Once an OT, always an OT

(The following is a guest post by Mary Donohue, former faculty member and alumna of the Department of Occupational Therapy at NYU Steinhardt about life as an occupational therapist after retirement)

For almost twenty years I taught psychosocial courses at NYU in the professional master’s program and served on the doctoral proposal board for OT, PT and rehab. My career in occupational therapy began in my late thirties, but when I retired at almost 70, I had not ‘finished’ my OT pursuit of knowledge.

After I retired, I was ready to sit down and co-author a book about social participation with Marli Cole, and to write a manual for the Social Profile assessment tool. Writing the book was a dream come true. Previously, I had not had time to focus on writing and publishing extensive works, but I had always had an interest in the role sociability, social presence and socialization play in our lives.

Working with the Social Profile Assessment tool gave me the opportunity to develop presentations illustrating the measurement capacity of this calibrated instrument and I have spoken about this program in guest lectures and posters over the past seven years at different conferences.

Since my retirement I have also found the time to focus on volunteering for occupational therapy committees and boards that I like to support. I have been a co-chair of the metro MNYD Research Committee for 30 years where I am now working with Nancy Finklestein Klein as my co-chair, to present a Research Forum of local OT studies annually. We also coach occupational therapists that need guidance in putting together studies.

For me, being on the high seas is both challenging and relaxing at the same time. I love being on the water. I’ve been a member of New York Sailing Club since 1980. It’s a great social club. After I retired, I had time to serve as Commodore for two years and I often provided galley gourmet meals on board for boat owners and hospitality at my house after seal watches on the Bay near Jones Beach. Our club is a ‘mature,’ generous group of boat owners and crew who share life on board, and lending a hand as a sailor. They rank high on the Social Profile scale of service and sharing. They are like family to me.

What drives me to continue to work in occupational therapy is two-fold: the energy that occupation provides to people to enrich their lives and live a healthy life-style, as well as the opportunity to keep in touch with inspiring colleagues in the field. For future OTs I encourage them to find what motivates their children, clients and community to help them to fulfill their lives’ dreams.


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