Throughout her career, Professor Tracy Van Oss has used occupational therapy to counter chronic disease, poverty, homelessness and other issues in the U.S. and around the world.
Recently, she received the International Service Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) for her commitment to international OT promotion, global health engagement and OT education.
For Van Oss, the real reward has been taking her students into the community to see how impactful OT services are to the most vulnerable populations. Partnerships she has formed over the years enable her to teach experiential courses at sites such as the M.L. Keefe Community Center in Hamden, which provides educational, recreational and social services to residents, and Columbus House, a homeless shelter in New Haven.
“By preparing students to actively engage in community-based settings and learn from one another, I know they can make a difference,” said Van Oss.
Van Oss also facilitates a service learning trip to Barbados each year, where her students assist her in the development of OT programming at various in-patient and outpatient sites, and learn first-hand the role of OT in managing chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
Additionally, Van Oss and her students have presented on a range of OT-related subjects affecting world populations, including the 2015 World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, in Barcelona, and the United Nations 58th Commission on Social Development in 2020.