Clinical Research Track Experiences: Emily McLaughlin, OTD/S '18

Emily McLaughlin, OTD/S '18
Mentor: Alex Wong, PhD, DPhil, BSOT
Clinical Research Track: Health and Disability Research Laboratory

Why did you choose WUOT for your occupational therapy education?

I chose WUOT for my OT education for several reasons. I wanted to pursue the doctoral degree because I am interested in possibly teaching in the future, and WUOT was one of five accredited programs for this when I applied. Additionally, I was interested in research and liked that WUOT not only stressed the importance of evidence-based practice but also would provide me with many opportunities to be involved in my own research.

How is OT a good fit for you and your personal goals?

OT is a good fit for my personal goals and for me as it allows me to be creative while helping individuals live their life to the fullest. I love the diversity of the profession, the various types of conditions that I will have the opportunity to work with, the many settings I can practice in, and a possibility of teaching or being involved in research. I appreciate that it is a profession rooted in science but involves a lot of problem-solving and creativity to meet the needs of each individual client.

Briefly describe why you selected your mentor.

I selected Dr. Alex Wong as my mentor because of his passion for the field and research. He is an extremely hard worker who is dedicated to his career and the students that he mentors. I also have a strong interest in individuals with neurological diseases and impairments. Alex runs the Stroke Management and Rehabilitation Team (SMART) stroke registry in St. Louis and is very knowledgeable about this population.

Briefly describe your master’s or doctoral project.

My doctoral project uses a mobile application to assess symptoms and risk factors of developing post stroke depression that occur in everyday life. I do not work with an outside organization or agency but have received a lot of help and guidance from individuals at the Healthy Mind Lab.

What type of guidance did your mentor provide?

Alex provides guidance as needed. He helped me set goals at the beginning of the semester and formulating next steps to accomplish. I work independently but always check back in with him and he provides feedback either by email or in person to discuss my progress and any questions that I have. He also provides me with a variety of resources and information that can benefit my knowledge and help me with my project. Alex also has a strong network of other health-care professionals and researchers with whom he has put me in contact with to help me best complete my project.

How does this scholarly experience contribute (beyond the rest of the set curriculum) to your overall skill and preparation as a generalist practitioner?

This scholarly experience contributes to my overall skills and preparation to become an occupational therapist by not only giving me a strong knowledge base on stroke and more specifically post-stroke depression but it has also given me the ability to learn how to research a topic of interest to me. This is a skill that I will use to throughout my career to ensure that I am providing evidence-based practice. Writing a proposal and considering every aspect of an interaction with a participant and their experience within the study has helped me to think in a big picture and pay attention to every detail and to plan very carefully. This experience has also given me a better idea of what a research project looks like from start to finish if this is something that I ever decide to pursue in the future.

How will this scholarly experience align with your career goals?

This scholarly experience aligns with career goals because I am interested in working with individuals who have had a stroke or have another neurological condition.

How would you describe this scholarly experience to prospective students?

This has been an extremely positive experience and something that I truly enjoying doing. Knowing that I always have the constant support of my mentor has allowed me to push myself to be more independent in my research skills and make a lot of progress on my project. Alex has a positive attitude and creates an environment that is very conducive to learning and growing as a health-care professional.

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