Occupational Therapy News: Spring 2016

In This Issue



Letter from the Chair

Welcome! We are so glad you are reading our newsletter!  It has been a busy summer and fall for us and as you will see we have a lot going on. 

We would love to increase our contact with our alumni, and here are few ways you can help us do so:

  • Send us your accomplishments! We would love to hear from each of you and start to add alumni updates to the newsletter, so please send you updates (with pictures) to Valerie Walston (vwalston@pugetsound.edu).
  • Join our Facebook community! www.facebook.com/pugetsoundot
  • If you know of a classmate who has not received this newsletter, please pass it on.  We are working hard to make sure our data base of alumni is up to date and current, but we could easily miss some of you.
  • Update your contact information with us: www.pugetsound.edu/otalumni, or send this link to a friend who is not on our mailing list.
  • Are you going to AOTA in Chicago in April?  We would love to see you and hear about what you are doing!  Please email me (yswinth@pugetsound.edu) so I can make sure you get information about our alumni gathering, which will most likely be Thursday evening after the opening ceremony. 
  • Stop by and say hi!

Thank you for your continued support of this program!


Yvonne Swinth

Occupational Therapy Program Director

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Program News

msot Class of 2015, Class of 2016, and class of 2017

Class of 2015:

MSOT Class of 2015

Congratulations Class of 2015! 31 students graduated this past spring and some finished their last fieldwork placement in December or while others will finish in March. Please wish them luck on their NBCOT exam!

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Class of 2016:

MSOT Class of 2016

This is the final semester on campus for the Class of 2016, which is very bittersweet. They are currently involved in the on-site clinic, and working hard on their last requirements before fieldwork. We still need a few fieldwork placements, so if you are interested in becoming a Fieldwork Supervisor, please contact Dawn Yoshimura-Smith (dsmith@pugetsound.edu).

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Class of 2017:

MSOT Class of 2017

The Class of 2017 is our largest Master's class yet! Comprised of 44 fantastic individuals, we are enjoying having them as a part of the program.

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Drot class of 2016

DrOT Class of 2016

One of the most exciting things that happened in our school last summer was the launch of our brand new post-professional DrOT program! The first cohort, pictured here, started in May 2015 and are currently in their third and last semester.

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Accepting Applications for the DrOT Class of 2017

We still have a few spaces available for the DrOT class of 2017.  This post professional doctorate in occupational therapy is a 12-month program designed to fit all levels of experience.  The program is student-centered and supports the development of advance practice skills specific to the clinician’s career goals.  DrOT students have opportunities to interact with entry-level MSOT students; developing mentoring, teaching and collaborative skills in classroom activities, clinic settings and through thesis projects.  This year, we have two $10,000 stipends (one for a student whose focus is pediatrics and one for a student whose focus is services to the adult population).  Here is what a current DrOT student has said about the program:

“People keep asking me about my program (the DrOT) and if I am just 'checking off boxes to get a pay raise" or if I am actually learning something (first of all they don't know me very well to even ask that question, Ha!  But that's ok.).   So far this program is teaching me so much.... and it is very practical!

Case in point, I am on the RtI intervention team for my building.  We are about to embark this year on some big changes, which we know will be met with resistance.   I am helping to bring my team through using the SWITCH principals and the information from last semester, sharing with them the TED talk on starting a movement, the hole shebang!    They are loving it and how we can help bring out building forward in a successful way and they are so grateful for my contribution. We had the materials and knowledge to present to our building, but the method by which we share it is critical, as knowledge alone does not impart change, and I feel what I have learned will help our team.  I know that I would not be able to offer this same contribution without all the material I have learned recently in leadership.  It is absolutely exciting to be able to contribute in this way and I am grateful for the DrOT program!   You guys have made it easy for me to dismantle any questions or misinterpretations of my intentions for pursuing my doctorate.”

Contact Valerie Walston (vwalston@pugetsound.edu) if you would like a program brochure, or click here to visit the DrOT website.  You can also contact Yvonne Swinth (yswinth@pugetsound.edu) if you would like information about scholarship opportunities or have specific questions about the program beyond what is on the website or in the brochure.

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Puget Sound FAOTA's

The American Occupational Therapy Association awards a Fellow of the Occupational Therapy Association to those "occupational therapist members of AOTA who with their knowledge and expertise have made a significant contribution to the continuing education and professional development of members of the Association".  Associate Professor Anne James and alumni Lynn Swedberg became FAOTA's at the 2015 conference. Congratulations Anne and Lynn! 

Professor Anne James Receiving her FAOTA Award

Alumni Lynn Swedberg receiving her FAOTA
Professor Anne James receiving her FAOTA Award Alumni Lynn Swedberg receiving her FAOTA Award

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Franciscan Foundation Funds Equipment for a Hospital Simulation Room

Hospital Simulation RoomThe Franciscan Foundation provided funds that has enabled a mock hospital room to be set-up as part of the adult clinic in Weyerhaeuser Hall.  This room is used during labs in a variety of classes to reinforce information discussed in the classroom about working with patients within the confines of a small hospital room.  This includes how to work around the different types of equipment required by the patient including tubes, lines, IV poles, and electronic aids for daily living.  Additionally, this space is used to practice safe patient lifting and transferring both with and without a lift as well as how to instruct others (e.g., caregivers or aids) on safe lifting and transferring.  In addition to using this simulation room to learn about working in hospital settings, this room is used to discuss how to set up equipment and technology to support independence and participation in a home environment. 

Hospital Simulation RoomConsequently, this room includes content specific to care provided when the client needs to use of electronic aids for daily living (EADLs) such as switch and voice control for TVs, telephones, bed mobility and more in order to access and control the environment, The hospital room has helped to better prepare students through hands on simulations, in a variety of classes, for fieldwork, the licensure exam, and, ultimately, successful employment as occupational therapists. 

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Faculty News

Professor Martins Linauts is Retiring

Martins LinautsAfter 25 years of teaching functional anatomy and neuroscience to occupational therapy students what do you have?

For starters, 118 muscles times 2 attachments each equals 236, times 884 OT students enrolled 1991-2015, equals 208,624 “muscle attachment learning units” that Martins has facilitated over those years. Not to be forgotten are all the osteology, arthrology, neurology, and angiology items of information, as well as the entire corpus of the nervous system, structure and function. It’s fair to say that Martins has bestowed over a million pieces of information to his students at Puget Sound.

Much more than bits of information, though, has been the important guidance in learning he has provided students and the wisdom he has dispensed about the body, brain, and function of humans that students and colleagues alike value him for. Professor Linauts TeachingIn the best sense of the word he is a perfectionist instructor: not insisting on perfection, but rather always working to perfect his course materials, and to have everything about the classroom learning experience perfectly under control.

Then there was the mentoring Martins gave to the course assistants- between 100 and 200 of them over the 25 years of his teaching. How many cadavers he taught them to dissect I won’t try to count. How many helpful hours of evening and weekend labs they covered, prodding and reassuring new students in equal measure toward an expertise in anatomy and neuroscience that few graduates of other OT programs can hold a candle to. 

Martins also played a key role in the OT program over the years as the primary liaison faculty with our sister school in Japan at Gunma University. He partnered with several colleagues over the years to make arrangements for biannual visits of 8 to 18 Japanese OT and PT student and faculty. Accommodations, hospitality, entertainment, academic and clinical and home visits, even for just part of a week, take many hours of planning and follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. Gunma 2014Martins and his wife Sandy finally got to participate in the reciprocal exchange to Japan in 2013- a well-earned reward long in coming.

Upon his retirement in May, 2016, Martins will leave many solid accomplishments at the University, and many memories behind among his colleagues, the most poignant of which were the times when he surprised everyone with an unexpected racy comment or joke. The students always took note of them, and played them back to him verbatim at the annual graduation parties. I won’t repeat any of them here, but if you are curious to hear these and other testimonials to his long teaching career at Puget Sound, make a plan now to attend his retirement bash on Saturday, May 21st, 2016, in the late PM/early evening. 

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Meet our Newest faculty members

We have added three new faculty members this year and are thrilled to welcome them to the team! Please join us in welcoming Sheryl, Dawn, and Renee to our fabulous OT Logger community!


Sheryl Zylstra, DOT, MS, OTR/L (pictured here with three of her four children) is our new Clinical Assistant Professor, and Pediatric Clinic Coordinator.

Sheryl is new to teaching, but considers herself a lifelong learner and loves the University environment. Sheryl received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington 1989.  Upon graduation she worked in hand therapy and industrial rehabilitation until returning to school at the University of Illinois - Chicago where she received her master’s of science degree in occupational therapy in 1995.  Following graduate school she continued her work in acute care, hand therapy, and industrial rehabilitation.   When her oldest child started kindergarten she decided to transition to school-based occupational therapy, and found her calling.  Missing academia, she returned to school in 2012, and recently completed her doctorate in occupational therapy through Temple University.  She is excited to a part of the Puget Sound faculty. 

Sheryl’s research interests include understanding the development and learning processes of children with autism, especially in regards to social skill development and learning through the use of technology.  She is also interested in the importance of handwriting to early literacy, and how technology may support these important connections.

Outside of work, Sheryl loves traveling to new places.  Her favorite experiences in foreign countries include eating new foods and observing local traditions.  Sheryl has four children ranging in age from 13-17, and although she is not a big sports fan, she enjoys watching all of their extra - curricular activities including cross country, football, soccer, basketball, wrestling and baseball.



Dawn Yoshimura-SmithDawn Yoshimura-Smith, OTR/L is our new Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. Dawn took over for Kirsten Wilbur, who has transitioned to teaching full-time.

Dawn has been a practicing clinician since graduating from the University of Puget Sound in 1983.  She has extensive experience in many areas of adult physical disabilities – acute medical, in-patient/out-patient rehab, hand therapy, SNF, and home health.  Dawn has spent most of her career in home health and is a certified aging in place specialist (CAPS).  She continues her clinical work as a per diem home health OT.

In addition to clinical practice, Dawn has been a clinical instructor at the on-site OT clinic for the past 16 years. 

“It has been a pleasure working with students.  Initially, I worked with level I and II students as a fieldwork educator.  That experience evolved into working on campus as a clinical instructor.  The on-site clinic offers students an amazing opportunity to work with clients prior to their full-time internships.  Presently, as the Academic Fieldwork Educator, I continue to work with students and help them transition from their campus education to interns to practicing clinicians.”


Renee Watling, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is our new Visiting Clinical Assistant Professor and teaches in the entry-level Masters program and post-professional doctoral program.

Renee has been a pediatric occupational therapist in Washington State since 1992. She has worked in clinic, school, and private practice settings. Renee has lectured extensively at state, regional, and national conferences on the topics of sensory processing, sensory-based occupational therapy intervention, and issues related to services for children with autism and has many publications on these topics. She is the lead author of the AOTA Practice Guideline for Children and Adolescents with Challenges in Sensory Processing and Sensory Integration and the co-editor for Autism: A Comprehensive Occupational Therapy Approach. Renee received her BS and MS in occupational therapy from the School of Medicine at the University of Washington and her PhD from the College of Education at the University of Washington. Her research focuses on understanding the relationship between sensory processing and behavior, especially among children with autism spectrum disorders. She has served on various committees for the American Occupational Therapy Association, including holding the positions of Chairperson and Education/Research liaison for the Sensory Integration Special Interest Section and participating in the Autism Workgroup. She is a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association and has been on select advisory panels for the organization.

Meet Two of our Clinical Instructors!

Julie AndersonJulie Anderson, OTR/L:  After graduating with a BS in OT in 1992 from the University of Puget Sound (UPS)  Julie began her career as a pediatric occupational therapist.  She has worked in private practice, outpatient facilities, birth to three settings, and public schools.  Julie is NDT certified and has extensive training in working with children with autism and sensory processing deficits.  She has a passion for collaborating with families and other professionals for the purpose of providing the best services for the child.    

Julie has been teaching as adjunct faculty in the pediatric on-site clinic for 11 years.  The position at UPS has provided her with the opportunity to share knowledge and experience and encourage students as they start their career.  To continue her life long learning Julie is currently enrolled in the DrOT program and is enjoying delving into evidence based literature, having rich discussions and getting ready  to research the effects of  sensory based movement activities in general  education classrooms.



Bailey Dahms, MS, OTR/L:  Working as a Clinical Instructor this past fall in my original alma mater's Mental Health Clinic was great fun and a lot of good work.  I'd been approached several times prior about teaching in the Pediatric Clinic, but work and family demands were a priority.  Since I truly enjoy working with OT and COTA students in my school practice, this opportunity at Puget Sound seemed liked a natural extension and a way to stretch myself professionally.  I started my career in mental health and continue to use skills gained through that experience into my daily practice in the schools.  The Mental Health Clinic was both exciting and rewarding, and I especially enjoyed working collaboratively with enthusiastic students, clients, and other clinical instructors. I also feel honored and proud to play a positive role along with Puget Sound students and clinicians in supporting New Phoebe House, an amazing community program dedicating to supporting mothers in recovery and their children, and other programs providing critical mental health services. 

I grew up in Kihei, Maui and graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 1989 with a BS in OT and a BA in Psychology. I received my MS in Rehabilitative Science, Pediatric OT emphasis from the University of Washington in 1993. I worked in pediatric mental health with children who had been neglected and/or abused for several years before starting my school district practice. I have worked in 5 Washington school districts and have been in my current position with Tacoma Public Schools for 9 years.  I am married to Jim May and have 2 daughters, Scout (20), Stella (14), and a foster son, Christian (20).  I enjoy yoga, reading, gardening, and anything having to do with the beach, sun, and water.  I am passionate and rather opinionated about the environment, civil rights, and politics, but still manage to maintain my irreverent sense of humor. 

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Faculty Employment Opportunity

We are seeking a doctorally-prepared occupational therapist to teach in our entry-level Masters of Science Program and our Post Professional Clinical Doctorate Program. 

Primary expertise desired in functional anatomy and/or applied neuroscience.  Preferred expertise sought is in one or more of the following:  biomechanical approaches and/or orthopedics.  Additionally, the ability to participate in teaching modules of any of the following would be valued: ADA and community access, orthotics and prosthetics, hand therapy, and/or work and vocational rehabilitation health systems and health policy.

For more information, please click here.

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Dr. Swinth and Dr. Doyle are awarded NBCOT Grant

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapist (NBCOT), the agency that provides initial certification for all occupational therapy professionals in the USA, has a vision to see “Certified occupational therapy professionals providing effective evidence-based services across all areas of practice worldwide.” (NBCOT, 2015) One way to do this is through the effective use of evidence to support clinical decision-making.  Dr. Swinth and Dr. Doyle will be working on a 2year project exploring the use of evidence-based services by pediatric and adult occupational therapists in Washington and Oregon.  They will then be developing an educational program designed to help clinicians better use resources to support their clinical decision-making.  This grant includes two $10,000 research awards for DrOT students for the next two academic years.  Contact Yvonne Swinth (yswinth@pugetsound.edu) if you are interested in the DrOT program and applying for one of these grants. 

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Opportunity to Participate in Puget Sound Faculty Research

Professor Anne Birge James, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA is collaborating on survey research with colleagues from three other institutions. The project, entitled “Examining Intra-professional Collaboration in the OT/OTA Relationship: Educational Preparation and Practice,” is aimed at (1) describing perceived competencies essential for OT-OTA collaboration and (2) identifying how these perceived competencies were developed by OT practitioners. This study evolved out of the AOTA sponsored Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) initiative, which is aimed at supporting research to develop evidence for best practice in OT education. Anne is a member of the AOTA SoTL Leadership Team that sponsors workshops to help organize practitioners into inquiry communities around a topic of interest. She is collaborating on this project with Rachel Diamant, PhD, OTR/L, BCP and Jennifer Pitonyak, PhD, OTR/L, SCRES from the OT programs at A. T. Still University and University of Washington, respectively, and with Cecille Corsilles-Sy, from the OTA Program at Pima Medical Institute in Renton, WA. Dr. Corsilles-Sy’s name may be familiar to many alumni as she served as both adjunct and clinical instructor at Puget Sound for several years in the mid-2000’s.  

Anne and her colleagues are looking for licensed, practicing OT and OTA practitioners who are willing to participate in this anonymous, electronic survey. Completion of this survey will require approximately 15-20 minutes of your time. All responses are confidential and no identifiers will be linked to your responses. Results of this survey may help to improve OT and OTA student preparation for fieldwork and for OT practice. This is a quick and easy way to promote evidence-based OT Education! 

If you are interested in participating in this survey you can access the OT survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Survey_OT

 If you work with COTA’s, please pass this link along. It is critical that get input from both occupational therapists AND occupational therapy assistants. They can access the OTA survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Survey_OTA

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Upcoming Events

2016 Spring OT/PT Job Fair

The University of Puget Sound’s OT/PT Spring Job Fair is sponsored by the Student Occupational Therapy Association.

When: Friday, April 29, 2016
10:00am to 2:00pm

Where: University of Puget Sound
The Rotunda in the Wheelock Student Center

If you would like to register your company to attend, please click here to download a registration form.

If you have any questions, please e-mail otjobfair@pugetsound.edu.

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Annual Fieldwork Educator's Meeting

Friday April 29, 2016

Topic:  Diversity in the Workplace:  Cultivating and Practicing Cultural Competence

Morning Presenter:  Michael Benitez, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion

Afternoon Presenters:  Participants will choose one of the following

Jeanette Bushnell will present and facilitate discussion about the clinical applications of diversity/cultural awareness, its challenges, and some of our own unrecognized biases.

Faculty member, Kirsten Wilbur, will present the SafeTALK Suicide Prevention course.  It is an approved course for licensure OT requirements.  There will be a $10 fee for course materials.

If you would like information on becoming a Fieldwork Supervisor, please contact Dawn Yoshimura-Smith at dsmith@pugetsound.edu.

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OT Graduate Student Symposium

Thursday, May 12, 2016

6:00 to 9:00 pm in Weyerhaeuser Hall

$30 PS Alumni; $35 General

* Earn up to 3 contact hours for continuing education requirements for OT licensure and NBCOT registration!

Our program will include 11 poster presentations describing our students' work on their clinic/university collaborative evidence projects. These presentations will address a variety of current OT practitioner questions. Topics include: episodic vs. continual care, best cognitive measures in a skilled nursing facility, sensory processing interventions for the school generalist, therapeutic gardens and dementia care, clinical use of the WeeFIM, hemi-inattention, and more!

In addition, five of our clinical doctorate students will present on their research:

   *   Participation in Leadership Roles by School OT Practitioners

  *   Use of Weighted Vests in OT Practice

  *   Effect of Movement Breaks on Academics among 4th Graders

  *   Alignment of Services and Needs among Community-Dwelling Elderly in Iran

  *   Effectiveness of a Response to Intervention General Education Fine Motor Program in Kindergartners

 For more information and to register please click here.

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