In May of 2014, from the stroke unit at Gaylord Hospital, I applied for a job three weeks after undergoing surgery to remove a benign brain tumor and developing complete paralysis of my entire right side. My dominant side. I did not fully appreciate the severity of my situation at that time. Naturally, I assumed that since I could finally read and comprehend my text messages, that I was well enough to seek employment opportunities as a Physician Assistant. Much to the dismay of my family and caregivers, I submitted a job application late Sunday night and received a call for an interview the next day. Obviously, I had to delay the interview until I could actually walk, but once I could five months later, I was hired. November 13th, 2014 was my first day.
Returning to work after a life altering experience or with a new disability presented many challenges. I could not drive for the first year, required some breaks occasionally during the day, and needed some time for ongoing physical therapy.
Two years later, I was promoted and shared my advocacy efforts with my place of employment, often engaging students and volunteering with them. I was featured in the news and asked to write an article for Philly.com on returning to work after surgery where I shared how important it was to accept and accomodate one’s new normal. I have since returned to clinical practice and successfully maintained my certification and licensure, all the while, earning some street credibility with my patients in Addiction Medicine as I too serve as a reminder that we are all recovering from something.
In addition to my faith, sense of optimism and determination, none of this would be possible had it not been for my Director and mentor, Dr. Daniel Cervonka. I know very well that there are those who are rejected for employment or advancement for reasons far less than those I presented Dr. Cervonka with the day I appeared for my interview. I had not gained full use of my hand yet, had accessibility needs, and still had evidence of moon facies from my steroid use a few months earlier. But I was confident, motivated, and desperate to be a contributing member of society again, and he gave me a chance.
If you are an employer considering hiring an individual with accessibility needs, know that with planning, effective leadership, and compassion, together we can accomplish great things.
Inclusivity is infectious.
#4yearanniversary #BTA #Braintumorsurvivor #PhysicianAssistant #PA #TheRightSideofPerfect @theABTA @CTBTA @AAPA