Cambey Mikush is a third year clinical doctoral student in the Washington University School of Medicine Program in Occupational Therapy. She is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association, the World Federation of Occupational Therapists and WUSOTA, where she has served on the community service and advocacy committees. She worked as a research graduate assistant for two years and is currently a teaching assistant. From 2010-2011, Cambey served as the International Assistance Committee Service-learning Trip Coordinator, helping to raise over $10,000 and leading a team of sixteen students and two faculty members to Guatemala to provide supervised occupational therapy services. She has served as the Education Committee co-chairperson for Pi Theta Epsilon, the national occupational therapy honor society. Cambey has committed her final year of her doctoral program to developing a new intervention model to address the functional and psychosocial issues faced by women with obstetric fistulas worldwide.
What was it like to be invited to CGI-U? You were one of only 1,000 students invited across the globe!
I am honored to be a part of the CGIU network and am incredibly grateful for the experience. I met a lot of intelligent and enthusiastic students and I look forward to hearing more about the progress of their commitments in the years to come!
How did you hear about CGI-U?
Once it was announced that Washington University was the host of this year’s CGIU conference, all students received an email blast asking for applications. I have a bad habit of overlooking mass emails, but this one definitely caught my eye. Several OT faculty members also encouraged students to apply, which I am very grateful for.
What interested you about it?
CGI-U is an opportunity to turn passion into action by committing to take steps to finding solutions to pressing global issues. It is a collaborative experience that extends beyond the weekend conference – it’s a network of like-minded individuals excited to make a change.
Your observations/impressions of CGIU?
To say CGIU was an inspiring and energizing weekend would be a gross understatement. I was extremely impressed with the range and quality of the speakers for both the plenary and breakout sessions. There was a big focus on women and girls throughout the conference, which was particularly exciting. I also had the opportunity to meet Dr. Hawa Abdi, whom I greatly admire!
Why did you choose to apply, and who helped you?
I chose to apply to CGI-U to help make my practice model on the role of OT in the rehabilitation of women with obstetric fistula a reality. CGI-U is an opportunity to network with leaders and learn how to fundraise for projects, develop partnerships, and formulate an action plan.
My commitment coincides with my developing practice model and future apprenticeship with the Worldwide Fistula Fund. Several OT faculty as well as faculty from the anthropology, physical therapy, and social work programs were instrumental in helping me with the application process and development of ideas. I am very grateful for all the input and support!
Why did you select your particular Commitment to Action?
I have always been passionate about global health issues, particularly as they pertain to women. I first read about obstetric fistula five years ago and have been searching for ways to work with these women ever since. My Commitment to Action aligns with my occupational therapy practice model that I have been developing throughout the year as well as my doctoral apprenticeship.
What do you hope to gain from this experience?
CGI-U is an opportunity to network with students and professionals who have successfully implemented innovative projects around the world. Who knows! Maybe new partnerships will develop from CGI-U! Overall, I hope to gain insight into how to develop and implement a sustainable program that meets the needs of these women and their communities. Although this is my first year to attend CGI-U, I am confident that the innovative, passionate, and forward-thinking atmosphere will increase my enthusiasm and drive to make this commitment a reality.
What would you tell other students who are thinking about applying for similar opportunities?
GO FOR IT!
Tell us a little about your proposal.
It is estimated that 3.5 million women living in developing countries suffer from obstetric fistula (Wall, 2006). Women with obstetric fistula are stigmatized, shunned from their communities, forced to live in isolation and stripped of their daily roles and responsibilities; many even contemplate suicide (Wall, 1998). Several healthcare professionals have a presence worldwide working with women with obstetric fistulas, but occupational therapy has yet to get involved. Engagement in meaningful occupations can improve one’s quality of life (Hammell, 2004) and may be a key to survival for these women. Occupational therapists have the skills to assist these women in rediscovering their occupations.
I am committed to partnering with the Worldwide Fistula Fund and other invested healthcare professionals to create a multifaceted and sustainable rehabilitation program at the Danja Fistula Center in Niger, West Africa. Implementing this program will involve completing a multi-disciplinary needs assessment, capacity building, developing a documentation method, and validating treatment and training protocols. An OT in this setting will address specific activities that women with obstetric fistula find challenging. This rehabilitation program will empower women with obstetric fistula and help them overcome the physical and psychosocial issues associated with this injury in order to live meaningful and productive lives.
After participating in CGIU, what do you hope to do to take your project to the next level?
I plan on visiting the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in June to see a working model and learn more about the issue. I will then travel to Niger in the Fall to complete an occupational therapy needs assessment at the Danja Fistula Center. Next steps will be evaluated upon my return.
Why did you choose Washington University School of Medicine for your occupational therapy education?
WU has a great reputation nationally, but I was particularly drawn to the OTD degree. After visiting, I was felt that there were certain aspects of the curriculum that were unique to WU. Specifically, the OTD program aligned with my long-term goals of gaining experience with teaching, program development, and research.
What can you say about the quality of education you are receiving?
What is the learning atmosphere like?
Although this is a large program, faculty and staff are very approachable with a variety of expertise. I have been extremely impressed with the quality of mentorship provided to me by several faculty members.
What do you like best about attending the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University?
I have really enjoyed learning from leaders within occupational therapy but also in other professions. All of the graduate programs at WU are high quality, which makes for excellent elective opportunities and strong inter-disciplinary partnerships.
What do you like best about your classmates?
I am probably biased, but my classmates are awesome. It is amazing how diverse our interests are within the realm of OT. I am excited to see where everyone ends up! Overall, I would say my classmates are leaders, extremely passionate, slightly goofy, intelligent, and innovative.
What do you like best about the faculty?
The faculty is full of leaders within healthcare both locally and nationally. Each faculty member has multiple roles beyond teaching, which provides students with the opportunity to learn about the many opportunities available to occupational therapists.
What about the school do you most want prospective students to know?
The city of St. Louis is a fun and affordable place to live with tons of opportunities to get involved in the community as a student.
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