New occupational therapy student experience at Senior Day Services

Prior to the beginning of the fall 2018 semester, WMU occupational therapy master faculty specialist, Berit Miller, arranged to have her OT 3840 class visit participants in a both an adult and pediatric community setting. WMU Senior Day Services was chosen to be one of the programs that the students visited during the semester.

OT 3840 teaches basic group and individual client-therapist interaction skills including methods of establishing rapport, giving feedback and employing therapeutic use of self. Students use frames of reference and practice models to design client-centered groups, write group protocols, analyze activities, implement specific group techniques and evaluate progress of self and group members.

Students were assigned to assess needs of the participants at SDS and then to plan and implement a group that meets those needs, while considering the program/facility needs, too.  They then reflect both individually and as a small group to explore what they might do differently, what they learned and what went well.

Shaw with SDS participants during an activity

OT students in this class are in the second semester of their first year of the master’s program and have not yet had any fieldwork/patient care exposure.

“OT 3840 gave me the opportunity to observe participants at Senior Day Services, as well as plan out a group activity with my peers to gain insight from these individuals,” said OT master’s student Courtney Shaw. “We have had the privilege of observing and working with a wide range of populations that will benefit each and every one of us as a future occupational therapist. I believe my skill set and body of knowledge have enhanced just from the short observation and planned group activity. I am grateful to be in a program that challenges my intellectual abilities and social skills.”

“Hands down they (students) seemed to feel this was helpful to their learning and that they hoped the clients benefitted, too,” says Dr. Carla Chase, Chair of WMU’s occupational therapy program. “We are already making plans for next semester's groups!”