Mar 10

Blue Jays head to Nashville – Music City – for the AOTA Conference

Faculty, recent graduates, and current students are headed to Nashville for the 2015 annual American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in April.  They are excited to represent E-town through various presentations.  If you are going to the conference, check out these presentations!AOTA banner for 2015 conference in Nashville


Thurs. April 16
1:00 – 3:00 PM      Poster 2023 Think Tank Exploration of Interprofessional Education.  Judy Ericksen, PhD, OTR/L; Molly MacGray, MS, OTR/L (’14), Katherine Stull, MS, OTR/L (’14), & Kimberly Welker, MS, OTR/L (’14).
Friday, April 17
12:30 PM – 2:30 PM Poster 4009 The Role of Entrepreneurship in Occupational Therapy in the Context of the Affordable Care Act.   Lindsay Hetherington (current graduate student).
3:00 – 5:00 PM      Poster 5078 Paleo, GFCF, Ketogenic, Organic, and the Next Food Craze: There is a Role for OTs Working with Kids with Special Needs.   Kerri Hample, OTD, OTR/L, Veronica Benoit MS, OTR/L (’14), Erin Meanix, MS, OTR/L (’14), & Taryn Nace, MS, OTR/L (’14).
Saturday, April 18
9:00 – 11:00 AM    Poster 6034 Crafting Health, Wellness, and Identity: Lessons from American Male Quiltmakers.   Linda Leimbach, ScD, OTR/L.
12:00 – 2:00 PM    Poster 7062 Hearts, Health, & Habits: Physical Activity in Children with Congenital Heart Defects (CHD).  Rebecca Porter, MS, OTR/L (’14) & Nora Redmond, MS, OT (’14).  Contributing authors:  Debbie Waltermire, MHS, OTR/L & Megan Steber, MS, OTR/L (’14).
12:00 – 2:00 PM    Poster 7091 The Occupational Challenges of, and Supports for, Individuals Providing Care to People with Dementia.  Jennifer Bush (current graduate student) & Kimberly Cosgrove (current graduate student). Contributing author:  Tamera Keiter Humbert, D.Ed, OTR/L.


Feb 25

Thinking Outside the Box – Expanding Fieldwork

Awareness of occupational therapy as a profession has improved (haven’t we been asking for this for a long time?), and applications to OT and OTA programs have tripled in the past 5 years. What does that mean? It means the burden on clinicians is greater for providing clinical educational experiences for OT and OTA students but also providing observation experiences for those who are exploring OT.  Whether you are involved in educating fieldwork students or not, you are probably aware of the increase over the past years in requests for fieldwork as well as requests for high school students’ observations or shadowing.

As a trainer for the AOTA’s Fieldwork Education Certificate Program, I promote other ways of providing fieldwork than just the most popular 1:1 apprentice:preceptor model. Just as we as clinicians try a new technique when the old one isn’t as effective with our patients, we can do likewise in educational situations. Among Etown’s 300+ fieldwork sites, a group/collaborative or multiple student model is more prevalent in mental health settings than physical rehabilitation. Of note is that Mayo Clinic’s OTs and PTs ONLY take 3 level II students at once instead of just 1. They offer their expertise on how others can implement it. If you are interested in learning more about it, check out the Journal of Allied Health1. Mayo has provided a model from which we are welcome to create opportunities.

Alternatives to the 1:1 model include 1:2+ (supervisor:students), 2:1 (supervisors:student), remote supervision, multiple site models and any other model you may create as long as the student is

  • Meeting the level II requirements of the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (section C of the ACOTE standards).  These include, but are not limited to: a minimum of 8 hours per WEEK of supervision; fieldwork educator is “adequately prepared” as a fieldwork educator; and the student meets “entry level” at the end of 12 weeks as your site’s OT job description describes it
  • Your site’s expectations are met (including what the third-party payers require, e.g. Medicare’s line of sight supervision).

stick figure with thought bubble, standing outside of red boxWe can also think outside the box and have more than 1 supervisor in the case of 2 part-time OTs supervising 1 student. A student can also provide services at a remote location if supervision is provided appropriately.  As long as the “primary” fieldwork educator is an OT who is adequately prepared and has been employed as an OT for at least a year following initial NBCOT certification, the sky’s the limit. A secondary supervisor does not have to be an OT but could be a service provider who understands the role of OT sufficiently to guide the student.

One fieldwork site, where Elizabethtown College OT students participate in level I and II fieldwork, uses a model that emphasizes theory, reflection and creativity in treatment planning. One supervisor oversees several dyads of students who work in various units providing NON-reimbursed OT services. This gives a value-added service to the residents of the program, a learning experience for the students, and multiplies the lone OT’s effectiveness several-fold. This facility will be presenting on their model at AOTA annual conference in April in Nashville.

I am hopeful that we can begin to branch out into new models to demonstrate that OTs and OTAs are, indeed, flexible and creative problem-solvers. The future of our profession depends on educating today’s students. I am optimistic that you will embrace this opportunity and partner with your friendly neighborhood OT or OTA fieldwork coordinator to find new solutions to a growing challenge.

If you would like more information about this or any other opportunity listed here, please contact Elizabethtown College’s OT Academic Fieldwork Coordinator about how we can explore the possibilities. Chris is available at or at 717-361-1146.

1Rindflesch,A. B.,  Dunfee, H. J., Cieslak, K. C., Eischen, S. L., Trenary, T., Calley, D. Q., & Heinle, D. K. (2009). Collaborative Model of Clinical Education in Physical and Occupational Therapy at the Mayo Clinic. Journal of Allied Health, 38(3), 132–142

Feb 20

Top 10 Reasons We Belong to our Professional Association(s)

gold-colored top 10At the POTA conference last fall, the keynote speaker focused on the distinct value of occupational therapy and how our profession needs to continue to communicate our worth and significance to others – clients, families, policy makers, insurers, and more.  Wow- that’s a huge responsibility for one person.  Can we do more if we work together?   If you are already a member of your professional organization, good for you.  If not, we encourage you to reconsider joining a professional organization.  Maybe that professional association membership is more than just dues and newsletters.

Here are our top 10 reasons that the Etown OT Faculty belong to various professional associations (e.g. AOTA, state associations, other related organizations):

  1. Advocacy and policy issues – professional associations are a powerful collective voice.  Who else has time and expertise to monitor ongoing legislative changes and legislative issues that impact OT?
    • If not us, who will do this for us?
    • My association speaks for me as an OT and represents me at the state and national levels.
    • We need to be “at the table” when policies and plans are being formulated.
    • Definitely strength in numbers – strong membership levels increase our profession’s credibility to policymakers and legislators.
  2. Professional identity – pride in and commitment to our profession, integrity as a professional
  3. Access to professional resources such as peer-reviewed journals and promotional materials
  4. Updates in practice trends and legal issues that affect practice
  5. Networking – opportunities to meet with other therapists from different regions in the state, country or world as well as with therapists who work in other practice areas/specialty areas.
    • Networking also can lead to collaborative partnerships
  6. Hearing different perspectives and voices
  7. Opportunities for professional growth – e.g. continuing education, leadership, and service
  8. Professional responsibility
  9. Supporting the organizations’ mentoring and development opportunities for others, especially students and new graduates – our future.
  10. Professional association membership is job insurance for the future!
Feb 04

Meet the new AJOT editor – Lorie Gage Richards, PhD, OTR/L (’83)

BETHESDA, MD (June 10, 2014)—The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has appointed Lorie Gage Richards, PhD, OTR/L, as the Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Occupational Therapy (AJOT). Richards is chair of and a tenured associate professor in the Division of Occupational Therapy at University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

Dr. Lorie Gage Richards

Lorie Gage Richards

“I am honored to assume the Editor-in-Chief role for the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, occupational therapy’s flagship journal,” said Richards. “I’ll work to maintain the prestige of the journal by continuing my predecessor’s efforts to raise its reputation among health care researchers, educators, and the general health care community by increasing the number and quality of submissions. I’ll also work to increase the impact factor by emphasizing the publication of high-level evidence for occupational therapy practice and education.”

The American Journal of Occupational Therapy is the official journal of the American Occupational Therapy Association, which represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. AJOT focuses on research examining the effectiveness and efficiency of occupational therapy practice so that occupational therapy and other health care professionals can make informed, evidence-based decisions in their practice.

AJOT publishes six times each year in print with additional supplements online. For more information, visit or

As Editor-in-Chief, Richards will plan issues, solicit manuscripts, edit articles, maintain relationships with contributors, and manage the peer review process. In addition, the editor-in-chief will work to maintain and increase the journal’s impact factor and work with the AOTA Evidence-Based Research Project to publish content furthering the profession’s research base. The position is a 3-year appointment starting July 1.

Richards earned a B.S. in occupational therapy from Elizabethtown College in 1983, a M.S. in psychology in 1989 and a Ph.D. in psychology from Syracuse University in 1992. An active AOTA member, Richards also chairs the Nursing and Rehabilitation Committee at the American Heart Association, and sits on several academic committees at the University of Utah’s College of Health. She has acted as a journal reviewer and member of the editorial boards for dozens of academic journals, including the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, the American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Psychological Reports.

Founded in 1917, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) represents the professional interests and concerns of more than 140,000 occupational therapists, assistants, and students nationwide. The Association educates the public and advances the profession of occupational therapy by providing resources, setting standards including accreditations, and serving as an advocate to improve health care. Based in Bethesda, Md., AOTA’s major programs and activities are directed toward promoting the professional development of its members and assuring consumer access to quality services so patients can maximize their individual potential. For more information, go to

To schedule an interview with Richards or AOTA Press Director Christina Davis,call Media Relations Manager Katie Riley, 301-652-6611, ext. 2963, or e-mail,

Jan 28

Alumni Spotlight – Kelly Downs, MS, OTR/L (’09)

Kelly Downs in front of Univ. of Alabama building

Kelly Downs recently obtained a Graduate Certificate in Low Vision Rehab from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The online coursework took 5 year-round semesters for a total of 19 credits and included an intensive weekend in Birmingham in June 2014 for hands on experience with magnifiers, assessments, and the opportunity to finally meet and network with her online classmates.

Kelly answered a series of questions via email:

What does the certificate prepare you for?

The degree prepares me to work with individuals with low vision–specifically glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, and macular degeneration. It provides in-depth assessments and interventions, from an OT perspective, to work with individuals with low vision. The program also provides two courses focused on changes after brain injury. The coursework provided an elective on the business side of advocating for and starting a low vision program.

 What motivated you to pursue this certificate?

eye chart with magnifying glassIn my first job, I worked on the brain injury unit of a rehab hospital. I found vision to be an area that continued to stump me! I attended a 2-day course in 2012 presented by Mary Warren. It was called Visual Processing in Brain Injury. At the course, Mary shared information regarding the certificate program at UAB. I learned a lot from the course and started to research Mary’s program at UAB. I wanted to have more in-depth and specialty knowledge in this area. I also knew Mary as a guru in addressing visual changes with a focus on the role of OT.

Would you recommend this to others?

Definitely! The coursework prepared me to work with a variety of populations: specifically individuals with brain injury (stroke, TBI, etc), as well as the elderly in general. The coursework also emphasizes OT’s role in diabetic self management, including low vision adaptations and medication management. It has helped me to “think outside the box” when treating patients. It has allowed me to see new areas to intervene and new ways to educate and advocate for patients.

 What is your current employment? 

Currently I am working in acute care at York Hospital. I am a permanent therapist in the ICU and with the trauma population. Three years ago, I remember saying, “I will never work in an ICU!” Little did I know I would move to acute care and take a permanent position there!

Kelly Downs & 3 other therapists outside in front of UAB

Kelly Downs (2nd from left) and fellow therapists at their UAB Low Vision Training

What else have you been doing since you graduated from Etown?

I have been tackling the ups and downs of home ownership for 5 years! I have enjoyed traveling in the United States and Mexico. I have kept up some great relationships with fellow OTs from Etown, as well as gathered new mentees/mentors and friends from my two jobs. I have continued my interest in volleyball by playing in a recreational league. My coursework, and working full-time, actually consumed more time than I thought! After a few months off from school, I am looking for my next professional, academic, or personal pursuit…who knows what it will be!

 Any words of wisdom to share?

Look for opportunities and continue to expand your horizons! In high school, I envisioned myself working as a pediatric OT or as an outpatient therapist. In college, I took geriatric courses and thought I would work with this population. I started my career in acute rehab and learned to love working with the TBI population. Before starting my low vision coursework, I decided to make a move to acute care. I apply the coursework in vision and low vision screening with brain injury and the general acute care population. I have used my experience with TBI to educate other acute care therapists on screening for vision deficits and high level cognitive deficits. At this point, I have interest and experience with vision, brain injury, acute rehab, acute care, early mobility in the ICU, and the list continues! Never stop learning or finding new areas of interest! Never stop trying to find new ways to work as an OT and work to the full potential of your license!

Jan 20

Calling all recent Etown graduates…

From Dr. Nancy Carlson, Associate Professorlife is a classroomYou are invited to share your experiences transitioning from student to practitioner. Please come to offer your wisdom and encouragement to the OT graduates of 2015. As you remember, this time of year, graduate students are deeply immersed in their graduate projects. Through your visit to the OT530 course, I would like to encourage our students by reminding them of the big picture… Life AFTER graduation.

When: Thursday, February 5, 8:00 – 9:00 AM

Contact:  Nancy at

Jan 15

Marla Peiffer – Senior OT student wins “Miss York County” Pageant and Scholarship

Marla Peiffer, Miss York CountyMarla Peiffer was recently crowned “Miss York County” – part of the Miss Pennsylvania and Miss America Organization.  The “Miss York County” pageant is open to young women who live in York County or surrounding counties.  Marla is from Quarryville, PA, in Lancaster County.

Marla’s involvement in scholarship pageants began as a senior in high school when she entered a school-based pageant and won the “Miss Solanco” scholarship.  Since then she has entered multiple scholarship pageants, including competing in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant where she was a Top Ten finalist and placed third runner up in 2014.  This most recent pageant resulted in a $4,000 scholarship, but Marla says other pageant awards have also helped with her college expenses.

The scholarship competition includes a talent component.  Marla’s talent is tap dance, and in her most recent pageant win, she danced a routine to “R.O.C.K in the USA” by John Mellencamp.  The competitions also include an interview with judges.  Marla says these interviews can be very intense with questions ranging from issues of gun control to the Affordable Care Act.  She says the interview portion forces her to think on her feet, clearly communicate her thoughts and opinions, and be prepared with knowledge and awareness of various current events and issues.

Marla, Miss York County (center) with Miss White Rose City and Miss Susquehanna Valley

Marla, Miss York County (center) with Miss White Rose City and Miss Susquehanna Valley

Contrary to stereotypes about beauty pageants, Marla reported that these competitions are really more about service and scholarship.  Her fellow contestants are nice and sweet young women who are also very ambitious, with goals of professional careers in law, medicine, and yes – Occupational Therapy.  Marla commented that the scholarship competition is a great way to promote awareness of and advocate for occupational therapy; invariably she has to explain to someone what OT is and what OTs do.

In addition, scholarship competitions require contestants to have a platform or critical issue they want to promote.  Marla’s platform is “Inclusion Revolution – Best Buddies Moving Forward.”  Best Buddies is an organization that promotes friendships and social integration for adults with intellectual and developmental disorders (IDD).  Marla has been a member of the Etown College Best Buddies club since her freshman year, and is currently serving her second year as President of the club.  As part of her critical issue platform, she promotes inclusion of adults with IDD, the use of person-first language, and the removal of the “r” word (“retard”) from language about adults with IDD.  Marla commented that being involved in a pageant competition is really about setting goals for yourself and striving to achieve the goal.  She said, “It’s neat to see the multiple challenges, even if you don’t win.  Each experience shapes you and changes you.”

So what’s next for Marla?  She will compete in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant in June, in Pittsburgh PA.  Of course, she still has to finish her senior year of college and earn her bachelor’s degree in May.  Her first level II fieldwork experience is also scheduled for this summer in Lancaster, and she has a year of graduate OT studies ahead of her next year.

Best wishes, and good luck, Marla!  Keep up the great work in and out of the classroom!

Jan 08

Domestic Violence: Women’s Perspectives on Recovery

purple ribbon against domestic violence and bullyingBy Tam Humbert, D.Ed., OTR/L, Associate Professor

Domestic violence has always been a social concern. Even though it might show up and be highlighted in the media from time to time, as it did this past fall, it is not seasonal nor an issue for only some. Domestic violence (or Intimate Partner Violence) transcends race, gender, economic status, religious orientation and sexual identification.

One in four women identify as victims of IPV, whether that be from physical, psychological or sexual abuse.  The survivors and those that work toward recovery and a life of incorporation do so through many different venues and perspectives.

A recently published article about women’s perceptions on the early recovery process highlights the intricate therapeutic approach needed for such recovery. This article was written by Dr. Tamera Keiter Humbert and alumni Katharine (Huylebroeck) Engleman (MS, ’11) and Courtney (Lang) Miller (MS, ’11).

The full citation is:

Humbert, T. K., Engleman, K., & Miller, C. E. (2014). Exploring women’s expectations of recovery from intimate partner violence: A phenomenological study.  Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 30(4), 358-380. Doi: 10.1080/0164212X.2014.970062.

Jan 02

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

Happy New Year from the O.T. Department at Elizabethtown College!


Do you make New Year’s resolutions?  How many do you make?  Do you write them down somewhere and then revisit them to see if you achieve them?

Making a new year’s resolution is similar to setting goals for our patients/clients, right?  We set a “big picture” or long-term goal, and then we make several smaller steps or short-term goals to help reach the overarching goal.

What are your New Year’s Resolutions?  

Here are some ideas to help you achieve better health and well-being in the New Year:notebook paper with a list of resolutions

  • Eat more fruits and vegetables – even if you don’t achieve the recommended 5 servings/day, at least aim for this 1-2 times per week.
  • Get more physical exercise or activity – use the steps, go for a walk, take a swim, enroll in a Zumba class or other exercise class
  • Disconnect from your technology periodically so that you can fully enjoy the people and the world around you
  • Get outside for some sunshine and to interact with nature
  • Engage in a hobby or leisure activity that you enjoy at least once a week
  • Exercise your mind – read a good book, practice meditation or relaxation
  • Volunteer your time and your talents
  • Allow yourself enough time for sufficient sleep and rest

For your professional, clinical practice, how about these?

  • Learn something new about your area of practice
  • Supervise a fieldwork student
  • Volunteer for a committee or special project
  • Learn to use your electronic medical record
  • If you are not already a member, join your professional association – e.g. POTA, AOTA, or others related to your work