The free program is meeting on Tuesdays from 1:30-2:30 p.m. through April 6 in the Occupational Therapy Department at Meadowlands Hall on the Dominican campus. Under the supervision of faculty member Karen Pitbladdo, MS. OTR/L CHT, Dominican students will work with seniors on skills designed to help them maintain independent community living.
Issues and topics addressed will be individualized, and may include improving range of motion and muscle strength, recovering from cumulative trauma or upper extremity injury, coping with chronic physical conditions, fall prevention and home safety, safe driving and community mobility, improving strength, flexibility and endurance plus nutrition, exercise and wellness, use of adaptive equipment and leisure activities and community participation.
The OT Department at Dominican currently has an enrollment of 120 students, an increase of 25 percent from the fall of 2008. With more demand for health care and occupational therapy jobs, Dominican anticipates a record enrollment for its OT program in the fall of 2010.
Students exit the program with a Master of Science degree and are highly sought after to work with children, adults and seniors with developmental, physical and psychiatric disabilities in hospitals, clinics, schools and community programs. The job outlook for occupational therapists is excellent, with a 26 percent increase in demand anticipated by the year 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics.
The Occupational Therapy program is part of the new School of Health and Natural Sciences at Dominican. The creation of this school in the fall of 2009 provides the program with additional administrative support for growth, including seeking external grant funding for faculty scholarship and program development. The school of HNS recently hired a development director, who is actively seeking support for the occupational therapy program from individual donors and alumni.
The program is also actively exploring the creation of international learning and exchange opportunities for faculty and students. In November, Dr. Ruth Ramsey returned from a 12-day site visit and tour of South African schools and community programs in conjunction with faculty from the departments of education, business, and biology. Plans are under way to set up international learning opportunities for students there and also in other countries. Professor Karen Pitbladdo and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator Suzanne Degen completed a service trip to PROJIMO, Mexico with Dominican occupational therapy students and alumni in 2008, and funds are being sought to make this learning opportunity available to other students on a regular basis.