It’s hard to believe that it’s been just eight months since we announced the formation of our Master in Occupational Therapy program, set to debut this coming August.
Since that announcement, we’ve experienced a number of exciting developments that I wanted to share with you today. The progress that’s been made in getting this program off the ground has been truly inspiring to witness and be a part of, and I can’t wait for our first class of students to see what we’ve put together.
Here are just a few of the biggest milestones and surprises that have happened over the last few months. Together, they ensure that our new OT program will be an incredible opportunity for aspiring Occupational Therapists in Nebraska and around the country.
One of the things that I’m most excited about is the lab spaces that will be ready for students this fall. I’ve been working like crazy to make these environments the best they can be, and I’m pleased to be able to share their evolution with you today.
We will have four environments meant to assist OT students with their studies through hands-on learning opportunities. The first is our primary lab (pictured above), which will use a variety of equipment, tools and surfaces to provide OTs with the basic and advanced skills they’ll need to help our clients experience a wider level of capability within their lives.
The next lab is our pediatrics lab (see below), which features play apparatuses and other materials geared exclusively toward younger clients. Our students will learn not just how to help facilitate the acquisition of developmental milestones, they’ll become highly versed in how to truly interact with kids on a level that demonstrates understanding and compassion, no matter the child’s age.
We’ve also been provided with a simulated living quarters within the Josie’s Village campus housing facility. This lab space has been outfitted with a number of tools that clients would use in their daily lives, giving our students the opportunity to seamlessly immerse themselves in their future work. These tools include a tub transfer bench, a wheelchair for accessibility training, reachers, dressing aids, toileting aids, safety steps, grab bars and more.
Finally, our OT program has been given oversight of the Community Garden located next to the NMC Campus. This space is the perfect venue for students to practice helping clients in outdoor locales, ensuring a higher quality of life for those persons by enabling them to successfully take up therapeutic hobbies like gardening.
Some of these labs are ready to go now, and others will be available by the time students arrive in the fall.
I’m also excited to announce a number of professional achievements that serve to underline our program’s ability to create the strongest OT professional possible.
I was recently elected to represent the state of Nebraska to the Representative Assembly of the American Occupational Therapy Association. This gives me the chance to advocate for the needs of Nebraskan OTs and their clients on a national stage. My position as the head of the Occupational Therapy department provides me with insights into the profession that I plan to utilize in my new role.
The Nebraska Occupational Therapy Association, an organization for which I served as the 2015 and 2016 Conference Chair and Secretary, also recently won awards for Best Annual Conference and Best Value Added Member Initiative. Truly inspiring things are happening within the Nebraska OT field, and I’m honored to be a part of this evolution.
I share this information not to boost myself up but to indicate that Nebraska Methodist College will be an active voice in the OT industry even as that industry experiences an unprecedented transformation. And I couldn’t do this work without the exceptional students who will be passing through our doors in the years to come.
We’ve also been busy developing fieldwork partnerships with a variety of institutions in Omaha and the nearby area. To that end, we’ll soon be bringing Mary Turner, OTR/L on board as our fulltime Academic Fieldwork Coordinator.
With Mrs. Turner’s help, our students will enjoy placement at clinical sites across the area, offering assistance to current OTs even as they’re honing the skills they’ll bring to bear for their own clients years down the road. Mrs. Turner’s experience makes her ideally suited to this role, and she will be an important liaison between students and OT facilities in the field.
And The Rest
I’m truly excited about the possibilities of our new Occupational Therapy program. It’s shaping up to be an incredible success for the community, and I look forward to students finally having the chance to participate. Happy OT Month!