Occupational Therapy

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Occupational Therapy Spotlight

Meet Jessica Neff. Jessica is a third-year student in Drake's Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program. In her final year of the program, Jessica is completing a capstone experience at Saint Louis University's (SLU) Occupational Therapy Transition and Integration Services in St. Louis, Missouri.

Name: Jessica Neff
Hometown: Moro, Illinois
Degree Program: OTD, May 2021
Capstone Organization: SLU Occupational Therapy Transition and Integration Services
Location: St. Louis, Missouri

What are your responsibilities at this site location? What does a typical day look like for you? 

I split my time between conducting research and working with clients formerly or currently incarcerated. I am assisting with a retrospective analysis research project on the assessment of occupations with adults who were juveniles when sentenced to life without parole (JLWOP). Additionally, I am building a small caseload of clients who are currently incarcerated and preparing for release to the community. A typical day begins with reviewing journal articles for the project manuscript and performing qualitative coding and analysis for the occupations dataset. Additionally, I spend part of my time working with clients and providing them with materials and resources to assist in their reentry process.

How did Drake prepare you for this experience? What has been your biggest lesson?

The Drake OTD program has a focus on mental health, and I believe this has prepared me to work in a number of different settings, especially a justice-based setting. In addition, the didactic coursework at Drake involves a great deal of research and a focus on client-centered, evidence-based practice, which has well prepared me to assist with conducting research on my capstone experience.

What is your favorite thing about the capstone experience?

I have always been interested in the carceral system, even before I knew what occupational therapy was. Once I learned that occupational therapy is emerging in corrections, I knew I had found the direction in which I wanted to take my career. Having this opportunity to complete my Doctoral Capstone in a justice-based setting has allowed me to combine my two passions into one and to reach out to a population that is otherwise forgotten.

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