24 posts categorized "Occupational Therapy"


Meet Dr. Judy Parker Kent: New Chair of the Department of OT at USciences

Bringing with her an impressive background in higher education, Judy Parker Kent, OTD, EdS, OTR/L, has spent the past few weeks settling into her new role as chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at University of the Sciences. Dr. Kent came to the University having taught at Salem State University for more than 20 years.

Dr. Kent replaced Michelle E. Cohen, PhD, associate dean of Samson College of Health Sciences at USciences, who had served as the interim chair of the department for the past two years.

Beyond her experience in the classroom, Dr. Kent boasts more than 35 years of experience as an occupational therapist working primarily with children in a variety of settings including school systems, home care, and mental health settings. Because of her unwavering commitment to healthcare education, Dr. Kent was recently named to the Roster of Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association, and, in April, was inducted into the Leaders and Legacy Society of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation.

Dr. Kent has published articles and book chapters focusing on pediatrics and complementary care. She has also lectured nationally on the topics of children, complementary care, education and, most recently, scholarship in occupational therapy. Her professional interests include pediatrics, autism spectrum disorder, mental health, complementary care, developmental disabilities, spirituality, and distance education

Originally from Beverly, Massachusetts, Dr. Kent received her OTD in occupational therapy, with a focus in neuro-occupation, from Creighton University; EdS in computing technology in education from Nova Southeastern University, MS in occupational therapy from Columbia University, and BS in biology from Adelphi University.


USciences to Host Panel on LGBT Healthcare on April 1

LGBTStriving to address the healthcare needs in the LGBT community, University of the Sciences has teamed up with local nonprofit organizations to host its first Panel on LGBT Healthcare on Wednesday, April 1, from 7-9 p.m., in Griffith Hall (43rd Street at Woodland Avenue).

“This event is intended to bring together students and community members to learn more about the unique needs and challenges faced by the LGBT community in regards to accessing healthcare,” said AJ Young, coordinator of the event at USciences.

Panelists from ActionAIDS, Philadelphia FIGHT, Mazzoni Center, GALAEI, and the Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of the Elderly (CARIE) will give a brief overview of their organization’s work and mission, discuss current issues and pressing needs in LGBT healthcare, and share what they believe is important for future healthcare professionals to know about working with the LGBT community. There will also be time for questions from the audience.

Invited panelists, include:

  • Tiffany Thompson, Director, Youth-Health Empowerment Project at Philadelphia FIGHT
  • Elaine Dutton, Trans Clinical Services Coordinator, Mazzoni Center
  • Elicia Gonzalez, Executive Director, GALAEI
  • Jay Johnson, Volunteer Coordinator & PWA, ActionAIDS
  • Rosemary Daub, Medical Case Manager Coordinator, ActionAIDS
  • Han Meadway, Transportation Advocate, CARIE

“Our speakers are some of the most knowledgeable and passionate people in Philadelphia regarding LGBT issues, and they’re eager to highlight what future healthcare professionals should know to provide quality care that treats LGBT patients with respect and dignity, while addressing their unique and not-so-unique health concerns,” said Young.

This event is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be served after the panel. For more information, contact Young at a.young@usciences.edu or 215.596.8734.


Samson College Kicks Off 'Allied Health Week' on Nov. 3

Samson College of Health Sciences at University of the Sciences will kick off its Allied Health Week on Monday, Nov. 3, with "Mindful Meditation" at 12:15 p.m. in the IPEX, second floor.

Here's the agenda for the rest of the week:

Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 1 p.m. | IPEX, Room 139 | "FED UP"

Everything we’ve been told about food and exercise for the past 30 years is dead wrong. "Fed Up" is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see.

Wednesday, Nov. 5 at noon | IPEX Steps

“Walk with me Wednesday”

Thursday, Nov. 6 at 1 p.m. | IPEX, second floor

“Guiding Flame” Sculpture Dedication
(Dessert reception following dedication)

1 p.m. in ARC | IPE Volleyball Tournament

Anyone interested in signing up must sign up with a team of 6 in 4500 Woodland, Suite 100 by Wednesday, Nov. 5


OT Students, Faculty Attend AOTA's Hill Day in D.C.

OT students with Wendy Fox (left) and Paula KRamer (right)Sixty students and faculty from the University’s Department of Occupational Therapy joined the more than 550 occupational therapy practitioners and students from across the nation for this year's American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Capitol Hill Day in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 15.

“We were the only school in Philadelphia to send a contingent, and our students showed tremendous leadership,” said Mickey Cohen, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy. “This effort highlights the mission of our occupational therapy program, as well as the overall mission of USciences.”

With the help of USciences community, more than 200 legislators learned about the important role of occupational therapy in the healthcare system. At the same time, legislators also received 1,240 emails from occupational therapy practitioners and students who participated in AOTA’s Virtual Hill Day.

“It may seem like your one voice won’t make a difference, but when it’s combined with hundreds of other voices it can influence legislation,” said Heather Parsons, AOTA’s director of legislative advocacy.


Samson College Aims to Prepare High Quality Healthcare Professionals for In Demand Careers


While no industry is completely recession-proof, the healthcare industry has proven its strength – even in the midst of economic uncertainty. And that's good news for students at University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, a specialty institution solely focused on science and healthcare disciplines.

“Our programs in the health professions are all high quality, fully-accredited programs which offer our students an interdisciplinary education with hands-on experience,” said Laurie Sherwen, PhD, Dean of Samson College of Health Sciences at University of the Sciences.

A recent analysis by U.S. News & World Report found that 21 of the 30 fastest-growing jobs are in health-related fields — a growth coming from more participation in healthcare because of the Affordable Care Act, and also because of the increasing needs of the aging boomers themselves. Because healthcare jobs continue to soar across the United States, graduate degrees in physician assistant studies, occupational therapy, and physical therapy each landed a spot on Forbes’ top 10 master’s degrees for jobs in 2014. This list was generated based off recent national statistics regarding the job climate and projected career growth for each of these fields.

Among its six academic programs, Samson College houses a physician assistant studies program, as well as occupational therapy and physical therapy programs. Each year, entry into each of these programs becomes more competitive, as application submissions continue to spike.

USciences received more than 800 applications for 40 spots in its graduate physician assistant studies program for the 2014-15 school year. In only its second year, this graduate program has doubled its size because students realize the demand for healthcare professionals will translate into jobs after graduation. USciences also offers an undergraduate physician assistant pre-professional program for students who want to start their journey to becoming a physician assistant directly after high school. 

“The physician assistant profession is booming, and students of all ages and healthcare backgrounds are returning to school to become physician assistants,” said Joan Ward MS, PA-C, chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. “The flexibility to move into different areas of medicine without additional training also adds to the appeal of this profession.”

The University’s Department of Occupational Therapy also continues grow, and most recently bolstered its offerings by launching an online, post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy program to deliver flexible learning opportunities to individuals interested in continuing their education. USciences is one of six schools in the country with a direct-entry doctorate in occupational therapy program, in addition to offering a post-baccalaureate doctorate in occupational therapy, and a master’s of occupational therapy degree.

Lastly, the Department of Physical Therapy offers students a direct-entry doctorate of physical therapy program, as well as a transfer or post-baccalaureate doctorate of physical therapy option. The physical therapy program provides students with real-life experience through its two research labs – the Leahy Lab and the Baltimore Technology Equipment Lab – as well as its pro-bono clinic for underprivileged residents of Philadelphia.

This will be an exciting year for students enrolled in Samson College, as USciences prepares to open the doors of its new Integrated Professional Education Complex (IPEX) this fall. IPEX combines innovative learning spaces and student lounge space with simulation labs, a clinical lab, mock patient exam rooms, and conference rooms.

This building showcases an integrated education model that allows students from several disciplines – including pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, exercise science, psychology, and healthcare business and policy – to obtain traditional and hands-on experience.

Don’t forget: The University community is encouraged to celebrate the completion of the IPEX at a special ribbon cutting ceremony and reception slated for Thursday, Sept. 18, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.  This ceremony is among several events on tap during Alumni Reunion weekend (Sept. 18-21).


Drowning Remains a Top Cause of Death for Children with Autism, Says USciences OT Prof

VGibbs_250x350Many families beat the summer heat with trips to swimming pools, beaches, and water parks; but water safety concerns are particularly heightened for families of children with autism, said Varleisha Gibbs, OTD, OTR/L, occupational therapy professor at University of the Sciences. In fact, drowning remains a leading cause of death in children with autism because they often become overstimulated with crowds and escape to unsafe environments.

“Among the plethora of concerns for families dealing with autism, includes addressing water safety practices as early as possible in a child’s life,” said Dr. Gibbs. “Although water safety is a concern for all parents, children with autism are especially at a higher risk for drowning because they may seek isolation by fleeing to unfamiliar territories.”

According to the National Autism Association, accidental drowning accounted for approximately 90 percent of total U.S. deaths reported in children with autism ages 14 and younger subsequent to wandering/elopement in 2009 to 2011. Furthermore, research indicates that nearly 50 percent of children with autism attempt to escape from a safe environment – a rate nearly four times higher than children without autism.

Dr. Gibbs compiled the following summer safety tips to help parents relax and enjoy the summer with their children with autism:

  • Learn to swim. Enroll your child in swimming and water safety lessons as early as possible.
  • Visual learning. Use video narratives to discuss water safety, as well as outline specific rules and consequences related to poor safety practices.
  • Display reminders. For children who respond well to visual cues, consider placing STOP or DO NOT ENTER signs on all doors that open to the outside.
  • Key information. Make sure your child knows his or her name, address, and phone number in the event he or she is separated from family. If your child does not speak, he or she should wear a bracelet or necklace with identifiable information.
  • Avoid sensory-overload. Summer is the time for vacations, exploring new places, and sensory-overloading experiences. Try to prepare your child for what they can expect as they enter a new environment – whether it is a beach, pool, or even a restaurant.
  • Alert others. Communicate with your neighbors, whether at home or on vacation, and ask them to contact you immediately if they see your child wandering alone outside your home or property

Autism"Swimming and aquatic therapy is actually a wonderful sport for children with autism because it can address many of their body's sensory and motor needs,” said Dr. Gibbs. “By preparing and communicating with your child with autism, family, and friends, summer trips and activities can be much less stressful and more enjoyable.”

Dr. Gibbs earned her BA in psychology from University of Delaware, MS in occupational therapy from Columbia University in the City of New York, and doctorate of occupational therapy from Thomas Jefferson University. She has written and spoken extensively on sensory processing disorders, and also co-authored Raising Kids with Sensory Processing Disorders: A Week-by-Week Guide to Solving Everyday Sensory Issues.

Click here to read the Autism Society's 2014 fact sheet regarding autism.

Dr. Gibbs was featured on KYW Newsradio regarding this topic:



Incoming OT Student on Track for Doctorate at 21


(Photo: John Ziomek/COURIER-POST )

Seventeen-year-old Natalie Quindlen DrOT'18, a high school senior at Gloucester County Institute of Technology, is on the fast track to a doctor in occupational therapy degree at University of the Sciences.

Quindlen will be entering the University's doctoral program as a junior because she will have completed high school with 77 college credits. At this rate, she will be "Dr. Quindlen" by 21, working with autistic children as an occupational therapist.


Click here to read Carly Q. Romalino's story in the Courier-Post...


Recent Grad Says 'Not Even Dialysis' Could Stop Him From Earning MOT Degree

Ahmad and Salar_graduationThis personal essay was written by Ahmad Alsardary MOT'14 (left), who graduated from University of the Sciences on May 21, 2014. His father, Salar (right), is a mathematics professor at the University. They will be featured on WOGL's Philadelphia Agenda on Sunday, June 8, at 6:30 a.m., to share the message below:

Non-traditional students are unique because their stories set them apart from the masses. There are many paths to victory, and some may be easier than others; but the non-traditional students always prefer to blaze their own trails. They realize that it is the journey that forges their character, and they endeavor to leave a mark on the world in an inimitable way. These are the students whose purpose is not to prove to the world, but to alter it with their very existence. Their vision is rooted in a deeper cause, they value life, and they want to make a difference in the world.  Their life is a journey through darkness and demons to attain their lofty goals. 

I was born with a kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome, and doctors did not expect me to live past the age of 2. By following a strict diet, I was able to live a healthy life until the age of 5 when both of my kidneys failed and had to be removed. I was then put on peritoneal dialysis until the age of 8. At 7-years-old, dialysis began to strain my heart, and I had to have open-heart surgery to repair my aortic valve. Fortunately, at age 8, I received a second chance at life – I matched for a kidney transplant.  I lived with this kidney and took immunosuppressants along with many other medications just so that my body would not fight it off. I also had 14 other surgeries within that time and struggled with chronic asthma, ear infections, and sinusitis.

Despite having a hard life growing up, I relied of the tremendous support I received from my parents. They instilled within me the belief that I was capable of anything, that I could leave a significant mark on the world. Although I was in and out of hospitals most of my life, I learned the value of education and schooling.  For them, I was still a “normal kid.”  I went through life attempting to live and interact like any other normal student but deep down inside I knew I was apart from the rest. I was bullied constantly throughout middle and high school, but I could not tell them I was sick because then I would be treated differently. Pity was the last thing I wanted.

I was then accepted into University of the Sciences and entered into the pharmacy program for my first semester. I quickly realized I was not suited for pharmacy; I wanted to go into a program that had more patient interaction. The decision to switch to occupational therapy has altered my life and outlook for the better. As I excelled in this program, I eventually faced a startling setback. At the end of the fall semester of my junior year, three weeks before finals, my kidney failed again. I felt defeated; this would ruin my plans of obtaining my bachelor’s degree and left no hope of pursuing of my master's degree.

As I was put on hemodialysis and I had to get my blood cleaned three times a week, I was entertaining unwelcome thoughts:  If I never found a donor, I could be on dialysis for the rest of my life. This time period in my life was incredibly painful for me, and I was depressed in bed without any hope. However, if it was not for God and family, I would not be where I am right now. My parents motivated me and drove me to have a positive outlook on my life. They told me to keep moving forward despite everything that had happened. My dream was to become an occupational therapist to give back.  My mission was to help others who were less fortunate than I was in regards to their health, and nothing was to stop me, not even dialysis.

Ahmad_hiresThat semester, I sat for and passed all my finals. Throughout my fourth and fifth years, the combination of being on dialysis and going to school simultaneously drained me both mentally and physically. I was going to dialysis for three times a week at night for four hours after my classes in the morning and afternoon. The hardest time for me would be this previous year during my full-time clinicals or level II fieldwork. I would travel close to an hour commute everyday from my site to my home, work eight hour days, and come back to dialysis at night; only to wake up the next morning to repeat this process all over again. That still would not stop my dream and destiny of wanting to help others as an occupational therapist. I was able to complete and pass all of my my graduate-level coursework. I graduated on May 21, and it still feels like a dream to me.

I am a non-traditional student because I followed my dream and accomplished what I sent out to do against all odds. That despite all what was best for me health wise, I still persevered and pursued a higher education. This is why I stayed active and volunteered at many places throughout my years at USciences. I was not supposed to live past the age of 2. Now, at the age of 23, still living on dialysis, I have a master's in occupational therapy from a prestigious university.

My advice is to follow your dreams, and have the courage to face whatever challenged or darkness surrounds you. It is rare people who incite that passion in you, so cherish them. Please, never take your health for granted and always strive to help others; help others see that dreaming is believing and that obstacles are only a test of faith and a test that makes you stronger, wiser and pushes you to fulfill your dreams and ambitions to succeed in your life. 


DrOT Student Named Among 50 National Scholarship Winners

FichterA doctor of occupational therapy student at University of the Sciences was recently named one of more than 50 American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) scholarship recipients from across the United States. Daniel Fichter DrOT’15 was awarded $2,305 through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Endowed Scholarship.

“Dan's work ethic is among the most rigorous of any student I have seen,” said Michelle E. Cohen, PhD, interim chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy. “One of the qualities that truly convinces me of his motivation and potential for an occupational therapy career is his utter persistence.”

More than 50 highly competitive scholarships, ranging in value from $150 to $5,000, were available to occupational therapy students across the nation through AOTF and its collaboration with state occupational therapy associations. Although some scholarship awards had individual requirements, all recipients were required to be currently enrolled full-time in an accredited occupational therapy educational program.

Scholarships were awarded based on selection criteria that included academic achievement, service, and evidence of leadership through activities and written recommendations. Each school year, the AOTF administers funds for scholarships provided through endowments and partnerships with 22 state occupational therapy associations and the District of Columbia Occupational Therapy Association.

Fichter is involved in several professional and student organizations, including the Student Occupational Therapy Association, Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association, and American Occupational Therapy Association.

Further reading: Occupational Therapy Program Receives Full Seven-Year Accreditation.


Sensory-Friendly Dance Class Deemed a Success, Thanks to OT Students

Sensory friendly 1A unique combination of music and movement stirred not only the bodies, but the minds, of several children with sensory processing disorders, thanks to a dance class designed specifically for them this spring by three occupational therapy students at University of the Sciences.

“As occupational therapy students, we are always looking to provide opportunities for people to have the most meaningful experiences as possible,” said Julie Mathew DrOT’16. “I have been dancing since I was 4, and it is one of my biggest passions; this experience was a great way to merge two huge parts of my life.”

This sensory-friendly class – which was offered twice in April at Philadanco, The Philadelphia Dance Company – was tailored to promote dance skills, while catering to each child’s sensory needs by adapting the environment, teaching styles, and class format to ensure the most rewarding experience possible for each child. The class size was small, with only two to six students ages 5-7 per class; and was arranged to minimize the risk of overstimulation.

“We didn't want our dance class to be completely different from a traditional dance class, but we made certain adjustments that made this class enjoyable for our students,” said Mathew. “Our sensory-friendly approach promoted communication between the brain’s right and left hemispheres, improving behavior, communication, and social skills for children with sensory processing disorders.”

Under the guidance of occupational therapy professor Varleisha Gibbs OTD, OTR/L, Kristina Clark MOT'15 and Alyssa Chico MOT'15 also worked with Mathew to design this sensory-friendly class. The 45-minute class included a warm-up activity, game, dance, and a cool down period. Mats and parachutes were also included into the class, and a visual picture schedule allowed the students to know what move or activity was coming up in class to keep them calm and prepared.

Sensory friendlyStudents in the class enjoyed the sensory input and stimulation they received by performing tumbling moves, bear crawls, and jumps. Parents were also encouraged to participate in the class if their children were more comfortable with them around.

Children with sensory processing disorders have great difficulty figuring out what is going on inside and outside of their bodies, said Dr. Gibbs.

“What may be a simple experience for others, like participating in a traditional dance class, can become sensory overload for a child with special needs, and can result in a day being ruined over something like a loud, unexpected noise in the a room,” she said.

Because of the successful turnout to the two sensory-friendly dance classes, Philadanco is working with the occupational therapy students to continue hosting this class throughout the summer.

My Photo

© 2011 University of the Sciences in Philadelphia • 600 South 43rd Street • Philadelphia, PA 19104 • 215.596.8800