School of Health Professions

Students celebrate OT Month and attend AOTA conference


By Kate Hunger 

Occupational therapy students tried something new this year to mark Occupational Therapy Month: a social media takeover to help educate others about their future profession during the month of April.

The takeover of the School’s Instagram and the Facebook page of the School’s Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) was designed to share information and raise awareness about occupational therapy, said students Victoria Alejandro and Allanah Gallagher, who are president and vice president of the School’s SOTA chapter, respectively. 

The education campaign addresses a challenge many occupational therapists face—the lack of understanding about the wide range of services occupational therapists provide, Gallagher said.

The hope was that students would share the “A-Z Photo Challenge” posts on the SOTA page, creating a domino effect to “educate people on what they can do,” Alejandro said.

Other OT Month activities included spirit week dress up days and a cake giveaway that required people to either share something they know or learn about the profession in order to get a slice. Students also participated in an occupational therapy fair at Methodist Children’s Hospital.

The takeover kicked off in time for the 2019 American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Annual Conference & Expo, held April 4-7 in New Orleans. 

“We had approximately 30 students attend—the largest student attendance we have had,” said  Bridgett Piernik-Yoder, Ph.D., OTR., Associate Professor and Department Chair.

Gallagher was one of the students who presented on topics including the use of 3D printing in occupational therapy and providing occupational therapy services to children with cerebral palsy, while Piernik-Yoder presented on scholarship on teaching and learning in occupational therapy and Autumn Clegg, MOT, Ed.D., Clinical Assistant Professor and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator presented on fieldwork education experiences.

Also at the conference, Timothy A. Reistetter, Ph.D., OTR, FAOTA, Associate Dean for Research was inducted into the American Occupational Therapy Foundation Academy of Research in Occupational Therapy, which recognizes those who have made distinguished contributions to the science of occupational therapy.

Attending a large conference gives students pride in their profession and a broader perspective, Piernik-Yoder said.

“They not only come back not only energized and passionate about their profession, but it also makes them appreciate that they are part of a global community of OTs,” she said.


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