Program helps Sandy Pulk return to work after devastating injury

August 18, 2015  //  FOUND IN: Announcements, Updates & Resources,

Sandy Pulk loves her job, but if it wasn’t for the University’s Return to Work program that helped her after a severe injury, everything could have turned out differently.

Sandy started at U-M as a senior surgical technologist in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, where she worked for nearly 15 years. Everything changed in 2012 when she was walking to her car one day after work and her knee gave out in the parking lot. She collapsed in pain.

“I went down and if it wasn’t for a coworker who helped me, I wouldn’t have made it to my car,” she says.

Sandy drove herself to the emergency room where she received devastating news. She needed to stop working immediately. Sandy eventually missed two years of work due to doctor’s appointments, physical therapy and recovery.

Things changed again for Sandy when she participated in U-M’s Return to Work program—this time for the better. The program helped her get transitional work in Radiology’s Customer Service Center. She worked there for three months before finding a regular position in the department as a patient services assistant. In her current role, she checks patients in for appointments, sends reminders, and helps with scheduling.

“I am very grateful things worked out the way they did,” she says. “I love this job and I love being back at work.”

The Return to Work program is a partnership between UMHS Human Resources, University Human Resources and WorkConnections. RTW helps staff get back to work after an injury by coordinating with departments to identify transitional assignments that can be done with medical restrictions. Transitional work lets employees gradually ease back into the workplace, both physically and mentally.

“The Return to Work staff were extremely helpful and encouraging,” says Sandy. “They were very understanding of everything I was going through.”

Program coordinators helped Sandy enroll in MiChart training classes and even connected her with resources for help with her resume and cover letter.

For faculty and staff facing a medical leave due to illness or injury, the university offers many services to help while they are away and trying to return to work safely. For information on these services, view last week’s University Record article or visit the RTW website: