Quinnipiac University

Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate Occupational Therapy Doctorate Scholarship Symposium

This annual symposium showcases outstanding research and scholarship of Quinnipiac’s Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctoral students. Within each panel session, students present their research and answer questions from attendees.

Recap of the 2023 Event

The 2023 Scholarship Symposium symposium was open to all current Quinnipiac students and faculty, prospective post-professional OTD students, working occupational therapy practitioners, and the friends and family of our doctoral candidates. Interested parties could attend the symposium in person or join a virtual live stream of the event. 

Date: 
  • Friday, May 12th

Location: 
  • North Haven Campus

    Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences building

    370 Bassett Road, North Haven, CT

Rooms: 
  • MNH 250 and MNH 260

Watch the Panel Recordings:

Schedule of Events

4 p.m. – Introduction and Opening Remarks

  • Barbara Nadeau, PhD, OTR/L, program director for the Post-Professional OTD

  • Janelle Chiasera, PhD, dean for the School of Health Sciences

  • Rondalyn Whitney, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, chair for the department of occupational therapy

  • Betsey C. Smith, PhD, OTR/L, senior associate dean for the School of Health Sciences

4:45 p.m. – Panel Presentations 1 and 2

5:45 p.m. – Panel Presentations 3 and 4

6:45 p.m. – Student Speaker, Award and Class Picture

  • Kara Woolridge, OTD, OTR/L, student speaker

7 p.m. – Reception

Student Presentations — Panel 1

Kelly Yagud, OTD, OTR/L

Mentor: Karen Majeski, OTD, OTR/L

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 has outlined an expanded role for school-based occupational therapy practitioners (OTPs) as specialized instructional support personnel in general education. However, OTPs have continued to be viewed as related service professionals under special education due to barriers of high caseloads and decreased administrative support. This study sought to understand school administrators’ perceptions of occupational therapy’s role in general education initiatives. A qualitative sample of ten Connecticut school administrators was utilized to answer the research question. Data was acquired through individual semi-structured interviews. Data analysis indicated three key themes which include school administrators highly regard OTPs, believe occupational therapy’s role should be expanded in general education, and are open to occupational therapy’s full scope of practice in the educational setting. However, administrators noted time and budget barriers hindered OTPs’ role expansion to support general education initiatives.

Headshot of Kelly Yagud
Headshot of Kelly Yagud

Kristen Hurley, OTD, OTR/L

Mentor: Kimberly Hartmann, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FNAP

Most students who receive special education support spend at least 80% of their day in a general education classroom (U.S. Department of Education, 2022). Although past research has examined communication between parents and occupational therapists, these studies have primarily focused on the parents of children primarily educated in a special education setting. The purpose of this study was to understand how communication between parents of children primarily educated in the general education setting and occupational therapy practitioners influence the parent's perception of school-based occupational therapy (SBOT). Email was the most commonly reported communication method between parents and SBOTs across all groups (57.14%). Most (52%) parents of children primarily educated in general education settings reported dissatisfaction with communication with their child’s SBOT. Two themes were identified through semi-structured interviews: (1) the desire for increased communication between SBOTs and the classroom teachers, (2) and parent understanding of SBOT time constraints that impact communication. Findings suggest that SBOTs should consider supplementing direct communication with general email newsletters. Parents value increased communication between their child’s teacher and SBOT. Further study of parents’ understanding of their child’s special education class placement is important to learn how to better support parents.

Headshot of Kristen Hurley
Headshot of Kristen Hurley

Alexandra King, OTD, OTR/L

Mentor: Kimberly Hartmann, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FNAP

Ayres Sensory Integration (ASI) has mounting evidence for its efficacy, but what about the environment and the equipment we are using for ASI? The purpose of this study was to look at equipment and layout to help improve consistency and outcomes within the SI community and provide the evidence-based foundation for the design of these environments. This was a mixed methods design where survey, interview, and photo data was triangulated for commonalities. Despite limited knowledge and use on the Ayres Sensory Integration Fidelity Measure the equipment listed within it is in wide use. Swings are essential to how we practice in sensory gyms but they are complicated and expensive design elements. This study provided data that can be useful in providing evidence for design decisions and budgetary prioritization. It can be utilized for therapists to make informed decisions on what is standard practice, and what other OTPs find most important. This research is foundational and further studies are necessary to help drive evidence-based practice for SI equipment and sensory gyms.

Headshot of Alexandra King
Headshot of Alexandra King

Student Presentations — Panel 2

Kara Woolridge, OTD, OTR/L

Mentor: Norene Carlson, OTD, OTR/L

Occupational therapy (OT) literature on the resumption of parenting roles and needs for justice involved women is nearly nonexistent and is mostly studied by social work or criminal justice disciplines. Understanding the gendered phenomenon of reentry efforts for mothers could inform OT interventions for this special population. The aim of this study is to gather the experiences and needs of justice involved mothers (JIM) as they resume parental roles post incarceration. Five themes emerge from the qualitative data to include struggles and supports, which influenced participant values of connection, parental role, and reunification. The survey results demonstrated the impact formal education on role competence, identified important parenting tasks, and the importance of connection to role identity. JIM would benefit from skills-based OT interventions for improved role identify, confidence in tasks, and increased supports that facilitate connection, parental role identification, and reunification efforts. Additional research examining reentry needs for mothers and maternal role resumption from an OT perspective should be conducted for improved health outcomes for this population.

Headshot of Kata Woolridge
Headshot of Kata Woolridge

Taylor Rahe, OTD, OTR/L

Mentor: Norene Carlson, OTD, OTR/L

Persons Living with Dementia (PLwD) have a decreased opportunity to participate in meaningful activities despite maintaining a desire to do so. This study aimed to develop a deeper understanding of the perspective of professional caregivers in facilitating participation in meaningful activities among PLwD as it is a part of their job duties. A mixed-methods research design using survey data to guide semi-structured interviews with professional caregivers for PLwD was utilized. Interviews were transcribed and coded using the in-vivo coding technique to develop themes and subthemes. Fourteen caregivers for PLwD completed the survey and six caregivers participated in the interview. Five themes with subthemes highlighting the perspective of the participants emerged: (1) Caregiver training; (2) Understanding of needs, (3) Benefits of meaningful activities, (4) Barriers to meaningful activities, (5) Limited Occupational Therapy (OT) role awareness. This study indicates that professional caregivers for PLwD would benefit from incorporation of OT in formal training experiences to address advanced dementia care and grading of meaningful activities to promote participation in meaningful activities among those with advanced dementia.

Headshot of Taylor Rahe
Headshot of Taylor Rahe

Rebecca Mydland, OTR, OTR/L

Mentor: Karen Majeski, OTD, OTR/L

It is estimated that congenital heart defects (CHD) affect nearly one percent, roughly forty thousand births per year in the United States (CDC, 2022). Specifically, about one in four babies with a CHD will need surgery or other procedure within their first year of life (CDC, 2022). Considering the process of one’s infant undergoing cardiac surgery or a procedure, a prolonged hospital stay, and caring for a child with post-surgical or post-procedural precautions in place, the parent and caregiver role must be evaluated further in order to determine this unique parental experience. The purpose of this study is to explore the lived experiences of parents who are caring for their infant post-cardiac surgery, or procedure, and discharge home from the hospital. Three themes were identified from this research: (1) Fear and Anxiety Surrounding the “Unknowns,” (2) Care of Infant Requires Major Changes to the Caregiver’s Roles, Habits, and Routines, (3) Caregivers Find Support through Shared Experiences. Findings from this study suggest that caregivers need additional education and supports to prepare them for discharge home from the hospital with their infant post-cardiac surgery and procedure. Additional study findings suggest the expansion of the traditional acute care OT role to include providing psychosocial supports to families of infants following cardiac surgery or procedure, as part of a multidisciplinary team approach.

Headshot of Rebecca Mydland
Headshot of Rebecca Mydland

Student Presentations — Panel 3

Maggie Hambrose, OTD OTR/L

Mentor: Barbara Nadeau, PhD OTR/L

Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability in the United States due to the prevalence and comorbidities that occur following a stroke. Despite extensive research regarding the mental and physical aspects of a stroke, there is a gap in the literature identifying how individuals find continuity between life before and after having a stroke. The purpose of this study was to understand how individuals find occupational coherence after having a stroke. Four categories were created reflecting the phases of life the participants experienced. This includes the phase of life before the stroke occurred, the stroke itself, a period of recovery, and reaching occupational coherence. These are depicted in a conceptual model of a cliff that turns into a journey to the top of a mountain. The period of recovery contains “rocks,” or obstacles that participants faced, that vary in size depending on how these obstacles impacted them. The participants found they were able to reach occupational coherence by carrying these “rocks,” despite the challenge of it. These findings suggest that all individuals who have had a stroke have the potential to reach occupational coherence, but the “rocks” they face may be part of the reason why they cannot get there. Further study of occupational coherence in neurological populations is important to understand how occupational therapists can support these individuals in their personal recovery.

Headshot of Maggie Hambrose
Headshot of Maggie Hambrose

Jennifer Decker, OTD, OTR/L

Mentor: Barbara Nadeau, PhD OTR/L

Healthcare disparities have significant implications on functional stroke recovery, health management, and utilization of healthcare services among diverse racial-ethnic, uninsured, and disadvantaged socioeconomic groups. Given the increasing prevalence of strokes and consequent occupational disruption, it has become imperative that occupational therapists delve into the experiential domain of individuals living with healthcare disparities to uncover inequity gaps in health management and continuity of care. The purpose of this study was to gain insight into the lived reality of the individual to increase understanding of the contextual factors that influence post-stroke health management. Six themes were identified to capture the participants' experiences and describe the impact of stroke on health management: "belief the system is unfair," "biggest obstacle to recovery," "loss of my previous self," "didn't have any other choice," "cause-and-effect" and "insightful outlook." Findings suggest that post-stroke health management is an intersectional process influenced by financial and insurance status, personal beliefs, accessibility and knowledge of resources, sources of social and emotional support, timing and understanding of health information, and communication with the healthcare system.

Headshot of Jennifer Decker
Headshot of Jennifer Decker

Student Presentations — Panel 4

Deanna Proulx, OTD, OTR/L

Mentor: Betsey C. Smith, PhD, OTR/L

Knowledge of biological and physical sciences, particularly human anatomy, is an accreditation standard and foundation upon which most occupational therapy curriculum is designed (ACOTE, 2018). As a content area, it is important for OT educators to clearly understand how human anatomy relates to graduating competent entry-level practitioners. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore how entry-level OT programs are meeting the accreditation standard and what teaching learning methodologies are being used in entry-level OT curriculum related specifically to the subject of anatomy and meeting minimum competency expectations set forth by the accrediting body. Therefore, the research question for this study is, “In entry level OT curriculum, what are the differing methodologies for teaching anatomy (i.e.: delivery methods, facilities, resources, and frequency)? In the thematic analysis, four themes emerged including enrollment and retention, prerequisites, lecture methodologies, and lab methodologies. In short, those methodologies used to meet the ACOTE Standard B.1.1. vary significantly from institution to institution, where some are taught by Occupational Therapists to others taught by an Anthropologist. While the intensity and duration of study in anatomy are relatively similar, some use plasticized models, other cadaveric donors and even others virtual dissection tables. All consistently value the foundation of anatomical study in an occupational therapy education despite differences in how each are seeking to achieve those objectives. Findings suggest that there is variation in the interpretation of the ACOTE B.1.1. standard related to the delivery of instruction in anatomy across accredited entry-level occupational therapy programs in the Northeast region. Further study, including the types of setting graduates ultimately choose to work will help further define the appropriate scope of the B.1.1. standard.

Headshot of Deanna Proulx
Headshot of Deanna Proulx

Lauren Fiori, OTD, OTR/L

Mentor: Karen Majeski, OTD, OTR/L

There are a substantial number of CHTs reaching retirement age in the next decade, however, there are few newer graduates who are pursuing this specialty (Short et al., 2020). Students’ lack of clinical knowledge has shown to be a barrier to successfully completing a hand therapy fieldwork affiliation (Short et al., 2018; Valdes et al., 2022). The purpose of this study was to investigate clinician and student perspectives regarding what hand therapy content is essential for entry-level OTs to be successful in a hand therapy fieldwork. This study utilized a survey design. Data was collected from 207 clinicians and 25 students via SurveyMonkey. The data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, chi squared analysis, and t-test analysis via R studio statistical software. Participants placed the highest emphasis on foundational knowledge when ranking topic importance, which included muscular anatomy, skeletal anatomy, nervous system anatomy, palpation and surface anatomy. Greater than 90% of participants also felt other topics were very important to student success in hand therapy fieldwork, including kinesiology, biomechanics, tissue healing principles, fractures, tendinopathies, goniometry, and orthotic fabrication and training. Results also indicated that the greater number of students a clinician supervised, the higher they ranked student knowledge and skill level (p=0.02). These clinicians also reported stronger feelings that students would benefit from additional hand therapy curriculum content (p=0.053). Further study of the variability among OT curricula may be warranted, as well as studying the knowledge level needed with certain topics, and the level of independence is needed with specific clinical skills to promote success in hand therapy.

Headshot of Lauren Fiori
Headshot of Lauren Fiori

Patrice Maynard, OTD, OTR/L

Mentor: Kimberly Hartmann, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FNAP

The Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (OTPF-4), under the practice within organizations and systems, acknowledges OTPs as holding corporate leadership positions such as a CEO and business owner (OTPF-4, 2020). By supporting OTP entrepreneurs of color, more representation of practitioners in communities could increase trust and provide familiarity for clients in receiving services from a therapist who looks like them. If there is entrepreneurial potential for occupational therapy practitioners (OTPs) of color, then it is vital for OTPs of color to push the trade forward with their abilities and have supports in place to assist with their transition into business ownership. The purpose of this study was to examine the lived experiences of OTP of color entrepreneurs and determine obstacles, opportunities, and perceptions they have faced while transitioning into business ownership in the OT profession in their respective settings of practice. Five themes were identified.  These themes were barriers/challenges, independence, mentorship, confidence/growth, and support. Two subthemes were identified, race and representation. Findings suggest highlighting non-traditional OT settings in OT/OTA programs, introducing business certifications in OT/OTA programs, having business grant funding available through AOTA, having state-specified OTP organizations and AOTA providing business resources, and Multicultural Diversity & Inclusion (MDI) network organizations contribute mentorship for entrepreneurs.

Headshot of Patrice Maynard
Headshot of Patrice Maynard

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