Alumni Updates

OT student doing research with child


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Occupational Therapy
School of Education
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MadisonWI  53706-1691

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Alumni Updates

Betty Risteen Hasselkus, BS 1960

“I have completed a second edition of my book “The Meaning of Everyday Occupation” from SLACK, Inc. Release is scheduled for December 2010. I have also completed a chapter for a new text edited by Doris Pierce of Eastern Kentucky University, “Occupational Science for Occupational Therapy.” Ed and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary this year, as did a number of my classmates; several of us got married on the same day, June 11, 1960, the Saturday of the week that we graduated.”

Lisa (Hall) Mahaffey, BS 1984

“I just finished a three-year stint as the MHSIS chair for AOTA and am currently the director of finance for ILOTA. I have two chapters coming out this year. One I co-wrote for the Mental Health Advanced Practice course that was released during conference. Another chapter is for the Brown/Stoffel book that will be out later this year. I worked 26 years in mental health - all areas, ages and many specialty populations. One year ago I took a faculty position with Midwestern University in Downers Grove IL, which I really enjoy.”

Kristy (Dassing) Boblitt, BS 1998

“I worked as an OT in early intervention in Salt Lake City for 3 years then moved to northern California and worked in an SI clinic and school based setting. I got married in 2003 and in 2007 we adopted our daughter Nina who is now 3 years old. I also received my post-professional masters degree in OT from San Jose State University online program in 2007. Since that time, I have worked as a consultant seeing children in the clinic and home setting as well as working in the Autism Diagnostic Clinic for the county. In May, we adopted our second child, Isaac and now are a very busy family juggling work and children. I love to do presentations and teach when I can so that has been a great part of being self-employed and having flexibility. I look forward to doing more teaching at a University level and continuing to enjoy raising our children.”

Erin (Winn) Cassidy, BS 2001

“It's been a very busy year! My husband and I moved to our new house in the country, I finished my master's degree at Mount Mary College in December 2009, & now we are expecting our first child in September 2010. I've been working for the Monroe School District since I graduated from UW & truly can say that I love my job!”

Tanya Thompson, BS 2005

“I am currently working at Craig Hospital in Englewood, CO. It is a specialty hospital for individuals who have TBI & SCI injuries to come for rehab...I work with both populations and also focus on shoulder rehabilitation with SCI along with serial casting for SCI/TBI injuries.”

Elizabeth Hamm, MS 2007

“I'm living in Saint Paul, MN. I just bought a house, have two dogs, Kenai and Oliver. I'm working in a Presbyterian Homes as the only OT servicing everything from LTC to independent living. I am loving every day. Previously, I've worked in Alaska in the school district and in home health.”

Katie Christiansen, MS 2008

“I initially started off my OT career with two part time positions: Metro Therapy, a sensory-based clinic, and Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, an outpatient pediatric clinic. I recently received full-time status at Gillette Children's and work with a wide variety of patients from common developmental delays to very rare congenital and/or acquired diagnosis. On a more personal note, I was also recently proposed to in front of the Walt Disney World Magic Castle! All very magical!”

Elly McKenzie, MS 2009

“I’m working at the Seattle VA on inpatient rehab. This spring I became certified as a Driver Rehab Specialist to become a backup for our two other DRS therapists. I am also working on becoming the ALS guru for our department which means learning a lot about power mobility & adaptive equipment to order & fit to patients as they progress through this devastating disease. It’s heart wrenching to meet such wonderful people and know that they will probably pass away in 3-5 years, but I feel very blessed to know and care for them. On a lighter note, I’ve found a new ultimate team that’s really fun and just played a three day tournament!”

Esther Knudson, MS 2009

“I've enjoyed staying in touch with classmates and look forward to hearing their reflections on the past year! As of January 2010, I have been working as a full time OT at Green Chimneys School in the Brewster, NY area which is part of the larger Green Chimneys Services, a large non-profit organization. Green Chimneys operates a residential treatment for children and a special education school that provides academic, behavioral and emotional support for residential and day students.

The campus also offers an array of adjunct programs such as woodshop, life skills, outdoor education, art, gardening and animal-assisted therapies/activities (including hippotherapy), horticulture therapy and sustainable agriculture education. Although some students may remain at Green Chimneys for extended periods of time, our goal is to help students return and reintegrate into their home school districts.

I've been loving my job in this unique setting. I'll admit the endangered vultures that tend to hang around the wildlife rehab area gave me the creeps on my first visit to the campus, but the peacefully grazing lamas, horses, emus, sheep and cows were more reassuring. Relocating and adjusting to the east coast has been an adventure, but I can't think of anywhere else I would rather be working right now, and I'm pretty jazzed that I can say that at the end my workday! I hope to get my certification in hippotherapy within the next year, continue to hone clinical skills, plan more in advance for my vacation weeks and somehow squeeze my yoga practice in each day on a regular basis.

Speaking of yoga; along with the myriad of sensory integration and other OT treatment techniques I find myself using every day, I also use my yoga teaching skills. Kids of all ages at Green Chimneys have been learning and eventually leading yoga classes, and I've been so impressed with how they enjoy learning and performing poses in a group setting. We now have teachers asking when we can add their class to the yoga program. I'm looking forward to expanding this concept of students helping other students to get moving, develop body awareness and promote relaxation/stretching/strengthening as positive coping techniques. I am very happy to be able to provide some "preventative/wellness" services in this manner as part of my job.

Other areas we've been exploring as an OT program are; introducing a snoezelen room or a non-directed therapeutic environment to promote self-regulation for students, an outdoor sensory trail for use in conjunction with hippotherapy sessions, and developing an interactive playground plan for Green Chimneys with universal design concepts.”

Nanette H. Wilde, MS 2010

“I feel so fortunate in working for a well managed Health care system. I do inpatient acute care OT in the morning and OT outpatient pediatrics in the afternoons. The variety suits me well. I’m gaining great exposure and experience while building a broad based skill set. I have also been asked to develop a plan to promote the outpatient pediatric program. So there are many aspects of my graduate school education that I am putting into practice.

My advice to new grads? Do your homework. Remember your research and don’t forget EBP! Where is the best place to work? What does the evidence tell you? Your first job after completing your graduate program is to find the best job for you. Ask yourself: Where do I go to get the best experience for where I want to be and what I want to do? There are so many things to consider and questions to ask. Talk with possible future coworkers. How long have they been with the company?

Look for positive indicators: How professionally was the interview process handled? How does the company rank as an employer? What experience will you gain working here? Will you have a support system in place? What is the professional chemistry? What is the commute like? Is public transportation an option?

I was lured to my first job by a lucrative salary and benefit package. The red flags I saw I ignored - such as all new therapy staff, and poorly handled interview process. After four days on the job I knew I needed to make a change. Another more professionally run company renewed their offer and I accepted. That was the right choice. Good management makes all the difference. My per hour rate is slightly lower but I benefit from a more positive well-run work environment. I am developing a broad based skill set and I work with a more experienced and supportive staff. There were good therapists in both locations yet I’ve found longevity and continuity only with my second employer.

The truth is I did do my homework, but I almost ignored what the research (and my heart) told me, fortunately I caught the error quickly. I now work for a fabulous place that has been ranked as one of the top places to work in central Texas for several years running and I couldn’t be happier with my career.

My best wishes to all of you!”

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