How did you first hear about occupational therapy, and when did you know it was meant for you?
I first heard of OT when I was a junior in college at Indiana University. I had originally wanted to get my MSW (Master of Social Work), but I discovered OT in a google search. I decided to shadow a local occupational therapist who was working in pediatrics and I fell in LOVE! I knew immediately it was for me and have never looked back!
What type of settings have you worked in?
I have worked in the hospital, home health and skilled nursing facility settings. My first job was in a large hospital in NYC working on a Traumatic Brain Injury unit. I currently live in Washington, DC and work in the home health and skilled nursing facility settings.
I also recently received my Low Vision Rehabilitation Graduate Certificate from UAB (Mary Warren's program) which is such an AWESOME program. I use what I have learned from that program in EVERY setting!
What is Clinitote and what led you to design it?
Clinitote is my business that I recently launched in June of this year. I design high-end medical bags with multiple compartments to fit our most important clinical tools. We use a very high quality nylon that is extremely durable and washable, and each bag comes with two over-the-door hooks. If you are treating in a client's room, these hooks allow you to hang the bag over the door, some chairs and drawers.
When I came up with the idea for Clinitote, I was working at a large skilled nursing facility in Washington, DC. It was 5 floors, and I was constantly forgetting things in the gym which was located on the first floor. I knew I needed a bag to keep myself organized and productive throughout the day. The only problem is that there wasn't a bag on the market that was functional AND fashionable. So, I decided to make one myself. I sent out about 200 surveys to colleagues, school mates, and other healthcare friends and designed the bag based on their responses to those surveys. These bags are truly made FOR clinicians!
Did you face many challenges through the design/creative process?
YES! I am not a designer by training and did not consider myself a particularly creative person, so creating the first sketches proved challenging. Luckily, a friend of mine introduced me to a handbag designer who has helped me every step of the way. She helped me to put my design into a tech pack (the blueprint of how to make the bag for the manufacturer), introduced me to my manufacturer, and so much more! It took me three years to get my product to market, and I could not have done it without the help of my family and friends!
Describe what a typical day on the job looks like for you now that you have Clinitote.
It is very busy! I am still working full time as an OT, and I work on Clinitote when I get home in the evening and throughout the day commuting between home health.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in creating their own product or starting their own company?
My best advice is to do your research! Make sure you learn as much as you can about the industry you're entering into, target market, product development, etc.
Also, if money is your biggest reason for not pursuing your idea, please don't let that stop you! There are more avenues for financing these days, such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, equity crowdfunding, etc. However, borrowing from family and friends if possible is better than borrowing from the bank.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In my heart of hearts, I hope that Clinitote has become the #1 medical bag company in the US by that time. I hope to create more bags and more products for clinicians. This has been such a fun and crazy experience for me, and I only hope that it gets better.
What is your favorite thing about being an occupational therapist?
I love meeting and talking to people from all walks of life, especially the geriatric population. I love being part of someone's recovery story. Sometimes when I tell people that I work at a SNF (which most people call a "nursing home"), they tell me that it must be so sad and depressing. But I feel the opposite. I feel that I see more hope and happiness than I do sadness. As occupational therapists, we are with our clients during some of their most vulnerable and trying times and to be able to help people through those times is what is most special to me.
Quote to live by?
I know this is more of a poem than a quote, but it is my favorite:
To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I met Jayne at AOTA and was immediately drawn to her enthusiasm. Her energy is contagious and amongst the 300+ exhibitors at the conference, her booth demanded my attention. I consider Jayne to be an innovator, she found a problem and made it her mission to solve it. As a result of her perseverance, we have the AquaEve. The first urinal designed specifically for women.
After 28 years of experience in orthopedics and hospital care. Jayne became frustrated with the idea of the bedpan being the only viable option for a bedridden woman. Therefore, she set out to create the AquaEve. A urinal designed to fit the needs of the female anatomy without the mess or hassle caused by a bedpan. The moment Jayne explained her creation to me I thought to myself "duh!" why hasn't this been done before. It is something so simple, yet so functional. Turns out no one had taken the time to consider the challenges faced by women having to use a bedpan. It works yes, but does it lead to the best quality of life possible?
This is a question that OTs ask themselves on a daily basis. When dealing with individuals from all walks of life, one must ask what would be the best fit for them. Occupational therapists should not approach life with a one size fits all approach, rather I invite you to dare to innovate. After all, being an innovator is at the core of the occupational therapy profession. Find an obstacle, analyze the problem, solve it, and make life easier to be lived!
During the weeks following AOTA I have had the opportunity to chat with Jayne, and find out more about her creative process, her background, and what led her to design the AquaEve.
Tell us about your career path. What types of settings have you worked in?
I started out wherever I could get a job in the town I was in- a hospital. When we moved, I found a position at a Hand Therapy clinic. I worked and studied hard and became a CHT. When we moved back to Rochester, I took the OT clinic chief position at Genesee Hospital. When Genny closed, I opened my own Hand therapy clinic. Then the referral sources dried up just about the time I was thinking- I climbed to the height of clinic practice (in my mind at the time- CHT) , and the height of management... Now what could be more? I went to Strong Memorial Hospital and have been there for 9 years. What’s next was not answered until I committed to bringing AquaEve to women in need.
What led you to develop the AquaEve?
Thinking of what my professional life could mean. Kind of a professional mid-life crisis. Is this all there is? I keep saving one star fish at a time? Is this what my life is to be? These thoughts were in my head as I continued to walk into patient rooms. Women distressed over waiting for a bedpan, while a man in the very next room is content with a urinal at his side. The very problem I had which introduced me to therapy, still existed. The connections clicked. This is my problem to solve.
What is the AquaEve?
AquaEve is the result of 3 years of trial and error. Many trials, and many errors. AquaEve is a urinal very specially designed to work with bed bound women.
What was the design process like?
I first teamed with biomedical engineers. I thought I needed engineers to figure out the physics and mechanics. I then created my own mock ups, tried them out, re-adjusted and tried again. How long did it take? 3 years and still running. Did you ever feel like giving up? Sure, the time and money is WAY over what I planned. People would say “don’t tell anyone your ideas, they may take it “and I would respond, “fantastic, they can have it and get it to market, that would be a relief!” But really the answer is no. This is my legacy. I will not stop until women, as a routine standard of care have the option of a urinal. I truly believe even if someone took my idea, they would not have designed AquaEve. There are other female urinals on the market. No one else did a functional analysis like the OT in me did. No one else felt a deep knowing that this was meant to be, and just had to find the solution.
What is the first thing an inventor should consider?
It’s not easy. A flash of insight is the spark, yes. A very important start. But to get a roaring fire, there must be resources to burn, fresh oxygen and insights, and an attentive attendant making sure the resources are in their right place, in their right mix and not getting out of control.
What advice do you have for an occupational therapist who is thinking about developing their own product?
Reach out and find help. Your local university will have a technology transfer office that can guide you. Local incubators are a gold mine. Maker clubs are on the rise. Call me! The worst advice I got was to keep my idea a secret. Trust your OT methods. Then decide: Is this a product that has mass appeal? Do you want to invest your resources or license your idea to someone who can do the work and share the profit (which is a long way off)?
The AquaEve can be purchased on Amazon. For bulk orders contact Jayne @ email@example.com.
To learn more about the AquaEve make sure to visit http://www.evensol.biz
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