Clinical/Community Track Experiences: Renée Kulik, MSOT/S ‘16

Renée Kulik, MSOT/S ‘16
Clinical/Community Track: Low Vision Laboratory

Why did you choose WUOT for your occupational therapy education?

On my first visit to WUOT, a faculty member explained what sets WUOT apart from other schools. He described how this program does not only teach the latest evidence-based practice, which will inevitably change and evolve, but more importantly, the program teaches students how to “think” like an OT.

Why did you choose a community/clinical track experience for your degree?

I knew that I wanted a lab in which I could gain “hands-on” experience with clients.

Briefly describe your agency.

In the Low Vision Laboratory, we partnered with the St. Louis Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC), which supports healthy aging of older adults in their own homes by providing various opportunities for community involvement and support. We also partnered with the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, which provides specialized vision rehabilitation services, adaptive education, assistive technology and various support services.

Describe your involvement with the agency (programs/services).

I co-led a session on physical activity and exercise for a self-management program held at the NORC and at the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Additionally, within the Low Vision Laboratory, I helped edit scripts for each of the six sessions that comprise our self-management program, and I researched potential funding sources for the program. With a fellow lab member, I compiled a manual for leaders of the low vision self-management program, which contains guidelines for leaders and background information on common low vision diagnoses and self-management.

How do you think this work has enhanced your clinical skills?

Working with clients who have low vision has provided me with ample opportunity to practice empathy and therapeutic listening. Through this work, I’ve also improved my ability to help clients problem-solve to work around various barriers related to low vision or other hindrances.

How did you feel about the guidance provided by your faculty mentor?

Dr. Monica Perlmutter ensured that all lab members had the best learning experience possible by regularly “checking-in” with us. She provided us each with an individualized level of support, depending on our learning needs.

How would you describe this experience to prospective students who may be interested in community practice?

I would tell prospective students that this lab allows plenty of face-to-face interaction with clients. It is an especially great choice for students who are interested in working with older adults.

How will these experiences affect or influence your career direction after graduation?

Although I plan to pursue a career in pediatric OT, I believe that the clinical skills I gained through this lab are invaluable. I also am glad that I chose this lab to gain experience working with older adults, as this is such a rapid growing segment of the population.

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Current, future, and accepted applicants are encouraged to visit. We also welcome people who are exploring career options and considering occupational therapy. Dr. Kathy Kniepmann, one of our faculty members, opens our visit sessions with an informal presentation and discussion, followed by a tour that’s led by one of our current occupational therapy students.

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