On October 15, occupational therapists from the tristate area gathered to attend the New Jersey Occupational Therapy Association’s (NJOTA)
annual conference in East Windsor, N.J. In honor of the 100th
anniversary of Occupational Therapy (OT) as a profession, the theme of this year’s conference was “Shaping Our Next 100 Years: Building Community Leaders in Organizations, Practice and Research.” Members of the Salus OT Department
had a strong showing at the conference with both presentations and poster displays and one faculty member being honored with a major award.
Andrea Tyszka, MS, OTR/L, associate professor, earned the Certificate of Appreciation: Contribution to the Community through OT Practice Award from the NJOTA. She received the award during a special luncheon and was nominated by co-workers Fern Silverman, EdD, OTR/L, director of the University’s Doctoral OT program, and Lauren Sponseller, OTD, MSOTR/L, chair of the OT Department.
“I'm honored to have been nominated by my colleagues and selected by the committee,” Tyszka said. “At the end of the day, I always seem to have such a big portion of my to do list that doesn't get crossed off that I often forget to reflect on what I did get accomplished. This award has reminded me that occasionally I do get things done.”
A variety of timely topics were included in both posters and presentations at the conference. For his presentation, Zachary Saunders OT ’17 worked in a school-based setting for students' with autism spectrum disorder and/or multiple disabilities. He educated teachers and teacher assistants about how OT can influence a positive classroom experience. Jadyn Sharber ’18OT, along with Dr. Sponseller, Brianna Brim, instructor and fieldwork coordinator, and Dr. Brooke Kruemmling, assistant provost, presented, “But What Does the Q Stand for?: Cultural Competence to Improve Healthcare Services for LGBTQ Individuals.” The group presentation explored the disparity in regards to access to quality healthcare services between LGBTQ populations and the general population. The team provided educational resources for OTs so they can improve their cultural competence and service delivery for LGBTQ clients.
“Many people feel that they don’t know what words to use when discussing LGBTQ topics or people, and, in an effort to avoid offending others, avoid or tiptoe around these conversations,” Sharber explained. “However, avoiding discussions about these topics contributes to a widespread lack of understanding and communication about important LGBTQ issues.”
Some of the issues the team touched upon were the ways in which gender identity and sexual orientation impact areas of life that OTs address, how providers should ask patients sensitive questions and what it means to be transgender, according to Sharber.