Where Are They Now: Alyson McFadden, MSOT ‘22
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Where Are They Now: Alyson McFadden, MSOT ‘22

Alyson McFadden, MSOT ‘22, was a competitive swimmer as an undergraduate student at California University of Pennsylvania who experienced a really bad shoulder injury. The mother of a teammate was an occupational therapist who worked with McFadden and helped her to the point where she was able to continue to swim for the duration of her college career.
 
That was the impetus that inspired McFadden to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy (OT) at Salus University.

alyson and tyler mcfaddenOriginally from Connellsville, Pennsylvania, McFadden earned her undergraduate degree in biology and pre-medicine in 2020. She knew about Salus because her husband, Tyler McFadden, OD ‘22, was a student in the Doctor of Optometry program.
 
“I applied at all the Philly schools because we wanted to be close to each other, and when I toured Salus, I loved how small and community-based it was,” said Alyson McFadden.
 
When she entered the University, the pandemic had hit, so McFadden didn’t initially get to spend extended time on campus. Much of her first semester included online instruction and trying to get to know people. “Salus made it really nice because the faculty really made sure that all of the students knew each other even though we were online,” she said.

The University, she said, put her in a position to pursue her interests. For example, McFadden was interested in vision, so the OT faculty made sure that she had fieldwork in vision.
 
“That was really cool. The program pushed me toward my interest and really set me up for the future,” she said.

McFadden is now in her second year working at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children in Pittsburgh and primarily treats patients with Cortical Visual Impairments (CVI) — a disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain that process vision.
 
alyson mcfadden graduation in gazeboMcFadden, who also completed the Remedial Vision Rehab track at Salus in 2023, said her final fieldwork at the Blind and Vision Rehab Services of Pittsburgh before graduating from Salus was really critical prior to going out into the professional world.
 
“I really knew a lot coming into this job and being a new grad I needed to have that background,” she said. “Here we do a lot of accommodations for low vision, so I learned a ton from my fieldwork. We work to give the students access to everything they need for their education.”
 
She currently has one class called the Community Integration Program where she takes kids out into the community — to coffeeshops, grocery stores, parks — to learn skills that they’ll need when they transition out of school and into adult life.
 
While she’s looking to stay at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children for a while, she someday hopes to open her own private practice with her husband to treat vision problems. Dr. McFadden is currently working in a private optometry practice in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.

Even her outside interests and hobbies have an OT flavor. McFadden enjoys being outdoors and likes to go fishing, hiking and camping.

“I try to incorporate that into my OT work, getting the kids outside as much as possible and making sure they get some fresh air,” she said.

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