Dr. Gregg Pitts graduated from Eastern Kentucky University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. After serving five years active duty as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, he returned to EKU to complete his master’s and eventually doctorate in occupational therapy. Pitts is currently the founder and owner of three Commonwealth Hand and Physical Therapy private practice locations. The clinics focus on state-of-the-art care for traumatic hand injuries, cumulative trauma disorders, and total body pathologies that inhibit occupational performance.
Personal experiences and professional learning opportunities led to his specialization in hand/upper extremity trauma therapy. Now recognized as an expert in the field, he serves on the board of the Hand Therapy Certification Commission and is past chair of the American Hand Therapy Foundation.
Although Pitts was already a very successful businessman, recognized expert in hand/upper extremity trauma therapy and veteran OT practitioner, he decided to pursue his OTD to serve as an example to his staff who he is always challenging to better themselves. He also had a personal reason for completing the degree. He wanted to reach the apex of the field.
Choosing EKU Online
He chose EKU Online because he was impressed by the quality of the OTD program and the national recognition held by the faculty. Pitts says completing the program opened many doors within the medical community as well as in the areas of leadership and education.
“The one-on-one collaboration with the professors was an extraordinary opportunity to advance my skills and leadership, and advance my clinical knowledge to make me even more competitive in the rehabilitation market. EKU provides the real-world education necessary to be successful,” he said.
Pitts was inspired to enter the occupational therapy field after experiencing first-hand the need for rehabilitative services. His dad suffered a severe hand injury after a motorcycle accident and his brother-in-law required extensive rehabilitation after a serious car accident.
Choosing Occupational Therapy
He found OT attractive because it allows practitioners to impact the entire human existence, not just one (muscular) system. As he explained, “OTs get training on how to help the person fit into their new social dynamic, not just the physical impacts. The field addresses the entire ‘occupation’ as a human including play, work, as well as roles as a parent, spouse, etc.”
Pitts cited the EKU OTD program’s real-world foundation, leadership focus and ability to tailor the program to meet students’ needs as especially important to practitioners looking to advance in their profession.
“In addition to staying competitive and relevant, the program allows you to stay up with current trends and expectations. There’s no better way to prepare yourself for advancement than the leadership focused EKU program,” said Pitts. “Additionally, it is a program built around your needs and what you want to do and learn more about; and there is a faculty with a diverse set of experience who can support you and help you succeed.”
EKU’s OTD program culminates with a capstone project where students, with the guidance of faculty, define problems and identify solutions. Pitts’ own capstone project is an example of how students can tailor their program to address real-world challenges and make an impact in their communities. He completed a study on traumatic hand injury care in a region of Appalachia, which found very large gaps between the needs of the area and the services available. Due to the research results of his capstone project, Pitts has helped start a traumatic hand injury training program at Pikeville Medical Center in Pikeville, Kentucky, leading to expanded care for an underserved area.
Pitts is very vocal about the support he received from the OTD faculty. “Professional, direct and positive feedback allowed me to grow and envision a strong future in the area of business and rehabilitation,” he said. “Their leadership is a great role model for the future of occupational therapy and reflects a very positive program that Eastern Kentucky University can be proud to claim as one of their flagship educational options.”
He also speaks highly of the program’s focus on leadership in the profession, which he points out is different than management. “Leaders have a focus on the future of the profession and field,” he said. “They develop a better understanding and awareness of the ‘big picture.’ Where will OTD be in 10 years?”
In addition, another sometimes overlooked, aspect of leadership the program stresses is the importance of providing service back to the community and the profession. “EKU understands the need of serving the community and instills that in its students – allow your voice to be heard for positive change and help others be successful,” said Pitts. As a faculty member at Spalding University, he tells all of his students to move forward, but always give back.
Pitts recognizes the importance of providing opportunities and giving back to your community. He grew up in the small town of Berea, Kentucky and was the first in his family to attend college thanks to an EKU football scholarship. “The scholarship opportunities that I realized playing football at EKU allowed me the opportunity to realize my dreams and establish a bright future,’” he said.
In conclusion, Pitts says his experience in the OTD program further strengthened the belief system he learned while working with one of the top hand surgeons in the state. This experience has guided him throughout his career as a leader in the OT field:
- Do things right.
- Do things to the best of your ability.
- Care about your people.
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