Student Spotlight: Claire Schueler, MSOT/S '14

Claire Schueler, MSOT/S '14, St. Louis, MO

What advantages does WUOT offer you that other programs don’t offer?
One advantage of WUOT is that the program offers both research and clinical tracks to students during their first semester in the program. Therefore, if a student desires to pursue a research project, they have the option to explore the literature and potentially publish an article before graduation. Yet, if a student prefers to do program development, they can choose a clinical experience over the research and gain more skills in that area.

Another program offered by WUOT that I have especially enjoyed is a Spanish class that focuses on basic medical terminology. Through this evening course, I have learned how to say different medical professions in Spanish which will come in handy if I work with a client who uses Spanish as their primary form of communication.

Why did you choose WUOT?
As a prospective student, I looked at a number of different schools and realized that I wanted a school that offered a variety of fieldwork experiences and research opportunities. Also, I hadn’t decided whether to be a MSOT or OTD student, and WUOT allows students to switch between both degrees. When I visited the WUOT campus, I could see myself attending the classes and being part of the experience, which helped finalize my decision.

Why did you choose the degree program you did? (MSOT, OTD, etc)
After much debate, I chose the MSOT program because I realized that I would like to receive more clinical experience before pursuing a career in research, program development, or teaching. Also, I am interested in a variety of OT settings and would have difficulty choosing one area to specialize in. If I decide to reach for a doctorate degree in the future, I am comforted by the idea that I can return to WUOT for the post-professional doctorate program.

What can you say about the quality of education you are receiving?

When I read articles for class or am looking at an assessment, I often recognize names of the faculty as the main authors or co-authors. For example, one of my classmates had a fieldwork experience at Johns Hopkins Hospital and recognized two of our professors in an assessment her clinical instructor used. I think that being able to recognize the names of your professors in a variety of different publications says a lot about an institution.

Also, the faculty prepares us to work with individuals with a variety of different disabilities. After listening to graduated students’ testimonials, I know that having a well-rounded education will prepare us for a variety of work experiences in the future.

What is the learning atmosphere like? (people, resources provided, attitudes of faculty and staff, approach to teaching, quality of mentorship relationships, etc.)
During our first week of school in the fall, the director of the program stated that we were “not just students, but colleagues in the profession of occupational therapy.” Although the students tend to learn from the faculty, I think WUOT has a way of setting up a dynamic learning atmosphere so we teach each other. As far as the physical environment, the Program has study rooms, a computer lab, and a student lounge that are open all day, every day. When I need to study for long periods of time or meet up with classmates for group projects, I find these areas to be very resourceful.

What do you like best about attending WUOT?

It is truly difficult to pick on aspect that I like best, but I do enjoy the different opportunities that arise from being a part of the WUOT experience. For example, in the fall I volunteered for a quad rugby tournament. During this tournament, I briefly exchanged words with one of the individuals from the movie “Murderball,” a documentary based upon the experiences of the 2004 United States Paralympic quad rugby team, and remained excited for the rest of the weekend.

As a group, how would you describe your classmates?

A majority of my classmates come from all over the United States and have a variety of interests. Some of my classmates establish events that involve these interests, such as organizing a team for a half marathon. Everyone is very outgoing and we have many characteristics in common, including a sense of altruism as well as humor.

What do you like best about your classmates?
I like how my class always seems to be there for each other. Whether a classmate has a question pertaining to homework, needs to go to the grocery store, or just wants to do something fun, we are all willing to help out another person.

How would you describe the faculty?
I would describe the faculty as very approachable and resourceful. If I have a question about a particular intervention or assessment, faculty members can often answer my questions, as they have either had experience with these items or may have utilized them in research. Also, many of the faculty have a sense of character and express this by incorporating bits of humor into their lectures.

What do you like best about the faculty?
I like how the faculty members always seem to be willing to help. For example, I needed to ask a faculty member a few questions pertaining to a paper, but she was scheduled to leave the country within the same day. Although she had a fairly busy schedule, my professor blocked off time to meet with me about the paper before leaving for her flight. I think this says something about the level of importance our faculty members place on the students.

What about the school do you most want prospective students to know?

I want prospective students to know that there’s no such thing as too many questions. In applying for graduate school, I asked admission counselors a variety of questions about their programs and that helped me determine my next step. This can also be applied to a class situation. Even if you’re not the type of person who likes to ask questions in from of an entire classroom, I don’t think you can ever ask a faculty member a silly question when it applies to school work.

What do you think of living in St. Louis?
As a local, I have lived in St. Louis for the majority of my life and am still finding new things to do. Also, I think St. Louis is an affordable city in comparison to other metropolitan areas. Whether you’re interested in going to an outdoor play, walking through a zoo, listening to a jazz band among flowers, or seeing fireworks by the Arch, many of the exhibits in the St. Louis area are free of charge and great experiences.

Also, after attending Washington University, I have learned what is truly considered “Saint Louisan." For example, I never realized that gooey butter cake or provel cheese was a local phenomenon until I met my classmates. Now that I have realized the novelties that exist within my hometown, I feel an even greater appreciation for the town.

What do you plan to do after graduation?
After graduation, I plan on applying for jobs in pediatric settings in the St. Louis area. I also hope to volunteer in settings where I can incorporate art into aspects of occupational therapy and participate in international OT when applicable.

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