Category Archives: Uncategorized

Watch Demos of the New Technology in the OT Lab

Dr. Dawn Nilsen did demos of some of the new technology available in the new OT lab, including interactive applications for teaching anatomy, and ways to make PowerPoint presentations more interactive.

Watch the demos here:


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.




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

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.


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


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

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.

Columbia OT Honored by Riverdale Senior Services


The Columbia University Programs in Occupational Therapy were honored with the Riverdale Senior Services Community Partnership Award this week. They said that our “commitment and creativity has enhanced our services in many ways over the years.”

Students participate in Level 1 fieldwork at both the Senior Center and Adult Day Programs. Our relationship with Riverdale Senior Services is a long one – Professor Simon did her Level 1 fieldwork there about thirty years ago! We look forward to continuing the partnership for many years to come.


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