By: Karen Enlow, OTD, OTR/L
I have been a practicing occupational therapist for 39 years. My decision to return to school was influenced by the following;
1) My professional responsibility to be an evidence-based practitioner to the clients that I serve daily
2) To provide each student (Level I and II) with fieldwork experiences that will advance their understanding of occupational therapy.
Both objectives were met through the EKU Post Professional OTD program which has in turn, strengthened my clinical practice.
My experiences in the online OTD program allowed me to learn how to be an evidence-based practitioner; from how to read and analyze research articles to implementing my own research. For example, I work with clients admitted into a palliative care program in an acute care setting. I did not know about palliative care except that it is part of the cancer rehabilitation paradigm. Through the research process I identified OT theory and assessments that were most appropriate to use with clients in palliative care. I therefore changed my occupational therapy practice in acute care to reflect the evidence. This involved incorporating a client-centered, occupation-based approach to the assessment process.
Through the OTD program, I learned many educational strategies that will help me to become a more effective clinical supervisor mentoring Level I and II students. This was a highlight of my OTD experience because it was tangible learning that I could apply immediately with students. Learning different educational strategies allowed me to explore my strengths and weaknesses in an ever- changing environment that includes the use of social media and videos such as You-tube.
Lastly, as a result of Post Professional OTD program, I have the knowledge and skills to be a presenter in different venues. Since graduation, I have had three opportunities to present occupational therapy in palliative care, including the results of my research, to nurses, peers, administrators and OT students. This spring, I will have an opportunity to present at AOTA conference.