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Published by otpitt, 2019-05-15 17:27:31

NewsLink Fall 2018

NewsLink Fall 2018

University of Pittsburgh
Department of Occupational Therapy

Fall 2018 - Volume 8, Issue 1


As many of you know, the Pittsburgh community recently experienced a senseless
tragedy that directly affected several of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff. The
Tree of Life Synagogue shootings left us mourning the loss of neighbors, mentors, and
colleagues in our peaceful and tight-knit community. As we begin the process of
healing, we collectively support those who survived and those scarred by these events.
I am pleased to report that the University and the City of Pittsburgh have responded in
robust support of all individuals affected by this tragedy – providing counseling,
practical aid, and perhaps most importantly, a clear message of solidarity. I have heard
from several students, alumni, faculty, and staff who shared with me that they feel a
deeper sense of community, compassion, and support in an environment that was
already defined by these characteristics.

On behalf of the Pitt OT community, I would like to thank each person and program
that reached out to us in this difficult time. We are as strong as the communities that
support us, and Pitt OT is richly blessed with support from the University, the City of
Pittsburgh, our clinical and community partners, and our occupational therapy
colleagues worldwide.

As Chancellor Patrick Gallagher has stated, “We will continue to come together, support one another, and collectively
reject hatred. And Pittsburgh—a city forged from an alloy that is equal parts collaboration and intrepid resiliency—will
grow stronger as a result. [We will] remind the rest of world that, when struck with hate and divisiveness, this city—
and this community—rises to action, leans on one another, and grows even stronger.” This has been our experience
as we reaffirm our strong commitment to a community of diversity, inclusion, and global citizenship.


Written by: Natalie Salzman, OTD Class of 2020

This summer, I had the exceptional opportunity to explore
occupational therapy (OT) practice in Israel, focusing on similarities
and differences between OT practice in the United States and Israel.
I received a Summer Study Abroad scholarship sponsored by the
Israel Heritage Room Committee which funded my five-week
intercultural exchange program. This scholarship allowed me the
opportunity to observe OT practice at two special needs schools and
at a hospital rehabilitation unit. Throughout my project, I was
mentored by Pitt OT alumna, Orna Taran (MOT '13) who currently
practices OT at a special needs school in Israel.

From left: Orna Taran (MOT ‘13) and Natalie Salzman (OTD ‘20) I collected data using semi-structured interviews and observed
at the Legacy Heritage Children’s Day Care Center in Israel various methods of practice settings, populations/diagnostic
categories, the OT process, the impact of culture on performance
and practice, and many others.

I was fascinated to learn about the assessments that Israeli OTs use and how they
create treatment plans as compared to practice in the United States. Although I
concluded that there are many similarities between our practices, I also learned how
culture and the health care system, namely insurance plans, in Israel greatly impact

The most significant revelation that I had during my experiential study in Israel was how
crucial cultural sensitivity is to OT practice. The World Federation of Occupational
Therapists (WFOT) describes OT as an international art and science that can positively
influence the occupational performance, health, and well-being of people. WFOT
promotes the essential need for all OTs to practice in accordance with clients' beliefs,
values, and ways of being. My observation of OT practice in Israel not only allowed me to
learn first-hand the importance of being culturally sensitive in our practice, but also the
challenge of understanding and putting cultural sensitivity into action.

My experience abroad only reinforced my passion for OT and convinced me of just how
much cultural sensitivity enhances client treatment and outcomes. It was truly an
unbelievable experience as a second-year OT student to be able to witness OT practice in
the context of a different culture.

I had the opportunity to present a poster on my research at the Pennsylvania
Occupational Therapy Association (POTA) Annual Conference on October 12, 2018. The
poster emphasized that to be inclusive, practitioners must be aware of the differences
across cultures and how these differences may influence what they do in clinic and home
settings. The cultural awareness strategies included in my poster can be used by OT
practitioners to better recognize different cultural values, beliefs, and practices and to
incorporate cultural sensitivity in the services they provide to facilitate better quality of
care and more successful outcomes.


Kelsey O'Brien, MOT, and Kelsey Voltz, MOT, OTR/L

Kelsey O’Brien (MOT ‘17) and Kelsey Voltz (MOT ‘13) are current Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) students and
teaching fellows pursuing advanced practice degrees. Read about their experiences in the CScD Program and their
goals upon graduation.

O’Brien is pursuing an advanced practice degree in neurological rehabilitation. As a part of the
CScD curriculum, she is taking a multidisciplinary course on motor learning in the Department of
Physical Therapy, while additionally participating in an independent study in the Center for Assistive
Technology. Following graduation, O’Brien’s goal is to contribute to occupational therapy’s role in
assistive technology provision by pursuing an Assistive Technology Professional Certification.

Voltz is passionate about working with adults with disabilities which is why she chose to focus on
investigating how occupational therapists can play a role in aiding adults with disabilities by
increasing independence and participation at home and in their communities. While she is mainly
focused on the adult demographic, Voltz has gained extensive experience in pediatrics since
graduating from the MOT Program in 2013 through her work at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh -
Wexford and at Friendship Academy. She has found that the CScD curriculum allows her to expand
her clinical knowledge, explore evidence-based practice, and acquire advanced leadership and
management skills.

To learn more about the CScD Program, visit our website:


Congratulations to Benjamin Gross (MOT ‘10), named Arizona Occupational Therapy
Association’s 2018 Outstanding Occupational Therapist of the Year. Currently, Gross is
practicing as an occupational therapist at Therapy Matters, Inc., where he provides
evaluation and supervision for home health pediatrics. Gross also owns a private practice,
Transformative Therapy Services, LLC, where he provides occupational therapy services in
vocational rehabilitation and independent living, specializing in cognitive disorders including
TBI and stroke as well as mental health. In addition to the time Gross spends at Therapy
Matters and Transformative Therapy Services, he also provides services at St. Joseph’s
Hospital and Medical Center for transitional neurorehabilitation.

Congratulations to Lauren White (MOT ‘17) who received the 2018 Sarah Burton Visionary
Leadership Award! Lauren is being recognized for her enthusiasm and visionary leadership
in her role as a school-based occupational therapy practitioner for Prince George's County
Public Schools in Maryland.


February 18 - 22, 2019 March 23, 2019
SHRS Virtual Open House Pitt OT Open House
Anywhere with internet access Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


March 27, 2019 April 4, 2019
Pitt OT Colloquium Alumni & Friends Reception
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
New Orleans, Louisiana


Pitt OT Alumni, we would like to highlight YOU in a future issue of the Pitt OT NewsLink.
Please e-mail us to share your stories!

Also, don't forget to contact us with changes to your mailing and/or e-mail address(es).

Copyright © 2018 University of Pittsburgh Department of Occupational Therapy, All rights reserved.
Your e-mail address is listed to receive correspondence from the University of Pittsburgh Department of Occupational Therapy.

University of Pittsburgh
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Department of Occupational Therapy
5012 Forbes Tower

Atwood and Sennott Streets
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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