Meet Your Instructor: Cindy Hayden, DHEd, OTR/L, CHT, professor, EKU Occupational Therapy

EKU Online > Meet Your Instructor: Cindy Hayden, DHEd, OTR/L, CHT, professor, EKU Occupational Therapy

A long-time EKU instructor, Cindy Hayden serves as a cheerleader and mentor for her students throughout their educational experience. Hayden goes above and beyond to ensure her online students have just as much opportunity to interact and build a relationship with her as their on-campus counterparts. Hayden strives to make her personal experiences and extensive knowledge available for the betterment of her students. Her attention and dedication to helping students reach their goals, particularly through capstone courses, makes her a particular point of pride on EKU’s campuses, both in-person and virtual. We take great pride in offering the chance to get to know her a little better.

What brought you to EKU?

I am an EKU graduate from the second occupational therapy class in 1979. I highly value my education from EKU and once I completed my doctorate, I wanted to give back to the university and teach in the occupational science and occupational therapy programs. Our department strongly supports collaboration with students and other faculty both within and outside our department. Teamwork is essential in healthcare and education!

Tell us a little about your work in your field.

My clinical experiences are in adult physical rehabilitation and hand therapy. In addition to teaching in the post professional OTD program, I teach the conditions and kinesiology courses in our occupational science undergraduate degree. In the occupational therapy master’s and doctorate programs, I am involved in leading research inquiry teams and teaching an occupation-based orthopedics course. My research interests are in chronic pain, hand therapy and the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL).

What moment at EKU stands out as most memorable?

Dr. Dana Howell, Dr. Renee Causey-Upton, and I started the Journal of Occupational Therapy Education (JOTE) in 2017.

It is an online publication for occupational therapy academic faculty and fieldwork educators. We have published 236 articles and have over 80,000 downloads across the world.

What is your approach to online teaching?

Communication and meaningful engagement. I serve as a mentor for the capstone project, which is composed of OTS 903, OTS 904, and OTS 906. Each post professional OTD student participates in a weekly Zoom conference with me. Each student also receives weekly emails and feedback on their written work through our learning management system, Blackboard. Careful attention is paid to deadlines and the finished capstone oral presentation and written report. Each student I have mentored has graduated on time and several have published their capstone work. 

What tactics or approaches do you use to  aid in your student’s success?

I serve as a cheerleader and advocate for finishing your capstone project. I guide you in producing the best possible oral presentation and written capstone report. If you have aspirations of publishing your work, I mentor you through the process of revising your capstone and submitting it to a journal for publication. If your goal is to transition to an academic position, I serve as a reference.

What do you believe are the biggest advantages to online learning?

Expanding your professional network. I received my doctorate in health education (DHEd) from A.T. Still University in an online format. I was able to connect with other allied health professionals virtually and share many insightful discussions about whole person health care through online learning. I have experience both as a student and faculty member in online learning, helping me to better understand the student experience.

What advice would you give to someone who’s considering finishing their degree, or starting for the first time as an adult?

Look for a well-coordinated program with faculty who have experience teaching online–think EKU! Bring your enthusiasm for continued professional development and lifelong learning to your doctorate program courses.

Interested in a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy?

Earn your online OTD degree from a regionally accredited university that has been an online education leader for more than 15 years. EKU offers one of the top post-professional doctor of occupational therapy programs in the nation. Our challenging doctorate degree options prepare practitioners to take on leadership roles and our flexible, online format provides students the ability to complete coursework and assignments according to their schedule.

Complete the form to learn more about how EKU Online’s OTD Program can help advance your career. You can also contact us at 859-622-4455 or

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