Occupational Therapy

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Occupational Therapy Spotlight

Meet Jessica Haggerty. Jessica is a third-year student in Drake's Occupational Therpay Doctorate (OTD) program and will graduate in 2022! In her last year of the OTD program, Jessica has had the opportunity to complete a doctoral capstone experience at the Optimae Rehabilitation Services and Mindspring Mental Health Alliance.

Name: Jessica Haggerty
Hometown: Urbandale, Iowa
Degree Program: OTD, May 2022
Capstone Organization: Optimae Rehabilitation Services & Mindspring Mental Health Alliance
Location: Des Moines, Iowa
Tell us about your capstone experience at National Sports Center for the Disabled. What were your responsibilities and what did a typical day/week look like?

I have the great privilege of completing my capstone not only at Optimae Rehabilitation Services, but also with Mindspring Mental Health Alliance. A typical week for me is working in the office 2 days a week on researching, developing, and implementing several educational trainings covering various topics from trauma-informed care to an initial training for OTs working in the mental health field in order to enhance evidence-based practice for further professional development. I also worked towards networking with the Hispanic community on working towards increasing access to Spanish materials for improved mental health awareness and education.

The other 3 days a week are spent providing occupational therapy services for adults with mental illness and intellectual disabilities to assist with improved independence in their daily lives through therapeutic interventions. Overall, my responsibilities include working towards the elimination of the stigma placed upon individuals living with mental health disorders.

What is your favorite thing about this Doctoral Capstone?

My favorite part about my Doctoral Capstone Experience is the freedom and the diverse opportunities that have been made available during my time here. I have been given the resources, the guidance, and the ability to choose the direction I wish to take my experience. Everyone here is so welcoming and willing to provide advice and constructive feedback to help propel me further in my profession.

What attracted you to Drake's OTD program?

I was drawn to the Drake OTD program because of the size, the quality of instructors, and the year-round programming. It was nice to be able to stay in my hometown to receive great quality education where the professors knew who we were, our goals, and what we hoped to achieve in this profession.

Have your career goals changed at all since starting Drake's OTD program? How so?

It is safe to say that my career goals have changed several times throughout the Drake OTD program. The amazing thing about occupational therapy is that the areas we can go are endless. I have discovered that my passion for OT is not singular, and in fact reaches several outlets. I have a passion for helping people get to where they want to be, whether that is in mental health, pediatrics, rehabilitation, or geriatric care. That is the beautiful thing about occupational therapy, is I don’t have to choose just one.

How has Drake prepared you for your future career as an occupational therapy professional?

Drake has provided me with the knowledge to not only become a great occupational therapy professional, but they have shown us how to advocate not only for our patients, but for ourselves and our profession. Drake taught us the power of lobbying and networking with individuals. And overall, they have provided us the guidance and the support throughout our education to explore our options and go towards whatever goals we have set for ourselves.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to future occupational therapy students?

I’ll give you two pieces of advice. One, is to keep an open mind. Occupational therapy can do many things, and you might not even think of half of them. Make sure you are open to ALL of the options out there before settling in on one specific thing.

The second is something my grandpa always says. Follow your heart. Know that in the end, everything will work out how it is supposed to. So do what makes you happy and what feels right in the moment.

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