National occupational therapy conference held in San Antonio

Attendees of the American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference held in San Antonio in spring 2022.

By Kate Hunger

The American Occupational Therapy Association held its annual conference in San Antonio March 31–April 3, the first time the annual gathering has included an in-person option in three years.

“It was very special to welcome our occupational therapy friends and colleagues to San Antonio for the AOTA Inspire 2022 Annual Conference & Expo, especially because it was the first annual conference with an in-person component since 2019,” said Bridgett Piernik-Yoder, PhD, OTR, FAOTA, chair and associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy. “Because it was a hybrid conference, many attended online, but the excitement of seeing colleagues in person after the last two years was palpable.”

Dr. Piernik-Yoder spoke at the Academic Leadership Council on the achievements and impact of the AOTA Academic Special Interest Section. She also received an AOTA Service Commendation, and Assistant Professor Laura Novak, OTD, OTR, BCG, received the  AOTA Special Interest Section Quarterly Excellence in Writing Award. Dr. Novak, as a member of the local conference committee, facilitated volunteering by UT Health San Antonio occupational therapy students. That opportunity made it possible for students to support the profession and benefit from attending the conference and expo, Dr. Piernik-Yoder said.

Jennifer Sanchez, president of the OTD Class of 2022, was able to attend the conference through the support of the Dr. Karin Barnes Leadership Endowment award.

“My favorite event was the justice-based OT networking event in which practitioners and students collaborated to brainstorm ideas on how to continue advancing our profession in the criminal justice system,” she said. “Overall, the conference reminded me of all the amazing tools and expertise we possess to better equip and empower all individuals across the lifespan to participate in meaningful and purposeful occupations.”

Faculty and graduates and a current student of the Department of Occupational Therapy program presented at the conference, including:

—Assistant Professor Mei-Ling Lin, PhD, OTR: Overview of Pediatric Environmental Assessment 

—OTD graduates Janna Roberts, OTR, and Taylor Buchanan, OTR, and mentors Elizabeth Marsh, OTR, MS, MOT, and Associate Professor Ana Allegretti, PhD, OTR, ATP: Closing the Gap: Addressing Functional Life Skill Development for Adolescents with Disabilities 

—OTD graduate Victoria Ramirez, OTR, and mentors Associate Clinical Professor Autumn Clegg, EdD, OTR, Carlayne Jackson, MD, and Pamela Kittrell, MSN, RN, CCRC: Let’s Talk About Sexual Intimacy in Person’s with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Their Partners 

—OTD graduates Elizabeth Horne, OTR, and Aleera Barrera, OTR, third-year OTD student Lauryn Sweet with mentor Dr. Novak: Addressing Care Challenges and Behavior Associated with Dementia: Implementation of an Evidence-based Program during COVID-19 

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