Meet Amanda from the class of 2011.
Tell us about your first life as an OT after graduating from Etown:
My first job was at Children’s Specialized Hospital in New Jersey. I worked in outpatient therapy, serving a variety of ages, but mainly children ages 2-6. Most of the children I treated were on the Autism spectrum or had sensory processing difficulties, but I also treated children with many other diagnoses. With continuing education and training, I became a member of their multidisciplinary feeding team that cared for medically fragile children. Children’s Specialized gave me the opportunity to grow as a therapist through the use of technology, resources, research and exposure to countless diagnoses.
Where else has your life taken you since then?
While working at Children’s Specialized, I met Patrick Billmann, who is in the Army. In 2013, I moved to Anchorage Alaska for six months where he was stationed. While preparing for the next army duty station in Kansas, I interviewed for a job via Skype, and they held the job for four months until we moved in January 2014.
I am currently working for Unified District 207, on Fort Leavenworth. I serve special education classrooms as well as general education students. I also am in charge of all evaluations on the base for children transitioning from early intervention to a classroom setting. In addition, I serve the children who have qualified for occupational therapy services in the Child Development Center (day care) on base. The vast majority of my job involves working with children less than 5 years of age which I absolutely LOVE! I use a lot of my skills and knowledge about sensory integration and upper extremity strengthening, and I am learning lots of school based strategies for prewriting, handwriting and scissor skills. The biggest change from working in a hospital setting to a school based setting has been the change from a medical model to school based model. The people you most communicate with have never been in a medical setting and have no idea what you’re talking about when using medical terminology!
Mr. & Mrs. Billmann
May 31, 2014
My personal life continues to be exciting as well. Over the summer, Patrick and I got married at home in New Jersey. Courtney (Lang) Miller, MS, OTR/L ’11, was my maid of honor – the same person who alleviated my stress and was my Blue Bean study buddy while at Etown.
Our stay in Kansas is soon coming to a close, and we are scheduled to move to Portland, Oregon in December. It looks like it’s about time to start the job search again!
Describe a recent career highlight and what Etown means to you.
As part of my Master’s degree, I conducted a systematic literature review with a peer as well as one of our professors. Our research topic of Spirituality in OT was presented at the 2014 AOTA conference in Baltimore. Although I was unable to attend the conference, the chief editor of OT Practice interviewed me about our research. Out of the hundreds of presenters, I can’t believe our work was chosen to be featured in the magazine on top of being selected for conference. The article was published in the August 25th issue of OT Practice. Of course it was an honor to be interviewed and published in our profession’s magazine, following in the footsteps of SO many occupational therapists who have laid the foundation for our profession… Reflecting back on completing my Master’s, I cannot believe it paid off…the early morning computer lab sessions, the money spent at Starbucks, the $33,000 tuition, the weekly meetings with our professor telling us we needed to think more “abstract” (ABSTRACT? IS SHE CRAZY?)…all the research that seemed like it wouldn’t ever be used or read or even seen by another OT has finally made itself useful!
Do you want to share any final thoughts or reflections on your chosen profession and/or Etown?
The relationships with professors and friends you make at Etown will forever impact you. These are the people who will shape who you become, while discovering the profession you will practice. They are the people you will turn to after an insurance company denies your patient’s services, cry to when a patient passes away, send pictures to when you just don’t know what to call the handwriting grip your student uses, email links of the newest research just to share with someone who really cares like you do, will be with you on your wedding day, will reference in conversation to new coworkers and call to share the excitement of the success of a treatment intervention. Your peers and professors are your greatest resources; they are your link to learning or understanding something in an entirely different way. Take advantage of the relationships available to you.