Occupational Therapy

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Meet Allison Winker

Allison 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, Allison has had the opportunity to complete a doctoral capstone experience at Sherwood Autism Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Name: Allison Winker
Hometown: Shaunee, Kansas
Degree Program: OTD, May 2024
Capstone Organization: Sherwood Autism Center
Location: Kansas City, Missouri


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

At Sherwood, I have a caseload of students I see for OT sessions. I primarily see students who have life skills-related goals, as this was a point of focus for my capstone, but I see a variety of students with other types of goals as well. In addition to OT sessions, I have also been working on making several different resources for the site as part of my capstone project, including handouts advocating for job inclusivity for people with disabilities in the community, a workplace assessment for Sherwood’s employment program, video modeling resources for my mentor and other school staff to use, and a transition planning guide for staff and families. Additionally, I have been helping with some of the students’ IEPs and collaborating with my site mentor and their teachers to determine their current progress and write goals for the upcoming year.

On a typical day, I have sessions with students throughout the school day. We work on many different things during our sessions including basic ADLs like dressing and hygiene, handwriting and fine motor skills, and life skills like cleaning, laundry, cooking, social skills, and community safety. We are fortunate to have a kitchen we can use during sessions as well as a functional living skills room with a bed and space to do laundry. I then also spend time working on my projects once the school day is over or throughout the day, such as meeting with different people in the community to build the transition planning guide, or other independent project time. I also attend some IEP and other meetings.

What is your favorite thing about the Doctoral Capstone?

With my capstone, I have really enjoyed the mix of getting to continue to further my OT skills by still having a caseload of students, while also getting the experience of being able to choose a project that I’m passionate about and collaborating with many people at Sherwood as well as in the community. It’s great to feel more independent than in level II fieldwork and to be able to make a greater impact at my site long-term.

What attracted you to Drake's OTD program?

I did my undergrad degree at Drake, and I was really attracted to the 3+3 program they offer, where I was able to start my first year of the OT program while in my senior year of my undergraduate degree. I also had great advising and experience to prepare me for the program before I started, which made me feel confident that I would be getting a good education and be able to build strong relationships with faculty in the program.

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

Drake has helped prepare me for my career by giving me the foundational knowledge needed for the profession as well as building my clinical reasoning and problem-solving skills so that I can be prepared to handle the many different challenges and cases that I might encounter throughout my career. I feel as though I’ve had the opportunity to have a well-rounded experience and see the many different settings OTs can work in.

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

When I first started the program, I knew I was interested in pediatrics but didn’t know a lot about all the other areas of OT. Now that I’m about to graduate, I am definitely still interested in peds, but I have a much more open mind than I did before and a greater appreciation for all the settings that OTs can work in. I especially enjoyed my level II acute care fieldwork, which was something I wasn’t expecting to love as much as I did.

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

Although there can be many stressful and difficult times throughout the program, it really does go by fast. Try to enjoy the experience as much as possible and trust that as long as you put in the time and effort needed, the process will be worth it and you will come out with the knowledge and experience you need to be a great OT!

Return to the OTD Capstone Spotlight home page here.

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