MA '86, PhD '98, Occupational Therapy
Gary Bedell has been studying and practicing occupational therapy for over twenty years. His undergraduate work in the subject earned him a BA from Tufts University in 1982. He followed this degree with a post professional master's degree in 1986 from NYU's Occupational Therapy Program. In 1998 he received his PhD from the same department, and in 2002 he completed a two-year, post-doctoral fellowship in Rehabilitation and Health Services Research at Boston University. For his research on pediatric rehabilitation, Bedell was recently awarded the Mary Switzer Distinguished Researcher Award, a one year fellowship granted by the National Institute of Disability Rehabilitation Research.
By the time you were accepted into NYU's Occupational Therapy doctoral program, you had acquired a lot of experience in the field, including work at New York institutions such as the Hospital for Joint Diseases and the East River Child Development Center. Why did you go for a doctorate? And why NYU?
I was happy doing clinical work, but I wanted more opportunities to be involved in leadership roles, especially in research. I also wanted to improve my research skills, and better structure my practical and professional knowledge. I believed NYU's Phd program and having a research doctorate would help me accomplish these goals. I chose NYU partly because I could do the PhD program part time, which was important to me as I wanted to continue working. I knew there were some really good teachers there, too, both in and out of the Occupational Therapy department. As it turns out, Professor Jim Hinojosa, who is now the department chair, was very helpful in providing me with support throughout my time at NYU, especially during my dissertation process. I also had the opportunity to coordinate the pediatric track in the post- professional masters program while at NYU, which I did for five years. Many of these experiences helped prepare me for the research I am doing today.
What are you currently researching?
The Switzer Award has afforded me a full year's salary to continue my research into pediatric rehabilitation outcomes. This means I look at children with brain injuries during and after they have been discharged from inpatient rehabilitation to see how well they are doing at home, in school, and in their community. I'm also part of a research team working on a three-year project that focuses on health management and work transition for people with HIV/AIDS. We have designed an intervention to help individuals manage their symptoms and coordinate their medication regimen with their daily life activities with a particular emphasis placed on their work activities. Both areas of research are related because in both cases I am examining the personal and environmental factors that may determine how and the extent to which individuals – whether they be children with brain injuries or adults with HIV/AIDS – participate in daily life activities. Ultimately, I hope the research findings can provide insights to clinicians who work with people with disabilities of any kind.
Other than your current research, what are your plans for the future?
I just accepted a faculty position at Tufts University which will start in the fall. I'm excited because it will be a tenure track position in their Occupational Therapy Department, and I will be able to continue my life of research and teach in my areas of interest. I am looking forward to being in an academic environment that values and encourages research, education, and service directed at improving the quality of life of individuals with and without disabilities.