ADVANCE caught up with the occupational therapy program chair at the University of South Dakota to discuss the current educational trends within the state. Barb Brockevelt, PhD, OTR/L, noted that all 2011 USD graduates had a position within three months of graduation or sitting for the exam.
"Many graduates accept positions prior to graduation for employment upon graduation," she said.
Brockevelt sees graduates taking positions in a variety of settings, including acute care, rehabilitation, long-term care, home health, private contract practice, private outpatient pediatric practice and school-based practice. The program places particular emphasis on meeting the needs of the rural and aging population of the region.
The Telehealth Experience
In response to changes in the industry, USD is incorporating advanced technology and telehealth into course instruction, simulation and research.
"We purchased a driving simulator and incorporated that in course instruction and research, especially as it applies to aging adults. In addition to working with seniors in our community, we will be collaborating with agencies in the area that serve adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities who have expressed interest in driving assessment and intervention," she said.
The Occupational Therapy Activities of Daily Living suite has been equipped with remote patient monitoring sensors and telehealth components (smart television, tablet-based electronic blood pressure, pulse oximetry, scale, etc.) to enable simulation of discipline-specific and interprofessional practice in a home environment.
"We were able to acquire the remote patient monitoring system through our collaborative work with Dr. Jarod Giger, assistant professor in the social work program. The remote patient monitoring sensors allow us to detect movement within the ADL suite and to monitor ADL activity," said Brockevelt.
Video, physiologic data and remote patient monitoring results are sent to a computer in a separate conference room, simulating the telehealth experience between provider and client.
"We are equipping our space and preparing students to use this technology in practice in a variety of contexts. We are also developing several collaborative research and simulation activities with faculty and students in social work, nursing and physical therapy," Brockevelt explained.
The increased emphasis on interprofessional education arising from recommendations from the Institute of Medicine and PEW Commission has prompted an interprofessional team of faculty to attend the IPEC conference and to expand interprofessional activities. "Some IPE activities have existed since the inception of the OT program, including coursework with medicine, physician assistant and physical therapy. In addition, for several years we have held an interprofessional education event involving over 400 students from a number of health science programs. We'd like to expand those opportunities," she elaborated.
The 21st Century OT
Students are very fluent in the use of technology-all USD OT students use a laptop during class. Although courses meet face to face, there are online components as well.
"We use our learning management system to distribute all materials for courses, to engage in discussion, to provide supplemental support, and to receive and grade assignments. Content is also delivered utilizing principles of the 'flipped classroom'-providing lecture online via video asynchronously and using the class meeting time for expanded lab and applied activities," said Brockevelt.
Faculty can apply for tech fellows through the University. Brockevelt said she has had tech fellows assist her in creating animations of joint movement to assist students in understanding complex movement in their Structure, Movement and Occupation course.
iMovie is also used to create a narrated video series of typical children at each month to support learning content in development. Several applications available on the iPad, iPhone and Android are incorporated into the development course.
The Center for Teaching and Learning provides optional courses for students on Microsoft OneNote, a planner and note-taking software that can assist them in organizing their coursework.
In addition to being proficient in technology, Brockevelt believes OTs of the 21st century must be skilled in leadership; innovation; policy development, reimbursement practices and legislation; developing and using evidence; interprofessional practice; the use of technology to enable persons to live independently/age in place; and the relationship between occupational science and health.
Beth Puliti is a frequent contributor to ADVANCE.