Return to work (RTW) coordinators are a key element in programs that facilitate RTW of injured or ill workers, yet little research documents the essential competencies for success in this role.
Dr. Glenn Pransky and his research team defined competencies as knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors. They conducted a series of focus groups, followed by a survey, to identify the skills, knowledge and behaviors that experienced RTW coordinators identified as key to success in their job, regardless of particular disability management situation or country.
Of the initial 234 competencies identified, 84 were rated as highly important or essential. The highest-rated items reflect general personal characteristics, or specific skills related to coordinating those involved with the RTW process, and sorted into eight groups: administration, individual personal attributes, information gathering, communication, professional credibility, evaluation, problem-solving, and conflict management. Certain key competencies may be inherent personality attributes, but others may be best developed through mentorship, and evaluated by direct observation.
- Understand the process of identifying key RTW coordinator competencies
- Identify eight major categories of essential competencies for this role
- Identify the ways that experienced RTW coordinators acquired and maintain these competencies
Glenn Pransky, MD, M.Occ. Health
Director, Center for Disability Research, Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety
Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Instructor, Harvard School of Public Health
Dr. Pransky has directed the Center for Disability Research at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety since 1999. His research group conducts scientific investigations on disability prevention strategies, enhancing recovery in musculoskeletal disorders, work disability in older workers, and methods to achieve safe and sustained return to work. He is an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and a Visiting Lecturer at the Harvard School of Public Health and the University of Massachusetts/Lowell. Prior to joining Liberty Mutual, he directed the Occupational and Environmental Health Program at the University of Massachusetts, overseeing research activities and training in occupational health. In 1995, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, Washington, DC, focusing on health services research. He has produced more than 120 peer-reviewed scientific publications and book chapters, and frequently presents at international scientific conferences.
Dr. Pransky received his M.D. from Tufts School of Medicine, and a MS in occupational health from the Harvard School of Public Health, and is board-certified in occupational medicine and internal medicine. He is an active member of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the National Academy of Social Insurance, and is Chairman of the Work Disability Prevention Scientific Committee of the International Commission on Occupational Health. He received the NIOSH Innovative Research Award in 2008, the American College of Occupational Medicine’s Keogh Award for Academic Excellence in 2009, and Royal Society of Medicine’s Osler Medal in 2011, and the ACOEM Health Excellence Award in 2015. He is a senior editor for the Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation.