By Vickie Kennedy
For those of you who don’t know me, you’re probably asking yourself how “Missives from the Queen” have anything to do with workers’ compensation? While the catchy title may have gotten your attention (as hoped!), there really is more to it than that.
As history, when I was in my early teens, I learned that I share my birthday with Queen Victoria. Interestingly, the family story (perhaps a myth) is that my mother had no idea of this when she landed on the name. Either way, lucky for me that she prevailed in the naming…another story is that my father wanted to name me after a state…Oklahoma, I believe. The potential nicknames for that one are endless…but, as Bob Wilson would say, I digress…!
Over time, the nickname “Queen” started to stick, perhaps because I started my workers’ compensation journey at the age of 18 (Queen Victoria was crowned at 18). Or maybe because we share certain characteristics. The Queen has been described as “warm-hearted, lively, and occasionally a bit naughty”. I think at least one of those might describe me…
But the reference to “Queen” is more likely a polite reaction to the years I’ve committed to this industry. While referring to me as “Queen Victoria” started around the time I completed my 30th year, perhaps I finally earned the title when I achieved (survived?) more than 50 years of hard knocks, lessons learned, and a few successes in helping workers and employers achieve the best possible outcomes after an on-the-job injury or occupational disease. Having recently retired from my work in the Washington State system, my career goal now is to coach and advise others on ways to ensure the culture of their organization supports workers’ health and vocational recovery, hopefully exiting their system with the gold standard outcome: return to work.
I hope you read my missives with this perspective in mind: how can you use lessons and messages from my 50 years to better focus your work, your policies, and tasks on supporting workers to make the decision to return to work, employers to offer return to work, and medical providers to approve the return to work? And consider this quote from (the original) Queen Victoria: “We will not have failure – only success and new learning”!