Case study: career development | career development | Mercer University–Cecil B. Day Campus


Belynda is a 32-year old single African American woman who lives alone in a loft apartment in the Atlanta area. She lives about two hours away from her family, consisting of two brothers and her mother, who enjoy the quiet life in a rural town in Georgia. Her father is deceased. Belynda graduated from high school and completed a certification program as a Child Care Worker. From 2001 to 2013, she was employed as Nurse Assistant at City Hospital. Before that (i.e., 1996-2001), she worked as a Child Care Assistant. From 1994 to 1996, she served as a volunteer student helper with a Head Start program. Although she has a driver’s license, she prefers to use the MARTA system. She is an active member of the Freewill Pentecostal church serving as Church Clerk and a member of the choir.


Description of the presenting problem:

On September 13, 2013, Belynda sustained a low back injury while working as a Nurse Assistant. She was earning $16.91/hour at the time of her work injury. O*Net classifies a Nurse Assistant at the medium exertion level, occasionally requiring a person to lift/carry 20 to 50 pounds, and 10 to 25 pounds frequently. Belynda was required on occasion, when no one else was there to assist her, to lift patients 75-100 pounds or more. Belynda received physical therapy services augmented with a home exercise program designed to minimize pain and maximize activity tolerance. Belynda was then referred for a functional capacity evaluation that indicated that she does not qualify for all the critical exertion demands of full-time work as a Nurse Assistant. She was released to work part-time (4 hours/day) with light-duty restrictions. However, she was terminated since her employer was unable to offer permanent, gainful alternate or modified work within Belynda’s physical capacity. Dr. Martinez, her treating physician, recommended that she should be able to return to work at the sedentary level, requiring 15-minute break/rest periods every two hours. Work restrictions include lifting up to ten pounds, occasional stooping, squatting, crouching, limited climbing, mild exposure to extreme temperature or humidity changes and dust/fumes, and moderate exposure to unprotected heights/uneven surfaces.

A follow-up independent medical evaluation report by Dr. Tibbs indicated that Belynda is at maximum medical improvement, and she requires no further formal medical intervention. Her insurance adjuster then referred her for career services to assist her in finding comparable employment with little or no training requirements. Belynda participated in vocational exploration activities to identify potential jobs that were consistent with her residual functional capacity. Assessment tests included the O*Net Ability Profiler, the O*Net Work Values and Interest tests, and the Wide Range Achievement Test Version-3 (WRAT). The O*Net Ability Profiler showed average to above average skills in all areas tested, with the exception of verbal and spatial ability and finger dexterity. The WRAT showed post-high school level reading, high school level spelling, and math skills at the 7th-grade level.

Because of Belynda’s work values, interests, aptitude levels, and the current labor market, what types of jobs appear to be most readily available?

In which jobs might Belynda’s transferable skills be a better match?

How do you think the insurance adjuster’s training cost concerns impact the decision-making process?

What action would you take next?

Discuss the advantages of other career assessment tools you would have used with Belynda.

How might your viewpoints regarding role socialization affect your work in the decision-making process with Belynda?

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