How Student Strengths Can Help Close the Autism Employment Gap

Twelve years ago, Stephen Shore was visiting Urakawa, a small town in Japan, where he met the mother of a teenage boy with autism. The boy had limited verbal skills, and his mother was worried about what kind of work he might find as an adult.

Shore, an adjunct professor in NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy, asked her the same question he always asks parents of children with autism: What is it your child likes to do?

The mother said her son liked to spend time in the basement sticking his finger under the faucet and spraying water at high pressure. There could be a number of sensory reasons why the boy enjoyed this, Shore said, including the feeling of pressure on his thumb, the joy of watching water arc across the room, or the sound of water splashing against the wall.

“And that is a gift because it tells us, ‘OK, now we know what he’s interested in: spraying water at high pressure,’” he said. “So that means considering jobs that might involve spraying water at high pressure.”

Focusing on a young person’s interests as a clue to career happiness seems like a given. When a girl shows an interest in animals, she might be encouraged to consider a future career in veterinary sciences. When a boy exhibits an interest in drawing, he may be invited to sign up for art classes. And yet, when children with autism show an interest in a subject, there can be a stigma – many times leading to their interest being labeled “restrictive” or “obsessive.”

“It’s important not to pathologize these strengths,” said Kristie Patten Koenig, an associate professor and department chair for NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy.

As an example, Koenig said her son, who does not have autism, used to talk a lot about baseball statistics and history, “but we don’t ascribe any weakness to that. We don’t say he’s obsessed or has a ‘restricted interest.’ But for kids who are on the autism spectrum, many people view it as more of a pathology or a deficit versus seeing the potential there, because of the depth of the interest.”

She said removing the pathology from these interests not only eliminates a negative stigma but allows members of the autism community to thrive in situations that capitalize on their strengths. They can be helped mentally and socially, but also occupationally.

Read the full article on our online program OT@NYU‘s blog.

Faculty Spotlight: Judy Grossman

Judy Grossman, DrPH, OTR, FAOTA, has worked in the Department of Occupational Therapy in a number of different roles, including special projects, grant writing, program development, and teaching. Her interest in interdisciplinary research and practice culminated in a multidepartment university grant that included graduate student internships and course work. In the following Q&A, Professor Grossman discusses her research specialties, the field of occupational therapy, and the OT@NYU program.

You’ve done a lot of research in the areas of early intervention and special education policy. How do you think these areas affect the clients whom clinicians serve?

I worked for a decade doing policy research for the New York State Education Department and the New York City Department of Education. This experience included principal investigator responsibilities for research proposals, advisory groups, and data collection that helped me understand the needs of families who have children in special education programs throughout the state. I understand both the macro-systems perspective and the micro-individual concerns of families.

You’ve worked extensively with at-risk populations. How do you think that has contributed to your personal and professional growth as a clinician and as a professor? What are the unique challenges or needs that these populations face?

I have always been interested in community-based prevention work, but I have expanded my activities outside the profession. Throughout my career, I have brought my OT knowledge and perspective to many positions in mental health, early intervention, and special education. At the same time, I remain committed to teaching OT students about emerging practice areas. My doctoral degree in public health and post-professional training as a family therapist have supported my professional interests, which I share as a professor.

Through your work with the Ackerman Institute for the Family External link , you support the growth and development of children and families and provide services for children with special needs. How has that shaped your outlook on that specific population, and what do you think it enables you to bring to the classroom to prepare OTs for advanced roles?

At Ackerman, I developed a team of professionals to provide services to families that have children with special needs. The services include clinical work, family therapy, group work, and interdisciplinary staff development workshops. This combination provides clinical evidence to share with students as well as issues of concern to all professionals working in the field. My team is interested in best practices in early intervention, special education, medical practice, and family support programs.

What do you think are the most prevalent challenges in the occupational therapy field today? How can clinicians address these?

The most prevalent challenges are developing evidence-based practices that are family-centered as well as an appreciation for our contribution to population health and community-based prevention services. I have long been a preventionist; thus, I have been able to track changes in the field and the emerging opportunities in health, education, and social systems. I think it’s important for OTs to widen their lens so they can think outside of the box about the unique and meaningful work we can do with at-risk populations.

From your viewpoint, how does OT@NYU prepare its students for advanced practice and leadership roles?

OT@NYU is in the unique position to promote student scholarship and refine the clinical and administrative skills that are necessary for leadership roles. Students can tailor the program to their area of interest and learn from some of the most qualified faculty in the field. My course – Promoting Family Resilience and Family-Centered Services – is offered as an elective, which speaks to the Department of Occupational Therapy’s intention to educate progressive thinkers who are well-grounded in theory, research, and practice.

 

Learn more about our new online program OT@NYU!

Faculty Spotlight: Patricia Gentile

We recently chatted with new faculty member Patricia Gentile (OTD, ’10), who is joining NYU full-time this year after being a longtime adjunct professor. Professor Gentile shares her background, class agenda, and hopes for the upcoming year at NYU Steinhardt.

Welcome to NYU! Can you tell us a little about your background and what brought you the university?

I was born and raised on the West Side of Manhattan and continue to live there. I obtained my degree in Occupational Therapy at SUNY Downstate. Shortly after starting my first job, I went back to school while working full time to complete my Master’s in Health Administration. I then completed the OT Clinical Doctorate Program at NYU Steinhardt in 2010.

My clinical background is in the area of acute adult physical disabilities and home health care. I have always worked in inner city hospitals serving diverse populations and held various managerial positions in these settings. For the last 10+ years I worked in administrative positions outside of OT, most recently as the Administrator of Surgery at a Level I Trauma Center. My OT background has helped me tremendously in these administrative positions and I would like to see more OT’s assume these types of roles.

I have always been committed to teaching and always made time in my schedule to do this. For as long as I can remember, I have taught as an adjunct OT faculty member, most notably at NYU. I especially enjoy sharing my practical experiences to help students understand the bigger health care system they will be working in, including how to navigate it and advocate for their clients and profession. It is this interest that now brings me to NYU full-time. I am excited to be here.

What classes have you taught in the past, and what are you teaching for the coming semesters? Do you have any particular research interests?

I have taught a variety of classes in my clinical practice area as well as administration and management courses. For a number of years I taught the OT Health Advocacy and Administration Course at NYU. This is my favorite class to teach because it allows me to share my administrative experience, which I believe is important to bring this content to life.  I will continue to teach this course now that I am full time. I will also be teaching in the online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program. This will be an interesting experience for me since I completed this program before it went to an online platform.

This upcoming fall I will be co-teaching New Student Seminar with Professor Poole and Theoretical Foundations with Professor Hinojosa. There are also plans for me to develop an OT Leadership Course.

Regarding research, two areas of interests I have are performance improvement related to management/supervision, and how social determinants impact health. While working in Trauma, I also became interested of the role of occupational therapy in traumatic injury prevention.

What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of teaching future OT’s?

For me, one of the biggest rewards is their enthusiasm for the profession and the fact that as new therapists they will be starting with a clean slate, and are open to new ideas about what practice can be like. 

Faculty Spotlight: Grace Kim

We sat down with new OT faculty member and alumna of the department PhD program here at NYU Steinhardt Grace Kim to learn more about her research and experiences in the classroom during her first year as a faculty member in the Department of Occupational Therapy.

How has your first year as faculty here at NYU Steinhardt gone?

I think really good so far, since it is something really new. It’s a long roller coaster, ups and downs, you slow down and speed up and don’t know whats around the corner. So far all of my experiences have been so positive.

What classes did you teach this year? Did anything stand out to you about them?

In the fall semester, I co-taught Clinical Neurology with Professor Karen Buckley, who is retiring this year. I also taught two Research Interpretations classes, which are more project-based. In that class, I supervised a small group of our entry level MS students, who complete a certain aspect of an ongoing project during the class. It is a nice, different approach to teaching. The class is more hands on and presents realistic scenarios students may encounter in clinical settings. The students are able to have an actual project at the end, which often manifests as a paper or poster at a future conference, so I really enjoy teaching this class.

In the spring, I co-taught Evidence Based Practice with fellow new faculty member Janet Njelesani. That class consists of post-professional OTD students who have their own perspectives and experiences in the field, so the classes end up having a rich dialogue, a different type of learning than the entry level MS students. Teaching both types of students has really helped acclimate me to the program.

What is your background, and what brought you to NYU Steinhardt?

I’m originally from California but have spent the past 15 years in New York. I completed my master’s degree in OT at Columbia University, and then worked clinically at various hospitals in the city.

Most recently, I was at Cornell Medical Center in a clinical research position. At that point, I wanted to do my PhD, and that’s how I ended up in the part-time post-professional PhD program in the OT department at NYU Steinhardt. Six years later as I was finishing up my dissertation I applied for the faculty opening here in the OT department. I’m so happy the timing worked out so well and that I ended up with the position.

Now that you are at NYU, are there any particular research topics you are focusing on?

My research interest historically has always been in neurological populations, specifically stroke and how damage to the brain manifests itself functionally in people in such different ways that you’d never imagine. Here at NYU I’m interested at this point in delving deeper into how we can integrate everyday technologies, specifically mobile wireless technologies, into community and home settings where patients are spending their time when not at a clinic.

I’d like to focus this research on how can we utilize mobile apps, such as motion sensor data (like fit bits) to be able to asses patients when they are in their natural environment, and provide feedback for them when they are moving around in the space, and also as a way to communicate with patients when they are not in therapy.

We don’t know what patients are able to do at home currently even though we give them recommendations. Technology has given us a lot of different opportunities to figure out how we can improve. Giving patients external structure through technology can help to remind patients and keep them motivated with relevant feedback, and empower them to participate in their own care and rehab.

What do you find is the most rewarding aspect of teaching future OT’s?

I think I like that it is still very new to me, so I am still learning as well along with my students. I like to know that you have to be present, everything is happening in real time in the classroom, you have to think on your feet, and sometimes it goes off in a different direction that surprises you. This reminds me that it is the same as treating patients, where the time can go in a various number of ways and you have to problem solve as things are happening, and you have to go with that, and remind students that you always have to think on your feet as an OT.

Tracy Chippendale Receives Stroll Safe Grant

Dr. Tracy Chippendale

Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy Tracy Chippendale recently received a grant from NY Community Trust to conduct a feasibility study for “Stroll Safe”, an outdoor fall prevention program that she developed. The 7-week program, designed for active community dwelling seniors, focuses on safe strategy use to prevent stumbles, trips, slips, and falls outdoors. The purpose of the study is to examine the feasibility of the program and data collection protocol to plan a multisite clinical trial.

The topics addressed in the once a week, 7-week outdoor falls prevention program, for which a treatment manual has been developed, are based on the results of a survey conducted of community dwelling older adults that identified gaps in knowledge and use of prevention strategies, and the related literature. The program includes pre-set modules, however, participants will be able to voice individual concerns and problem-solve solutions during group discussions, and will discuss topics such as self-advocacy regarding reporting problems to the city.

Participants will be asked to keep daily diaries of stumbles, trips, slips, and falls from the time they enroll in the study until two months following the completion of the program. Dr. Chippendale is currently conducting the study.

Faculty Achievements: Grants and Publications 2016-2017

A complete list of achievements by the faculty of the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy.

Grants and Awards:

Tracy Chippendale

“Stroll Safe”: An outdoor fall prevention program. Funder: NY Community Trust. Dates of project:February 2017-February 2018. Role: PI Total budget: $20,000

Janet Njelesani

2017: The landscape of child disability in Rwanda funded by UNICEF. $320,000.

Kristie Patten Koenig

Co-Principal Investigator: “A Comprehensive Program Evaluation of the ASD Nest Program: Student and School Community Impact” (Co-Principal Investigator Cheri Fanscelli, Ph.D.) FAR Fund. Funded for 1/1/17 to 12/31/17. $50,000.

Publications:

Tracy Chippendale

Chippendale, T. & Lee, C-D. (accepted).Characteristics and fall experiences of older adults with and without fear of falling outdoors. Aging & Mental Health.

Chippendale, T., Gentile, P. A. & James, M. K. (accepted). Characteristics and outcomes of falls among older adult trauma patients: Considerations for injury prevention programs. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal.

Yael Goverover

Engel, L., Chui, A., Goverover, Y., &  Dawson, D. (Accepted: 2/3/17). Optimizing activity and participation outcomes for people with self-awareness impairments related to acquired brain injury: An interventions systematic review. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation.

Jim Hinojosa

Hinojosa, J. (In Press). How society’s philosophy has shaped occupational therapy practice for the past 100 years. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy

Tsu-Hsin Howe

Howe, T.-H., Sheu, C.-F., & Hinojosa, J. Teaching Theory in occupational therapy using a cooperative learning: A mixed method study (Accepted). Journal of Allied Health.

Lee, T.-I., Howe, T.-H., Chen, H.-L., & Wang, T.-N. (2016). Predicting handwriting legibility in Taiwanese elementary school children. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 70, 7006220020. http://dx.doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.016865

Kristie Patten Koenig

Patten Koenig, K. & Hough, L. (published online first January, 2017). Characterization and utilization of preferred interests: A survey of adults on the autism spectrum. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health.

 

Occupational Therapy Offers New Autism-Focused Study Abroad Course

Associate Professor and Department Chair Kristie Koenig, will be offering a new graduate-level study abroad course in London this January. The course, Strength-Based Paradigm: A Focus on Autism, will examine the treatment of children and youth with autism spectrum disorder in a variety of settings. Participants will examine the efficacy of intervention through a strength-based lens and compare and contrast the theoretical basis of interventions in the U.S. and the U.K.

“The United Kingdom has been a leader in not only looking at what individuals with autism can do instead of what they cannot, but also is at the forefront in studying long term outcomes. For example, England’s National Health Service did the first study of autism prevalence in adults. This has lead to a more comprehensive understanding of autism as children grow up, which can be used to guide our understanding of strengths and challenges of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” Koenig explained. Participants will attend lectures at the NYU London academic center and conduct site visits to local institutions to examine service delivery systems. The course will also offer ample opportunity to engage local professionals and visit cultural sites throughout the city.

Visit Steinhardt Global Affairs for more information on this and other global experiences available to NYU students.

NYU at the 2017 AOTA Conference

 

The American Occupational Therapy Association held its Annual Conference & Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia, PA from March 30 to April 2, 2017.  This milestone event had record breaking attendance with over 14,000 attendees. The theme for this year’s conference focused on the History of the OT profession. The conference also had an extra celebratory tone this year with a special Centennial Bash and Centennial Ball for attendees.

For the third year, NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy had a booth in the Expo. Alumni and current students stopped by to say hello, reconnect with the department, and show their NYU OT pride by wearing our popular NYU OT Alumni, Supporter, and Students badges. We also had a number of student and faculty presenters.

The booth also provided an opportunity for prospective students to learn more about the post-professional MA, OTD, and PhD programs. We were also excited to promote our new online OTD program starting Fall 2017. Faculty members and staff were on hand to answers questions about the curriculum, admissions requirements, and our remuneration program.

We hope to see fellow alums next year at the 2018 AOTA conference in Salt Lake City!

See below for a complete list of department presentations and posters:

Faculty:

Kristie Patten Koenig, Associate Professor

State of the Science Symposium:
“Resilience: Occupational therapy and its role in helping to adapt to adversity”. AOTF State of the Science Symposium Speaker at the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference, Philadelphia, PA March 2017.

Presentation: Shifting to Strengths and Success: Authentic Partnerships Between OT and Autistic Self-Advocates. With Stephan Shore

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Yael Goverover, Associate Professor

Presentation: Assessing Functional Cognition: Its Importance in Occupational Therapy Research and Practice
Contributing Authors: Carolyn M. Baum, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA; Timothy J. Wolf, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA; Joan Toglia, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

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Grace Kim, Assistant Professor

Poster: The Effects of Attentional Focus on Upper Extremity Motor Training Using Robotics With Persons After Chronic Stroke
Contributing Author: Jim Hinojosa, PhD, OTR, FAOTA; Mitchell Batavia, PhD, PT; Ashwini Rao, EdD, OTR, FAOTA

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Tracy Chippendale, Assistant Professor and Patricia Gentile, Adjunct Professor

Poster: Indoor and Outdoor Falls Among Older Adult Trauma Patients: A Comparison of Patient Characteristics and Outcomes

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Janet Njelesani, Assistant Professor

Conversations That Matter: Doing, being, & becoming a tenured professor: Conversations for junior faculty on the tenure track.

Poster: Test Construction of the Occupational Repertoire Development Measure- Parent (ORDM-P)

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Sally Poole, Clinical Assistant Professor

Short Course: Evidence-Based Occupational Therapy Intervention for Patients With Distal Radius Fractures. With Debra T. Zizik

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Tsu-Hsin Howe, Associate Professor and Jim Hinojosa, Professor Emeritus

Poster: A Postmodern Approach to Clinical Reasoning in Occupational Therapy

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Students:

Chien-Ying Yang, PhD Candidate

Poster: Motor Performance of Children With Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Fourth to Sixth Grades: Differences Among Subtypes
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Yun Shi PhD Candidate and Tsu-Hsin Howe, Associate Professor

Poster: Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Behavior-Based Feeding Questionnaire (BBFQ) for Taiwanese Mothers of Preterm Infants

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Brocha Stern, PhD Candidate
Poster: Time To Learn: A Neurobehavioral Approach After Musculoskeletal Hand Injury

Poster: Older and Happier? Associations Among Age, Affective Symptomology, and Quality of Life in Multiple Sclerosis

Poster: Coaching in Hand therapy: Strategies for engagement and empowerment, with Mark Hardison

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Margaret Waskiewicz, OTD student with Steve Van Lew, Daniel Geller, and Liz Martori
Poster: Adult MTBI and Sensory processing

Poster: Determining the efficacy of OT treatment of postconcussive syndrome, with Elizabeth Martori

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Professional Program Recent graduates:

Catherine Stalter (MS Program), Elisabeth Bahr (MS Program), Norhora Guzman (MA Program), with Kristie Patten Koenig, Associate Professor

Poster: Afya: A Descriptive Study of Community-Based Long-Term Rehabilitation Project in Post-Earthquake Haiti

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Kristina Fusco (MS Program), Erin Devine (MS Program), Talia Zeitz (MS Program) with Kristie Patten Koenig, Associate Professor

Poster 4049 – Afya: The Impact of a Long-Term Rehabilitation Project on Pain and Function Outcomes in Post-Earthquake Haiti

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Marisa Davison (MS Program), Cara Flinter (MS Program), Nylah Lummer (MS Program), Katelyn Ryan (MS Program), Mallori Seliger (MS Program) with Grace Kim, Assistant Professor

Poster: The Use of Web-Based Resources To Facilitate Stroke Rehabilitation

 

Faculty Spotlight: Janet Njelesani

We sat down with new OT faculty member Dr. Janet Njelesani to learn more about her research and experiences in the classroom during her first year as a faculty member in the NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Occupational Therapy.

How is your first year at NYU going, and what classes do you teach in the department?

My first year here at NYU Steinhardt has gone really well. NYU is such a large institution with so many resources and such strong diversity.

I am currently teaching Foundations of OT, which is a course for first year OT students and is often their first introduction to what the profession of occupational therapy really is. I also teach Evidence-Based Practice, which is a course for post-professional students in the OTD program, who are all currently practicing clinicians. Both courses draw on my research experiences and expertise in the study of occupation, so they are a pleasure to teach.

What is your background, and what brought you to NYU Steinhardt?

I completed my PhD at the University of Toronto in 2012 in a collaborative program of Rehab Science and Global Health. I had this interest as a practicing OT and a researcher in the intersection of how occupational therapy can work within a global health context. When I finished my PhD, I began to work internationally for UNICEF. What I did there was provide technical guidance to governments particularly in low and middle-income countries to help strengthen their national disability policies, national disability plans, and disability data collection.

While working at the policy level for a couple of years, I noticed that there was a gap in research, particularly about children with disabilities, so I wanted to return to academia to explore those areas.

Could you talk a little about where your research is focused, what sparked your interest in the topic, and what you are working on now?

My body of research broadly aims to enhance equity for children with disabilities in low and middle-income countries. I am especially interested in research on child protection violations against children with disabilities attending schools, and use critical qualitative methodologies to guide my work.

I am currently working on a project funded entitled “The Landscape of Child Disability in Rwanda”. The overall goal of the project is to improve the monitoring of the rights of children with disabilities in Rwanda, building on the work of the Government of Rwanda  and the National Council of Persons with Disabilities.

I am also starting a pilot project in Zambia to begin to understand the experiences of school violence against children with disabilities in Lusaka, Zambia, and start generating an evidence base on why children with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence at school than their non-disabled peers. The findings will be used to inform education programs and policies in Zambia and provide evidence that school violence against this population must be a priority. Currently, no programs or policies exist in Zambia that specifically address these issues.

What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of teaching here at NYU?

The caliber of the students in this program is so high, and I have learned so much from them already from class discussions. I have also greatly enjoyed introducing my students to new avenues of OT that they didn’t know existed, and getting them excited about the broad scope and possibilities of the profession for them to explore.

Some students weren’t aware of the work OTs can do at the macro level, be it policy and working with governments like I have done to influence change for children with disabilities. OTs don’t just have to be in a one-on-one care or hospital setting to make a difference, but can also work in more consultative roles such as developing programs in countries that do not have occupational therapists for teachers that they can implement themselves to provide intervention to school children. I’m excited to open more doors for the students I work with here at NYU.

Inaugural Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award Winner Announced

Dr. Neil Harvison

In honor of Dr. Jim Hinojosa’s immense contributions to the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy and to the OT profession as a whole, we are honored to share the establishment of the Jim Hinojosa Alumni Award. This annual award seeks to recognize an outstanding NYU OT alumni who has made significant contributions to the profession.

We are pleased to announce the 2017 and inaugural award winner is Dr. Neil Harvison. Dr. Harvison is a two-time alumni of the department (M.A. 1988 and PhD 2005), and has contributed his life’s work to the OT profession. Dr. Harvison is a state licensed OT and is currently the Chief Officer for Academic and Scientific Affairs and Director of Accreditation and Academic Affairs at the American Association of Occupational Therapy. He has also previously worked as a Hospital Director at Mount Kisco Hospital Center, an Associate Director of Rehab Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, and Assistant Chief Occupational Therapist at Beth Israel Medical Center, amongst other positions as an OT.

We sat down with Dr. Harvison ahead of the AOTA convention, where he will be honored at the NYU OT alumni reception, to learn more about his life and work.

Please tell us a little bit about your background, and your path to becoming an OT.

I grew up in a working class neighborhood of Brisbane, Australia. I was one of five children and our dad worked as a gardener.  I had some exposure to health professions through my disabled sister, but I really knew little about occupational therapy before I started exploring university programs. I shadowed an OT for a day and was sold!

I was fortunate to get admitted into the very competitive bachelor of occupational therapy program at the University of Queensland. The program came with free tuition and my family’s financial status allowed me to get living and other school fees covered by a government stipend. I graduated from the program with my class in 1983, and I stayed an extra 12 months to complete the honors research program. I then practiced as an OT in pediatrics in Brisbane before coming to NYU in 1986 to complete the MA in OT.

How do you think your education at NYU prepared you for becoming a leader in the field?

While the content in the coursework was important it would have been the exposure to my mentors in the NYU OT department that made the big difference. Initially, I spent a lot of time with Anne Mosey and Betty Abreu who both taught in the graduate programs. They each had very distinct leadership styles, but they both taught me the importance of carefully analyzing and reflecting on the available data before making an independent decision. They gave their students permission to question the status quo, as long as you had the data and rationale to support your argument, and more importantly that change was not necessarily a bad thing.

Later in my tenure at NYU it was faculty including Debbie Labovitz , Mary Donahue, and Jim Hinojosa who guided my career development. I still apply the skills I learned at NYU in my daily work life.

You have worked to implement community-based integrative medicine programs and inpatient integrative medicine initiatives, why do you think these types of applications of OT philosophy are important in moving the field forward?

I did have the opportunity to work on developing a number of integrative medicine programs. I think one of  the reasons I was selected to lead these programs was closely tied to my background as an OT and our beliefs on the role of occupations in achieving health and wellness. As a profession one of our distinct strengths is our ability not to be tied to the disease focused model of health care, and our belief that health and wellness can be achieved through successful participation in occupations.

Why do you think continuing education for OT’s is so important?

A workforce of occupational therapy practitioners who maintain “currency” in practice is essential. The health care delivery system is changing rapidly and demanding quality services demonstrated through outcomes. The OT workforce must be delivering services that demonstrate the profession’s distinct contribution to the health and wellness of society. This can only be achieved if that work force is knowledgeable of the current interventions that achieve these outcomes.

What do you consider your most significant accomplishments in the field? What do you hope to accomplish in the future with your work at AOTA?

At this stage of my career I think it would be the strides we have made over the last 10 years in the quality of our education programs and our position within the higher education community.

Like most health care professions, the majority of our educators were trained to be practitioners and not to be faculty and teachers. We have worked a lot on faculty development and developing the quality of our program curriculums. Despite our relatively small numbers, we have achieved a prominent position within the community of health care profession educators and are recognized for the rigor and quality of our programs.

The focus of my work over the next 5-10 years will be on developing high-value continuing professional development.  As a profession we graduate entry-level practitioners prepared to be leaders in the health care. We now need to ensure that members of our workforce maintain the same level of competency throughout their careers.