Sarah Hendred, MSOT/S '14, Ottumwa, IA
What advantages does WUOT offer you that other programs don’t offer?
WUOT provides a variety of research opportunities in comparison to other programs. Our program really stresses the need and importance for evidence-based practice so being able to conduct research as an MSOT or OTD student allows you to connect research findings to clinical intervention. Having the Clinical Track option also went above and beyond other schools by giving students the opportunity to explore evidence-based practice implementation in a community setting.
Why did you choose WUOT?
I chose WUOT for two reasons. The first being that the OT Program was highly esteemed and offered a variety of opportunities for students to pursue their personal OT interests throughout their time at WUOT. The second reason is that I learned health professionals outside of OT have an opportunity to teach and speak to students. I thought this was important because it showed that the Program was willing to expose us to different perspectives while still relating it to OT practice. Working OTs do not just work with other OTs all the time. Health care is a collaborative effort and I thought that this was exemplified at WUOT.
Why did you choose the degree program you did? (MSOT, OTD, etc.)
I chose to enter the MSOT degree program because I wanted to gain a few years of clinical experience and work in different settings before pursuing research or teaching full-time. Perhaps once I get my feet wet, I’ll jump into pursuing my OTD.
What can you say about the quality of education you are receiving?
I think the quality of WUOT is great. The faculty members come from a wide array of OT and professional backgrounds, which makes for a well-rounded learning experience. The classes bounce off of each other, which helps reinforce core concepts and brings everything together. Not too long ago, a guest lecturer OT in the course Contemporary Issues talked about the use of the iPad and its applications as an assistive technology option for clients who have speech difficulties, cognitive impairments, etc. Then, a few weeks later in Neuroscience, we were able to hear firsthand from a client with aphasia who actually uses iPad apps to help with cognitive and language deficits. This just reinforced to me that what I am being taught is real.
What is the learning atmosphere like? (people, resources provided, attitudes of faculty and staff, approach to teaching, quality of mentorship relationships, etc.)
The learning atmosphere forces you to become a critical thinker, which is good. I think that the courses and faculty do a great job of providing you with a solid foundation and the resources you need to problem solve effectively. It can be scary because at times I second-guess what I know. It’s also very rewarding to find that in the end, I do know a lot and what I am learning is sinking in. I’m seeing my knowledge of OT reflected in not only my schoolwork, but my new perspective of the environments I encounter on a daily basis.
What do you like best about attending WUOT?
I like the creative freedom you are given. This program has showed me that you can insert your personality and interests into many aspects of OT. The research/clinical labs and self-directed learning hours we are to participate in allow for students to explore areas of interest. The research projects can vary from using motion capture video games to yoga to Google Maps for accessibility to increase occupational performance and participation in individuals. In my research lab, I am able to work with an older population of people as well as investigate the concept of “quality of life,” which I enjoy. And then, for self-directed learning hours, I created opportunities for myself to continue to work with the older-adult population and even have plans to travel abroad to Vietnam over winter break.
As a group, how would you describe your classmates?
We are a class of go-getters. I think we all have in some way gone above and beyond to take advantage of a wide variety of self-directed opportunities. It’s amazing to hear of some of the things people do outside of classes. People volunteer in the community; some work as personal care assistants, others spend time working at camps, etc. I think our motto should be, “And if school or research weren’t enough, let’s add philanthropy into the mix.” Everyone just wants to help others and do the most they can with the time they have.
What do you like best about your classmates?
My classmates are witty and giving. I have never been around so many people that can crack one-liners on the fly. There are always a lot of laughs between us. Also, everyone helps each other out. If there’s a YouTube video that reinforces something we learned in lecture or if there’s a concept someone was struggling to understand, we always have each other’s back. It seems that even if you are not someone’s closest friend, you can still easily talk to them.
How would you describe the faculty?
The faculty is very accessible and willing to spend one-on-one time to help you with your schoolwork, if needed. For example, if you need a concept in class explained more in depth or need additional help outside of office hours, they will provide you with resources to use to do well and succeed in the classes.
What do you like best about the faculty?
They value student participation. I think that the best classes are when students can share our thoughts and opinions. Even though a lot of this relies on students to actually participate, the faculty encourages both our participation in class and feedback.
What about the school do you most want prospective students to know?
I want them to know that WUOT is a great place to think outside the box. They teach us to think outside of cookie-cutter approaches by preparing you to deal with people who may or may not fit the textbook descriptions. WUOT is also the best place to explore your interests and define where you want your career in OT to take you.
What do you think of living in St. Louis?
St. Louis is pretty great. There are so many different neighborhoods to explore. It’s a big city but with that Midwest small town feel to some extent. Oh, and Forest Park is hands down one of the best parts of St. Louis.
What do you plan to do after graduation?
After graduation, I hope to work for a couple of years in Chicago to give myself a good foundation of clinical experience. Then, ultimately I would like to live abroad as an OT working with older adult populations internationally.
Anything else you would like to add?
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone.
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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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