Columbia OT Lab Grand Opening

The Columbia University Programs in Occupational Therapy hosted a grand opening for our new OT lab space yesterday.  Alumni, university and hospital colleagues, and fieldwork supervisors joined the faculty and staff to see the ADL practical areas and the new teaching technology.


The ADL areas include a bathroom with grab bars, seats, and a removable shower head, a kitchen, and bedroom with a Murphy bed, dresser, and closet, as well as the CUOT bodega, and a pediatric area.

The new teaching technology includes a camera that can magnify and project so everyone can see demonstrations from around the room, and a smart board with a variety of teaching applications.

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us and who made the lab space possible.  This will provide fantastic learning opportunities for our current and future students.

Columbia Circulates Form Letter for OTD Mandate Abeyance

Please personalize, save, and email this letter using the fillable fields if you have concerns about the OTD mandate. This will take less than 5 minutes of your time. Please add your credentials at the bottom. Please note that you can customize the last bullet for other comments and concerns.

OTD Mandate Abeyance Request Form Letter

Please email your letter to:

The letter needs to be sent by 11/25 at the latest, but the sooner the better.

Lastly, please share this link widely to colleagues and stakeholders who may also have concerns: Please use social media, chat boards, message boards, etc. to share this link extensively.




OT Students Organize Bus Demo

Photo courtesy of Barrier Free Living

Our students have been working hard all summer at their Level II fieldwork placements in Mental Health, Physical Disabilities, and Pediatrics and accomplishing wonderful things.  One group of students completing Level II Mental Health fieldwork at Barrier Free Living ( wanted to increase their client’s access to transportation.  They invited an MTA bus to come to the transitional housing site to educate the residents about the accessibility of the bus system.  OT student Amanda Rubin, who spearheaded the project, explained that a majority of the residents use motorized wheelchairs or scooters and were often dependent on Access-A-Ride, which sometimes came too late or too early.

More than 10 residents took part in the demonstration.  They all had the opportunity to enter, settle, and exit the bus with the assistance of the OT Department and an MTA bus driver.  Each person had different needs based on their specific disability and adaptive equipment.  They also learned how to communicate with the bus driver in order to get their needs met.

The entire day was dedicated to helping residents learn their rights, how to best advocate for themselves, and how to independently use public transportation.


Dr. Dawn Nilsen Participates in Lehman College Public Health Minute

Dr. Dawn Nilsen participated in the Lehman College, CUNY public health minute segment with Dr. Bill Latimer, Dean of the School of Health Sciences, Human Services and Nursing.  Dr. Nilsen spoke about the stroke motor review she and Dr. Glen Gillen are working on with AOTA.  You can listen to the segment at the link below:

OT Faculty Honored at CUMC Luncheon

Several OT faculty members were honored at the annual P&S Honors Luncheon today.  Lee Goldman gave remarks thanking the faculty for making Columbia a top notch place to be, and medical students played a musical selection.

The faculty honors include:

Sharon Gutman, PhD, OTR for her promotion to Professor of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine (Occupational Therapy) and as a grantee of the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators.

Dawn Nilsen, EdD, OTR/L for her promotion to Associate Professor of Rehabilitation & Regenerative Medicine (Occupational Therapy).

Katherine Dimitropoulou, PhD, OTR/L for her 2016 Irving Institute Clinical Trials Office Pilot Award.

Janet Falk-Kessler, EdD, OTR as a grantee of the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators.

Glen Gillen, EdD, OTR as an Apgar Scholar of the Virginia Apgar Academy of Medical Educators and for delivering the keynote address at the 2017 Vermont Occupational Therapy Association’s Annual Conference.

Lenin Grajo, Phd, EdM, OTR as a recipient of the Provost’s Grant Program for Hybrid Learning Course Redesign and Delivery.


MS2 Students Present Their Older Adult and Grantwriting Projects

Last week, the MS2 class presented posters about their projects for their Older Adult and Grantwriting classes, run by Professor Phyllis Simon and Dr. Lenin Grajo.  The students used the needs of their Level 1 Older Adult fieldwork sites to generate grant proposals and suggested funding agencies that might accept the proposals.  The students also ran programs at their older adult fieldwork sites, which included senior centers, day programs, NORCs, and home visits.   They met with their sites in the fall to do a needs analysis, and then returned once a week for ten weeks for their fieldwork this spring.

Students were divided into groups, and each group presented for an hour to their classmates, the MS1 class, OT and PT faculty, OT program staff, and staff and participants from their fieldwork sites.  One of the fieldwork site staff members who attended said that having the students, “was a wonderful learning experience for everyone.  The students, our staff, and the participants.”

Many of the students ran programs around falls risk and assessment, home safety, and activity participation.

Melissa Aponte and Ivy Vega ran a bilingual group about nutrition and healthy eating at a local senior center.  Several of their participants had low literacy, so they created a visual nutritional assessment appropriate for their population.

Margo Stoner and Michelle Hogan teamed up with the Center for Hearing and Communication to bring a hearing screening van to their fieldwork site, a local NORC.  Forty residents received hearing screenings, and Margo and Michelle followed up with those who had hearing loss.

Other groups focused on life reviews, stress, participating in meaningful activities in daily life, and technology.  One group helped facilitate a member run talent show, which helped increase participation in other groups, and showcased a wide variety of talents among the seniors at their site.  At least one group started by the students is being continued as a member run group.  Overall, the students did an outstanding job.

March/April Faculty Update

Dr. Lenin Grajo published a chapter, “Occupational Adaptation”, in Perspectives on Human Occupation: Theories Underlying Practice.  

Amanda Sarafian will be attending a workshop as part of the the Research CP initiative to set a patient-centered research agenda for cerebral palsy (CP).

Dr. Emily Raphael-Greenfield and Dr. Sharon Gutman published an article, “Effectiveness of a supportive housing program for homeless adults with mental illness and substance use: A two-group controlled trial” in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Dr. Glen Gillen and Dr. Dawn Nilsen presented at the Cornell Stroke Symposium.

Amanda Sarafian and Dr. Lenin Grajo are working with AOTA to do a systematic review of evidence for pediatric OT interventions to determine their effectiveness on learning and academic outcomes.

Dr. Glen Gillen is one of the featured medical experts in Healing the Broken Brain by Dr. Mike Dow and David Dow.  The book asks clinicians all of the questions that stroke survivors and their families want to know the answer to.

Columbia OT at AOTA 2017

Our students, faculty, and staff had a wonderful time at the 2017 American Occupational Therapy Association conference in Philadelphia last week.

For the first time ever, we had a booth in the expo hall to promote our OTD and EdD programs.  The booth was manned by faculty and staff and our programs got a lot of attention.

Our students, faculty, and alumni presented workshops and posters on a variety of topics.  Dr. Dawn Nilsen and Dr. Glen Gillen presented a pre-conference workshop.

Professor Phyllis Mirenberg Simon and her student research team presented a poster on their outstanding work creating LGBTQ competence for clinicians and promoting quality of life and positive health outcomes for this underserved population.

Dr. Sharon Gutman and Dr. Emily Raphael presented their recent work on homelessness and supportive housing with their talented research students. This area of research has been their passion for years.

Alumni of the MS and EdD programs also presented several posters.

Dr. Janet Falk-Kessler presented at the State of the Science Symposium on the science of resilience, with nods to Professor Pamela Miller.  The four presentations will be featured in an upcoming issue of OTJR. 

Columbia students won the St. Catherine Challenge, raising more than $8000 for occupational therapy research.   We were the only school to reach the Diamond Level.

We also had a wonderful time at our alumni and friends reception on Friday.  Many of our students were able to make the trip to Philly and got a chance to network with alumni.

Columbia was also featured a few times in the Centennial celebration video highlighting the history of OT.  Check it out here:

Humans of CUOT: Leah Potter, Class of 2018



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


Job Posting

Welcome to the Job Posting site. This service is available to you free of charge.

click Here


Search for a Job

Welcome to the Job Searching site. This service is available to you free of charge.

click Here



Thank you for choosing to give
to Columbia University

click Here