Humans of CUOT: Leah Potter, Class of 2018

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Hometown: Sudbury, MA

Why OT?  I was a child development major in college, and a logical choice would have been for me to go to grad school to become a teacher, which is an excellent profession but never really appealed to me. However, I always enjoyed working with children with disabilities. The way they interact with the world is so interesting to me. One of my friends, who was also a child development major and I had a long discussion after sophomore year about what we could do with the degree after we graduated. Neither of us really knew our other options, but she mentioned Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy. I’d never heard of occupational therapy, so I looked into it, specifically how occupational therapists worked with children with disabilities. I loved everything I found, how we look at the person as a whole rather than a cluster of symptoms, how we take into account the desired outcomes of the client rather than just checking healthcare boxes to get them “well.” I knew I had a lot of catching up to do regarding prerequisites, but I figured if this was something I really wanted I would actually end up liking all the extra classes I would have to take (and I did). So I finished those classes by the end of my first semester of senior year and I applied to a few schools. I really didn’t even expect to get into Columbia, that seemed like a reach to me. The first one I heard back from was a rejection, which shattered my confidence, and I thought I wouldn’t get in anywhere after that. So imagine my shock when I received the acceptance from Columbia, a school I didn’t expect to look at me twice. Sending in that application, even with all my self-doubt, was the best decision I ever made. I could not be happier to be here now.

Which OT area of practice are you interested in?  Definitely pediatrics. No question. Though I recently considered working with veterans with physical disabilities.

What are your favorite occupations to engage in? Running, snowboarding, hiking, reading, petting dogs

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?  Flying. I hate airplanes and heights, but I feel like flying would be fun.

Describe your perfect Saturday. Wake up around 9 or 9:30 and go for a run. Come back and grab a New York bagel and coffee. Get outside and do something fun with friends (walk around the park, throw a football, something relaxing but active). Plan a creative dinner (either make one or splurge and go out for Italian). Grab my pjs, a blanket and a movie and relax .

What is your favorite book? Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

February Faculty Update

Dr. Glen Gillen was the first speaker in the Boyt Schell Visiting Occupational Science Scholar series at Brenau University.

Dr. Dawn Nilsen and Dr. Glen Gillen launched a clinical trial at Helen Hayes Hospital.  They aim to differentiate between two dosages of self-directed Mirror Therapy added to treatment as usual for decreasing arm and hand motor impairments, improving activity level, and increasing self-directed participation after stroke.

Phyllis Simon published an article in LGBT Health entitled “Development of an Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Model for Older LGBT Adults” about her work with elinc, an Elder LGBT Interprofessional Collaborative Care Program.

Dr. Glen Gillen was the keynote speaker at the Vermont Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference.

CUOT Wins St. Catherine Challenge!

Columbia University Programs in Occupational Therapy has won the 2017 AOTF St. Catherine Challenge! The students raised a total of $8,012.62, far exceeding their goal of $7,000, and more than doubling their efforts in 2016.

The AOTF St. Catherine Challenge is a student-led initiative to support the profession of occupational therapy by raising funds for occupational therapy research grants provided by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Supporting occupational therapy research means helping expand support for effective treatment methods which can improve treatment outcomes for patients in the US and across the globe. The AOTF provides funding for research across multiple domains including mental health, pediatrics, geriatrics, and physical disabilities.

Congratulations to the students for all their hard work and to the other schools who competed.  No one loses when we all support research!

New OT Lab Opens

CUOT’s new OT laboratory space is now open on the lower level of the Hammer Health Sciences Building.  It is currently being used as a classroom space, but will soon also include lab modules, including a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and a store.  The programs received a generous donation to cover the cost of the AV for the room.

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The faculty and staff worked hard to set up the space, although there’s still a lot of work to be done.

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We’ve come a long way from the basement of the Black Building!

Humans of CUOT: Derek Douglas, Class of 2018

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Hometown: Maryland

What brought you to OT?

There was something about OT that naturally drew me to the field, but I wasn’t able to fully understand it until my shadowing experience. The therapists I shadowed addressed more than just the injury, disease, or illness. These clinicians examined the person’s physical and emotional well-being, the environment the client lived in, and many others factors in order reengage the patient in activities they yearned to do. If I had to put my shadowing experience into one word, it would be “AMAZING.” Witnessing OTs in action inspired me to become an occupational therapist. And I am incredible grateful to be now studying occupational therapy at Columbia University.

Which OT area of practice are you interested in? 

This is a tough one to answer. I know that I’m interested in physical disabilities, but I’m keeping an open-mind as I progress through the program.

What are your favorite occupations to engage in?

Weighting lifting, Tai Chi, and playing sports.

What do you think is mankind’s greatest invention? 

Football

If you could have a superpower, what would it be? 

Super strength so that I can be like Thor

What is your favorite thing about New York City? 

Feeling like I am at the center of the world with access to virtually any occupation I could fathom from running along the Hudson to exploring historical sites.

Columbia OT Students Compete in St. Catherine’s Challenge

In December, MS2 students Kelsey Mezrahi, Amanda Rudnick, and Sabah Hashmi organized a silent auction benefiting the AOTF St. Catherine’s Challenge. All auction items were donated and they were even lucky enough to have the professors involved.  Several professors donated themselves to spend some quality one-on-one time getting to know the winning students better!

Auction organizers with faculty members Dr. Dawn Nilsen, SOTA advisor, and Program Director Dr. Janet Falk-Kessler Auction organizers with faculty members Dr. Dawn Nilsen and Dr. Janet Falk-Kessler.

 

The AOTF St. Catherine Challenge is a student-led initiative to support the profession of occupational therapy by raising funds for occupational therapy research grants provided by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Supporting occupational therapy research means helping expand support for effective treatment methods which can improve treatment outcomes for patients in the US and across the globe. The AOTF provides funding for research across multiple domains including mental health, pediatrics, geriatrics, and physical disabilities.

The auction drew students, faculty, and staff. The auction drew students, faculty, and staff.

Columbia University participated for the first time last year and the students rallied together to raise the second most funds of any other school participating. In their first year, the students raised $3441 on behalf of St. Catherine’s Challenge and reached the gold level, and this year they plan to double it.  Anyone interested in donating can find more information here.

January Faculty Updates

This month in faculty news:

Dr. Sharon Gutman has been promoted to the rank of Professor.

Dr. Dawn Nilsen has been promoted to the rank of Associate Professor.

Dr. Lenin Grajo co-authored an article in the Journal of Occupational Therapy, Schools, and Early Intervention entitled “The occupation and participation approach to reading intervention (OPARI): A community of practice study”.

Dr. Emily Raphael-Greenfield and two CUOT alumni published an article, “Adapting to a challenging fieldwork: Understanding the ingredients.” in the Open Journal of Occupational Therapy.

 

Columbia OT Students Bring Crafts and Cheer to Children’s Hospital

The MS2 class, led by Mari Arnaud and Daniela Gordillo, was interested in expanding the reach of their volunteer efforts, so they reached out to the Children’s Hospital of New York (CHONY) to see if they could do something to do serve the children there.

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Several members of the class took a study break to help assemble play dough snowman kits for the children, which were distributed to children who were unable to leave their floor.

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Twelve students, Sarah Bunevich, Danielle Alonzi, Anna Peery, Jeanette Duong, Melissa Aponte, Diana Le, Amanda Bezerra, Sara Berke, Amy Ransohoff, Elizabeth May, Ivy Vega, and Daniela Gordillo, went to CHONY to do arts and crafts with the children who were able to attend.  While most of the 200 children at CHONY are too immunosuppressed to interact with visitors, 50 children were able to participate in the project.

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The students said their time at CHONY was very inspiring and a wonderful opportunity to take a break and do something hands-on with kids.  The children also benefited from being able to take a break from examinations and testing in the hospital.  The students are planning another visit for the spring and hope that this is the beginning of a relationship between CUOT and CHONY that will continue.

Humans of CUOT: Ivy Vega, Class of 2017

ivy-vegaI decided to be an OT when I discovered how versatile and all-encompassing the profession is. I come from a dance background, so I wanted to incorporate my love for the human body into my future profession in some way. I didn’t necessarily want to pursue dance professionally, but I also didn’t want to push my passion for the art aside. I’m also very passionate about healthcare and wanted to form a career around working with people in need. OT, of course, ended up being perfect merger between my two passions and the rest is history. My fieldwork experiences have been very different from one another, but they have one thing in common. During both of my experiences, I realized just how valuable and important the little things are. Something as simple as saying good morning or playing a card game can have more of an impact on a patient or client than is immediately evident. Being an OT is as much about implementing interventions and treatment plans as it is about advocating for normalcy and equal treatment.

November Faculty Update

  • Dr. Glen Gillen gave keynote addresses at Eastern Michigan University, the Massachusetts Occupational Therapy Association, and presented two lectures at the Braintree Neurorehabilitation Conference.
  • Dr. Lenin Grajo was named the interim director of the OTD program.
  • Dr. Glen Gillen is a new member of the Virgina Apgar Academy of Medical Educators.
  • Dr. Sharon Gutman was asked by AOTF to be on committee to facilitate research in mental health.
  • Dr. Glen Gillen’s book Cognitive and Perceptual Rehabilitation: Optimizing Function was published in Korean.
 

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