Meet Shelby, a Program Director with NeuroRestorative (a part of Sevita)

Shaun, Delegating Nurse

Building impactful relationships, that's living.

"My role gives me the opportunity to work with our interdisciplinary team—
nursing, PT, OT, speech, and our Medical Director. I love that sense of “team”, and every day I’m learning something new from one of the other clinicians."

How did you get started in this field? Can you share a bit about your career journey? 
I was an undergrad psych and a pre-med student and was looking for something to get my foot in the door in healthcare. I heard about this opportunity for a caregiver in brain injury rehab, and thought that it would be the perfect combination of behavior, healthcare and psychology.

My first chapter here at NeuroRestorative (a part of Sevita) was about 5 years long. I started out in direct care as a “Life Skills Trainer”, which is the name we use for direct care staff, and was eventually promoted to a “Lead”; then I took a role as a Case Manager Assistant; was promoted to Day Program Coordinator and then Day Program Supervisor. I left for a few years to take an opportunity with another brain injury provider in the area, earned my Master’s degree and became a licensed Behavior Analyst.  

So when the Behavior Analyst position here became available, I was so excited to come back to where it all started for me. Providing behavior services for NeuroRestorative Maryland and Virigina was a really fulfilling role. Now sitting int the Program Director's seat, I know some of the direct care staff we're hiring today are probably following a similar path, and that's really rewarding. 

What brought you back to Sevita?
Sevita is a large organization with lots of opportunity to grow. I’m always looking to develop myself and learn.  When I first returned to NeuroRestorative to take on the Behavior Analyst role, I was linked up with a Director, Bennie, in Florida who is also a Behavior Analyst like me. I went to Florida initially to spend some time with their teams, and tour behavior programs, which was such a blessing because I could see for myself what the program should look like and bring that to Maryland.

Also, my role gives me the opportunity to work with our interdisciplinary team—nursing, PT, OT, speech, and our Medical Director. I love that sense of “team”, and every day I’m learning something new from one of the other clinicians. Being able to pick the brains of others who have expertise in a particular area ends up giving our participants the best possible experience.

What advice would you give your younger self, or someone just starting out in their career?
My advice to anyone, especially those who are shy or apprehensive is, “Walk up to the door.” Most people say “Jump right in”, but I say “Walk up to the door” because that was the first barrier that I had in my career.

I was barely 21 years old, and pulled up for my first interview and it was a residential house—that’s one of our NeuroRestorative homes. I thought “This is wrong. This isn’t an office. I don’t want to walk into the wrong person’s house.” I was outside by my car for about 15 minutes in sheer panic. I finally walked up to the door and called out ‘hello’ and I was in the right spot! It was one of our residential locations at the time. I walked in and the Director was there, she was so nice and made me feel at home. I knew it felt like the right fit. I got the job, which started my career.

"Just walk up to the door. Just do it. What’s the worst thing that can happen?"

What aspect of your role helps you look forward to coming to work every day?
Definitely the participants. If we can create some sort of positive change or have a positive impact each day, that’s why we’re here. Not everything we do is a win, but it’s those small wins that keep me coming back every day. Someone smiling for the first time in a few days or a family member thanking you for being persistent with another provider. In rehab, it’s seeing people improve in little ways, we see it and we thrive off of that. Maybe when they first came to us they couldn’t do their laundry. But now they can sort it by colors and tell you which drawers things go in. Seeing progression after a brain injury is really rewarding.

We have one gentleman right now who was a Captain in the Navy for 30 years. He’s in hospice with us, and we have an honors ceremony for him tomorrow where his loved ones are flying in. Reading peoples’ files and knowing their back stories is always very humbling. Learning about the individuals we serve, their impressive careers and beautiful families. It definitely pulls on your heart strings to know that we are responsible now for their care. For this individual in hospice, we want to give him the best possible ending to his amazing life.

Fun Facts: My family is always on the water, swimming and boating. People jokingly call me “Little Mermaid” around here because my office is pretty much nautical. I love English bulldogs (have 2), and can sing every lyric in the song “Waterfalls”; my team gets a kick out of that one!