Occupational Therapy

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Occupational Therapy Spotlight

Meet Dr. Molly Wuebker.  Dr. Wuebker is the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy for Drake’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program.  Prior to becoming a professor, Dr. Wuebker was the Program Director for Courage League Sports, an adaptive sports facility in Des Moines, IA. Through this position, she was able to develop programming for a variety of ability levels, as well as adapt and modify a wide range of physical activities for groups and individual participants. 

Name:    Molly Wuebker
Hometown:    Spencer, IA
Current Job/Position:    Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Organization:    Drake University
Location:    Des Moines, IA
Spotlight Job/Position:    Program Director
Organization:    Courage League Sports
Location:    Urbandale, IA
Position Type:    Community-based practice


As part of her doctoral experience when she was an occupational therapy student, Molly created an adaptive sports program for children with disabilities at an outpatient clinic. She participated in sports throughout her life and saw the value of sports as a therapeutic tool and a meaningful occupation for children and adults of all abilities. Through her doctoral experience, she met a family whose son had suffered multiple strokes at the age of 7 and lost the ability to walk and talk. Prior to this incident, he was an avid sports player. This boy's mom saw a need for an adaptive sports facility in the Des Moines area and Molly joined her "team" as the Program Director in 2013. In her new role, she was charged with developing programming that fit a variety of ability levels as well as adapting or modifying games, equipment, or instructions based on individual participants. Her knowledge in core body functions and health conditions helped her to create programming that was safe, yet fun for all participants.

In the Occupational Practice Framework, recreation and leisure is considered a performance area. Occupational therapists are trained to address this performance area, as play is an important occupation for children and adults. As a result of her role at Courage League Sports, Molly developed a passion for assistive technology and has tried to exude that passion into her teaching in her current role as an educator.  She currently teaches the Universal Design and Assistive Technology course in the OTD program at Drake University. In this course, she has created a partnership with Iowa State University's Industrial Design Program. This partnership has consisted of providing an OT perspective to products fabricated by industrial design students and will progress towards industrial design students providing a materials and manufacturing perspective to products designed by Drake's occupational therapy students.

As an occupational therapist, what role do you play in the health/well-being of people?  How do you contribute to the health care team or to health care in general? 

In my role as Program Director, I needed to have the clinical background to understand common impairments that may impact recreation and leisure activities. I needed to understand precautions and contraindications of participating in recreational and leisure activities as it applied to specific diagnoses as well as have a thorough understanding of activity analysis. This knowledge base helped me to be able to develop and tailor programming based on the participants' ability levels. This position was complimentary to traditional therapy, giving participants a space to play outside of school and therapy on a consistent basis in a supportive environment.

What attracted you to occupational therapy and what led you to working in community-based practice? 

I was attracted to occupational therapy because of how broad the scope of practice was and that every day was different, presenting new challenges and rewards. I was led to Courage League Sports due to my passion for sports and understanding the value of sports and recreation for a child with and without disabilities.

What were some of your responsibilities?  What did a typical day/week look like for you?

In my role, I was charged with developing programming that fit a variety of ability levels as well as adapting or modifying games, equipment, or instructions based on individual participants. My knowledge in core body functions and health conditions helped me to create programming that was safe, yet fun for all participants. Most of my time was spent in the gym leading group programming for participants of all ages and abilities. I also spent time creating programming for each season, training staff and volunteers, seeking grant opportunities, identifying equipment needs, and maintenance of space and equipment. 

What did you love about your role at Courage League?  What was your favorite part about being in this position? 

My favorite part of this position was working with the participants and seeing their progress both physically and socially!

What is one piece of advice you would give to a student who is interested in working in community-based occupational therapy practice?

This position requires someone with an interest in program development and who has a strong work ethic. It also requires someone whose strength is ideation and being able to "think outside the box." as well as being flexible and able to wear multiple hats at once. 

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