SDSU Research Foundation

Return to Work Coordinator

Req No.
Full-Time Contract
Dept/Proj Name
Interwork Institute


The Interwork Institute is currently interested in hiring two Return to Work Coordinators to work in the Sacramento area.  

The Interwork Institute is the research and policy arm of the San Diego State University (SDSU) Department of Administration, Rehabilitation and Postsecondary Education (ARPE).  The ARPE includes three academic degrees: Master of Arts in Education with a concentration in Postsecondary Education Leadership, the Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling and the Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Community College/Postsecondary Education Leadership. The Interwork Institute administers approximately 50 federal grants, state contracts, and other contracts from a wide range of resources. These grants and contracts cover a diverse range of topics, i.e., master’ degree in rehabilitation counseling and in postsecondary education leadership, certificate in rehabilitation administration, capacity building, assistive technology, transition and supported employment, technical assistance and continuing education, statewide needs assessment, workforce education, and community college teaching. The Interwork Institute includes six centers. There is a combination of funding through grants and contracts with the SDSU Research Foundation and the University.

The RETAIN Demonstration Projects are a collaborative effort led by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) in partnership with DOL's Employment and Training Administration (ETA) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).  RETAIN—Retaining Employment and Talent after Injury/Illness Network—projects will test the impact of early intervention strategies that improve stay-at-work/return-to-work (SAW/RTW) outcomes of individuals who experience a work-related disability while employed. Work disability is defined as an injury, illness, or medical condition that has the potential to inhibit or prevent continued employment or labor force participation.

California is one of eight states that successfully competed for RETAIN funding.  Other selected states include Washington, Ohio, Vermont, Kentucky, Kansas, Connecticut, and Minnesota. Within California, the project is led by the California Employment Development Department (EDD).  The Interwork Institute is working in collaboration with the EDD, the San Diego Workforce Partnership and the Sacramento Employment and Training Administration to develop and operate the project.  The project director, public health and training leads, some field staffing as well as other key leadership are located within the Interwork Institute.


Return-to-Work Coordinators (RtW) directly assist workers, employers, and health care providers to coordinate return-to-work and stay-at-work activities for a participating worker with a temporary or permanent disability caused by illness, injury, or medical condition that has the potential to inhibit or prevent continued employment or labor force participation. RtW Coordinators provide case management, track participating worker’s progress towards RtW goals, and coordinate health and employment service delivery.   Coordinators will facilitate the RTW process through frequent contacts with participating workers, employers, health care providers, and other stakeholders related to Worker’s Compensation and State Disability Insurance; identification of barriers to returning to work; and accessing resources to resolve these barriers. The RtW services provided directly by the Coordinator and/or through related programs can include functional assessments; referrals to existing training and employment services; helping workers, employers and health care providers set appropriate RtW expectations; and benefits planning.  The RtW Coordinator also provides services targeted to employers including training about stay-at-work strategies; working with employers on job-task, workplace modifications, or other accommodations to support ongoing employment of their workers; and facilitating conversation between workers, employers and health care providers.   


The duties for the Return to Work Coordinator include:

Case Management—60%

  • Provide appropriate case management to participating workers based on their situation and the level of need including consulting with the injured worker and his/her manager or supervisor as well as the worker’s treating health practitioner (subject to the consent of the worker).
  • Assist workers participating in California RETAIN, where safe and practical, to stay-at-work while they recover or return to work as soon as possible if they require time away.
  • As needed, collect, analyze, and interpret medical, psychological, educational, social, rehabilitation technology and employment information regarding worker participants.
  • Facilitate the worker, employer and health care provider to develop a viable activity plan which communicates the worker’s ability to participate in work activities, activity restrictions and treatment plans that may affect work.
  • If needed, develop training and/or placement plans focused on achieving gainful employment outcomes.
  • Promote and coordinate services of other workforce and health care agencies to assist a participating worker return to work or stay at work.
  • Monitor the progress of an injured worker’s recovery and potential to return to work.
  • Help the worker and employer to consider how to take steps to prevent a recurrence or aggravation of an injury.
  • Help workers and employers resolve return-to-work related issues.
  • Maintain a process of informed choice.

Employer Training—10%

  • Help employers to understand the importance of staying-at-work or returning-to-work for the worker, employer, and society and also as a best practice.
  • Serve as a resource to local businesses and employers to understand return-to-work and disability services that are available through the California Workforce System.
  • Keep employers in Sacramento and San Diego informed about California RETAIN.
  • Help advise and support Local Stakeholder teams.

California RETAIN Team Member Responsibilities – 25%

  • Participate in weekly team calls and contribute to continuous quality improvement of the project. 
  • Understand California RETAIN selection criteria and help insure the eligibility of all participants.
  • Maintain timely and accurate case notes in the CalJOBS data system.
  • Assist the project to maintain fidelity to the evaluation model in obtaining informed consent and random selection into the research study.
  • Link to special projects as needed.

Other Duties and Responsibilities as Assigned - 5%


Location of Position and Travel Requirements

  • The position will be based within an America’s Job Center in California—either in San Diego or in Sacramento. The intention of the project is to collocate two SDSU/Interwork RtW Coordinators in San Diego and two SDSU/Interwork RtW Coordinators in Sacramento.     
  • Position will require travel to training sites and to project meetings. During Phase 1, the Sacramento RtW Coordinators will need to travel to San Diego for a three day training.

Knowledge and Experience

  • Knowledge about how the California Workforce Development System operates.
  • Knowledge about best practices in rehabilitation counseling.
  • Experience in counseling about employment and training.
  • Experience working directly with health care providers is desired. Position requires frequent interaction with health care providers and the ability to translate health care provider interests and needs with the workforce team providing services.

Special Skills

  • Ability to assist a participating worker and her/his employer to balance the needs of individuals with the needs of the workplace.
  • Ability to work with people in distress, as well as with busy supervisors who are juggling production matters.
  • Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing.
  • Ability to promote teamwork within the project and externally by positive, cooperative attitude and willingness to take on additional duties as directed.
  • Ability to apply a theoretical knowledge base to develop recommendations and conclusions.
  • Ability to prepare clear and concise case notes.
  • Ability to analyze situations accurately and to adopt an effective course of action.
  • Ability to display strong interpersonal skills interacting in a professional manner with employers and supervisors.  
  • Ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing to work with staff from the Interwork Institute, the San Diego Workforce Partnership, the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency and the California Employment Development Department (EDD).


  • A Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling is required.
  • Candidates who have substantially met the degree requirements for a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling will be considered with the expectation of timely completion of their degree.


  • Six years of experience, two years of which were in a position with high level of responsibility and requiring specialized skills.

A background check (including a criminal records check) must be completed satisfactorily before any candidate can be offered a position with SDSU Research Foundation


San Diego State University Research Foundation is an EEO/AA/Disability/Vets Employer


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