An employment success story written by Employment Consultant
Angie Tarr, Easterseals Crossroads
For the past two and a half years, I have worked in Employment Services as an employment consultant. The people who are referred to me are all very different and have different needs. I am often paired with consumers who are in science and healthcare fields because I worked as a registered nurse for 11 years as both a clinical nurse educator and as a critical care nurse. My supervisor Marjorie Duryea puts a lot of careful thought and time into which consumer she matches with which employment consultant.
Sometimes people need to reevaluate how they perform their jobs, secondary to the changes that a disability has caused with their bodies and/or cognition. I help evaluate and practice different skill sets that are necessary for a person to continue in a specific job field. Creative solutions can make all the difference to someone who is terrified about the thought of no longer performing a loved job. When an employee and an employer learn that the tasks of a job are possible with some accommodations, everyone is so happy and relieved. Sometimes I even work with people who are young and starting college, but they know that they want to work in academia, medicine or social sciences. Helping these people transition to college, select course loads and get engaged with the services provided by the university often sets the stage for future success.
Cindy had been a neonatal intensive care RN for over 23 years working in a PICU. She has worked at St. Vincent’s Hospital that entire time. During the last five years, Cindy suddenly began losing her vision. She was diagnosed with Stargart Macular Dystrophy, which is a hereditary disease that causes progressive, permanent macular degeneration. Cindy was absolutely devastated that her vision loss could end her career as a bedside nurse in the PICU.
When I met Cindy, she had been involved with vocational rehabilitation in our state for three years. Her vocational rehabilitation counselor happened to be a woman who is also blind; she helped Cindy navigate through a lot of things that prepared her to work with an employment consultant.
Cindy and I met in May 2018. During our time together, I learned that Cindy’s vision was failing and coming to the point where she could no longer perform bedside nursing and direct nursing care. She very much wanted to remain in the healthcare field working for St. Vincent’s and Ascension Health so that she could share and utilize all of her invaluable knowledge to improve the lives of others. Cindy and I talked, practiced and assessed her skills. She came to realize that if she wanted to continue in her field, but could no longer be in direct care, then she would need to hone her computer skills so that she could either assume a role in administration or in patient advocacy.
Cindy and I found some free classes at the Glendale branch of the Indianapolis Public Library where they offer a computer lab to teach basic MS Office classes for those with visual disabilities. Cindy attended all of the classes that she could. She worked tirelessly with Anna Leung in our Assistive Technology Center to learn screen magnification software and other technology programs. Cindy really honed her skills.
Cindy and I practiced interviewing and focused on body language recognition and usage. We added her newly acquired skills to her resume and then began the long and arduous process of internal application for jobs. It took a long time and a lot of patience, but finally in July 2019, Cindy went through a three-stage interview process and was hired as an RN Health Partner through Ascension Health. Cindy absolutely loves her job and is thrilled to put her prior skills to such great use. Our assistive technology center has been invaluable to Cindy’s journey; Anna’s hard work, knowledge and care greatly contributed to this successful outcome.
After Cindy found her dream job, she really did not need me at her place of business. They are aware that she works with vocational rehabilitation, but she hasn’t needed me. She worked so very hard to gain the needed skills prior to being employed in this position that she doesn’t need my coaching now. She has all the important clinical knowledge from the years she has spent working in the PICU; she just needed help with the transition.
I’m forever grateful for the extraordinary kindness, patience and professionalism that Angie Tarr extended to me as she compassionately walked my long career-search journey. I struggled with grief over the loss of my vision and the loss of my 30-year career as a Newborn Intensive Care Nurse. Angie was compassionate and in-tuned to my grief. She was encouraging and creative to ultimately assist me in finding a new career as a case manager/nurse navigator that highlights my passion and skills for helping and educating people.Cindy
I love my job especially when one of my consumers reaches a goal previously thought to be impossible. I have the honor of working in a field where I get to help people change their lives though increased independence because of employment. I can’t think of anything that I would rather be doing! I am so proud to be part of what we do at Easterseals Crossroads for those in our community.