Occupational Therapist, PhD Student
Washington University School of Medicine
St. Louis, Missouri
My passion as an occupational therapist is enhancing the lives of children with cancer through engagement in meaningful occupations. In graduate school I was involved in multiple research studies examining the educational challenges of children with brain tumors. I built upon this research in my capstone project for my doctoral degree when I interned with the neuro-oncology team at Children's Hospital Colorado and developed a standardized return to school program for use with their patients. Throughout my career I have worked with children and adolescents with a wide range of cancer diagnoses across the continuum of care. I returned to Children’s Hospital Colorado in 2016 and had the opportunity to develop the occupational therapy program for the hospital’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. They had not previously had an OT dedicated to this role and few OT services were provided to these children. I drew on my previous research, program development, and clinical experiences with this population to quickly grow a robust occupational therapy program serving both inpatients and outpatients. The program quickly required additional staff members to meet the growing demand for OT services in this population. As a clinician I identified many gaps in the literature regarding clinical evaluation, treatment techniques, treatment effectiveness, functional outcomes, and models of therapy for this population. These questions lead me to pursue my PhD in Rehabilitation and Participation Science. My current research focuses on describing participation among individuals with cancer.