Gannon University Professor Presents at International Conference

Posted: August 8, 2017

The joint congress of the Council of Occupational Therapists for European Countries and the European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education at the at the National University of Ireland was the first of its kind to unite organizations promoting practice and education at the same event.

Those two areas of the discipline come together neatly in the person of Dianna Lunsford, OTD, assistant professor of occupational therapy at Gannon University's Ruskin, Florida, campus who was a presenter at the conference last year.

Lunsford is an experienced hand at international conferences, having presented at the World Federation of Occupational Therapy conferences in Chile in 2010 and in Japan four years later.

"We have so much to learn from our international colleagues," she said of her conference experiences. "The first time I went, I was blown away about how much we weren't doing [in the discipline], and how advanced we are in other areas. I've learned so much at the conferences and brought what I've learned back to the classroom."

Somewhat unusually for a practitioner in the rehabilitative sciences, Lunsford also has a graduate degree in a second discipline: adult education. "That worked out really well for our OT students because ours is a service profession," Lunsford said. "We do for our patients."

After teaching at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, Lunsford and her husband decided to leave the cold and snow of the Midwest for Florida where Gannon University opened a campus in 2015. For Lunsford, it was a perfect fit.

"It was exciting to be associated with something brand-spanking new and teaching at the doctoral level, which I had not done before," she said. "We're a tight-knit group in Ruskin. The students have been kind and patient, and everyone has worked very well together."

Teaching at Gannon has brought Lunsford together with another internationally prominent occupational therapy educator and practitioner, Kristin Valdes, OTD, assistant professor of occupational therapy and fieldwork coordinator. Valdes, who was named president-elect of the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT earlier this year, is collaborating with Lunsford on a paper they hope to present at the 2108 World Federation of Occupational Therapy conference in Capetown, South Africa.