Occupational Therapy

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Occupational Therapy Spotlight

Meet Maddy Nave.  Maddy is a third-year student in Drake's Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program.  As a student, Maddy had the opportunity to complete a fieldwork experience in mental health at Utah State Hospital in Provo, Utah. 

Name:    Maddy Nave
Hometown:    Naperville, IL
Degree Program:    OTD, May 2019
Fieldwork Organization:    Utah State Hospital
Location:    Provo, Utah
Type of Experience:    Mental health, forensics, aging adults

Maddy Nave is a third year OTD student, currently completing her Doctoral Experience at the Lantern Group in northeast Ohio before graduating in May. She is a big family girl, as well as a Xavier University alum.  Maddy loves to cook, and is currently planning her wedding! After graduation, Maddy hopes to land a job in a mental health practice setting and looks forward to becoming a professor one day. Working with people makes Maddy a happier person!

Why did you choose to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy? 

Occupational therapy has the power to encourage people to live the life they have always dreamed of, which is something I can't wait to help people do. I have always wanted to empower people to be their best and find their passion, and occupational therapy seems to fit this mold pretty well. I love working with people and getting to know them on a deeper level to understand what makes them tick and who they want to be. Occupational therapy combines my passion for people and their excitement for life with the medical field I knew I wanted to be a part of. Occupational therapy is on the cutting edge of empowering clients to get better, and I want to be a part of that.

What are your professional goals as a future OT? 

Coming into the program, my dream job was to work with an older adult population. While I still love this work, I feel that I have been pulled toward a mental health realm and have focused my job search on this area. My dream job would be to start a program for mental health with an at-risk population. I would like to help re-shape the way we think about mental illness and its effects on daily functioning within the corrections system as well as with those transitioning out of the corrections system. I'm still working on how I can make this happen in the future, but Drake has given me the tools to develop programs and dream about bigger roles for occupational therapists.

Why did you choose to attend Drake?

From my interview day on, I have felt that Drake has shown its caring spirit through the faculty, staff, and curriculum. I have consistently felt that I am cared for as a student as well as a whole person. Due to this caring focus, I have never hesitated to be open and honest with my program faculty about my personal life and how I am feeling as a graduate student. I feel they have taken my professional and personal goals to heart and have been with me every step of the way, even as my interests have evolved.

How are your experiences at Drake helping you to pursue your career goals? 

As a Drake OTD student I have been pushed to see the bigger picture of how I can make the community I am in a better place. I have seen what occupational therapists can do when they think outside of the box because of Drake’s faculty and their drive to get involved with outside organizations. Working with community members and organizations has allowed me to see what occupational therapy can do for all populations and has connected me to decision makers who appreciate and respect our profession. These experiences have helped me to prepare myself as an advocate for our profession.

What is your favorite Drake memory?

Each semester and professor have brought a new spin on the way I think as a future OT. While it’s difficult to choose one event that has been my favorite, the two that stick out to me are attending national conferences with our professors, as well as participating in a wheelchair basketball tournament at Courage League Sports. Both of these experiences allowed me to see the greater good that occupational therapy can have. Our faculty consistently push us to participate in advocacy activities, including attending the American Occupational Therapy Association conferences in both Philadelphia and Salt Lake City. Through this experience, I connected with practicing OT’s as well as my professors outside of the classroom. Drake CPHS and DUSOTA assisted in funding our trip, making it even easier to engage in the wider OT community. In addition to these experiences, playing in a wheelchair basketball tournament with my classmates and professors was a highlight of my time at Drake.

Tell us about your experience at Utah State Hospital.  What were your responsibilities and what did a typical day/week look like?

My first level 2 experience was at Utah State Hospital in Provo, Utah working on the forensic units as well as their older adult unit. USH is a state mental health facility with clients from adolescents to older adults. Forensics is a part of occupational therapy that is less widely known, as there are few positions available, though the field is growing. All of my clients on the forensics units were dually a part of the corrections system and were one of three statuses: guilty and mentally ill, not guilty by insanity, or not competent to proceed with their trial.

As a student working on the forensic units, I was supervised by my fieldwork educator, whose caseload I eventually took over. I ran groups each day which included life skills, sensory regulation, basic nutrition and wellness, and cooking groups. The aim of the program on the forensic units is to improve the transition back to society for those admitted to this unit. Many have a long history of offenses, so by working on skills like managing a budget, cooking, and taking care of yourself, we were enabling the clients to take charge of their recovery.

When a referral to OT came in, I would complete a cognitive screening on the client, as well as an occupational profile which is like an interview that examines the client as a whole, and how they function in everyday life as well as what makes them happy, angry, and what they want to do in the future. These one-on-one sessions sometimes turned into one-on-one therapy, depending on the client. I would plan treatments and get to know the client’s interests in order to find out what he or she needed in order to function at a higher level.

How did Drake prepare you for your experience at USH?

Drake consistently taught me to understand that not only should occupational therapy be individualized to the client, it should be individualized to my own talents. Though it is important to utilize evidence based practice, I can utilize my own therapeutic use of self when working with clients in order to gain their trust and respect. Without the abilities to learn from clients and experience the groups with them, I would never have been able to connect to my patients and get through to them in ways that were on their level and within their personal experiences.

What was your biggest lesson from this fieldword experience?

I learned more than I could have imagined about the legal system, as well as the interactions between mental illness and the legal system. However, this experience allowed me to take a look at my own experiences and interactions and understand how to connect with people I normally never would have. My passion has always been connecting with people, but this experience taught me that opening yourself up to others is often what will leave a lasting impression of trust and respect.

What was your favorite part of being placed at USH?

My time at USH was incredible. I loved that even though I was a student, the OT’s and OTA’s respected my input and wanted me to speak up when I had an idea. I felt that I was welcome there and that my voice was important to the team because I was working so closely with the clients. The OT’s and OTA’s were always willing to teach and allowed me to have experiences I didn’t know were possible.

Share a few things you've liked most about your time at Drake and in the OTD program.

I’ve enjoyed the days when things seem to just click. There were multiple moments during our first semester of the program that we all felt overwhelmed by the details, but then a semester down the road the details clicked into a bigger picture. These moments made me feel like I was on my way to an incredible profession, and have shown me that even in my confusion, I’m learning every step of the way.

What are some of your accomplishments at Drake and in the OTD program?

As a student in the first cohort of the OTD program, I would have to say that moving through the whole curriculum and growing with my faculty and classmates has to be one of my biggest accomplishments at Drake. These three years were a learning experience for all of us, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.  I loved leading our program’s student association as the first president of DUSOTA for two years, and helping to make our program into something we could all be proud of. Through this position, I was connected to the greater college community which allowed me to serve as a liaison to CPHS for DUSOTA.  Even with the amount of involvement I kept throughout my time at Drake, I have been proud of myself academically and have felt that my work in school has been my biggest source of pride.

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

Graduate school can be scary to jump into, but take a deep breath and look around. The people you surround yourself with are going to change your experiences within any program, and have the power to support you through any personal or academic struggle. Take the time to get to know the people you spend your days with for who they are, instead of just what kind of student they are. Get involved in extra activities both at school and after class with them. Build your circle; these will be the people you rely on to keep you going from a thousand miles away while working on treatment planning for fieldwork, or simply everyday life.

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