The Program is proud of the accomplishments of our more than 20 graduates who chose to pursue the OTD degree. Eight alumni hold faculty positions, five perform a blend of practice and research, four are advanced practitioners and two are rehabilitation managers.
Mary Hildebrand, OTD ’07
Before coming to Washington University School of Medicine, Mary Hildebrand earned a master’s degree in occupational therapy from Texas Woman’s University in Houston. “I was a school-based occupational therapist for ten years in New Mexico. While there, I became interested in pursuing my clinical doctorate in occupational therapy to enhance my knowledge and skills in health promotion with children and adults with chronic conditions,” Hildebrand says.
She chose the Program in Occupational Therapy because of its strong reputation, excellent faculty and the opportunity to pursue research in health promotion with experts in the field. “The clinical doctorate degree helped launch my academic career. Currently, I am an associate professor of occupational therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the MGH Institute of Health Professionals in Boston, Mass. In addition to teaching, I have worked on grants and research projects to enhance the self-management of persons who have had a stroke, prevent depression in older adults after a disabling event, and help farmers with injuries or chronic conditions continue to work on their farms,” she says.
Monica Perlmutter, OTD ’12, OTR/L, SCLV
Monica Perlmutter chose to pursue the OTD degree to achieve greater independence in her research efforts and mentoring of students, and to gain further depth of knowledge and experience with older adults, low vision, community-based practice and measurement development. “The clinical doctorate degree further qualified me for other teaching roles, and I also enjoyed being in school and loved the sense of personal accomplishment! I learned so much and grew during the process – even at my 50-something age!” Perlmutter says.
A long-time faculty member of the Program in Occupational Therapy, Perlmutter’s career goals included teaching and mentoring master’s and doctoral students, expanding research efforts and becoming more involved on the national level regarding issues related to low vision practice. “I’m working toward this by serving on the committee that is revamping AOTA’s specialty certification process,” she says.
Duana Russell-Thomas, OTD ’16, OTR/L
A clinical specialist in the Program in Occupational Therapy’s Community Practice, Duana Russell-Thomas interacts with doctoral level occupational therapists, both academically and clinically. “I noticed a distinct difference in their engagement of evidence and their capacity to create new models of care. As I started to explore emerging areas of community occupational therapy, I sensed there was more knowledge that I needed that could not be fulfilled through continuing education and experience alone. I feel the clinical doctorate degree will assist in bridging the gap,” Russell-Thomas says.
Her ultimate goal is to increase occupational therapy community leadership roles and presence in local and national settings as it relates to public health and health disparities. “With the knowledge gained so far in this program, I am well on my way,” she says.