH, FAOTA; Nancy Stanford-Blair, PhD; Sue Bowles, OTD, MBA, OTR/L; AOTA’s Chief Professional Affairs Officer, Maureen Peterson, MS, OT/L, FAOTA; Chuck Willmarth, AOTA’s Director State Affairs and Reimbursement; and Chris Bluhm, AOTA’s Chief Operating Officer.
Becky Alwod-Wallace, director of Rehabilitation Services, IU Health Starke Hospital, sat next to AOTA President Florence Clark during the meeting and says, “[Clark] challenges you to put OT in the forefront. Where else would I get to have these one-on-one conversations with her about my career?”
The participants had the opportunity for introspection to discern how they developed their behaviors and skills. “You never really take the time to think about what molded you as a leader or how you got to this point,” says Sherry M. Hite, Occupational Therapy Department supervisor and fieldwork coordinator, City of Hope. “You just sort of adapt to situations and do what you need to do and not think about how you created those behaviors and skills.”
In addition to learning about leadership development, participants also gained strategies on being better managers and supervisors. Bryant Edwards, director of Occupational Therapy, East Whittier City School District, wanted to learn more about evaluating staff members and having difficult conversations with staff.
“We learned a lot of really practical strategies and we learned a lot of theoretical things about power and leadership that I’ll be using immediately and for many years,” says Lisa Griggs-Stapleton, clinical coordinator/occupational therapist, Turn Center.
AOTA believes the program will assist the profession in meeting the Centennial Vision’s strategic objective of building the profession’s capacity to influence and lead and will address a critical need in the profession to reinforce best leadership practices and develop the next generation of clinically based leaders.
“This is a really great opportunity to learn leadership skills and to tie that into AOTA and the Centennial Vision, to make sure that we’re all on the same page, and going in the same direction,” says Graham.
Stephanie Yamkovenko is AOTA’s staff writer.
2011 Middle Manager Leadership Development Program Participants:
- Becky Alwood-Wallace, director of Rehabilitation Services, IU Health Starke Hospital, Knox, Indiana
- Shelly Boldman, director of Rehabilitation, EnCompassCare, Piketon, Ohio
- Allison Conkey Bolin, director of Rehab Services/OT manager, Chatham Hospital, UNC Health Care System, Siler City, North Carolina
- Kylene Canham, Stroke Research assessor and Pediatric Care coordinator, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
- Cristina Dumitrescu, associate director/Academic Fieldwork coordinator, Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, New York
- Bryant Edwards, director of Occupational Therapy, East Whittier City School District, Whittier, California
- Amanda Graham, OT Clinical supervisor, Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC
- Lisa Griggs-Stapleton, Clinical coordinator/OT, Turn Center, Amarillo, Texas
- Piper Hansen, senior lead OT: Spinal Cord Injury Program, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
- Sherry M. Hite, OT Department supervisor and Fieldwork coordinator, City of Hope, Duarte, California
- Scott Hutchison, Systems Rehabilitation director, Gentiva Health, Charleston, South Carolina
- John Jaskiewicz, clinical director of Rehabilitation Therapy, Good Shepherd Medical Center, Longview, Texas
- Jennifer Lantz, facility director of OT, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Montefiore Hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, and Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Ann M. Russo, OT supervisor, United Cerebral Palsy Assoc., of Nassau County, Inc.. Roosevelt, New York
- Dotti A. Thompson, Rehabilitation manager, UH Geauga Medical Center, Chardon, Ohio