OT students promote profession to campus

It should come as no surprise that the majority of Gannon University students have the ability to complete tasks of daily living – dressing, eating, breathing, bathing – with little to no thought.

But what about those people who can’t?

That’s where occupational therapists come in.

Jenna Sadowski, a fifth-year student in Gannon’s OT program, said the first place people often get confused with her future profession is in the name itself.

“When you think occupation,” she said, “you think jobs.”

But for Sadowski and other OT majors, an occupation is defined as any task in people’s daily lives that is purposeful and meaningful to them. Occupational therapists work on these tasks with their clients, helping them to function in normal daily life as best they can.

Posters specifying these details of the profession have been displayed around campus this month as an effort to “promote the profession,” a project in which all fifth-year OT students have been participating.

This serves as just one part of Gannon’s contributions to OT Awareness Month, which is April and coincides with Autism Awareness Month.

Melissa Russo, a fifth-year OT major at Gannon, said it’s nice that the two causes are supported in the same month, because the two often come together in the work field.

“That’s a huge population that we work with,” Russo said.

Gannon’s OT graduate students will be participating in the annual autism walk on Saturday, April 27. Sadowski and Russo said the Gannon community is welcome to join them and support the effort to raise autism awareness.

Another big event for OT majors this month is the sixth annual wheelchair basketball game, which will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 24, in the Hammermill Center.

Fifth-year OT major Kristen Sebunia said the game is sure to be a good time, and spectators from the Gannon community are highly encouraged to attend. Tickets are $3 in advance or $5 at the door, and the game will include raffles, a Chinese auction and food to be purchased.

Sebunia said the nationally recognized wheelchair basketball team from Edinboro University will provide an exhibition before Gannon’s players take the court. She said these players are fun to watch because they do this all the time.

“You get to see what it’s really like when they play,” she said. “It’s awesome because they’re falling out of their chairs and getting back up, and you really realize how strong and skilled they are.”

Sebunia said that after the Edinboro exhibition Gannon’s OT majors get to play five-on-five games in a bracket tournament. Each Gannon team is also assigned one member of Edinboro’s team to even out the playing.

She said having the Edinboro players on the teams definitely helps. “It makes it look like we know what we’re doing,” Sebunia said.

Sadowski and Russo also noted the significance of the game for the OT program, both citing it as a major event for promoting their profession around campus. Russo said she is playing on a team, while Sadowski will be there to sing the national anthem with a small group.

Regardless of how they’re participating, all fifth-year OT majors are taking an active role in promoting the profession this month.

The three fifth-year students mentioned several reasons why it’s important that non-OT majors know what their vocation is about. Sadowski said she believes OT is often left in the shadow of other health science majors at Gannon.

“It’s not such a known profession,” she said, “and I think it gets trumped on a lot over physical therapy.”

Russo said a big difference between physical and occupational therapies is that OTs are mainly trying to help people complete their everyday tasks, or “occupations,” as they refer to them.

“A lot of healthcare providers will look at the mechanics – and don’t get us wrong, we look at the mechanics – but we use functional tasks and a person’s daily occupations,” Russo said. “We get you back to where you want to be in life.”

 

KELLY MORELAND

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