“Luck is when skill and opportunity meet,” is the old adage Dawn Ciccarone found herself adapting to at an early stage in her career. She formed a clear vision for her future, and seized every opportunity that presented itself. Her main goal - to provide her students and patients the skills to achieve their functional goals in life, whether the skill is providing occupational therapy services, or teaching an older adult to read independently again.
Ms. Ciccarone joined Salus University nearly three years ago as a clinical instructor in the Occupational Therapy program
, with a focus on low-vision rehabilitation in the geriatric population. Her motivation to become an occupational therapist stemmed from observing her grandfather’s struggles after spinal cord surgery. With the help of physical and occupational rehabilitation, her grandfather successfully made a full recovery. “I was very close with my grandfather and watched his rehabilitation process from start to finish - his experience inspired my course of study - to teach the elderly how to regain their independence after a debilitating trauma,” she said passionately.
After graduating from Thomas Jefferson University with a bachelor’s of science degree in Occupational Therapy, Ms. Ciccarone completed a rotation in the acute care rehabilitation and outpatient facility at St. Mary’s Medical Center, and later began working at the University of Pennsylvania. While at the University of Pennsylvania, Ms. Ciccarone became the fieldwork coordinator for occupational therapy students completing their clinical rotations. In this role, she discovered her affinity for teaching.
With teaching as her future goal, Ms. Ciccarone pursued a master’s degree in Gerontology at Saint Joseph’s University and completed her research thesis on the effectiveness of low vision rehabilitation for older adults with articles from The Gérard Cottet Library at Salus University. She accepted a position at Penn Center for Low Vision to provide occupational therapy services and attained her certification in low vision therapy from Salus University. Upon certification, Ms. Ciccarone joined Salus as a clinical instructor in the occupational therapy department and a low vision therapist at the Eye Institute.
Since joining Salus, she’s dedicated her time to developing Occupational Therapy services at The Eye Institute in order to better instruct students on the effects of vision loss in the elderly. “My job is to give students the perspective of what older adults experience as they begin to lose their independence,” she said. “Occupational therapy is all about forming a connection with your client and establishing that connection with each student is just as important.”
When asked how she would like to be remembered as a Salus faculty member, Ms. Ciccarone simply stated, “I hope each student felt that I gave them the confidence and knowledge to be poised and assertive in their own skills as an occupational therapist.” She values having a positive mindset in every aspect of life, and is proof that luck is cultivated when skill and opportunity meet.
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