Spalding University’s entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate program has become the first OTD program in Kentucky to earn full accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT) was notified late last month by ACOTE that the entry-level OTD program has been approved for the next seven years – the maximum period that could be awarded for an initial accreditation. Spalding will seek reaccreditation in 2028.

ACOTE assessed and approved all aspects of Spalding’s three-year entry-level OTD program, including its administrative structure, faculty qualifications, course and curricular content, clinical experiences and capstone experiences.

Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy has been a leader in Kentucky in preparing occupational therapists since 1995, with its programs consistently accredited by ACOTE. In 2015, ASOT began planning for a new three-year Occupational Therapy Doctorate program to become its primary entry-level degree offering, and it began phasing out its ACOTE-accredited Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program.

AUERBACH SCHOOL OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
OTD overview | Entry-level | Post-professional
ASOT Faculty Bios | Dr. Story named new Chair

Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy Chair Dr. Sara Story, a longtime faculty member who earned her MSOT from Spalding and participated as a student in the accreditation process of that degree program, said that helping her alma mater achieve the OTD accreditation was “truly an honor.”

“Our faculty members, staff and students are extremely proud to become the first institution in Kentucky to earn ACOTE accreditation for an entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, and I thank them as well as our university administration, our clinical supervisors and our many other community stakeholders for their amazing support,” Dr. Story said. “This accreditation from ACOTE is proof that Spalding’s long history and tradition of excellence in occupational therapy education will continue. ASOT has gone from an entry-level bachelor’s program years ago to a master’s program to now offering the highest-level degree that we can award at the entry level. We have always been a very strong, dedicated school of occupational therapy that is here to serve students, and I think the accrediting officials could see that. Spalding continues to thrive, and students here will thrive.”

Spalding welcomed its first OTD cohort in January 2019, with new cohorts being added each fall and spring trimester while the accreditation process progressed. In line with the timing of the initial accreditation, the first cohort is set to graduate in January 2022. As an ACOTE-accredited program, graduates of Spalding’s entry-level OTD are now eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam.

Dr. Story said she has received feedback that community stakeholders, such as hospital administrators and fieldwork supervisors, who were contacted by ACOTE were high in their praise of Spalding’s students.

The Report of the Accreditation Council listed five strengths of Spalding’s program: administrative support and the university’s mission, the curriculum model, learning experiences in diverse practice areas, the creation of a clear plan for implementation of the doctoral capstone by the doctoral capstone coordinator and faculty, the work of the academic fieldwork coordinator and faculty to create a client-centered approach that garnered community stakeholders’ enthusiastic support of the program.

ACOTE’s complete findings stated, “all standards were found to be compliant based on the review of the materials submitted by the program and the findings of the on-site team.”

Spalding University and all of its academic programs are regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

ACOTE is an additional national accrediting agency specific to occupational therapy programs. ACOTE is an Associated Advisory Council of the Executive Board of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and it is recognized as the accrediting agency for occupational therapy education by both the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. ACOTE currently accredits or is in the process of accrediting nearly 600 occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational programs in the United States and its territories as well as programs in the United Kingdom.

Spalding’s 110-credit-hour entry-level OTD program is completed over three years (nine trimesters) with about 35 students per cohort. More than 96 percent of graduates of the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy have become employed within six months of graduation. Over the past five years, more than 95 percent have passed the national board certification exams.

For more information about the entry-level OTD and all the programs offered by Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, visit spalding.edu/occupational-therapy.

Spalding University, which will begin Fall 2021 classes on Monday, has new faculty chairs leading two of its largest academic schools.

Dr. Svjetlana “Lana” Watson, previously a member of the nursing faculty of Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, is the new Chair of the Spalding University School of Nursing, and Dr. Sara Story has been promoted to the position of Chair of Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, where she is a longtime faculty member.

Both Watson and Story officially started their new positions on July 1. They also both hold the title of Associate Professor at Spalding.

Dr. Watson, who will oversee all of Spalding’s undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, spent the past five years as director of the traditional and accelerated tracks of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at IUPUC. There, she developed innovative models for clinical placements and enhancing preceptor training.

Lana Watson, Spalding School of Nursing Chair
Dr. Lana Watson, Spalding School of Nursing Chair

“I am excited to join the long tradition of nursing education at Spalding University,” Dr. Watson said. “I feel I was called to accept this position because of Spalding’s dedication to service and its strong relationship with the community it serves. My previous work included growing healthcare access in underserved rural areas through retention efforts of new nurse graduates. Spalding’s strong service focus closely aligns with my personal beliefs and education philosophy. As an educator, I am student-centered and believe with appropriate student support, success is within reach for every student. Growing and improving the program will be my first priority.”

Dr. Watson earned the degrees of BSN, Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and Doctor of Nursing Practice from Indiana Wesleyan University. She also taught on the nursing faculty of Spencerian College

Dr. Story has been a full-time member of the Spalding occupational therapy faculty since 2013. She is a Spalding alumna who earned the degrees of Bachelor of Science in Health Science, Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, and Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership from the university. She also holds an Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) from the University of St. Augustine.

Dr. Story will oversee Spalding’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate programs, which are among the largest graduate programs on campus, as well as its certificate program in Upper Extremity Rehabilitation. In addition, the Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana assistive technology resource center, also known as enTECH, is a division of ASOT that is under Story’s leadership.

Sara Story
Dr. Sara Story, Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy Chair

Dr. Story enjoys using 3D printing to develop inexpensive assistive technology devices that aid clients of all ages in carrying out everyday tasks. Dr. Story is board-certified in gerontology through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and a Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) through the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

Like Watson, Dr. Story is also an accomplished scholar and researcher who frequently presents at professional conferences and publishes scholarly articles.

“I am excited and honored to serve as Chair of the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy at Spalding and to take on this leadership role with such a dynamic faculty,” Dr. Story said. “Spalding is my alma mater, and ASOT has been a leader in occupational therapy education and research for years in this region, preparing hundreds of skilled, compassionate therapists. I am proud to work with devoted faculty who inspire students to grow and continue Spalding’s mission to meet the needs of the times.”

Dillon named Communication Interim Chair: Spalding also announces that Dr. Pattie Dillon, who is the Chair of the School of Liberal Studies, will also serve as Interim Chair of the School of Communication for the 2021-22 academic year. Dillon is a professor of history who has served as Faculty Senate President and Faculty Trustee.

NEW PROGRAM DIRECTORS

In addition to the new Chairs, Spalding has had three faculty members step into new leadership roles as academic program directors for the 2021-22 academic year.

They are: Dr. Leslie Cairo, who will direct the Master of Social Work program; Dr. Nikki Jones, Doctor of Social Work program; and Professor Charles Maynard, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program.

 

The families of 13 children received life-changing pieces of assistive technology on Tuesday during another joyful Kosair Charities enTECH Day of Celebration at Spalding University.

Participating families of children who face cognitive challenges and physical differences applied for the devices through Spalding’s Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana (enTECH), assistive technology resource center and its Kosair Charities Lending Library and Financial Assistance Program.

There was no shortage of smiles as Kosair Charities President Keith Inman handed out the assistive technology devices to the children and their families, most of whom would not have been able to purchase the equipment on their own or through their health insurance.

The devices included Apple iPads and Pencils, an interactive printer, a swing, eye gaze applications, and switch toys. They will provide therapeutic, educational and sensory benefits and will help the children with communication, speech and play.

Keith Inman presents an assistive technology gift to an enTECH client
Keith Inman presents an assistive technology gift to a young enTECH client.

“Ninety-eight years ago, Kosair Charities was created for one reason, and that was to help children overcome  obstacles and reach their full potential,” Inman said. “I am loving the laughter I hear today, because this is what it is all about it. That is what happens here at enTECH. Miracles happen here. … I want to thank Spalding for all you do. It’s easy to love this place. This is the best day of my year.”

EnTECH, which is a division of Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, has increased its therapy staff in recent months and now has speech therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapists ready to provide services and introduce young clients to the center’s array of assistive technology.

Learn more about enTECH’s services and staff at entech.spalding.edu.

“Having enTECH here at Spalding truly lives out our mission, and it allows us therapists to students from our (occupational therapy doctorate) program as well as the children that we serve thrive and meet the goals they have to engage in life to its fullest,” Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy Chair Dr. Sara Story said. “We’re excited for this Christmas in July opportunity and to have our therapists be able to come alongside these families and fulfill our mission.”

The Kosair Charities enTECH Day of Celebration was the latest memorable occasion in a 25-year philanthropic partnership between Kosair Charities and Spalding. Kosair Charities has supported a range of capital projects and academic programs and initiatives at Spalding that will positively impact children and pediatric healthcare.

Just last week, Kosair Charities announced a $2 million grant in support of the new Kosair Charities School of Physical Therapy and Center for Interprofessional Education at Spalding.

OT Chair Dr. Sara Story and the enTECH therapy staff
Spalding OT Chair Dr. Sara Story, left, and the enTECH therapy staff at the enTECH Day of Celebration.

 

 

 

Spalding will celebrate graduates from the classes of 2020 and 2021 during Commencement this week, June 3-5, 2021. In the leadup, Spalding is featuring graduates from a range of academic programs. Today’s featured graduate is Dr. Sara Story, Associate Professor in Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, who has earned the degree of Doctor of Education: Leadership from the College of Education. Dr. Story is now a three-time alumna of Spalding, where she also earned her bachelor’s in health science and master’s in OT. She also has a doctorate in OT. 

What was it like to finish your degree during the pandemic? 

I remember being in class the weekend the world shut down. With the unknown looming over us, my cohort and I spent our last “normal” weekend pushing through to learn the best methods for setting up our research studies. Little did we know that weekend would be our last in-person event and we would be tasked with additional obstacles as we began our capstones. The unknown of the world and the unknowns of research were stressful. However, my cohort, “The Great 8” (our group nickname) stayed connected and pushed through. In a time where stress and worry could’ve overtaken us, we linked arms (virtually) and continued to hold each other up. We agreed we to cross the finish line together, and that is exactly what we will do on June 3.

MORE | Learn about Spalding’s Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership

Describe something you have done or accomplished at Spalding that you are proud of:

I’ve been able to make lasting friendships and strong community connections with agencies that I knew nothing about before the EdD program. My new connections to community members, agencies, and even my cohort mates have helped me become a stronger educator and influence the students I’m privileged to teach with amazing ways to help serve and access community resources.

What is something personal about your journey to graduating from Spalding that people may not know but that you’d like to share and that you are proud of? 

After accepting my seat in the EdD program, I found out I was expecting my third child. My daughter was born during the launch week of EdD 902. I was proud to have this moment and show my children that no matter your goals in life, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. I was able to virtually participate in class and continued to progress through the curriculum. Regardless of the circumstances, my family was always there to help see me through. I’m proud my children were able to see me accomplish something for myself, even when it required a lot of hard work. It was great for them to see how a family bonds together to help support someone they love. So this degree is for me, but it wouldn’t be possible without my husband, three kids (A,E & I), and my parents.

What are your next steps with this degree – job, pursuit of another degree, etc.?

Celebrate with a trip to a Disney World! My parents’ 50th wedding anniversary and my EdD degree completion occurred in the same week. So we are going as one big happy family to Disney.

 

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. In recognition of Athletic Training Month having just concluded in March and Occupational Therapy Month having just started in April, this week’s featured faculty member is Dr. Lisa Potts, Assistant Professor, who teaches anatomy and neuroscience courses in both the Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) program and the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) programs.

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

​I like that Spalding values compassion and understanding. As far as teaching, I like that class sizes are relatively small, which gives me the opportunity to get to know my students.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research?

My background is in neuroscience. My doctoral and postdoctoral work focused on Parkinson’s disease and related disorders.

Why are the programs you teach in a good option for students to consider?

​I am in a unique position in that I teach for both the MSAT and OTD programs. Since starting at Spalding, I have learned a lot about both of these professions and have grown to better understand and appreciate the value that each has in terms of client-centered care. Both of these are great programs with faculty who are invested in students’ success.

Though athletic training doesn’t have to be limited to sports, if you enjoy being around sports and want a career that will be challenging and rewarding at the same time, this would be a great option for you. The small cohorts, supportive faculty and variety of hands-on classes are specific things that make this program special.

Much of the same can be said about the OTD program. I have enjoyed seeing students’ passions to help others really be fostered in this program. Faculty are dedicated to providing meaningful experiences for students both in and out of the classroom. I love that OT includes a client-centered, empathetic approach. Again, if you want a career that will be both challenging and rewarding and enjoy helping people do what they love, this would be a great program for you.

ATHLETIC TRAINING | Overview of Spalding’s MSAT
MSAT FACULTY | Bios on all our professors
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY | Overview of Spalding’s OTD program and tracks
OTD FACULTY | Bios on all our professors

What is an example of a discussion topic, lecture, assignment, project, etc. in your class that you enjoy presenting or working with students on and that they have found engaging?

​I like to incorporate different ways of delivering and reviewing content. One thing I use often in my classes is Kahoot. Students always have fun playing this game, and I sometimes use challenging questions to spark further discussion. In the neurosciences classes I teach, I typically incorporate some kind of journal club type of assignment when myself or students will present a relevant journal article and lead discussion on it and how it relates to the current lecture topics. I find these are usually the most engaging and rich conversations because it really gets us thinking and talking about practical applications for what they are learning about.

What is an interesting thing you have in your office?

​Right now the most interesting things I have in my office are probably the oversized model of the human eye and brain. I also have a Lego minifigure my son made to look like me, coffee cup and all. 🙂

Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, to emphasize service and to promote peace and justice. What is an example of how your teaching style, your research, your class or your curriculum is supporting the mission of Spalding?

​I think I incorporate this mission the most through my teaching style. Currently, I have found various ways to utilize collaborative tools and apps to keep students engaged while learning in an online environment, which is necessary right now during COVID. I also try to incorporate these values in our class discussions. I like to take time at the beginning of each term to hear a little bit about each student and why they chose the AT or OT path. I remind students to be mindful that we all come from different backgrounds and may therefore have different perspectives and opinions. I encourage them to be open to working with people that have different opinions and perspectives as this is how new and innovative ideas are developed. I believe these considerations are also important for both of the professions these students are working to join.

FACULTY FOCUS FRIDAY ARCHIVE | Read all our professor Q&As

The coronavirus pandemic has led to growth in the use of telehealth – and a greater awareness of its effectiveness. The scholarly research and advocacy of Dr. Jana Cason on the topic have helped pave the way, and her contributions are garnering national recognition.

Cason, a professor in Spalding University’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT) who for years has been at the forefront of advancing telehealth as a high-quality healthcare delivery format, has recently received three separate honors for her work:

  • The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy’s 2020 and inaugural Impact Award, recognizing “practitioners who demonstrate exceptional professional commitment through dedication, hard work and outstanding OT skills to improve their clients’ overall life satisfaction.”
  • The American Occupational Therapy Association’s 2021 Recognition of Achievement Award, recognizing “occupational therapy practitioners who have made notable contributions to the profession and its consumers in a focused area of occupational therapy practice.” Cason previously won AOTA’s 2019 Innovative Practice Award.
  • The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s 2020 Editor’s Award, as the editor’s choice of the “most meritorious single article appearing in an ASHA journal (or journal section) in the preceding year.” Cason was honored for co-authoring the article “Ethical Considerations for Client-Center Telepractice” that was published in ASHA’s Perspectives journal in August 2019.

Cason said she is proud to have received the recognition while seeing the growth of telehealth.

“It’s so wonderful that telehealth is coming to the forefront,” Cason said. “Obviously the reason that we all are in the midst of using telehealth is terrible, but a silver lining is that it is advancing telehealth. It should always be a tool in our toolbox as healthcare professionals as a way to deliver services.”

AUERBACH SCHOOL OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
ENTRY-LEVEL OTD | Entry-level Overview
POST-PROFESSIONAL OTD | Post-professional Overview | Leadership track (online) | Upper-Extremity Rehab track (hybrid)
FACULTY BIOS | Learn about all our professors
SOCIAL MEDIA | Follow ASOT on Facebook

Cason said she has heard from therapists who had never tried telehealth until recently, and they report seeing clients making strong progress because their therapy session is taking place in the clients’ natural setting of performing the tasks, instead of in a simulated setting of a clinic.

She also mentioned the example of how telehealth has allowed at-school therapy for children to continue while schools have been closed due to COVID-19.

“There have been a lot of people who have been trying telehealth and who are seeing the benefits,” Cason said. “I think it’s here to stay. It was something we always saw value in and had worked to move it forward in the field.”

MORE ABOUT DR. JANA CASON
*Dr. Cason honored for Innovative Practice in OT
*Faculty Focus Q&A with Dr. Cason
*Guest Blog from Dr. Cason | Spalding is a leader in teaching, delivering telehealth

Cason said she is hopeful that now that people are really seeing the value of telehealth, that some of the logistical barriers that existed pre-pandemic will be lessened in the future, such as the ability for providers to have telehealth services billed and reimbursed, or for a therapist licensed in one state can do telehealth with a client whose home is across the state line.

A fulltime ASOT faculty member since 2006, Cason’s telehealth expertise shows up in many ways in her work at Spalding.

Cason said she will be teaching an elective course on telehealth this academic year within the ASOT curriculum, and she also will soon be working with ASOT entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) students towards capstone projects related to telehealth.

In addition, she plans to partner with Jocelyn Warren, an OT in Spalding’s Comprehensive Outpatient Rehab Clinic, on delivering telehealth to area children with chronic tic disorders such as Tourette syndrome.

Her other recent projects and service include joining an advisory board of the Child Neurology Foundation as a telehealth expert and serving on the organizing committee  of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation’s Grant-planning Workshop, which set a telehealth research agenda for OT.

“There is tremendous opportunity in recognizing the importance that telehealth will continue to play in healthcare, and at Spalding we are mindful of preparing 21st century healthcare practitioners,” Cason said. “That is a component that is really important and that we are building into the curriculum and coursework of our students. We can really speak to being leaders and having in-house expertise and translating that into the classroom to prepare our students for practice in the health field.”

ASOT Chair Dr. Rob McAlister said Spalding’s students are fortunate to learn from a telehealth expert such as Cason.

“Her stature as a national authority on telehealth gives them direct access to the most current research and expertise on how to effectively provide occupational therapy services via an online format,” he said, additionally praising Cason for how accessible she is to students. “She makes time for online meetings, and sets the standard for being responsive to student questions over email.”

McAlister said it is fitting that Cason has received national recognition for her contributions to telehealth.

“She has been very active in our profession for years,” he said. “And she continually strives to help those around her access the resources they need to provide high-quality occupational therapy evaluation and treatment.”

 

 

 

 

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. This week’s featured faculty member is Angela Cecil, OTR/L, Associate Professor in the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT). Professor Cecil has been on the Spalding ASOT faculty since 2010. Her clinical background is in acute care, inpatient/outpatient rehab, skilled nursing and home health, and her research focus is on health policy, advocacy and interprofessional collaboration. Professor Cecil holds a bachelor’s degree in OT from Eastern Kentucky University and an MBA from the University of Louisville, and she is on track to earn a PhD in health sciences from Nova Southeastern University this spring.

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

I love to see students learn. Every time I am asked to teach a class or serve as a guest speaker, I love to see them learning and experiencing the light-bulb moments. I also see students progressing through the curriculum. That all gives me energy. Another thing, I love that Spalding has a heart and soul for doing the right thing. This is an imperfect world and imperfect institution, but at the end of the day, they really do try to do the right thing for students and the community. It’s a progressive-thinking university and not everyone agrees all the time, but everyone wants to do the right thing for the most people. This is especially true right now. I love the mission and how it has supported me and allows me to participate in the fullest personally and professionally.

What is your academic specialty, areas of expertise or research?

I started as a fieldwork director, and I did that for seven years. I am currently co-teaching a movement and occupations course, and I help teach out several master’s courses. My professional interest is in interprofessional education and collaboration. I hope to do more interprofessionally at Spalding over the years. From a research perspective, I would like to develop my action research skills. My current dissertation is a mixed-methods study, and this will allow us to progress societal challenges. I don’t have a specific research topic, but I have a strategy to address societal issues through research. I hope to do some international work through helping teach internationally, or taking students to different places in the world to do experiential-based learning. I want to have an impact in the world through a national and international level, and we will see where that takes me.

AUERBACH SCHOOL OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
ASOT PROGRAMS | OTD Overview
ENTRY-LEVEL OTD | Entry-level Overview
POST-PROFESSIONAL OTD | Post-professional Overview | Leadership track (online) | Upper-Extremity Rehab track (hybrid)
FACULTY BIOS | Learn about all our professors
SOCIAL MEDIA | Follow ASOT on Facebook

Why is occupational therapy a good option for students to consider?

In occupational therapy, as long as you align with the philosophy of OT, you can do anything. It is an incredibly flexible occupation where you want to help people and you believe in the power of doing (occupation). There is no limit to the setting you work in. Sometimes the settings that you are able to work in are dictated by the environment. For instance, this region is very medically model based, so OTs are seen in hospitals, nursing homes and clinics. However, if you went to the northwestern part of the United States they do a lot more community-based and mental health work as OTs. The environment certainly dictates what the OT can do, but with the right resources and support, students can participate in exploration of OT. This could pique the interest of students who have an entrepreneurial nature in them to start their own business or community agency.

What is an example of a discussion topic, lecture, assignment, project, etc. in your class that you enjoy presenting or working with students on and that they have found engaging?

When I was in charge of the fieldwork-matching process I loved matching students and being able to coach them through the process of fieldwork. Especially when students have a few hiccups then come out at the end with success it’s beyond enjoyable. It’s a privilege to see how they develop. The other example is when I am helping with the movement class and students are able to do the activity analysis project because that to me is taking the skills of understanding how movement happens and applying it to doing. That is one of the cornerstones of occupational therapy.

What is an interesting thing you have in your office?

When I first started at Spalding and I had my own office I went to Bed Bath and Beyond, and I bought these two paintings and people always ask me if I painted them myself. They have been with me ever since the first few months I started at Spalding, and I still love them. I will probably always keep them.

The other interesting thing in my office is a gift from a former student who gave me a cookbook that is about cooking with ramen noodles. It was because he went to a homeless shelter that had a program for individuals to reintegrate into society. I guess him and I had a conversation about different things he could do while he was there and he used this ramen noodle cookbook. Then he gave me that cookbook after his experience there. It reminds me that students appreciate the guidance that we give them.

Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, to emphasize service and to promote peace and justice. What is an example of how your teaching style, your research, your class or your curriculum is supporting the mission of Spalding?

When all of the social unrest started last year we made an effort as faculty to allow opportunities to talk about it with our classes. The students that I had at the time made time to talk about the current events, so that was a way that we infused our mission for that situation. But what I enjoy doing is extending invitations to students to participate in the community. So when we had the peaceful protest at Spalding this summer, I went and I made sure I told my students so if they wanted to go, but didn’t want to go alone, they could find someone to stand with. I enjoy bringing students along whether it is at a peaceful protest or an experience where they might find something beneficial.

I am volunteering on a project called the Synergy Project, which is sponsored by the Louisville Metro Police Department with a goal of improving police and community relations. Spalding Executive Director of Peace and Spiritual Renewal Chandra Irvin is a leader in the project, which is being rebooted now and aimed at facilitating conversation between the LMPD and different communities. It is trying to begin to make change happen, and that aligns with who I am.

Faculty Focus Friday is a Q&A series that highlights individual faculty members in various academic programs around Spalding University. This week’s featured faculty member is Dr. Josh Skuller, Associate Professor in the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT). Dr. Skuller, who teaches in Spalding’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program, earned his bachelor’s in occupational therapy from Spalding in 2001 and also holds a master’s in education and a PhD in curriculum technology from the University of Louisville. He is board-certified in pediatrics through the American Occupational Therapy Association and is also certified as an assistive technology professional (ATP) through the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA).

What do you like about working and teaching at Spalding?

I love the students at Spalding.  They all have such an energizing spirit about them. I have taught adjunct at another university, and I feel that we really get to know the students at Spalding and want to see their success.

What is your academic specialty or areas of expertise or research?

My specialty areas are pediatrics and mental health. I really enjoy looking through the trauma lens and thinking about how we can help our clients to overcome their background and successfully participate in their occupations. I have also developed an expertise in Ayres Sensory Integration through participation in the certification program. It truly has helped me to reevaluate my practice as a pediatric OT.

Why is the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy a good option for students to consider?

ASOT rocks! I love ASOT so much that I was more than happy to make the transition from clinician to faculty in order to be at my alma mater. OT is such a dynamic field, and we truly help people get back to their participation in life activities. Where else, can you work on money management, play participation, grocery shopping, and other important life skills and get paid for it?!

AUERBACH SCHOOL OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY
** OTD OVERVIEW | ENTRY-LEVEL OTD | POST-PROFESSIONAL OTD (ONLINE)
** FACULTY BIOS | Learn about all of our ASOT professors

What is an example of a discussion topic, lecture, assignment, project, etc. in your class that you enjoy presenting or working with students on and that they have found engaging?

Wow, I think there are a lot of interesting topics, but I would have to say that doing yoga with the students as a part of complementary/alternative medicine is a very fun activity that helps everyone to feel the connection of mind/body which many of our clients find helpful as they recover. Also, I enjoy talking about school mental health in our trauma elective as a part of the OT 800 course, which is also introduced in the trauma lecture in OT 760.

What is an interesting thing you have in your office? 

One of my favorite things I have in my office is a cohort picture of Blue 20, which was given to me when they (with the help from ASOT faculty Drs. Sara Story and Laura Stimler) threw a surprise party for me on my 40th birthday.  On the picture, they wrote, “Thanks for helping us on our journey.” It’s a reminder of why I teach.

Spalding’s mission is to meet the needs of the times, to emphasize service and to promote peace and justice. What is an example of how your teaching style, your research, your class or your curriculum is supporting the mission of Spalding? 

I think the field of OT definitely aligns with Spalding’s mission. OT is such a compassionate field, and we are truly helping our students to become dynamic practitioners who are able to help their clients get back to participating in life, no matter what challenges they have experienced.

FACULTY FOCUS ARCHIVE | Read all our professor Q&As

The pandemic may have forced it to take place over a video conference instead of in person, but the physical distance didn’t prevent Thursday’s Kosair Charities and enTECH Virtual Day of Celebration from living up to its name in the joyful, celebratory spirit of the holiday season.

Leaders from Spalding University and Kosair Charities joined the online call to meet the families that are receiving gifts of assistive technology for their children who face physical challenges and cognitive differences.

The gifts, to be distributed in the coming weeks through enTECH and its Kosair Charities Financial Assistance Program, will provide the children with therapeutic, educational and sensory benefits and help them with communication, speech, mobility and play.


enTECH Overview| Visit home page of the assistive technology resource center


The gifts included Apple iPads with the latest assistive-technology apps and accessories, switch toys, floatation devices that help with bathing, and communication and writing tools. The devices and apps are often not covered by insurance and can very expensive if purchased out of pocket.

Brittany Farris was thankful that her 23-month-old daughter, Leah, would being receiving a series of specialized switch toys to help her play.

“Most toys that are typical for a child her age, she just cannot play with,” Brittany Farris said. “It’s been one of those things where we’re like, ‘How can we get her switch toys?’ Insurance does not want to pay for play things for children sometimes. So it’s been quite difficult to get some of these items, and we’re just truly so appreciative of each and every item. And I promise we will utilize them and really appreciate what you guys are doing.”

Shamenda Harper Livingston said her sixth-grade son Kinjay would benefit from the LAMP Words for Life communications app he’d be receiving, adding that he has been thriving as an honor-roll student at Johnson Traditional Middle School. Additionally, Kinjay’s new Apple Pencil “will really help him make his letters and writing a little better and more legible,” his mom said.

The Kosair Charities Enabling Technologies of Kentuckiana assistive technology resource center – or enTECH, for short – is a division of Spalding’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy and is located on Spalding’s campus at 812 S. Second St. in the former Kosair Shrine Temple. It is one of five state-designated assistive technology resource centers in Kentucky, and it offers a range of therapy services. Kosair Charities is a major supporter of its programs and facilities.

“This partnership with Spalding is so important because Spalding is not afraid to think big and bold, and that’s what we need in this world: big and bold thinking,” Kosair Charities President Keith Inman said. “So this is going to be a partnership that’s going to last a long, long time.

“… We’re just honored that we we have the ability to do the little piece that we can do because what you do at Spalding and enTECH, top to bottom, that’s hard work. For 97 years, we have had one goal, and that’s to help children overcome some significant obstacles to reach their full potential. And nowhere is this more evident than on this call.”

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure said that in a year in which the pandemic had limited the joy of so much, Thursday’s virtual celebration with Kosair Charities and enTECH was a return to fun.

“This event (is an occasion in which) we give really important technology and mobility tools to the young ones in a setting where you’re just thrilled to see them, and see the families and the joy and the relief and the fun,” McClure said. “And so I just want to, say, I really love our Kosair Charities partners, and I love enTECH.”

Watch the video of the full Kosair Charities and enTECH Day of Celebration below:

With one of Kentucky’s premier certified hand therapists serving as a lead instructor, Spalding University’s Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy is offering a new graduate certificate and post-professional doctoral track in Upper Extremity Rehabilitation. Unique to this region, the programs will provide occupational therapists with advanced knowledge of the complex physiology and occupations of the hand and arm as well as training in how to evaluate and treat upper-limb injuries.

Spalding is now accepting applications for Fall 2020 at spalding.edu/upper-extremity for both the certificate and the post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) track. Assistant Professor Dr. Greg Pitts, a licensed OT and certified hand therapist who owns and operates Commonwealth Hand Therapy clinic in Lexington, will teach multiple courses.

The 15-credit-hour certificate program in Upper Extremity Rehabilitation consists of three five-hour courses presented in a hybrid format of online instruction and face-to-face skill development. Applicants must have a professional degree along with certification or licensing in occupational therapy or physical therapy.

The 30-hour post-professional OTD track, meanwhile, is designed for licensed occupational therapy practitioners who want to progress to the full doctoral degree. It involves five 13-week courses of online instruction blended once a trimester with in-person testing. It includes a three-hour course in upper-extremity wound care. A self-directed capstone is the final requirement.

OVERVIEW | Graduate certificate in Upper Extremity Rehab
OVERVIEW | Post-professional OTD track in Upper Extremity Rehab
CURRICULUM | Courses for the post-professional OTD
RELATED | All Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy programs

“These Upper Extremity Rehabilitation programs are really going fit a need – and not only in the Louisville area,” said Dr. Rob McAlister, Chair of the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy. “Because the classes are primarily online, we can also serve the rest of the country and even beyond the limits of our country if a person can come to Louisville once every three months for a weekend. Then that person can attain a credential that really makes them more marketable in their profession.”

Greg Pitts, OT faculty
Dr. Greg Pitts

In addition to teaching the scientific principles related to upper extremities and injuries, Spalding’s new programs will also place an emphasis on teaching management skills and business applications in an upper extremity rehab clinic.

“Our dream was to develop a program where a post-professional occupational therapist could come to Spalding and learn real-world applications for both basic and complex orthotics and develop skills that will help perpetuate their careers,” Pitts said. “Students will also develop an understanding of the value of mentorship and the value of science as they apply it to the treatment of patients. You can become a very valuable employee because you can learn to help manage therapists and help provide good functional outcomes. You can become a leader in upper extremity rehab.”

Pitts is well-established as a leader in the field. He is the past chair of the American Hand Therapy Foundation, and he is currently on the board of the Hand Therapy Certification Commission. For years, Pitts has served as Clinical Director for On-Site Rehabilitation for Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, and he is a past recipient of Kentucky’s Outstanding Occupational Therapist of the Year Award.

“Dr. Pitts is so passionate and so knowledgeable,” McAlister said. “He is a nationally recognized authority on upper-extremity care, and he is one of the foremost practitioners in the country. He owns his own business, so from a practitioner’s standpoint and from a business standpoint, he knows what it takes to succeed, and he can communicate that knowledge really well to students. The faculty teaching in these programs are world-class.”

Spalding Dean of Graduate Education Dr. Kurt Jefferson said the Upper Extremity Rehabilitation certificate and post-professional OTD track “continue the important tradition of Spalding’s occupational therapy program expanding its footprint both academically and clinically in Louisville and beyond.”

He continued: “The opportunity for healthcare professionals to gain continual knowledge and expertise in this area will benefit practitioners in important intellectual and professional ways.”

Visit spalding.edu/upper-extremity or spalding.edu/occupational-therapy for more information. Email postotd@spalding.edu or call (502) 588-7196 with questions.