Katelynn Dornbusch, OTD, OTR/L is dedicated to her family and her work, in that order, and for that reason we’re doubly grateful that she carved aside fifteen minutes to chat about what she does at Assured Allies, and why she’s so passionate about working to make Successful Aging possible for current and future generations.
Why did you choose to join Assured Allies?
When Covid hit, I had to leave clinical care for health reasons, but still wanted to do the work I love, helping people live the life they want to live. Assured Allies seemed a perfect fit. Working initially as an Ally, or case manager in our AgeAssured program, I quickly fell in love with the company, the culture, and the mission to help older adults age successfully on their own terms.
What would you say is unique about what Assured Allies is doing, especially compared to other places you’ve worked in the same field?
Marrying research with the actual needs of people – and then putting it into practice – is a really, really hard thing to do. Our company believes we can do it. And that’s one of the attitudes I love here — everyone has this can-do attitude. We are improving older adults’ lives by infusing clinical practice with data. We are data-driven, but we are also sensitive to the fact that life is life and people are people and things don’t always crunch out into numbers.
What’s your role today?
I’m grateful that the company was quick to recognize the skills that I bring to the table and has given me opportunities to grow professionally. My official title is Senior Clinical Operations & Development Ally. It’s hard to describe what I do because it’s at the crossroads of several different worlds. The connecting thread is that I get to say, ok, here are our big ideas. Now how do we accomplish them from a clinical point of view?
I get to use all my skills in fun and intriguing ways. On the operations side, I help to define clinical protocols so that when our Allies are on the phone with members we can track what they are doing clinically and make sure we’re accomplishing our company’s goals. On the R&D side, I make sure that the tools we build and the data analysis we do is informed by clinical understanding. Last but not least, I help train the Allies to use the tools and also stay up to date on the processes and procedures of our program.
Can you give an example of how all it all comes together—the research, data, clinical expertise and hands-on intervention—for members in the program?
Sure. Members can opt to fill out a questionnaire that helps us identify what’s going on in their particular aging journey. We then run their answers against our data to understand what risks they have. Then we take the next step. For example, we’ll not only say you’re at risk for falling, but now let’s actually help you. Let’s get you enrolled in a fall prevention program. Let’s get you some educational materials. Let’s make sure your house is set up to reduce your risk for falling. So we’re actually taking what we know from the data and what we learn about a particular person’s situation and then doing something about it, which I think is pretty cool.
You’re an occupational therapist. What is that exactly?
Nobody really understands what occupational therapists do, maybe because we’re hard to pin down. We do everything from helping someone relearn how to go up and down the stairs, get in and out of the shower, or get their pants back on after some type of injury or disability. It’s not all physical either. Some occupational therapists work in schools to help students with learning disabilities. Others are involved in industries like construction to make sure that the jobs being tasked are ergonomically sustainable for workers.
Basically, we are trained to solve problems so humans can get things done. I love solving problems. The most rewarding part of my job at Assured Allies is solving problems with real life consequences for individuals who want to age successfully.
Speaking of successful aging, what does that mean to you?
Successful aging to me is when people get to live the life they desire as they age. My parents are younger, but my wife’s parents are in their sixties and seventies and we are starting to figure out how they can continue to do all the things that they love to do as they age. It’s the same thing that we’re doing at Assured Allies, making sure people have the resources, skills, and knowledge to age on their own terms.
In your career working with older adults, what has struck you the most on a personal level?
This is a little off script for me, as I tend to be a really optimistic person. But before my job at Assured Allies, I worked in an acute care inpatient setting with older adults who, on the whole, lacked the resources, education, and social support to continue to live happy and healthy, productive lives. It was incredibly daunting and challenging every day to walk in and feel like I was powerless to solve this really big problem that a lot of people in our world have. It still makes me tear up. It is such a big problem.
I guess it’s part of why I’m so passionate about my work at Assured Allies. We believe that we can solve this problem of successful aging for many people, on a large scale. It’s really exciting to get to work and to move the needle on that problem, every day.
What’s the company culture like, in your experience?
I love this company’s culture. I feel incredibly blessed and lucky to work for a company with a culture of transparency and honesty that starts from the top and filters down through everything we do. Also, the company has repeatedly shown that they value me not just as their employee, but also as a human. My greatest achievement in life is my family. They are my number one priority and Assured Allies has always recognized and values that. It’s easier to balance work and family when your company supports your priorities. It’s a really wonderful and beautiful thing.
What are you looking forward to when you are an older adult?
Ooh, this is a good one. I’d like to be able to share all the beautiful moments of my life with my family. I’ll want to teach all the young whipper snappers new things, what I’ve learned about life. My biggest goal in life now, to make the world a better place, won’t change. And so as I get older, I’ll probably try to pull on the generations behind me to continue to do the things that they think make this world a better place.
Want to work with Katelynn? We’re hiring!