Kim Preskitt had been working as a financial manager at Flexdigital, a direct mail marketing company, when the occupational therapist in her kicked in. With 80 employees, she noticed the staff was setting themselves up for injuries from improperly moving boxes, carpal tunnel syndrome from long computer use and standing for extensive periods of time. Plus, ten percent of the staff already has some sort of disability. The 1997 UAB OT graduate told the president he needed to hire her as a full-time OT for his staff, something not usual for a private business.
“I told the owners I could lower their insurance costs, add health fitness wellness program and decrease workman’s compensation claims,” said Preskitt.
Her new title became occupational therapy/safety director/finance manager. And she quickly implemented her ideas. She provided training on heavy equipment and has since seen a decrease in injuries. Preskitt gets the employees motivated by encouraging walks and dancing all while working on the clock.
“The staff really likes it,” said Preskitt. “We’re seeing less stress and more production.”
Preskitt will tell you she’s lucky to have owners who have been advocates for work rehabilitation and disability for years. She’s noticing that other companies are starting to take notice, too.
“Companies are starting to hire OT’s and nurses to motivate staff and keep sick days down,” said Preskitt. “It’s great for our industry that we are moving into the direction of working for private companies.”
And because of that, Preskitt said there will be more opportunities for students graduating from the OT program.
“Keep an open mind because there are many non-traditional opportunities,” said Preskitt. “Mentor students every opportunity that you get and blaze your own trail.”