Occupational Therapy

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Meet Sarah Hulstein.

Sarah is a third-year student in Drake's Occupational Therpay Doctorate (OTD) program and will graduate in 2024! In her last year of the OTD program, Sarah has had the opportunity to complete a doctoral capstone experience at the Drake University Department of Access and Success in Des Moines, Iowa.

Name: Sarah Hulstein
Hometown: Pella, Iowa
Degree Program: OTD, May 2024
Capstone Organization: Drake University Department of Access and Success
Location: Des Moines, Iowa


Tell us about your Doctoral Capstone. What were your responsibilities and what did a typical day/week look like?

My responsibilities include assisting with academic coaching, this leaned heavily into the mental health and life skills side of OT. I am also in charge of advocating for, planning, prepping, rolling out and advertising several different programs on campus to increase access to sensory tools for students such as creating a sensory room and a sensory tool checkout system in the library. I also created several social media posts for the access and success department that educated on sensory needs and helped direct students to study spaces that may be most suitable to them.

For me, a "typical" day really differs depending on the day and at what point various aspects of the project are at. On any given day I could have student meetings. I also attend meetings with faculty groups on campus related to student wellness and academic success several times a month. When I am not meeting with students or groups, I am busy working on the planning and prep for creating sensory spaces on campus as well as the sensory tool checkout system. I also worked on creating a toolkit for teachers/educators to help them address sensory needs in the classroom and delivered a presentation to Drake University education students and Drake faculty members regarding sensory processing disorder and its impact on students in the classroom. At the beginning of my capstone, I spent a lot of time developing questionnaires to gather data from students on their sensory needs and their perceptions on how well Drake's campus was meeting their needs. 

What is your favorite thing about the Doctoral Capstone?

I really like that this experience has given me the opportunity to explore a topic of interest on a deep level. It was also fun to see my ideas come to life as we began planning some of these adaptations and programs for campus. 

What attracted you to Drake's OTD program?

I liked the location, being an Iowa local. I also remember thinking that during my interview everyone I interacted with seemed kind and laid back which made me feel comfortable. 

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

My hands on experiences, especially during level II fieldworks have made me feel competent in my skills and abilities to work as an occupational therapist. I feel well rounded and that I have truly seen the breadth of OT services. 

What are your career goals? Have they changed at all since you started Drake's OTD program?

I always knew I really liked working with children. However, I would say my experiences have broadened my horizons and I would be okay or even enjoy some of the other OT settings as well. 

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

The whole program goes by really fast so try to enjoy it even when you feel stressed. You'll make it to the end, your professors and peers are there for you to lean on and by the end you will feel confident in what you know. 

Return to the OTD Capstone Spotlight home page here.

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