Health Professions

Meet OT department’s two newest faculty members

Associate Professor Chinyu Wu and Assistant Professor Angela Benfield
Associate Professor Chinyu Wu and Assistant Professor Angela Benfield

 

The Department of Occupational Therapy recently welcomed two new faculty members.

Associate Professor Chinyu Wu, PhD, OTR, and Assistant Professor Angela Benfield, PhD, OTR, joined the department in August. Each brings research interests that will add to the department, said Department of Occupational Therapy Chair and Professor Bridgette Piernik-Yoder, PhD, OTR, FAOTA.

“They are both experienced occupational therapy faculty whose practice, teaching and research expertise will enhance the existing the strengths of the department,” Piernik-Yoder said. “We are very excited about Dr. Benfield’s expertise in measurement and research in clinical reasoning, and Dr. Wu’s commitment to research improving community-based services for people with severe mental illness will be an asset to the university and the community. We are very fortunate they both chose to continue their careers with us at UT Health San Antonio.” 

Benfield, who has 23 years of clinical experience in pediatrics, most recently served on the faculty in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse. She is interested in outcomes measurement and the development of expertise. Benfield previously developed a professional development tool that is being used in a clinical trial study pilot with the University of Pittsburgh.

“I believe that our classes need to support our students in developing the habits of mind to be self-directed adult learners, to help them gather those habits of being curious and being an active learner and integrating some of their own knowledge,” Benfield said.

Wu most recently was on the faculty of the Department of Occupational Therapy at Winston-Salem State University. “My area is  the adult population and mostly serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorders,” she said. “I also taught research courses in evidence-based practice in OT.”

Wu was drawn to UT Health San Antonio by the research opportunities and the support of department and school leadership for research development. Wu said her mission includes preparing the OT workforce to serve people with mental illness.

“OT is the biggest-kept secret in behavioral health,” Wu said. “OTs are specialists in activity-based interventions. Activities can be a means to promote health, to help with recovery or to help clients regain employment or spend their time in a meaningful, productive way.”

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