Rhysa Romstad, MSOT/S ‘14
Clinical/Community Track: Beyond the Cure
Why did you choose WUOT for your occupational therapy education?
I chose WUOT because I knew I wanted to be in a program that would teach me to be an innovative therapist who can apply both research and clinical reasoning in my practice. WUOT values both creativity and research across practice areas – you can’t find that everywhere!
Why did you choose a clinical track experience for your master’s degree?
I chose a clinical/community track experience because I wanted to work on developing a different set of skills – namely program development and community-based OT. I also have an interest in working with not-for-profit agencies in my professional practice and wanted a project that would place me in the unique position of applying OT principles on a larger population scale.
Briefly describe your agency.
I am working with the National Children’s Cancer Society (NCCS) – Beyond the Cure. Beyond the Cure is the branch of NCCS that provides services and programming to childhood cancer survivors and their families.
Describe your involvement with the agency (programs/services).
I am working with Beyond the Cure to develop an email-thread support/wellness program for parents of childhood cancer survivors. The main goals of the project are to improve parents’ ability to cope by learning from other parents’ experiences. In addition, we want to provide them with education on how to assist their children in developing healthy living practices.
How do you think these services enhanced your clinical skills?
I think it has really hit home just how vital community resources are to the clients and families we work with as OTs. Many of the services that organizations like Beyond the Cure provide allow our clients and families to succeed in their daily lives and move forward beyond their illness, injuries, or whatever it is that they’re experiencing. These are services that are not typically provided by our health care system, school systems, etc. I also just feel that there is a lot of added value to being able to apply my OT skills at a population level.
How did you feel about the guidance provided by Dr. Christine Berg?
Dr. Berg has been a great mentor. She has so much knowledge about the nonprofit world and the value that OTs bring to community agencies. Dr. Berg provides us with lots of great feedback on the work we do and opportunities to reflect on our community experiences with one another. She has done a wonderful job in promoting a community feeling among those of us doing these projects.
How would you describe this experience to prospective students who may be interested in community practice?
I would explain the clinical/community track experience as an excellent means to discovering more about how we as OTs can promote participation on a population level and apply OT skills to building the capacity of community agencies. I would also mention that community practice allows you to bring out your creativity and apply OT in a unique way.
How will these experiences affect or influence your career direction after graduation?
Whether or not I go on to work in community practice, my experiences with Beyond the Cure have given me the opportunity to build programs and go beyond the individual to look at the occupational needs of an entire population. This knowledge of programming development might allow me to build programs within whatever practice setting I’m in and, ultimately, will make me a more well-rounded therapist.
Anything else you would like to add?
I would encourage all prospective students to consider the value of a community practice experience. Even if you are sure you want to work in a clinical setting, being able to apply your OT skills across practice areas can only make you a better therapist.
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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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