Nov 26

Thanksgiving – more than just a holiday?

It’s Thanksgiving break.  Last week was the college’s annual Thanksgiving dinner, and our students are already home or on the road to be with family.  Our faculty are spending the weekend with family, too.

What are the OT faculty thankful for this year?

  • Thanksgiving break with familycornacopia with fruits and nuts
  • A year of good health for my family
  • The healing power of forgiveness – of ourselves and others
  • My son, my best accomplishment – bar none
  • Family
  • Energetic, insightful students
  • An environment that supports critical thinking
  • The gift of life
  • My kind, compassionate, and giving daughter who is making a life based on helping others

But what is Thanksgiving? A day to gather with family and/or friends and stuff ourselves with turkey, cranberries, pumpkin pie and other delicious foods. A holiday once a year when people take time to be thankful and focus on gratitude.

Table full of Thanksgiving foodsAh, so what is gratitude?  Why does it matter?  Is it something that we think about once a year during this upcoming Thanksgiving holiday?

Miriam-Webster’s dictionary defines gratitude as a feeling of appreciation or thanks. The includes a definition as being the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.

According to psychologists who study gratitude, those who consciously engage in gratitude exercises (e.g. journals, lists, etc.) experience the following:

  • more optimism
  • higher energy
  • more alertness
  • less physical complaints or symptoms
  • more progress towards personal goals
  • better sleep duration and quality of sleep
  • positive moods
  • more likely to offer support to others
  • more social connectedness and stronger relationships
  • positive attitudes towards school (for children)
  • more resiliency

So gratitude appears to have potential to significantly improve our physical and emotional health and well-being.  Maybe it DOES mean more than stopping to be thankful once a year.  How do you incorporate gratitude into your daily life?  How can we encourage our clients/patients and even our co-workers to engage in grateful thinking?

We challenge you to incorporate gratitude into your daily occupations – for yourself and for your patients/clients. The last paragraph has some additional suggestions, so keep reading.  Happy Thanksgiving from the Etown College OT Department!

Strategies to focus on gratitude:  Consciously focus on the day-to-day world around you and look for the good or the positive. You may want to start a daily gratitude journal online or on paper – jot down three positive things from each day.  You can have a gratitude bulletin board or white board in your workplace or at home to post things for which you are grateful, or maybe write them pieces of paper and put them in a jar to review at the end the year.  Consciously focus on thinking about the positive or good aspects of a situation – no matter how small or trivial it may seem. Send thank you notes or emails to family, friends, or co-workers to acknowledge or appreciate something they have done or to acknowledge a positive trait or quality; or better yet – compliment them in person.  You can find more information and tips here.



Nov 18

Summer Healthcare Service trip in Honduras

From Rebecca Patten, (MS, class of 2016)

May 25, 2014 a group of Elizabethtown College students started their journey to Honduras for a week-long medical mission trip with C.A.R.E. (Central America Relief Efforts).The group was composed of occupational therapy majors and other allied health/pre-med students.  OT students included Adrianna Bertilino, Shelby Brown, Erin Horting, Kelly Kleindienst, Leah Newman, Rebecca Patten and Briana Vesuvio.  Allied health/pre-med students included Megan Fanelli, David Fanelli, Nate Williams, and Lindsey Zearfoss, Alexis Gerber and Taylor Santor.  With the help of our friends, family, and local businesses, students filled their checked luggage with essential vitamins, ibuprofen, Advil, toothbrushes, toothpaste, general medical supplies, children’s toys and much more, to distribute on the trip.  Our group flew from Miami to Honduras.  Upon arriving in Tegucigalpa, Honduras 3 hours later, we proceeded through customs, gathered our luggage with some help from the friendly airport staff (who spoke minimal English), and then we met with Kristi Phillips, the director of C.A.R.E. In addition to our group and the C.A.R.E. staff, a team of 5 general doctors, 2 dentists, an eye doctor and 6 assistants joined us.

Group of students in Honduras

Throughout the course of our visit to Honduras, we had the opportunity to tour a local hospital, an orphanage, and set up and assist with the operation of three medical clinics across the countryside. During the hospital visit, we observed a surgery and a baby being born! We were truly amazed to learn about the differences in health care in Honduras compared to the United States.  For example, we were told that patients who came to the hospital for an x-ray were expected to provide the hospital with the necessary film.  In addition to the lack of supplies, there was minimal radiation protection provided for the technician and patient.

O.T. students playing with children in HondurasAfter the hospital, we visited children in a local orphanage in Choluteca, Honduras where we distributed coloring books, jump ropes, bubbles, crayons, and other little toys. We were instantly welcomed with a smile and hug by each child.  We managed to communicate through the use of charades and basic Spanish and English.  Each one of us made unique bonds with a child, even though we only had a short time there. Our good-byes were by far the most difficult part of this trip, knowing that our paths would most likely never cross again, but we wished our new friends well and gave them big hugs.  We hope that our visit made a difference in their lives and that our donations helped prepare them for the upcoming school year.

You can learn more about our trip on Youtube.  

The following three days of our trip were spent opening up medical clinics in three different towns in Central and Southern Honduras.  Each day started early in order to make the journey to the clinic site.  Once we arrived, we unpacked and sorted the medicine and donations we had brought in order to set up a make-shift pharmacy.  On a typical clinic day, we would set up for about an hour while over 500 people of nearby towns lined up to be treated.  In order to start the clinic day, the Mayor of the town would introduce us to the people and thank our group for coming.  Our team served over 1440 patients in 3 days!

students wearing scrubs to help with a health clinicAll three clinic days we handed out toothbrushes and toothpaste to the children and educated them on how to brush their teeth.  For many of them, this was their first toothbrush and they were excited to learn how to use it.  After our workshop, the kids would store their toothbrushes in their cubbies at school and every morning they would be reminded to brush their teeth by their teacher.  Programs like this have had success in reducing the amount of cavities by 75% in schoolchildren by instructing the children how to brush their teeth.  Children were also instructed to inform and educate their parents to brush and floss their teeth as well.

The people we met during the clinics were so welcoming and thankful for our presence. They were warm, appreciative and sincere people who were willing to share what they had.

Reflecting back on this trip, each one of us came away with our own unique experiences and bonds, but it came to no surprise that we all were so glad that we had this truly life-changing experience.  Volunteering abroad truly opened our eyes to how good we have it in America.  Seeing a third-world country definitely restored “purpose to our practice” and re-energized us to complete schooling in the health care and medical professions. Visiting Honduras opened our eyes to the great need in this world to help others and taught us that even though we come from a very small college in the middle of rural Pennsylvania, we have the power to make a difference!

Nov 13

Have you heard about Act 31 in Pennsylvania?

Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants who are licensed in Pennsylvania must comply with new education and training requirements under the Child Protective Services Law – Act 31, section 6311.  Effective January 1, 2015, all licensed health care workers (and funeral directors), must complete DPW-approved (Department of Public Works) training in child abuse recognition and reporting requirements.

For new license applications:  A minimum of 3 hours of training is required.

For license renewals:  A minimum of 2 hours of training is required.

Further information about the law and links to approved training is available at the State Board of Occupational Therapy Education and License.  The list of currently approved training will be updated on a regular basis.

Nov 12

Homecoming 2014

3 alumni from the 2010s

Recent graduates from the 2010s

The department hosted its annual alumni reunion on Saturday, October 18 from 3:00 to 4:30 in Esbenshade 360. The event was attended by alumni from every decade in the program’s history: 1970s, the 1980s, the 1990s, the 2000s, and the 2010s. It was a time to reminisce, catch-up, and develop new relationships. Alumni had the opportunity to peruse photo albums and a photo slideshow, and to examine some of the initial program documents such as the initial grant proposals written by Doris Gordon. We enjoyed connecting and reconnecting with many familiar faces.

3 alumni from 1984

From the 1980s

alumni from the 2000s

From the 2000s

Nov 10

Hot off the presses – faculty and alumni publications

Congratulations on recent publications by Dr. Tam Humbert, assoc. professor of occupational therapy, and two OT alums – Melissa Muller, OTD, OTR/L & Angela (Freeland) Regensburg, MS, OTR/L.

Pretz, J., Brookings, J. B., Carlson, L. A., Humbert, T. K., Roy, M., Jones, M., & Memmert, D. (2014). Development and validation of a new measure of intuition: The Types of Intuition Scale.  Journal of Behavioral Decision Making (online). DOI: 10.1002/bdm.1820.

Muller, M., Toth-Cohen, S., & Mulcahey, M.J. (2014). Development and evaluation of a hospital-based peer support group for younger individuals with stroke. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 28(3), 277-295. DOI: 10.3109/07380577.2014.919551.

Regensburg, A. M. (2014). Use of iPads by occupational therapists in a medical intensive care unit. Physical Disabilities Special Interest Section Quarterly, 37(3), 1-3.

Nov 04

Veterans’ Day Movie Showing – “Travis: A Soldier’s Story”

US FlagJoin us on Tuesday November 11 at 7 pm in Gibble Auditorium for a showing of Travis: A Soldier’s Story.   This is a documentary featuring  U.S.  Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills, a wounded soldier, with an intimate look into his life after physical and emotional injuries. There is no charge to attend, but we are accepting donations via cash or charge at the event. 100% of the proceeds go to the Travis Mills Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed to benefit and assist wounded and injured veterans and their families. This event is sponsored by the Student O.T. Association, Pi Theta Epsilon, and the Pennsylvania O.T. Association District I.

If you can not attend but want more information or to donate, please visit the Travis Mills Foundation

Oct 29

Stronger Every Day: Meet Brian Keefer

Brian Keefer, underwater in scuba gearFrom Emily Peters, BS, MOTS (’15)

An all-around athlete, Brian Keefer sustained a C4 spinal cord injury during a gymnastics accident in 2008.  A York County native, he underwent years of rehabilitation, graduated from Lock Haven University with a degree in recreation management, and starred in the national TV show “Extreme Makeover Home Edition.”  Now at the age of 25, Brian doesn’t let his injury stop him from living life to the fullest.and he is excited to share his journey with us!  This event is free and open to the public.

Date & Time:  Wednesday, November 5th, at 6:30 pm

Location:  Gibble Auditorium (Esbenshade/Master’s Center) at Elizabethtown College

Sponsored by:  the college’s national honor Society for Occupational Therapy Students – Pi Theta Epsilon

Oct 28

Alums earn their OTDs

graduation capClass notes from the Etown Alumni office:

Congratulations to Karen (Cocklin) Tushek ’89, Christine (Hunsinger) Meister ’89 and Amy (Fladmark) Waldkoenig ’89 who received their Doctorates in Occupational Therapy (OTD) from Chatham University in May, 2014


Oct 21

Graduate students walk for mental illness awareness

OT students at the NAMI Walk

Jannessa Miller & Rachel Little

Saturday, October 11th started off as a dreary, rainy day.  However, four graduate students braved the weather to participate in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk of York County. Rachel Little, Jannessa Miller, Carly Stull, and Sarah Williams walked to raise awareness of mental illness and to promote the role of occupational therapy for people with mental illness.  The students were featured in a news article in the York Daily Record.  The students are featured in a video interview at the bottom of the article. Good job, ladies!

Jannessa Miller, B.S., MOTS (’15) shared her thoughts about the experience.

“Before completing my first fieldwork rotation at Springfield Hospital Center this past summer (an inpatient psychiatric hospital), I never really gave mental illness much thought. I knew that it was an important part of our profession and that it tragically affects multiple people and their families throughout the world, but I didn’t know how much help this population really needed and the ways that I could contribute. Last summer I realized just how unique and fun it can be working with this population, as well as all of the lessons I can learn from them. Because of this, participating in an awareness walk with the NAMI association was a no-brainer for me.

Throughout history and still today patients suffering from a mental illness face a marginalizing stigma and it continues to be a hushed topic in our society. I joined this awareness event in order to show my support in ending this stigma and increasing the help this population receives. As a bonus, it was also an opportunity to come armed with an OT shirt and OT brochures to talk about our profession and the role we play by providing these patients with a little extra help so that they can become the best versions of themselves possible.”

Oct 15

Blue Jay OTs’ new “nesting” place

We are growing, and so is our space.  Last month, the O.T. dept. started using space at 855 E. College Ave – across from Esbenshade. This charming house provides office space for our fieldwork coordinator and her assistant as well as a lounge area for meetings and workspace for our graduate students. The house is wired for internet service, and several computers are available for student use.  A microwave, refrigerator and coffee pot help equip the kitchen. We look forward to students using this space for group meetings and projects as well as just a place for them to study.  Construction started last week to remodel the 3-season back porch into a year-round meeting space, too.  If you are coming to Homecoming, stop by and check out the new “nest.”

855 E. College Ave. - back porch

The back porch – soon to be a year round gathering place for graduate students.
Photo from Christine Achenbach – Thank you!