Alumni Spotlight: Bobbie Vergo
Bobbie Vergo, OTD ‘10, OTR/L, is helping to build an occupational therapy clinic program “from the ground up,” working as an occupational therapist for Collaborating for Kids, a pediatric therapy company based in Indiana. Vergo, a 2010 OTD graduate from the Program in Occupational Therapy, says the launching of a new clinic program is both exciting and daunting.
“It’s been a fantastic challenge because I’ve had to get all of the assessments, therapy tools and paperwork set up, which took a lot of time, and had to do that with limited resources,” she says.
Collaborating for Kids is in a growth phase, having been established only a few years ago initially to provide early intervention therapy for families in Indiana’s First Steps program. Last year, the organization opened its first clinic to offer outpatient occupational, speech and physical therapy services as well as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children with autism.
“We work closely as a team to make sure each child gets what he or she needs,” Vergo says. “We recently added a child psychologist to our team and have a close relationship with a nutritionist and a doctor who is studying brain maps of children with autism and are receiving ABA. A vision therapist also just moved next door, so the name “collaborating” couldn’t be more accurate!”
Vergo was drawn to Washington University because of the many opportunities available to students in the OTD program, specifically teaching and advanced clinical experiences. “While there, I often heard about OTD graduates who went out and carved a niche for themselves in some area of the world and basically created their own job description and salary,” she says. “I really wanted that for myself. To be able to go for just one extra year to earn a doctorate degree was too tempting to pass up and the program allowed me to make my degree truly unique so that I can be a valuable asset to any clinical team.”
A focus on research and evidence-based practice while in the doctoral program instilled in Vergo the importance of keeping current in her profession and with occupational therapy literature. “It’s so important to do that because I can educate families and even my co-workers on the benefits of occupational therapy,” Vergo adds. “The OTD program prepared me with the theoretical knowledge, confidence, and drive to be able to build an occupational therapy clinic program. The emphasis on teamwork and collaboration with other disciplines also prepared me to work in an interdisciplinary setting,” she says. “I look back with pride on my years at the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine, knowing that my time there was very well spent and has helped to get me where I am today!”