Nov 24

Reflections on Vietnam – Verse Four: Occupational Therapy in Vietnam

multi-colord balls in a ball pit at the Huynh De Nhu Center for the Blind

A ball pit at the Huynh De Nhu Center for the Blind

There are no occupational therapy schools in Vietnam so OT practitioners who are in the country are generally working with non-government organization (NGOs) and non-profit organizations on a short-term basis.

therapy room at an orphanage, showing colorful mats and a suspended swing

The therapy rooms at the Thi Nghe Orphanage

I was asked to provide some training to a group of physical therapists and nursing students who provide services at the Thi Nghe Orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City. This orphanage has about 400 children and adolescents with a wide range of disabilities. The physical therapists also provide services to children who live in the community. Planning for the training was far more stressful than delivering it as I had very little idea of the skill level of the therapists and what information might be most useful to them. Through the use of an interpreter we agreed that feeding was a good fit for them – and for me. We determined I would provide a short description of occupational therapy and then together we would look at three children they had identified with feeding issues. I did my best to prepare for anything, not knowing what we would encounter.


Dr. Ericksen giving a feeding inservice

Practicing Jaw Control at the Feeding inservice

When we arrived at the center, we were warmly greeted and led into a room that was packed with staff and children. After a welcoming ceremony, the children and half of our group left. Nursing students, the physical therapists, and administrators remained and together we worked with three children. Hong, (in-country Brittany’s Hope staff member) and Mai-Lynn (executive director of Brittany’s Hope) translated for us. But not everything was easily translated so we supplemented with visuals, hand gestures, and pantomime. And in the process we frequently laughed. The time flew by. Providing an in-service on feeding to physical therapists in Vietnam had never been on my “bucket” list but it was an incredible experience. I was thankful for the opportunity to share our knowledge in a place where it is needed with people who will use it well. The needs are great in Vietnam, as they are in many places locally and internationally.  As occupational therapists finding a way to meet these needs, even on a very small scale, is a gift we give ourselves.

[Verse 5…to be continued]

Nov 17

Reflections on Vietnam – Verse Three: An Overview of the Trip

Map of Vietnam with red stars to pinpoint places we visited

Red stars show the places we visited

Over the course of 17 days we traveled the length of Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh City to Saigon and Ha Long Bay. We had four in-country flights and spent hours on buses. We:

  • Interacted with social work students at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Ming City
  • Delivered donated supplies and played games with children at the De Nhu Nghia Center for the Blind
  • Delivered toys, supplies (milk, vitamins), and therapy equipment (feeding utensils, splinting materials, exercise equipment) to the Thi Nghe Orphanage
  • Made dream catchers and danced with the girls at the Warm House School for Ethnic Females
  • Delivered supplies, helped to till a new garden, move charcoal and brush from a kitchen renovation (disturbing a very large rat in the process), and played with children at the House of Love Orphanage
  • Traveled to a rural area to deliver bicycles, rice and cooking oil
  • 2 Vietnamese workers welcoming the group at a vocational training center

    Welcome ceremony at the Danang Vocational Training Center

    Delivered supplies and spent time with children and youth at the Danang Red Cross Orphanage and the Danang Vocational Training Center for Children and Young Adults with Disabilities

  • Visited a nursing home in Hoi An, delivering lucky money and six packs of a tonic made from birds’ spit
  • Sponsored field trips on the beach for children and young adults from the House of Love, Warm House, and Danang Vocational Training Center for Children and Young Adults with Disabilities
  • Painting trees at Ha Tinh Orphanage

    Painting trees at the Ha Tinh Orphanage

    Delivered supplies, dedicated a soccer field, packed Sunflower Bags, and painted trees at the Ha Tinh Orphanage

  • Along with adolescents from the Ha Tinh Orphanage delivered bicycles and Sunflower Bags to disadvantaged youth in a rural area outside of Ha Tinh
  • Learned to safely manage crossing very busy streets without cross works or other directional signals
  • Experimented with different foods: learned to love pho
  • Visited the Cu Chi Tunnels, Marble Mountain, and The American War Museum
  • Sojourned in Hoi An, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where we learned about silk-making
  • Toured Hanoi, visiting night markets and watching the water puppets
  • Took an overnight cruise on Ha Long Bay

    water view with pink flowers - Hoi An

    Hoi An

[Verses 4-5…to be continued]

Nov 10

Reflections on Vietnam – Verse Two: The Preparation

Children & adults with a multi-colored parachute

Enjoying the parachute

Planning for the trip began early in the fall semester of 2014. During the spring semester of 2015, students enrolled in a 2-credit class where they learned about the history and culture of Vietnam, practiced conversational Vietnamese, and planned activities for the children and youth at the orphanages and centers. The students also raised money to buy supplies, including bicycles, food, vitamins, clothing, and to make to renovations at some of the centers. Altogether they, along with Brittany’s Hope trip participants, raised over $40,000 to support service projects.

Adults and children playing outside with a parachute

Enjoying the parachute

Donations were also solicited from Flaghouse and North Coast. North Coast donated adaptive equipment, feeding equipment, and splinting materials and tools. Flaghouse donated feeding equipment, sensory toys, and a large parachute that provided hours of fun for all. We were grateful for the outpouring of donations from family, friends, vendors, and even strangers as their gifts enabled us to provide tangible and needed support to the centers we visited.

[Verses 3-5…to be continued]

Nov 05

2015 POTA Conference featured many Etown blue jays

Graduate student, Robin Kreiser presents a poster

Alums, Monica Loranger (’15) & Jessie Krueger (’15) connected with current grad students, Becki Lane & Erin Horting. 



The 2015 Annual Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association’s annual conference in Scranton, PA, featured various Etown students, faculty, and recent alumni as attendees as well as presenters.  A full list of Etown presentations can be found here.


POTA COC 2015 (1024x616)

POTA’s Commission on Conference, including members Monica Loranger (third from the left) and Christine Achenbach (fourth from the left).



Etown was also represented in service at the conference. Our academic fieldwork coordinator, Christine Achenbach, along with alumnus Monica Loranger (’15), served on the POTA commission on conference.  Meanwhile, several students volunteered with people power at the conference.  

 Save the date – next year’s POTA conference is Oct. 14-16, 2016 in our own “back yard” – LANCASTER!  

Current graduate student, Robin Kreiser, presents her poster.

Current graduate student, Robin Kreiser, discusses her undergraduate honors project.

Three alumni give a presentation from their master's project.

Bethany Panchak (’15), Jessie Krueger (’15), and Lauren Neiswender (’15) give a presentation based on their master’s project.

Nov 03

OT alums gather at the spOT for 2015 Homecoming

by Terri Dennehy, M.Ed., OTR/L, Lecturer

the SpOT front (768x1024)The Occupational Therapy Homecoming reception for alumni was hosted in The spOT, the department’s newest space for graduate occupational therapy students.  Our house at 855 College Avenue, situated diagonally from Esbenshade, offers a “home-away-from-home” where students can work, rest and meet for the promotion of research and education.  Chris and Laura, our Fieldwork Team, have offices there as well.

029 (709x1024)Angela, Linda, Chris and Terri were delighted to show the space, as we enjoyed visiting with many returning graduates from the 1980 through the 2015 cohorts. Networking for potential fieldwork sites, for advertising upcoming conference offerings and for job searches occurred amidst the fun, food and family time.  Thanks to all returning Blue Jays and our current students who took part in the day’s festivities.

AS & 2014, 2015 grads (1024x768)

L Kleindienst-V Snyder-J Miller (1024x768)

Oct 29

Reflections on Vietnam – Verse One: A Moment

I first posted about the Brittany’s Hope/Elizabethtown College service learning trip to Vietnam on April 6. After much time and reflection, here is the post-trip summary of the trip [May 18 – June 3] in Five Verses.

Verse One: A Moment  

Roundboats on a beach in Vietnam

Round boats on a beach in Vietnam

Mid-afternoon on a sandy beach. A brilliant blue sky and intense sun above. The temperature was 101 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat index 112. Before me a group of Vietnamese youth and American college students were dancing exuberantly to a mix of American and Vietnamese songs.  It was their third consecutive dance and I wasn’t certain they planned to stop soon.

A long moment of feeling at peace, followed by a briefer moment – I was truly there, in Cam Ranh, halfway across the world, embracing the heat, the humidity, a myriad of pungent odors, and a different sense of order and organization. We had come a long way, 8,816 miles to be exact, in a very short time.

American & Vietnamese students dancing on a beach

Still dancing at dusk

Just two weeks previously, as we had our final preparation meeting for our trip to Vietnam, we (adults and students alike) had been bemoaning/dreading the anticipated heat and humidity. And yet, here we were, almost relishing it, well, certainly tolerating it, and preferring to move with newfound friends in the bright sunlight rather than to sit in the shade with fans.  I considered joining the dance, paused, and turned to the water instead. Embrace is a relative concept.

[Verses 2-5…to be continued]

Oct 27

Leadership Development: Preparing Today’s Students for Occupational Therapy’s Future

Eight of our current graduate students participated in the Leadership Development Workshop, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA).  The workshop was held on Oct. 22, 2015 in Scranton, PA – the day prior to POTA’s annual conference.  Students completed a strengths finder profile and discussed strategies to enhance their leadership skills.  The workshop culminated with students being paired with a POTA board member for mentoring over the next 12 months in various leadership activities such as advocacy, conference planning, political action committees, and more.

8 graduate students at the leadership workshop

Front: Victoria Snyder, Marla Peiffer, Colette Hinton.
Back: Christina Gilley, Heidi Weidemoyer, Erin Horting, Rebecca Patten, and Rebecca Lane

Comments from students about what they learned:

  • Leaders don’t have to be “natural born” but should identify strengths and utilize them to engage in leadership activities.
  • Becoming involved with your state association doesn’t necessarily mean being an active board member or running for POTA president.  Just be a member and support the work they are doing on your behalf!
Oct 23

Win a Free Registration at the Safe Patient Handling Workshop

Announcing a SPECIAL REGISTRATION PROMOTION for the Safe Patient Handling Conference.  If you register online October 23 – 24, you will be entered into a raffle.  The prize – free registration for the conference (your registration fees will be refunded).  Don’t miss this opportunity to earn valuable professional development hours, new knowledge and techniques for the clinic, and more!  Registration ends at midnight on Oct. 24th – don’t delay!

Week of 105 (2)


Oct 08

O.T. Department sponsors Safe Patient Handling Conference

Week of 105 (2)

Are you frustrated by your efforts to launch an effective Safe Patient Handling program in your facility?

Meet with nationally known experts on implementing Safe Patient Handling programs, and connect with other therapists via mentoring groups during our conference!

Get the support you need to make it happen!

You will earn over 6 contact hours of professional development, too.

Click HERE for more information or to register.