It seems like forever ago that Nebraska Methodist College announced its two-year Master in Occupational Therapy program, the only degree of its kind in the region. So it was with no small amount of enthusiasm that we welcomed our first class to campus last week.
After two days of coursework, the pioneer class of NMC occupational-therapists-to-be took part in what will become a longstanding tradition at the college: a professionalism ceremony.
Professor Mary Turner, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, had the idea for this tradition. The event opened with Dr. Melissa Kimmerling, OT Program Director, speaking briefly about the field and the values that set Nebraska Methodist College apart.
Jon Wymer, Director of Spiritual Development at NMC, held a moment of silence for Cheyla Pettett, a student who was killed in a pedestrian collision just days before the semester was set to begin. The mural going up in the OT lab space will be dedicated to her memory.
Following the moment of silence, Jon spoke about his family’s own personal experience with Occupational Therapists and the OT profession as a whole. His deeply heartfelt message about the difference that OTs can make in the lives of their clients resonated with the entire class, and no doubt his story will stay with students for years to come as they distinguish themselves in their fields.
Students then lined up at the front of the room to receive their OT student pins. They recited a pledge that emphasizes their dedication to the profession and to the needs of their clients. Both the pins and the pledge itself were created by Professor Turner.
The pledge reads as follows:
Before Nebraska Methodist college faculty members, family, and friends, I hereby profess myself to care for those entrusted in me.
In doing so, I will be consistent with the expectations of the college and the profession of occupational therapy.
I will strive to embrace the learning process by achieving high academic excellence and by applying wisdom and understanding to enhance the profession’s body of knowledge.
I will render caring professional services to all persons regardless of their condition or disability while upholding the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics and Professional Standards.
I will hold sacred all of which I may learn from those I serve and will honor the dignity of all human beings.
I promise to provide holistic occupational therapy services with an open mind while respecting diversity and recognizing all humans as equals.
In keeping with the high ideals and moral standards of Nebraska Methodist College, I solemnly commit to the pursuit of life-long learning and to acting in a way that bestows pride upon myself, my college, and my chosen profession.
We hope these words will serve as a guide to students as they cross into their profession and continue to grow as healers as the decades progress.
Many Paths. One Destination
I spoke to multiple students at the ceremony to learn a little more about what brought them to Nebraska Methodist College. What became clear was that, while their journeys were different, they each shared compassion and a drive to make a difference.
Britany came all the way from Kentucky to attend NMC. It was her roommate that suggested our new Occupational Therapy Master's program.
“My roommate from undergrad moved to Nebraska last year to start the OTD program at Creighton, and she helped me with my application this year for OT. And she kind of helped me find this program. We looked more into it and I liked the program and its goals, and it’s a very small class, it should be more one on one. I like the hybrid aspect and the outreach programs are really good.”
Thus far, things seem to be going pretty well.
“I really like it. It seems like it’s going to be challenging but rewarding…definitely a change, but it’s nice.”
Another student, Melissa, hails from UNL and, while she didn’t have as far to go, she appreciates her time on campus thus far.
“I was really interested in staying in Nebraska, and Methodist has a really good reputation,” she said. “I really wanted to help people, and OT is a new and growing field.”
Joe, also from Nebraska, appreciated that his professors have been a big help in dealing with the rigor of the OT coursework.
“I know it’s only been a couple days,” he said, “but we were definitely inundated with a lot of information, just sorting everything out. It’s going great though. The professors are definitely motivating.”
The First First Semester Begins
While the OT Professionalism Ceremony may seem like the culmination of the hard work that went into making this program the best it could possibly be for students, it really marks the very beginning of the journey that will be made by our college and by each and every OT student.
Years from now, we hope they’ll look back on this as the moment that their lives changed and that they began to gain the ability to change lives. To provide therapy for others is a truly noble profession, and we can’t wait to watch these students graduate and lead rich and fulfilling careers.