My occupational therapy journey has truly come full circle, starting with Pitt and UPMC. I first learned about occupational therapy during my junior year at the University of Pittsburgh. I was a psychology major completing my first official internship at UPMC Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic’s John Merck Day Program, working with children who were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in a school-based setting. My main responsibility involved engaging the children in group activities to promote skill development. I absolutely loved working with the kids and felt that I was making a true difference in their development. When explaining this to my academic advisor, she introduced me to occupational therapy.
During my time as a Pitt OT student, I learned so much about our profession and the many ways that occupational therapists help individuals across their lifespan be successful and independent in their most meaningful daily activities. During my final year in the program, I learned that I would be completing the last portion of my doctoral education at UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital’s John Merck Inpatient Program (now referred to as the Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders). To start and end my academic career with the Western Psychiatric John Merck Program seemed so surreal.
Less than one year after graduation, I became the first program director at Western Psychiatric Hospital with a background in occupational therapy. I am currently the program director for two inpatient programs: Comprehensive Recovery Services and the Transitional Recovery Unit/Comprehensive Recovery Unit. Comprehensive Recovery Services provides specialized services to individuals experiencing psychosis. The Transitional Recovery Unit/Comprehensive Recovery Unit is an extended acute care program which aims to help individuals with serious and persistent mental illness through a community re-integration and psych rehab model. I am beyond ecstatic and "Pitt proud" for not only my position, but also for the opportunity for future occupational therapists and students who are passionate about mental health at Western Psychiatric Hospital.
The partnership between Pitt OT and Western Psychiatric Hospital is strengthening and evolving through doctoral capstone experiences and fieldwork opportunities. I am looking forward to mentoring students through the capstone and fieldwork process in the near future. I would like to thank all of the faculty and my mentors at Pitt OT. Your demonstration of leadership, passion and advocacy is why I am here today! H2P!
Doctor of Occupational Therapy '21