PODCAST AUDIO Caring Collaboratively Episode 3 The Value of Embedded Mentorships in Occupational Therapy

Podcast Transcript

Summer McMurry: Welcome to the Caring Collaboratively Podcast, I'm Summer McMurry, Speech-Language Pathologist and founder of Carolina Pediatric Therapy and today I'm here with our Occupational Therapy mentor group. So first, if you all could introduce yourself and share what clinic you're connected to and the settings that you work in here at Carolina Peds. 

Courtney Carriveau: I'm Courtney Carriveau and I'm the director of the occupational therapy team and I primarily work out of our east and south clinics. 

Philip Pearce: I'm Philip Pearce. I work, primarily in the Waynesville clinic, but I also serve as some charter schools and in the community and daycares. And I am an occupational therapy assistant and i've been here, seven years. 

Taylor Evans: I am Taylor Evans. I'm an occupational therapist and I've been here for four years, and I am in the South Asheville clinic. 

 Cindy Carroll: I'm Cindy Carroll i've been here for five years and I'm an occupational therapist in the Brevard Clinic. 

Summer McMurry: Alright, so in this series we've been delving into our embedded mentoring program. At Carolina Peds, 100% of the new team members that join our team received structured support through this mentor program, and so I wanted to share with the listeners.  You know more about the program hear from you guys on our team who are actually doing the mentoring and then learn about your experience and how you feel like it's impacted you, but then also How has it mental impacted those that you're mentoring.  Some of you guys have held leadership roles and other supervisory roles and some of you are a little bit newer we have new mentors on our team, and we also have those who've been doing it for a long time. So the first question I'd like to ask you guys is when you hear the word mentoring what comes to mind, for you. 

Taylor Evans: When I hear the word mentor connection and guidance and support is what kind of comes to mind, for me, I think it's really important to be able to connect.  With one person, and I think that when you have one specific person, rather than a bunch of people you kind of go to it helps develop that relationship and that trust. 

Cindy Carroll: I feel like mentoring is also support providing support providing motivation for helping solve problems and developing their skills within our Carolina Pediatric environment. 

Philip Pearce: And I think I agree with all of that as well, and then the the other aspect I think of is that a mentor someone who has been there before you, and it can sort of show you which path to take or what your options are and guide you along that process because they've done it before. 

Courtney Carriveau: I agree with all of those and I see the mentors as. Really, looking at the skills, the mentee has and bolstering those to build their confidence and helping fill in the gaps with their knowledge, but then also. Increasing their confidence in the skills that they already have. 

 Summer McMurry: So for you all, Why did you all feel that it was important for you to be a mentor? 

Philip Pearce: For for me, being an occupational therapy assistant, you know, that supervisory role or relationship with an OT is kind of built in and, I know that that's not not the case, you know, being an OT, but, regardless of how much. So, being an occupational therapy assistant. The the role of a supervisor is kind of built in to my job, so what that means is that somebody has been mentoring me since I got here, because it was required, but seeing that. You know, we were going to do that company wide for everyone, everyone coming in, it was just such a valuable experience for me that I felt it was almost like I was compelled to kind of give back in that way because it's been done for me before. 

Summer McMurry: Taylor how about you. 

Taylor Evans: Ah, I feel that you know that it's so valuable being a mentor, not only because you're getting to help work, like Philip said. Someone work through things that you've been through before. But also, I think the reflection questions, like when they're even just like treatment interventions ideas or Clinical questions. When someone asks you something, just the process of having to work through that and think through that kind of helps me grow myself as a clinician and helps me learn as well. 

Summer McMurry: How about you Cindy. 

Cindy Carroll: I think I enjoy being a mentor and think it's important to be a mentor to help people realize that it's Okay, when you have when you're cut that. I feel like it's important and I enjoyed being a mentor just to share my knowledge and help. Them understand that things to get better, put out fires, I mean I feel like we put out a lot of fires with our new hires so they don't become too stressed out. If we can do it and let them know that we've all been there. 

Summer McMurry: So what do you think makes a great mentor? What are those qualities and a mentor needs to have. 

Courtney Carriveau: I can go by sharing that when i'm looking for people to add to the ot mentor group and to bring up oh wait we're gonna have to cut me hold on I gotta. 

Summer McMurry: Fix her. 

Philip Pearce: any of you have a comment you're welcome to share it oh we're waiting, I mean the toughest part is figuring out how to articulate it. Especially knowing that it's going to you know go somewhere that other people will see it. But I think you know, one of the most important qualities, is the ability to communicate and be able to to present things in a way that is more of a guiding teaching kind of way; because part of what's baked into this role is showing what has been done that maybe needs correction, right? And providing a lot of constructive criticism based on you know the way our company and our discipline asked us to do things. So being able to have that rapport and that trust to deliver that information in a way that is helpful rather than critical, rather than you know, punitive or or feeling like, in my case, like a, like a "dad" telling you what you've done wrong and giving a lecture. But more so, like just being a a guiding presence is one of the more important qualities. Being able to communicate well they'll build rapport that way. 

Summer McMurry: Good taylor's you have thought you were about say about the qualities. 

Taylor Evans: I was just gonna say something along the lines of Philip, about communication and and listening skills, and being able to  hold space for them when they are feeling stressed or having difficulties. And yet, finding the balance of giving that feedback, but also listening and just kind of being there as a supportive person as well. Because sometimes I feel like some of the stress, with a new job is not always the clinical skills, and sometimes it's everything else combined. And so yeah, I think listening is a really important part of being a mentor. 

Cindy Carroll: I agree with Taylor. I think listening, is one of the primary goals and learning to give feedback appropriately and being able to receive it also. Support and conveying the Carolina Pediatric Way and let us, you know, know why we're here and what we're doing, and developing relationships. 

Summer McMurry: The relationships part is very important, I think it's being able to connect with that person in a way that really helps to support them in that relationship there. Courtney, we were still talking about the qualities, if you had an eye, you had something to say about that. 

Courtney Carriveau: So I think, when I'm looking at the OT team and people that might be good to bring up or to bring into the mentorship circle, I'm certainly always looking for people that have some level of experience, especially some time at Carolina Peds, so they have a good understanding of how all of the technical parts work. But then also just looking for people who have that teaching heart and so many therapists I think have that naturally so it's pretty easy to find people to bring them to that role, but certainly looking for people who enjoy teaching, enjoy going through that process with with the mentees, and it's something that we're always looking for and I think that's like one of the most wonderful parts is it's it's really growing process for both people. 

Summer McMurry: So guys I pause the recording because I lost complete sound and what Tyler said and what Courtney just said. The sound is not liking us today can tailor Could you say again what. 

Courtney Carriveau: You said flexibility. Visibility yeah. 

Taylor Evans: Yeah. I just think another really important thing with the mentorship program is flexibility, and like being able to understand that people do have different learning styles. Kind of like Courtney was touching on, but the way that you might want to teach someone might not be the way that they learn best. And I think that, being able to kind of adapt in that way is also really important to be able to connect. With that person, so that they can understand it and relate back to that. 

Courtney Carriveau: Right and I had just followed up with that as well, following up with Taylor to say that it helps both parties grow because sometimes, as a mentor you have to stretch yourself to find the way to get the mentee to the next level to to help them learn, and it may not be just the way that you typically teach something so it's a really wonderful way to grow your own skills as well. 

Summer McMurry: Okay, so let's move to the next question.  So, as far as being a mentor what does that look like practically for each of you on a weekly basis or on a regular basis with your mentee? 

Philip Pearce: Well, the the basic under basic expectation is that we have a we have a structured scheduled one hour meeting each week and that can be in person, it can be over zoom but we we are as mentors we are expected to meet with our mentee for that one hour a week and you know just provide that time for whatever that time needs to be I suppose, but you know, making sure that we make we make ourselves available to them weekly for at least one hour. But then it also might mean that we answer a text message or a task or an email or you know check in with them and we just keep that door open. So, so you can be pretty flexible and some folks you know really need a lot more support and some folks don't need as much support. But you know it's it's one hour a week at minimum. 

Summer McMurry: And how does that change over time, because is there, What does it look like in the beginning of the mentorship when they first get started? Because you know this is a six to nine month program, so as that time goes by, how does it evolve? 

Taylor Evans: Something that I've kind of seen with this in the past, I feel like, it depends on the individual person, but I feel like a lot of the initial questions On the hours are filled very full of kind of like documentation questions, things like that. And then, as those things start to get more in control, I feel like I see a shift where it becomes more clinical-based questions or treatment interventions and ideas like that and I think the first part of the year, people usually come in with like a whole detailed list of questions. And it's trying to get everything through and then, as you get to the six to nine month mark, the questions kind of start to come down and it's more like a conversation, rather than just answering a lot of questions. As they start to need less help and less support through some of those things. 

Summer McMurry: Okay, so what, all of you can comment on this, I'd love to hear what each of you say. What makes you most excited about being a mentor? Or what's inspiring? It could be either one. 

Taylor Evans: I really like being a mentor because I like being able to kind of have that conversation back and forth with another therapist and, as I mentioned earlier, I think sometimes their questions, make me really reflect and make me kind of rethink through things and kind of give me just more ideas of things. That I think, that's my favorite part about it, is just that connection. I feel like you know and working in a bunch of different settings and different locations, we don't always have the time to kind of sit down one-on-one and talk and go over in discussing. So I think that's my favorite part for sure. 

Cindy Carroll: Yeah I agree. I like meeting the new employees and assisting them with learning the techniques to stay here and to not get overwhelmed about the paperwork and the scheduling. I think the first two weeks of mentoring it's usually all about the paperwork and scheduling. And then I think, then it moves from there, to about how their relationships are developing with their parents.  What problems are you having that kind of thing I think the first couple of weeks, besides getting to know your mentor mentee is also to help provide support to get through that first couple of tough weeks. 

Philip Pearce: I think for me. This is the most exciting thing about being a mentor question right okay alright so we'll start here. One of the things that that excites me the most about having this job is the culture that we have at this job and it's not a, it's not an accidental kind of culture. It's one that's cultivated. It's one that's intentional, and it's as consistent as it can be when you have clinics and therapists a spread out as we do. And I mean there, there are people that work here, that I've never met but I know that they're connected somehow because of, you know, this program. And preserving this, this culture, and like I said, cultivating it and helping it grow. It's really, really important, and one of the most exciting things about being a mentor is contributing to that, when we have new people coming in, because this is such a, in my opinion, unique place to work, not necessarily because of the clinical work that we do, but because of the way that we do it and the people that we work with and this culture of growing each other versus you know competing or meeting outcomes or you know pushing kids through to get to the next kid or any of that stuff. We just do, we do good work, and we care about each other and that has a lot to do with this program being in place yeah it's really good. 

Courtney Carriveau: I might just want to add that my favorite part of being part of the mentor program is just from the experience of being here for a long time. I've been with Carolina Peds for 10 years. I know that at first, there's a learning curve, like, there's a big hump to getting comfortable. And that's whether you're a new Grad or, if you have lots of experience. and You're just new to this job. There's always a learning curve with starting a new job and the mentorship program, I feel like, provides this buffer that kind of helps support people get over that so that they can really do the thing that they came here to do, which is the therapy, and to help children, and if we can help them get to that place a little more smoothly without feeling quite so overwhelmed and alone, then I think that's what it's all about. Because that's what we're all here for, and if we can be part of that I think that's a wonderful thing. 

 Summer McMurry: So what have you all observed as the biggest impact that you've seen on your mentees? As they're going through this, you're observing them. What is, what's happening in their world as you guys are mentoring them through it? 

Cindy Carroll: I enjoy seeing their comfort level get better and better and better and they believe in their skills, and then what they're doing is good. That you know there's no bad ways to do something, and there's a lot of people in our organization that can help them with the areas besides just me, different techniques and all that and that we're, we're a family. 

Summer McMurry: Taylor you want to go next. 

Taylor Evans: So, can you repeat the question. 

Summer McMurry: Yes, yes, what do you observe is the impact or the positive impact on the mentee because you know you kind of watch them go through this journey and then, but what do you see that's the fruit of that when they get through that what's the outcome. 

Taylor Evans: Yeah, I agree with Cindy about the comfort level. I think, also like, just the confidence that you can see kind of change from a new graduate or a new hire where you can see that they're a little flustered trying to learn all the different steps and all the different layers for this job and then, as they start to be able to kind of tackle the different tasks, and you can see their confidence and their stress level decrease where they it's just kind of get into the flow of the routine. I think that's really nice to see that, with a little bit of support and with that guidance that they're able to work through it and kind of persist with that. 

Cindy Carroll: Yeah, I just wanted to add, I think, too, I like seeing how they become feel better about the rapport with the parents, because I think that's a big big piece and that's a tough case to get comfortable with that, and so I enjoy seeing them get comfortable talking with parents did. 

Philip Pearce: I think kind of along those lines that the thing that I really enjoy seeing is when folks start to develop this sense of ownership and you know when you when you're new in an environment you don't really own anything you know you're you're very much a guest, even if you've been hired and you've been through orientation and you've worked here for two weeks, you still feel like a guest sometimes. So being empowered to start to take ownership to start to request things to know what resources, you have and you know to not feel like you're stepping on toes when you grab this thing or grab that thing. You know feeling empowered to let the right person know that you're out of this Eval form that you need or whatever it is. Because, you know as a new person you go in and there's not the piece of paper that you need in the folder where you need it and you either don't know who to ask, or you know it can be intimidating to go up to somebody and be like hey where are these things. So when people start to feel, and I think that word confidence comes in, confident enough to say you know what this, this is something I need. I'm going to go get it, and I don't really need to, and I know who to ask to go get it, and I feel comfortable doing so. I think those are some of the things that I like to see develop the most. 

Summer McMurry: Okay, so for you all, what do you feel is one lesson that you have learned by being a mentor. 

Philip Pearce: I think this is a continual lesson for me that I need to keep learning over and over but I think one way to say it is not like my way is not always the right way, or just because I did it one way doesn't mean other people need to do it the same way and realizing that not everybody needs the same level of support that I needed. Or, in the same way that I needed it is actually really helpful when part of my job, I mean a big one of the biggest parts of my job is teaching people how to you know use their resources to support themselves and people in their environment so it really you know, makes me a better clinician to be in this role. 

Taylor Evans: Yeah and kind of bouncing off of what Philip said, I think, for me, one of the biggest lessons that I've learned is to not provide like okay. I was saying kind of like bounce off of what Philip said was one of the biggest things that I've learned is understanding how much help to give someone and they might not all require the same amount as I want to give and kind of stepping more into that coaching style and asking those reflective questions, rather than just answering questions for them and kind of allowing them to have the space to problem solve on their own, rather than just, Hey, this is the way that I do it, why don't you try it this way. I think that's the biggest thing that I've learned through this mentorship process is to take a step back and allow them to kind of do things in their own way. 

Cindy Carroll: I agree wholeheartedly with Taylor that's been a big lesson for me to learn is to be got to be to guide and support and separate what is when I'm, when I have a student from when I have a mentor. It's  just it's totally different with a student, you are teaching with a mentor you're supporting and guiding. That's been a big one for me. 

 Philip Pearce: Yeah. 

Summer McMurry: Courtney, do you have anything to add to that. 

Courtney Carriveau: That was exactly what, along the lines with Taylor said, is, I think the biggest lesson is to learn that it's not my job to jump in and fix things, to fix all of the problems, and that can feel really uncomfortable and it's, nobody wants to be uncomfortable, but it's so powerful if you stay in that place and help them work towards their own solution  and guide them. It's very empowering for them, and it really helps increase that confidence, if you can help them get there on their own with the right amount of supports versus just jumping in and fixing everything, which is the easier faster thing to do. So it's hard to, and it's something that we're all working on and learning and it comes with practice. 

Summer McMurry: Yes, being less directive when you're in a role as a leader is definitely a shift. It's a coaching mentality versus a directing mentality and that is certainly, a part of mentoring, that is, is a shift that we all have to make there so that we can build capacity in those that we are helping through the process. So okay, the last two questions I have.  What does success look like, for you guys in the mentoring. 

Summer McMurry: Taylor do you need to go. Thank you so much for joining, I really appreciate you being here. 

Taylor Evans: Yeah you're welcome.

 Summer McMurry: Look like what does success look like and mentoring. At the end of the day, how do you feel when you feel like, yeah, I've done my job with this mentoring? What does that look like? 

Cindy Carroll: Independence, I think I see a lot of independence at that point and feeling comfortable and enjoying their job and it's kind of the way I feel when they are independent and know what they need to work, the job, the best I can.  

Philip Pearce: Yeah I mean, I think, a real life literal practical kind of definition is sort of an empty meeting, you know, we mentioned those meetings, and when you run out of things to talk about really quickly. That you know it's success as long as you've, you know, done the job well to that point. Which is when you're feeling more independent, you don't have as many concerns, and you can take care of things yourself. So, you don't really need to spend a whole hour, you know filling up time.  

Courtney Carriveau: But, also, that success doesn't mean that there aren't any bumps in the road because they're always going to be challenges and difficulties that come up with this work, and so success would be that that the mentee is able to navigate those without being too frazzled, but also knowing that those are going to come up and just having the skills to work through it and to not be too hard on themselves because we're all still learning in this and no matter how many years experience you have they're going to be challenges that come up so it's not that we expect a perfectly smooth road that we know those bumps are going to come up, but that they have the foundational skills to manage them. 

Cindy Carroll: And we want them to love their job. I think that's important. 

Philip Pearce: Yeah and I think it also looks like, when you know, when you see them sort of passing that on, and feeling confident enough to  help out somebody else. 

Summer McMurry: So what is your biggest hope for your mentee from when you start the journey with them, what is your biggest hope, in the end for them? 

Philip Pearce: I think, that they're that their needs are met.  You know, that their, we respect them enough to to allow for their autonomy, and like we said, not to be inflexible and not to deliver information just the way we want, or you know, just the way that works for us, but for it to work for that. 

Cindy Carroll: Yeah I think that's what I said just a minute ago. That they they feel independent, they feel like they have the tools they need to move forward, and they feel like they're part of our family here. 

Courtney Carriveau: I will hope that they feel supported and that they can learn those skills and have all of their basic needs met so that they can really have a nice foundation to sort of push off from and really dive into the work that they're going to do. 

Summer McMurry: Yeah absolutely. We want to create resilience within those folks so that they're able to do this for the long haul, and they really get that good foundation to begin with so that they can be here for a long time, helping kids and families. So that's really the ultimate goal there. Okay, well, thank you guys so much for sharing, I appreciate you all being here today and I really appreciate you all being mentors. We can't do this without you guys and I know that the people that you are mentoring really feel that support from you. So thank you for that. We can't provide that layer of support without you. and for those of you who have listened today, thank you for listening!