Occupational therapy seeks to restore a person’s ability to do the things they need and want to do every day within their roles at home, work, and in the community. Our students embraces this charge wholeheartedly and derive meaning from helping someone with a disability drive for the first time, learn to manage multiple medications more effectively, figure out how to use an injured hand to complete a task that was once second nature, or anything else that will help a person live their life fully.
Guatemala Service Learning Trip
Each year, licensed occupational therapists from the Program spend a week in Guatemala with a group of students for a service learning trip. The trip gives students an opportunity for hands-on experience working with local occupational and physical therapists in a variety of care settings. Working with a local volunteer agency, the students visit rehabilitation clinics, schools for special needs, nutrition centers, hospitals and other places where they interact with underserved populations.
The experiences the students have in Guatemala are very different from clinical practice in the U.S. because so many people are in need of services, more immediate care and assistive technology. The students encounter lack of resources and barriers not found in the U.S., and must use their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to help people accomplish their goals. This unique and impactful volunteer experience helps shape their clinical skills and gives them an international OT lens for future practice.
The purpose of the Washington University Student Occupational Therapy Association (WUSOTA) is to promote the field of occupational therapy through service. Each month, the organization explores various areas of occupational therapy practice and provides volunteer services to many parts of the community.
During the course of the year, WUSOTA actively participates in walks for organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, Autism Speaks, Stampede for Stroke and the Sickle Cell Stroll. They organize donation drives to collect needed supplies for area shelters, food banks and community centers. They volunteer to do clean-up/yardwork for seniors, prepare meals for cancer patients, staff fundraising events and are open to exploring new partnerships and opportunities each year. Through volunteerism, WUSOTA members enrich the lives of many individuals in the community by promoting participation, inclusion and accessibility.
Pi Theta Epsilon
The Program in Occupational Therapy is home to the Xi chapter of Pi Theta Epsilon, a national honor society for occupational therapy students enrolled in professional programs at accredited schools across the U.S. Activities of our chapter include providing tutoring sessions, holding fundraisers for fieldwork scholarships, presenting outreach sessions to educate medical school students on OT and engaging in community service.
Examples of Pi Theta projects including preparing meals for women at local shelters, organizing donations drives for supplies, creating cards to deliver to older adults in retirement communities and putting together activity play books to mail to hospitals all over the nation.