Young professional living with disabilities thrives in an inclusive culture
An interview with Senior Engineer Matt Parker
Q: Tell us about your role at Baxter.
Matt: I work as a senior quality engineer for electromechanical devices used in Clinical Nutrition, including the EXACTAMIX compounder automated pumping system and Q-NRG+ portable metabolic monitor.
Q: What brought you to Baxter?
Matt: For as long as I can remember I have been set on a career in the medical field. I decided to major in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Iowa — to blend my interests of math and science with my passion for helping others — and joined Baxter in August 2017, shortly after graduation. With its wide range of products spanning multiple medical specialties and vital mission to Save and Sustain Lives, Baxter was a great fit for me.
Q: I understand that you live with physical disabilities. Can you share how they affect you daily?
Matt: For the past 12 years, I’ve lived with a rare autoinflammatory condition called Still's Disease. As a result, I no longer have any range of motion in my wrists or cervical spine, which puts the surrounding joints and muscles under greater stress, causing chronic pain in my neck and lower back. Over the years, I’ve learned how to adapt to my physical disabilities. For example, during the workday I need to take occasional breaks and avoid sitting for long periods of time.
Q: How have your colleagues at Baxter supported you?
Matt: My managers and co-workers have been incredibly supportive of me and my needs. Whether it’s obtaining accommodations for my workstation, finding a more comfortable chair for me in the lab, or flexing my schedule around medical appointments, my Baxter colleagues are always there to help. Because I’m immunocompromised and at high risk of becoming severely ill from any viral or bacterial infection, I’ve really appreciated being able to work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. With Baxter continuing with a hybrid approach where we combine working from home with days at the office, our flexible work culture is going to allow me to continue doing my best work.
Q: Baxter was recently named a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion. What are your impressions of the company's work in this area?
Matt: I think we excel at creating a culture of inclusion among all our employees, which is why I’ve always felt comfortable sharing my story and asking for accommodations for my disabilities. I’m also proud of the work we’ve done with the Baxter EnAbles Business Resource Group, which is a community that serves employees affected by disabilities whether personally, through a loved one, or an ally.
Q: Tell us more about your involvement with Baxter EnAbles.
Matt: I joined the group shortly after I started at Baxter, and have been involved in fundraisers, awareness campaigns and recruitment. Most recently, I became the co-lead of our Workforce Strategy initiative, which works to increase membership, promote career development and mentoring programs, and expand Baxter’s existing efforts to recruit and retain top talent with disabilities.
Q: What would you like other people with disabilities to know about working at Baxter?
Matt: That Baxter really goes to great lengths to help employees with disabilities succeed. I had some anxiety about entering the workforce as a person with a disability, but everyone on the Baxter team has made sure all the resources I need are available to me.