World OT Day Explores Professional Similarities, Differences

November 3, 2016

Second year OT students gather for a group photo on World OT Day.

Occupational therapy (OT) students and faculty at the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences recently connected with their counterparts in Curtin University, Western Australia, to learn more about the profession overseas and share OT practices during World OT Day on October 27. 

Second-year doctoral students produced a five-minute video about “the power of occupation,” illustrating how OT supports clients across a person’s lifespan. The video also describes the OT practice framework, which guides OT practice in the United States. The Australian students shared a video about the profession in their country and both sets of students watched the videos during classes.

“The common theme is that we all use occupation as the center of what we do, but we do it differently because of the structure of our healthcare systems, so hopefully they’ll learn something about that as well,” said Pam Stephenson, assistant professor of OT at Murphy Deming. “I hope they [saw] that, although there are differences across countries, there are big commonalities as well.”

As part of World OT Day Stephenson and Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Carolyn Moore also participated in a global online conference, Making it Together. Their presentation focused on fabricating low-tech devices to help clients become more independent and was shared with therapists around the world, including the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom.  

The theme of the online conference was “Making it Together,” which was fitting for those in the OT profession, who often fabricate low-tech devices to help clients be more independent. The idea, Stephenson said, is for OTs to share their projects and how they collaborate, potentially inspiring therapists across the world to make something for their own clients who may have similar needs.

Stephenson and Moore worked with Murphy Deming students and local craftsmen to create adaptive equipment out of cardboard for two local children using techniques they learned through the Adaptive Design Association in New York. Their interprofessional Pediatrics class allowed students in both the OT and physical therapy programs to work together to fabricate furniture a rocker and a floor seat for two local children with significant disabilities.