Gannon University Recognizes Occupational Therapy Month Across Two Campuses
Posted: April 30, 2018
The occupational therapy programs on Gannon University's
campuses in Erie and Ruskin, Florida are collectively among the
University's largest in terms of enrollment. So, it's no surprise
that the observance of National Occupational Therapy month
throughout April has been a flurry of events, celebrations and
The third-year students in Gannon's Occupational Therapy
Doctorate (OTD) program at its Ruskin campus celebrated OT Month in
the most appropriate way-through service to their community.
Students and faculty developed a series of three, one-day events to
promote the field of occupational therapy through advocacy and
public education of federal and state legislative issues that
affect the field, its practitioners and clients.
The students and faculty developed the events as part of the
Professional Issues Seminar course, which focuses on healthcare
delivery systems; analysis of current social, political, cultural
and economic change; continuing professional development; and
contributions to the profession and society.
The one-day events were hosted at Hand Works Therapy, The Hand
Rehabilitation Center of Florida and on campus as well. At each
event, students spent the day educating clients on the role and
purpose of occupational therapy. They shared information about
different bills and laws that may be impacting the field in various
ways and walked clients and students through how to contact members
of Congress in relation to these issues.
"Occupational therapy is a healthcare profession with the goal
of helping people across their lifespan to participate in the
things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of
everyday activities," said OTD student Selena Hengy.
"Like many other healthcare professions, occupational therapy
continues to be impacted by many federal and state legislative
issues," she said. "As a part of OT Month, Ruskin, Florida OTD
students gave back to the profession by advocating for these issues
and making the public aware that they too can support and help make
a difference to the field of occupational therapy."
First-year students in the OTD program also gave back to the
community and spent valued time with residents of a local, memory
care facility, Inspired Living, where they socialized with
residents to encourage memory stimulation and
develop communication skills.
Additionally, Assistant Professor of the OTD program, Stephanie
Adams, DHSc, OTR/L, worked with the third-year OTD students in her
Advanced Interventions course and Fran Carlin-Rogers, a National
CarFit Instructor, to team up with the CarFit program to help
drivers at the Gulfport Senior Center.
The students assessed various drivers on
how their car fits them and provided recommendations as needed for
a driver to feel more confident during community mobility
access, and for a safer and more comfortable drive.
CarFit is an organization sponsored by the Department of
Transportation, AARP and the American Occupational Therapy
Association (AOTA), that is entirely run by volunteers and
holds multiple events in Florida and across the United States.
"The CarFit program is a wonderful benefit to help aging
drivers and can provide simple solutions during a brief
checklist to be sure that the driver is comfortable with their
vehicle," said Adams.
Near the Erie campus, students, faculty and alumni held several
events in honor of OT Month. Student and faculty members of the
Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA) held a purse
bingo event to raise funds for POTA's Political Action Committee
(PAC). While, student members of the Student Occupational Therapy
Association (SOTA) held a splint art making contest to bring
awareness to the creativity element of the OT profession.
The Gannon University chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon Honor Society
for Occupational Therapy (OT) students and alumni also hosted
Dining in the Dark, an event to increase awareness and promote
advocacy for individuals who experience low vision or no vision.
Through this event, a donation of over $400 was provided to The
Sight Center of Northwest PA.
"Occupational therapists advocate for disability awareness and
support this mission throughout our Erie community, as exemplified
by this event," said Bernadette Hattjar, Dr.OT, associate professor
of occupational therapy.
Students and faculty from both campuses came together at the end
of April to participate in the American Occupational Therapy
Association's (AOTA) 2018 Annual Conference & Expo in Salt Lake
City, Utah, which is the largest gathering of occupational therapy
practitioners and students in the world.
In support of the students, several members of both campuses
were in attendance, including Lindsay Church an instructor of the
Master's program in Erie.
"I am thankful that I had the opportunity to attend the AOTA
conference in Salt Lake City. I was able to not
only enjoy watching our MS OT students revel in the excitement
of their first conference, but I was also able to meet our Ruskin
OTD family," said Church.
"In accordance with Amy Lamb's presidential address and Vision
2025, I feel that our Gannon students are well supported to
embrace a growth mindset to prepare them to become quality OT
practitioners that foster innovation to drive change within the
profession," she said.
Students also gained valuable professional development,
networking and real-world experience while attending the
Ruskin campus OTD student Alexis Woodhouse presented her
adaptive equipment she designed to a panel of judges and showcased
the invention to the 10,000 occupational therapy practitioners and
students at the conference in Salt Lakes. Her design, which was
originally created as a class assignment, is an adaptive tool to
assist with cutting food easily and safely.
"My time at Gannon prepared me more than I can ever put into
words for this experience. I was not only prepared, but I had so
much support from my family, friends and my entire campus," said
"This opportunity taught me more about my creativity and
potential avenues for my career than any other experience thus
far," she said. "I had the opportunity to meet wonderful,
innovative minds and professionals that are paving the way for
occupational therapists everywhere."
To learn more about Gannon University's occupational
therapy programs, visit www.gannon.edu/OT