Samantha Slutzky, MSOT/S ‘14
Clinical/Community Track: The Bridge
Why did you choose WUOT for your occupational therapy education?
I chose this program at WUOT because of its excellent reputation for education and wonderful faculty. I also appreciated the numerous opportunities for hands-on learning as well as the variety of research opportunities to become involved in. After researching more about the program and visiting the campus, I knew they would prepare me well for working as an occupational therapist.
Why did you choose a clinical/community track experience for your master’s degree? I chose this track because it allows me to interact with the community more than the other labs offered. I knew this was the best option for me because it allows me to practice my communication skills as well as interact with a population that is new to me.
Briefly describe your agency.
The Bridge is a nonprofit day shelter for the homeless located in downtown St. Louis striving to provide sanctuary for this population through a number of services. They provide food, mail service, computer use, nursing and social work services for the guests to utilize. Due to limited funding and small work staff, the Bridge relies heavily on volunteers to fulfill its many functions.
Describe your involvement with the agency (programs/services).
Every week, I run a job training class for the guests at The Bridge. I focus on two skill building topics that are vital for entering the work force: resume writing and job searching/application.Through my classes, I get to know the guests on a more personal level. The goal of my classes is not only to help them in that moment, but to teach them the necessary skills so that they could update their resume in the future and apply for jobs on their own. After completion of the class, I have the guests fill out a satisfaction survey. Although it is hard to gauge outcomes in this population, I use the survey as an evaluation tool to see if improvements or modifications need to be made.
How do you think these services enhanced your clinical skills?
This experience has really allowed me to practice my problem solving skills. Each guest, and each class, is different and challenges me to be creative in my execution. Also, by working with this agency, I have been able to experience program development and the role of an OT in community organizations.
How did you feel about the guidance provided by Dr. Christine Berg?
Dr. Berg has been incredibly helpful during my clinical track experience. Our lab time is used to practice any program instruction delivery. I find it helpful to receive feedback from others when planning my program and classes. Dr. Berg has so much knowledge on the community agencies we work with; it is a pleasure to have her as my lab instructor.
Is there a significant story or experience you would like share about working with the agency? Was there one person (or persons) who made an impact on you professionally and/or personally?
I can’t think of a particular story, but I really enjoy working with the guests at The Bridge on a one-on-one basis. Sometimes the homeless population can seem intimidating, so I’ve appreciated getting to know some of the guests on a more individual level. Building a resume and applying for jobs are so important in this population and I’m glad that I can be a part of it and hopefully make a difference.
How would you describe this experience to prospective students who may be interested in community practice?
The clinical/community track is an experience that allows you to interact with an agency in the St. Louis area to develop a program, in-service or workshop. You have the opportunity to choose from a number of agencies, and within your chosen agency, you will design and deliver a program. You will gain hands-on experience while working with your population as well as develop or enhance useful OT skills such communication, problem solving, and leadership. That may sound like a daunting feat, but you will receive plenty of support from Dr. Berg and your classmates in the process.
How will these experiences affect or influence your career direction after graduation?
This community opportunity that I have been involved in has given me an inside look to helping those who are homeless, with low income, low education level and/or mental illness. My interest in this population has driven me to select a Level II fieldwork in mental health, which will help expand my knowledge of occupational therapy within this population.
Anything else you would like to add?
The clinical/community track was a perfect fit for my goals in terms of research. In addition to working directly with your site, you will also attend lab meetings with other clinical track students. I especially liked the lab meetings because you become familiar with others’ lab projects and their community organizations as well.
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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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