Baltimore, MD, USA
Industry: Social Services
Field: Vocational Rehabilitation Services
Patricia L. Highcove is a vocational consultant with 26 years of experience in the field. Her firm, Highcove Consulting, provides vocational rehabilitation services, including resources, to disabled workers. Ms. Highcove, an independent consultant, ensures that individuals with disabilities, either from work-related injuries or a long-term impairment, return to work by providing them with appropriate counseling services. In addition, vocational expert services are provided for labor market information. She is charged with assessing her clients’ abilities and training them when necessary, such as when a job requires that they possess a skill set they didn’t previously have.
Early in her career, Ms. Highcove gained preliminary experience working with developmentally-disabled children. This motivated her to uncover different ways to help them become skilled workers. Throughout her career, she has learned to work in tandem with larger vocational rehabilitation companies while remaining an independent business entity. While many companies have latched onto or been absorbed by large insurance corporations (possibly compromising their ethical integrity), Ms. Highcove remains a step above the rest. “I’m independent and able to see the injured worker or disabled person as my client,” she says.
Ms. Highcove attributes her success to her passion for her profession. She continues to strive in the demanding field of return-to-work planning, helping her clients through the very difficult economic recession of 2009 – a time she feels has been very taxing on her business, which has been in existence for 13 years. She has to find different, creative ways to place them; she also has to be a lot more diligent and push people a lot harder to do different things. But at the end of the day, Ms. Highcove refuses to back down on seeing her clients succeed.
Ms. Highcove received a Master of Science in rehabilitation counseling in 1982 and a Bachelor of Science in rehabilitation services in 1981 from Syracuse University. She has been a certified case manager since 1990, a certified rehabilitation counselor since 1987 and a certified vocational evaluator since1983. She is a member of the Chesapeake Association of Rehabilitation Professionals and the International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals.
In her spare time, Ms. Highcove enjoys spending time with her children, reading, traveling and listening to music.
Conversation with Patricia Highcove, CRC, CVE, CCM, MS
Worldwide Publishing: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
Patricia Highcove: To see people who were out of work get back to work and get their lives back on track. In this economy, it’s tough. It’s about being a cheerleader and encouraging people to reinvent themselves. When a person becomes disabled, they have to learn to see themselves and the world of work through different eyes. I help them do this and find their place in it.
What would you like to promote most about yourself or your business?
I’m independent. In this industry, there are a lot of businesses that are attached and beholden to insurance companies.
On what topic(s) do you consider yourself to be an expert?
Job placement and return-to-work efforts.
How do you remain current in your profession?
I have several certifications and, as a requirement, I have to have continuing education. I also belong to several professional organizations.
What are your short-term and long-term career goals?
I just sent my daughter off to college. She’s the last of five. For the next eight years, I’m going to pay her tuition and whatever vet school she goes to. I don’t see myself changing my career in the next 10 years; I’ll be doing it for a while, and growing within my profession.
What is the most significant issue facing your profession today?
The insurance companies are taking on a lot more work in-house and doing a lot more ‘group rate’ kinds of tasks. It’s becoming a little bit harder to find work that isn’t attached to some sort of national plan. Everybody is being extremely cost-conscious and trying to get 28 things for the cost of 25 – this doesn’t always work so well with an independent.
What is the most difficult obstacle or challenge you have faced in pursuit of your goals?
The most difficult thing for me is marketing, because I do not enjoy this task. Being a one-person operation makes it hard. A lot of the larger companies have people that are just dedicated to marketing. Being independent, I have to market at the same time that I’m doing all of the work.
What advice can you offer fellow members who work in your industry?
Be true to your beliefs and your ethics; don’t give in to the pressure of attorneys, insurance companies and all that – it’s the hardest thing to do.
What are you passionate about?
Being true to my clients’ needs, first and foremost. I strive to always be an advocate for the best options and alternatives while providing a solid ethical foundation for my recommendations.
What makes you a valuable resource in your industry?
My length of time serving the disabled population has given me a wealth of knowledge and experience. Being an independent provider, I am able to use the tools I see as most useful to provide the best cost-effective and positive services possible.