Occupational Therapy

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Yolanda Griffiths

OTD faculty Yolanda Griffiths

Title: Professor of Occupational Therapy
Rank: Professor
Phone: (515) 271-2900
Email: yolanda.griffiths@drake.edu

Education: BS, University of Puget Sound; MHR, University of Oklahoma; OTD, Creighton University
Began at Drake: 2017

Current classes I teach:

  • OTD 201: Theoretical Foundations of Occupational Therapy
  • OTD 236: Clinical Reasoning in Occupational Therapy
  • OTD 247: Teaching and Learning in Occupational Therapy
  • OTD 253: Special Topics
  • OTD 258: Research III


  • Professor, Drake University (June 2017 to present)
  • Chair and Program Director, Drake University (June 2017 to July 2021)
  • Program Director and Professor, College of Saint Mary (July 2012 to May 2017)
  • Associate Professor, Creighton University (October 1992 to July 2012; promoted and tenured 2003)
  • Director, Post Professional Distance OTD Program (July 2007 To June 2011)
  • Interim Vice Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy, Creighton University (June 1999-June 2000)
  • Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Department of Occupational Therapy Creighton University (Aug. 1993 to Dec. 1999)
  • Manager, Activity Therapy/Occupational Therapist Midlands Community Hospital (Jan. 1991 to July 1993)
  • Adjunct Instructor, Department of Occupational Therapy Creighton University (Fall 1992 and Spring 1993)
  • Occupational Therapist, St. Joseph's Center for Mental Health (July To December 1990)
  • Director of Activity Therapy/Occupational Therapist Midlands Community Hospital (1988 to 1990)
  • Co-Manager of Activity Therapy Department/ Occupational Therapist, Castle Medical Center (1985 To 1988)
  • Occupational Therapist for Infant Stimulation Program Central Mental Health Center (1982)
  • Occupational Therapist and Acting Activity Director Peninsula Psychiatric Hospital (1978 To 1980)
  • Occupational Therapist Central Valley Comprehensive Mental Health Project San Bernadino County Mental Health (1977 To 1978)

Professional Affiliations

  • Member of the Leaders and Legacy Society, AOTA
  • Member of the American Occupational Therapy Association
  • Member of the Iowa Occupational Therapy Association
  • Member of the Nebraska Occupational Therapy Association

Professional Service

  • Online Journal of Occupational Therapy editorial review board
  • Roster of Accreditation Evaluators, 2015-2019

College Service

  • 2021 to present Assessment Committee
  • 2021 to present Promotion and Tenure Committee
  • 2017 to 2020 Academic Affairs Committee
  • 2017 to 2021 College Administrative Committee
  • Various Search Committees to replace faculty and staff

Honors & Awards

  • Morrow Transformational Leadership Award, 2019
  • Roster of Fellows, American Occupational Therapy Association
  • Founding member, Leaders and Legacies Society, AOTA
  • Co-editor special issue on education for Occupational Therapy in Health Care

Teaching Philosophy

It is my belief that the students and I are on a collaborative educational journey. Students should be empowered to take an active part in their learning. Instructors should be competent guides for students on the educational journey. My style of teaching is not intended as a conduit to pour prescriptive information from books or lectures into students and have the lectures recited back to me. It is much more valuable to teach effective clinical reasoning skills and critical thinking than recipes for evaluation or treatment, as working with individual clients requires dynamic problem solving. My job is not to do the learning for the students but to help students understand what is necessary to work with future clients ethically, competently and eventually adopt a habit of life-long learning.

I believe a multi-sensory approach in the classroom will yield more successful learning. Active learning has been a powerful and passionate interest and my preferred style of teaching. Learning by doing matches occupational therapy. I value that students learn to support their ideas with evidence and clear theoretical rationale. I also appreciate the art of occupational therapy which often comes from applying therapeutic use of self, creative problem-solving skills and compassion. Students are frequently engaged in written and dialogic reflection to gain a richer understanding of the experiences in my classes, and with assignments in the community for my courses. It is important for students to link present learning to prior and future learning. Additionally, learning should be fun and meaningful for students.

A great educational journey is one that is well structured but dynamic enough that the instructor can make needed adjustments for the benefit of student. As an experienced teacher, I also need to be open to what could be more successful or relevant for student learning. Part of my job is to assist students to see the bigger picture in practice and to help students evolve into practitioners and scholars. I view teaching as a calling and I have been privileged to see many of my former students have become occupational therapy educators and academic administrators too.

Latest Projects & Publications

Griffiths, Y., Patel, S., Morsching, M., Brokus, S., Swenzinski, S., & Anderson, S. (2022). White Coat Ceremonies: Is This Tradition Still Relevant to OT? AOTA Education Summit. Orlando, FL. November 2022. (Poster)


Griffiths, Y., Aspengren, G., Bryan, J., Cuddy, E., Hagenbucher, K., & Yoder, W. (2021). Starting the discussion: OTD capstone dissemination processes past, current and future. American Occupational Therapy Association Inspire Conference. Virtual. April 2021

Aspengren, G., Bryan, J., Cuddy, E., Hagenbucher, K.,Yoder, W. & Griffiths, Y. (2021). OTD Capstone Dissemination: Illuminating the Way Forward. Nebraska Occupational Therapy Association Conference. Virtual. April 2021.

Gacek, A., Hickman, J., Jacobs, J., Rose, R., Valasek, W. &, Griffiths, Y. (2020)Using historical inquiry methods to uncover the development of a new entry level OTD program. American Occupational Therapy Association 99th Annual Conference. Virtual Conference. Poster. May 2020.

Griffiths, Y. & Urish, C. (2018). Incivility in the workplace: Adult bullying in academia. AOTA Educational Summit. Louisville, KY. October 2018.

Bahle-Lampe, A., Griffiths, Y., Lohman, H. & Rubin, W. (2018) Capturing narrative histories of the profession. Occupational Therapy Practice. January 22, 2018.

Padilla, R. & Griffiths, Y. (2017). A Professional Legacy (4th Ed.) Bethesda,MD. American Occupational Therapy Association Inc

Griffiths, Y. & Thinnes, A. (2018 in press) Chapter 4, Psychological Aspects of Aging in Occupational Therapy for Elders, (4th Ed), (Eds) Lohman, Byers-Connon, S., & Padilla, R., St. Louis, MO: Mosby-Yearbook, Inc

Griffiths, Y., Bahle-Lampe, A., Lohman, H., & Rubin, W. (2018). Honoring the past and informing the next generation of occupational therapists. American Occupational Therapy Association 97th Annual Conference. Salt Lake City, UT. April 2018.

Griffiths, Y. & Urish, C. (Apr. 2018). Not Playing Nice in the Sandbox: How Workplace Incivility Takes a Toll on Productivity, Self-Esteem and How to Not Let it Take a Toll on You! for OccupationalTherapy.Com continuing education.

Griffiths, Y. & Urish, C. (October 6, 2017). Workplace Incivility: Zapping Productivity, Self Esteem, and Team Cohesiveness. Iowa Occupational Therapy Association. Iowa Methodist Medical Center. Des Moines, IA

Research Projects in Progress

Research on the OT White Coat Ceremony: The aim of this study is to track the history of the white coat ceremony, examine its purpose and relevance to developing professional identity in current occupational therapy education, as well as identify alternative ceremonies for signifying induction into the profession.

Purpose: Dr. Griffiths is the primary investigator mentoring 5 students in this study.


Research on Capstone Scholarly Dissemination: Mixed methods study examining how accredited OTD programs across the country disseminate capstone outcomes.  Expected results will add to the body of knowledge on best practice in occupational therapy doctoral education.

Dr. Griffiths is the primary investigator mentoring 5 students in this mixed-methods study.


Research using historical inquiry: Mixed methods study examining the initial establishments of the Drake OTD program and researching the perceived Drake brand of the OTD program and graduates.

Dr. Griffiths is the primary investigator mentoring 5 students in this mixed-methods study.


Research on Workplace Incivility: Examining workplace incivility in occupational therapy in academic settings

 Dr. Griffiths is the primary investigator mentoring 4 students in this mixed-methods study using the Clark Workplace Incivility Survey as well as gaining qualitative data through short essay questions.

Other Areas of Interest in Research

  • OT education and workplace incivility
  • Historical inquiry
  • Scholarship of teaching and learning
  • Mental health
  • Neurolinguistic programming

Personal Information

Dr. Griffiths has been an occupational therapist for 46 years, of which 31 years have been as an academic. She is married to her husband Cal, a retired USAF Lt. Colonel and retired high school teacher and coach. Dr. Griffiths has three grown daughters, two sons-in-laws, and two grandsons. Her hobbies include gardening, creative arts, NLP (neurolinguistic programming), writing poetry, watching movies, and a lifelong passion for dogs and birds.


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