Anna Grasso, MS, OTD, OTR/L, CAPS, ECHM
, associate professor in the Occupational Therapy (OT) program
at Salus University, is passionate about academia and the OT profession. And, as a result, her desire to learn more about those respective areas has afforded her the opportunity to be involved in the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Academic Leadership Institute.
The AOTA Academic Leadership Institute provides a six-month forum at the national level for OTs in academic roles to discuss educational issues such as faculty and student recruitment and retention, re-accreditation policies, budgeting and administrator workloads, research, continuing education and various other topics that impact the delivery of OT education. The program will wrap up at the AOTA national conference in Kansas City, Missouri in late April.
“As a professor now for five years, I’ve realized that transitioning from being a clinician to a college professor was not something that you are really prepared for by school or clinical practice,” said Dr. Grasso. “Hearing from other OTs about their experience and careers has taught me a lot and is helping me be a better professor and fieldwork coordinator, but also giving me a behind-the-scenes understanding of leadership in higher education, specifically OT education.”
As the OT program at Salus celebrates its 10-year anniversary, the faculty and staff are continuously looking for ways to best support their students. This forum has given Dr. Grasso a wealth of helpful information to bring back to the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus.
“A lot of lessons I am learning are real concrete steps to support our students that will allow them to succeed in the program and in their careers,” she said. “I’m learning strategies to ensure that the education we are providing is of high value so that students can graduate, pass their board exam and get a job that is both personally, professionally and financially fulfilling for them.”
As the OT profession continues to advance, Dr. Grasso believes current and future OT professionals have a unique opportunity in front of them. There are continuously new opportunities for research and clinical practice opening up in the profession and she is thrilled to share those opportunities with her students.
Dr. Grasso is looking forward to completing the Academic Leadership Institute. “I am hoping through this collaboration with other professionals and the networking that this opportunity affords, that I will be able to gain the knowledge and skills to establish myself as a leader in order to support our OT program and Salus as a whole,” she said.