15 posts categorized "OT - Delta Iota USciences Honor Society"


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.


VIDEO: 6abc Highlights Students, Faculty at USciences Research Day

6abc showcased the diversity and growth of research pursuits at University of the Sciences during its 12th Annual Research Day and 27th Annual John C. Krantz, Jr., Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, April 10. Research Day recognizes and highlights the research efforts of faculty, as well as undergraduate and graduate students, to encourage and promote communication and collaboration among researchers.
USciences distinguishes itself by offering undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct research early in their academic careers. The diverse research activity that was on display spanned several aspects of the University’s scholarly pursuits, including:
  • Determining occupational therapists’ role in working with pediatric cancer patients
  • Discovering the personality traits that cause adolescents to kill
  • Using yoga to improve quality of life for patients with anorexia nervosa
  • Identifying predictors of successful post-secondary transitions for autistic students


Occupational Therapy Students and Faculty Present at National Conference

USciences made an impact at this year's national occupational therapy conference.

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) organized the largest group of occupational therapists and occupational therapy students in the world. USciences' Occupational Therapy Department was strongly represented. Students and faculty members were honored with multiple presentations and awards this year. Below is a list of these awards and presentations.

Congratulations to all those that represented USciences and the profession of occupational therapy so strongly. 

Dr. Rondalyn Whitney, PhD, OT/L, FAOTA - Dr. Whitney was honored as a Fellow of AOTA. She also presented, "Is Reality Broken? Introducing the First High-Quality Online Game to Improve Social Participation." She also presented an educational session on, "Emotional Disclosure Through Journal Writing: Outcomes of Online Intervention." Dr. Whitney presented another educational session titled, "What You Need to Know to Get Published! An Insider's Look at Strategies for Success." 

Dr. Colleen Maher, OTD, CHT, OTR/L presented a session led, "Evaluation of a One-Week Occupation-Based Program on the Health and Participation of Women With Cancer."

Dr. Varleisha Gibbs, OTD, OTR/L and Elizabeth Higgins presented on, "The Relation of Cultural Behavioral Norms and Parenting Styles to Age of Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders." 

Dr. Kimberly Gargin, OTD, OTR/L presented on, "Generational Differences: Do they Impact Fieldwork?." 

Dr. Ruth Schemm, EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA presented a session titled, "Our Time Now?: Function Becomes Central to Implementing the Accountable Care Act (ACA)." 

Danielle Centi, OTS (P4) - Danielle received an internship with the Developmental Disabilities Special Interest Section. 

Alyssa Reiter, OTS (P4), Paula Ortiz and Christima Smith presented on, "Healthy Living for Children and Family: Occupational Therapy's Presence in the Community." 

Brandy Brouse and Danielle Cooney presented a poster titled, "Prevention and Health Care Access: Relationship Between Engaging in Healthy Behaviors and Health Insurance." 

Carolyn Edwards, OTS (P3) presented on "Best Practice for Fall Prevention in Long-Term Care."

Daniel Fichter, OTS (P3) presented a literature review titled, "Are Apps for Adults in Rehabilitation Settings Evidence-Based?." 

Erin Livingston presented a poster titled, "A Systematic Review of Social Stories: Evidence and Application in Community Settings." 

Palak Sutaria, OTS (P3) presented a literature review on, "Combined Cognitive-Motor Fall Prevention Interventions."

Kristin Anderson, Beth Kelly, Patricia Murphy and Ashley Paolino presented on "Creating Opportunities for Social-Emotional and Physical Play."


Study: Lack of Social Activities Persists Throughout Childhood for Kids With Autism

RWhitney_250x350New research conducted by a group of occupational therapists provides insight into the specific social activities that challenge children and pre-teens diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). By looking at the participation rates of more than 700 children between ages 5 and 13, researchers found that children with ASD experience a lack of participation in social activities such as swimming, visiting friends, and having friends over to play, which persists throughout childhood.

Futhermore, they discovered that children’s autism symptoms impacted how frequently they spent time in social activities. The study also found that the severity of the overall symptoms of the child’s autism affects participation in household activities, errands, neighborhood and social activities, and faith-based activities.

Rondalyn Whitney, PhD, OTR/L, assistant professor of occupational therapy and interim program director of the doctoral program at University of the Sciences, and also works with children who are affected by ASD.

“Children with ASD often find themselves on the periphery of social interactions because they have had less social experiences,” said Dr. Whitney, who has organized Detective Camp and Humor Camp to aid children with ASD in social interaction and understanding humor.

“Occupational therapy practitioners work to address these social concerns so that as these children become adults, they can participate more confidently and age-appropriately in their interactions, because social deficits become more pronounced with age,” she added.

Current research by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed with ASD by age 8. Social challenges among kids with ASD often cause isolation and as an increasing number of children diagnosed with ASD enter their teenage years and adulthood, occupational therapy practitioners are working to help them gain confidence in their social interactions.

Here are some examples of how occupational therapy practitioners work with children to overcome the social challenges caused by ASD:

  • Helping children build the habits of developing and maintaining friendships so that as adults, they can successfully navigate social interactions at work, at home, and in leisure activities.
  • Creating the social context and providing opportunities for children with ASD to engage in meaningful occupations that can foster friendships.
  • Engaging children in community events that offer positive outcomes.
  • Working with parents to reduce their stress level.
  • Enhancing the family’s quality of life to optimize opportunities for participation in activities that foster positive social interaction.

For more information, visit www.ajot.aotapress.net or www.aota.org.

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