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Hannah Pulley excited to begin her  occupational therapy journey as a Pitt Panther!

Hannah Pulley excited to begin her occupational therapy journey as a Pitt Panther! 

Becoming a part of the University of Pittsburgh Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program has given me the support and fellowship of belonging to a group as well as the visibility of being seen as an individual. As a Pitt OTD student, I have discovered many ways to take ownership of and personalize my educational experience. Our Pitt OTD faculty bring a variety of passions and expertise to the program, and they welcome us to engage with them as we uncover and start pursuing our own areas of clinical interest. We are treated as future colleagues and offered opportunities to collaborate on a professional level, which is really empowering and has encouraged me to see the real value in a student’s perspective.

A mentor I had during our occupational therapy fieldwork experience gave me a great piece of advice that I feel reflects my time spent in the program: “Never say that you are JUST a student--that is such a unique and wonderful place to be and students have their own kind of expertise with a lot to offer.” Being a student in Pitt’s OTD program has not been merely a steppingstone on the way to beginning my career, but a realization that I’ve already begun, and that I can tap into the resources around me to start off strong. 

Pulley following the professional pledge ceremony signifying the transition from didactic to clinical learning.

Pulley following the professional pledge ceremony signifying the transition from didactic to clinical learning. 

During my time as a Pitt Occupational Therapy student, I have come to see that the most successful way to provide care is to invest in others’ experiences and be willing to sit in the unfamiliarity (and at times discomfort) of how those experiences may differ from my own. Understanding people is key to effectively serving them in relevant and meaningful ways, which is integral to the occupational therapy philosophy. One way that our program embraces the development of social awareness and encourages us to integrate it into our practice is through our monthly Occupational Justice journal clubs. These meetings welcome all members of our department to converse about current topics regarding social justice and human treatment in health care. Through discussion, we educate ourselves and make space for the experiences of underserved or historically mistreated populations, as well as the viewpoints of one another. Efforts like these have proven the value in asking hard questions and meeting people where they are to connect more effectively and genuinely with those around us. 

As students, we are also encouraged to think critically and not shy away from challenging the status quo when it no longer serves or treats people well (and especially if it never truly has). Occupational therapy is a field that I am so proud to be part of.It is a coalition of individuals that never stop learning and who have built a profession on fostering quality of life as it is uniquely defined by each person. Occupational therapy promotes purpose, independence and joy in individual lives as well as on a large scale. My love for occupational therapy and my hopes for what it can become are represented so well by the students, faculty and staff that are the foundation of the Pitt OTD program. 


Written by: 

Hannah Pulley (OTD’24)