Clinical Research Track Experiences: Rebecca Bollinger, OTD/S ‘17

Rebecca Bollinger, OTD/S ‘17
Clinical Research Track: Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory

Why did you choose WUOT for your occupational therapy education?

I chose WUOT due to their high quality education, world-renowned faculty and reputation as one of the best occupational therapy programs in the nation.

Why did you choose the clinical research track option for your degree?

I wanted to expand my knowledge of research in occupational therapy, and learn more about identifying, evaluating, developing and delivering effective interventions to help clients engage in meaningful occupations and age in place. I also wanted to gain in-depth, hands-on experience with clients based on evidence-based practice in the community.

Briefly describe the research lab you chose.

I chose to join the Participation, Environment and Performance Laboratory under the direction of Dr. Susan Stark, which focuses on impacts of the environment on older adults’ functional performance and engagement in occupations, as well as aging, fall prevention and home modifications.

What project/s are you involved with in your lab?

I have the opportunity to assist with a variety of ongoing studies in this lab, such as examining a home hazard removal program for older adults in St. Louis who have had a fall or who are afraid of falling, or an enhanced rehabilitation transition program for people post-stroke. I am also conducting my own research project to evaluate the feasibility of using an automated bidet system to decrease caregiver burden. 

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

The clinical research experience supplements my education in the classroom by providing me with the opportunity to participate in cutting edge research that has the potential to influence evidence-based care provided by occupational therapists. In addition, I can learn hands-on skills from registered and licensed occupational therapists working with older adults in their homes. My research experience has taught me more in-depth information about an individual’s home environment, including home modifications, and strategies to help the person remain in their home for as long as possible. In addition, I have gained a new appreciation for research and evidence-based practice that I will use throughout my career to provide the best possible care to clients.

What kind of guidance is provided by your faculty mentor?

Dr. Stark is very supportive and provides a collaborative experience for optimal learning. She provides effective guidance, and helps students build their clinical reasoning skills in order to succeed both as a student and future clinician.

How would you describe this experience to prospective students who may be interested in clinical research?

This experience provides a breadth of opportunities to be engaged in research for people with a wide range of skills, from basic to more advanced knowledge of the research process. It provides students with the opportunity to learn about and contribute to all aspects of evidence-based practice, such as grant preparation, recruiting participants, data analysis, preparing manuscripts, and others. While this experience focuses on research, there are extensive opportunities to build clinical skills and gain hands-on experience with clients. Overall, this experience prepares all students with the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career in research, and use evidence-based practice in their future careers.

How will this clinical research experience contribute to your career?

I plan to use the clinical research experience I obtained to assist with research efforts to provide additional support for evidence-based practice, and provide optimal care to older adults in my future career as an occupational therapist.

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