Marlie is a student with a learning disability, currently completing her final year in the Chiropody Program at The Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences in Toronto. Prior to that, she was enrolled in the Orthotic and Prosthetic Technician program at George Brown College in Toronto. She is working toward a career in sports injury rehabilitation, and has served in several job roles in the orthotics and sports instruction fields.
Controlling Your Own Destiny: Self-Employment in Healthcare
Marlie Cappel, Student
Marlie Cappel is a 24-year-old student in her final year of chiropody (the science of foot care). She always had difficulty in school, and she was eventually diagnosed with a learning disability. Her test results showed that she falls within the average range in intelligence, visual memory, fine motor skills, and expressive and receptive language skills, with strengths in perceptual and organizational abilities. Her weaknesses include distractibility, short attention span, weak memory, poor auditory analytic skills, over-focusing, and slow processing.
Work has always been very important to Cappel, because it improves her self-esteem. She noted that people with learning disabilities usually have extreme strengths and weaknesses, but that the key to success is to learn to use the strengths to advantage and to find a career that fits. In high school, Cappel made best use of her strengths, interests, and skills to choose her jobs, which were related mostly to working with disabled children and teaching swimming and skiing.
Cappel spoke of the difficulties she experienced in primary school and high school. Many of her experiences undermined her confidence and made her feel isolated. However, they also motivated her to work harder and to prove to everyone that she could succeed. She sought help from many tutors to assist with reading and comprehension. She also learned that repetition, frequent breaks, and being quizzed by friends were the most successful ways for her to study. Most importantly, she learned how to ask for help.
After Cappel had been in university for two weeks, both she and her parents saw that the academic environment was not a good fit. She transferred into a prosthetics and orthotics (O&P) technical program that was hands-on and visual and whose small class size and exceptional individual support matched her strengths. After working for a year in O&P, she learned about chiropody, a profession that would lead to a great hands-on future and the ability to help people. Moreover, Cappel’s background in O&P, with her knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics, would be great assets.
Chiropody is a good choice for students with learning disabilities who have strong interpersonal, verbal, and hands-on abilities, said Cappel. Jobs in hospitals and private clinics are available, and the option of running an independent business is also a possibility.
Now in her final year of a chiropody program, Cappel is seriously considering opening a business, something that she believes will provide a strong sense of personal achievement and independence. She is currently working as an intern and is developing practical, hands-on skills.
Cappel shared some ideas on job search strategies for people with a learning disability. You must work harder to get where you want to go, she said, but you also have the advantage of knowing your strengths and weaknesses. Persistence is very important. When applying for a job, it is vital to emphasize your strengths, your ability to work hard, and your passion for what you are doing.
Cappel advised students to avoid thinking that something that starts out tough will not be rewarding in the end. However, “make sure it is something that you enjoy.”
In closing, Cappel noted, “I have been shot down in the past and will probably be shot down in the future, but most important is that I have to continue to pursue my dreams to get where I want to go.”