BS '85, MA '94
As Michele Mills describes it, she decided to become an occupational therapist because "you have the opportunity to see how every component of a person's life influences their health." Mills received both a BS and MA from NYU's Occupational Therapy Program, the first degree in 1985 and the second in 1994. Today, she is an assistant professor at Long Island University, an OT consultant, direct care provider and a lecturer for Oxford Health Plans.
You've taught at Columbia University and SUNY Downstate and now Long Island University, but you also work as a clinician. Why is it important for you to do both?
Whenever I have free time I treat a patient, because I believe that maintaining roles as both clinician and educator helps me to think on administrative and theoretical levels simultaneously. I also believe that my being a clinician is good for the students I teach. They come to understand the practical aspects of being an occupational therapist. Being a teacher also allows me to maintain and expand on my knowledge of the profession, which, in turn benefits the clients that I treat. I'm able to offer better care to them because as an educator, I am constantly aware of developments and breakthroughs in my profession.
How does Oxford Health Plans make use of your services as a lecturer?
Oxford has a Health Promotions program designed for people who have chosen Oxford as their Medicare provider. To promote wellness, the company offers various lectures throughout the year to inform their clients of preventative steps they can take to retain their health. The goal of the lecture program is to educate their consumers as they learn to manage whatever condition they might have. For the last four years I've worked with Oxford lecturing on such topics as memory and how to communicate with your doctor. The Health Promotions program tries to be as innovative as possible in their outreach. Recently, I gave a lecture via teleconference to home bound Oxford members with lung conditions. It's very interesting work.
Why did you decide to study at NYU?
While I was at the High School of Music and Art, I pursued a summer internship at the New York University Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine. After the internship I realized I was interested in occupational therapy, so it seemed logical that when I was ready for college I would apply to NYU's Occupational Therapy program. I returned to NYU for my master's because Professor Jim Hinojosa, who is now the department chair, had received a grant from the New York State Department of Education to look at maternal and child health from an occupational therapy standpoint. Hinojosa's grant and the opportunity to further my education interested me. Although I had been teaching for a number of years at that point, I felt it was important to return to NYU to get my master's degree to enhance my teaching experiences.
It sounds like you enjoyed your time at NYU.
I was very happy with my education at NYU. I had a lot of support while at school, and I've maintained contact with a lot of people there, including faculty members such as Professor Hinojosa, whom I consider a mentor. Also, since receiving my masters, I've had the opportunity to work as an adjunct instructor in the Occupational Therapy Department. Over the course of my career, NYU has been very good to me.
Learn more about Steinhardt's Department of Occupational Therapy.