OT majors help patients regain lost skills

For OT Program Scholar Leah Ogrodnik, her reason for her career choice hits close to home. “The reason that I pursued OT was because of my younger brother,” she explained. “My younger brother is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and received Early Intervention services in my home. It truly inspired me to help children with disabilities succeed in their daily lives.”

Sometimes what is lost can soon be found – and regained.

Tierney Hughes (left), Anjali Patel (center) and Leah Ogrodnik (right) chose to become occupational therapists for reasons that hit close to home.
Photos courtesy of Tierney Hughes, Anjali Patel and Leah Ogrodnik

Occupational therapy majors work to help patients regain lost abilities and ultimately live their best lives.

The type of help OTs provide can range from helping children with specific learning disabilities to assisting patients in learning daily tasks again. These types of jobs are for people with grit, compassion, and patience – thus, OT students undergo challenging classes and fieldwork to be able to have a rewarding career.

OT students take a range of courses throughout their program, from professional formation courses to foundational courses such as anatomy and kinesiology, neuroscience, and introduction to occupational therapy.

Of the variety of classes they take, OT Program Scholar Tierney Hughes is drawn to the pediatric courses. She said that in order to engage children, people have to make occupational therapy interventions as fun as possible. “Who doesn’t love to play and have fun?” Hughes said.
Later in the program, the courses are designed in trios, covering health and medical conditions, occupational therapy evaluation, and occupational therapy interventions for different populations. In the second year, students take another trio of courses for children and adolescents.

OT Program Scholar Anjali Patel and Ogrondik explained that their schedules consist of three days of classes, as well as meetings held once a month for didactic presentations for the new “Project Write to Learn” program, which is exclusive to graduate students.

In the next few weeks, Patel will add clinical experience to the mix. She will begin fieldwork experience at a school in the Irvington school district on Tuesdays for seven weeks. Ogrodnik balances her fieldwork experience in a school setting with her part-time job at a restaurant.
Though this program is challenging, it is well worth it. Patel said she finds fulfillment in such a career choice.

“I decided to go into occupational therapy because this was a profession that combined my passion for helping others and my love for creativity,” Patel explained. “I love that I will be helping others that are going through some of their most difficult times and making a difference in their lives. It warms my heart to think that I can make someone’s day a little brighter or help them engage in meaningful activities.”

Patel said she chose Seton Hall because of their respectable OT program and its proximity to her home. “Many people ask me where I attend school and when I respond by saying SHU, they always tell me that I’ve made a great decision,” Patel said.

For Hughes, coming to Seton Hall for graduate school was a big change from completing her undergraduate work at Pennsylvania State University.

She noted that the smaller class sizes and having a handful of professors truly makes the learning process more personal and effective.
In addition, engaging in group work is an integral part of their program. Most of their courses follow a team-based learning format to complete assignments. “Not only is this style of learning helpful because everyone brings their own unique set of strengths and perspectives to the group, but I feel that the teams are a great support system,” Hughes said.

Assistant professor Karen Hoover is proud of how far the program has come. Since she started working here in 2010, they have almost doubled the number of OT graduates. “I just see nothing but positive change for the department,” Hoover remarked.

Kristel Domingo can be reached at kristel.domingo@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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