Clinical/Community Track Experiences: Tori Sabatini, MSOT/S ‘14

Tori Sabatini, MSOT/S ‘14
Clinical/Community Track: Health Literacy Missouri

Why did you choose WUOT for your occupational therapy education?
I chose to study at WUOT because of the challenging academic program provided by a top-ranked university. WUOT has greatly broadened my view of occupational therapy practice. The program has exceeded my expectations, encouraging me to think outside of the box and apply my OT perspective to a variety of settings and populations.

Why did you choose a clinical track experience for your master’s degree?
I was not familiar with OT within the community setting prior to coming here. Having the opportunity to participate in a community-based project as a student sounded like valuable experience that I wanted to pursue further. I found the clinical/community track blended my interests in program development and public health. I chose the clinical track, and specifically Health Literacy Missouri (HLM), because I was interested in public health.

Briefly describe your agency.
I work with Health Literacy Missouri, a local nonprofit organization that promotes understandability in the health care environment. Health literacy is the ability of an individual to read, understand and manage one’s health. Central to the goal of occupational therapy, health literacy promotes autonomy and engagement in one’s health care. The link between health literacy and OT is a little more abstract, but they complement each other well. Health literacy, and similarly OT, is about promoting an individual's ability to manage their own health.

Describe your involvement with the agency (programs/ services).
I have worked on several projects while at HLM, including presentations for a variety of health care professionals and students in health-related fields of study. My most significant project has been researching and helping to develop a program applying health literacy strategies to the mental health care setting. I have examined the challenges that may arise in communication between health care providers and clients, and strategies to promote understanding of both parties.

How do you think these services enhanced your clinical skills?
Since being at HLM, I have learned about the inner-workings of a nonprofit and a lot about health literacy strategies. Working in a professional, collaborative work environment has been a great learning experience. I have become more passionate about advocating for clients. It is essential to the success of treatment that care be engaging and client-centered. I expect to use these health literacy strategies daily in practice as a clinician.

How did you feel about the guidance provided by Dr. Christine Berg?

Dr. Berg has provided a consistent amount of guidance throughout this experience. I enjoy the flexibility and self-directed nature of our projects. Dr. Berg checks in with us weekly, and is available if we have concerns regarding our own projects. She has challenged us to explore topics on our own, while still providing support as needed.

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?

My experience has been excellent. HLM is a relatively small nonprofit, but the staff is noticeably passionate about what they do, and the collaborative work environment has been a joy to be apart of. I really look up to the staff at HLM, especially my mentors that have worked with me the past year. They have given me the flexibility to pursue my interests, and have been encouraging and approachable throughout the whole process. As I gain professional expertise in OT, I hope I can mentor students in a similar fashion.

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

My clinical/community track has thoroughly introduced me to the world of public health. Our track course work with Dr. Berg has further broadened my view of OT and community-based intervention. My projects and work between the two have expanded my knowledge of what OTs may contribute to a public health-focused program.

How will these experiences affect or influence your career direction after graduation?
This clinical/community track has sparked my interest in community work, and after graduation I will be doing a Level II Fieldwork in a community setting. I also have an interest in pursuing a Master of Public Health degree in the future. I am excited to see how I can further blend these interests of public health and occupational therapy in my career as a clinician.

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