Picture of Milt Johnson
Re: Advocacy for Vocational Evaluation: A Rant
by Milt Johnson - Wednesday, 30 September 2009, 10:11 AM

I feel compelled to weigh in on this topic. I am not an insider of the VR system and as such some may ask what qualifies me to do so. I feel qualified for three reasons; (1) as a student of a MRC program I hold some idealistic views, (2) as a consumer of VR services, and (3) working for a service provider that works closely with many VR offices throughout the western region.

As a student if I remember some history of the VR act, it was legislated in the early 1970’s (this will play into the discussion later). As a mandated program, I find myself asking what some of the difficulties in the start would have been. Too often a program designed by legislators lacks enough foundation to run effectively. Did the early counselor struggle because of a lack of training, lack of vision, or were there enough mavericks that did not want to be told what to do let alone how to do it? I purport that it was, in major part, the first two. Being a new profession there was a certain degree of trying to muddle through how to make the program work. I also suspect that having lived in the ‘70’s era there was enough rebellious attitudes that even if there was training some were not about to participate no matter what. This combined with the socio-political events of the Vietnam conflict, police action or whatever you want to call it created more than a lion’s share of problems. Compound this with the popularity of the program and the lack of appropriately trained professionals to help and the providers were reduced to technician level people. This would have created a stumbling block to the VE process as there were not sufficient numbers to do the evaluations.

I remember as a client in the VR process, I was never approached with even the option or possibility of VE. Granted my case was very simple, I needed hearing aids to maintain my employment and I was looking down the road a number of years to entering a MRC program. I was a slam dunk “26 closure”. I am sure that my counselors (my case was opened on two separate occasions) did not see the need to even pursue anything else as my needs were clear and precise.

Working for an agency that dovetails with VR I have not, until recently, heard talk of needing to do any kind of evaluations on VR clients. Many could have benefited from aptitude assessments to help predict the probable success in the client’s pursuits. I have also noticed a definite separation, if not, vehemence to a one-stop concept between DWS and VR agencies. Even more, so is a definite separation between VR and VE functions within the same agency.

Having said all of the above, I will move on to one of my own soapbox items. I have wondered in this profession as well as others how can the “deadwood” be ferreted out of the profession. By deadwood I mean those that do not care to do more than the bare minimum, whose only concern is to do just enough to avoid being called on an issue of ethics, or cannot see the good that can be done for the client when a more extensive effort than just getting him or her a job is needed and warranted. Those who do this seem to be creating the increased demand on caseloads.

In answer to all of these issues I feel that there are many possible answers. First, I agree with all of you that education is first and foremost. We must have a better trained professional body. These professionals must be able to perform the many varied functions of the job and perform them well. It must be remembered that the “Code of Ethics” states to do no harm and to act in the best interest of the client. Another part is that the standard of acceptable performance must be raised and those who cannot bring him or herself to comply should be encouraged to seek something else to pursue. There are many more issues that are possible options but I am not sure exactly what they are nor can pursue them here.

If we as newcomers to this profession want to turn around the negative reputation and perception of our new endeavor, we must look to a higher standard of performance and hold all members of the profession to it.