Many clinicians turn to teletherapy due to life changes: some need time to care for children or family members, some are looking for more freedom, and some move frequently due to a spouse in the military. Brittney Franklin, an occupational therapist, got involved with teletherapy when she and her husband decided to move from a city on Lake Superior to a city on the Atlantic coast. She is now in her fourth school year with Presence, and we are thrilled to have her as part of our network.
Brittney, thank you for all that you do for your students!
Q. Why did you decide to try your hand at online therapy with Presence?
A. My husband and I took a life adventure. We moved from Duluth, MN to Portland, ME. This move resulted in some of the greatest growth opportunities; however, at the time we moved, there were not any pediatric occupational therapy job openings in the city of Portland. I knew it was time to try something new and cutting edge, and then “Ta-da!” Presence appeared. I will never forget that crisp fall day — with the blue sky and colorful leaves — when recruiter Lisa Stacy called to let me know I’d been accepted to the Presence network of clinicians. A very happy and exciting moment!
Q. What do you love the most about your career?
A. What is not to love? I have the opportunity to continue to learn from colleagues, families, teachers, and students through play, conversations, and meaningful work. I love that our daily occupations change and challenge us as we grow, no matter our age. The opportunity to work with students in the school via teletherapy is really remarkable and rewarding. Students change and grow so much during the school year, which results in great progress toward their goals. The smile when a student is able to independently tie their shoe or write their name are just two of many celebrated moments that an OT gets to share with a student.
Q. After four years, what do you think are the keys to being a successful telepractitioner?
A. The willingness to be flexible and meet the student where they are in that moment. Also, research, planning, and communication with the student, the student’s school team, and the student’s family. And finally, the willingness to be silly, smile, laugh, and find the fun in all activities, just like Mary Poppins said:
“In ev’ry job that must be done / There is an element of fun / You find the fun and SNAP! / The job’s a game.”
Q. What has surprised you the most about working online?
A. How connected and close you feel to your colleagues, the schools, students, and students’ families despite being in a different time zone. I have never felt isolated or left alone working online, and I have been able to grow as an OT in so many ways because of the opportunities Presence continues to provide.
Q. What do you like best about the Presence therapy environment?
A. The ability to pull up activities within seconds to adapt to a student’s need or pull up a short music clip for a student that is having a bad day and needs to “start their day over.” These tools are really remarkable and it is great to hear that students look forward to coming to sessions because they know that they are going to be greeted with a smile or an activity that provides them success when they get back to their classroom.
Q. It sounds like you’ve really been able to connect with your kiddos. Can you share a story about one that has been particularly inspiring?
A. There are so many to choose from. I always learn something new from the students that I have the opportunity to see. If I did have to choose just one inspirational student, it would be a student who continues to challenge me with new and innovative ways to assist him. His diagnosis is mitochondrial disease and it affects so much of how his body is able to process and perform movement. What always inspires me is his drive and determination, his smile, and his willingness to try new activities in order to meet his goals. This student is breaking down barriers and meeting his goals like I have never experienced before. His family is incredibly supportive and they continue to note that because of Presence services, they are seeing this student achieve movements and interactions that they never thought they would see him achieve.
Q. Stories like that are what inspires all of us to come to work every day. Any final advice for other clinicians who are thinking about trying teletherapy with Presence?
A. If you are thinking about it and it continues to be something that is on your mind, do it! The community network, the schools, the students, and the families are incredible and the amount of resources are truly remarkable.