Where Are They Now: Amber Fessler, OTD ‘20
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Where Are They Now: Amber Fessler, OTD ‘20

She’s always had a passion for Occupational Therapy (OT), so when her husband was transferred to Washington by the Air Force, Amber Fessler, OTD ‘20, started looking into doctoral programs in that area. When she didn’t find any program in the state that suited her, she started looking elsewhere. That’s when she found Salus University’s post-professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) program, particularly the Remedial Vision Rehabilitation aspect.

Amber Fessler headshot“Vision was always a big piece of my work as an OT and was what I was looking to learn more about,” said Dr. Fessler. Already 15 years into her career as an OT, primarily in outpatient pediatrics, Dr. Fessler was researching continuing education related to vision rehabilitation.

What stands out most to Dr. Fessler during her time in the program was the opportunity to work with Mitchell Scheiman, OD, PhD ‘16, FAAO, FCOVD, director of graduate programs in Biomedicine and dean of Research at Salus, and the fact that the program is asynchronous. Although she started the program while she was living in Washington, she had moved to South Dakota before completion.

“I would not have been able to do the program otherwise had it not been set up the way it was,” said Dr. Fessler, who graduated with a Master of Science in OT degree in 2004 from the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota. “Having the two one-week sessions on (the Elkins Park, Pennsylvania) campus with Dr. Scheiman and other professionals allowed me to collaborate and learn. Meeting new people and developing new relationships, that was my favorite part.”

She specifically cited one assignment that provided her with the opportunity to collaborate with an optometrist, which laid the groundwork to opening a lot of doors for her in her own practice and significant collaborative relationships. Dr. Fessler has also taught master’s students at Salus, which she enjoyed.

Amber Fessler with clientIn addition, her OTD degree has allowed her to publish research, to be a presenter in a vision conference for OTs, to be an expert reviewer for student projects, a contributing author in a book, and to return to Salus to guest lecture for the Remedial Vision Rehabilitation program.

Currently, Dr. Fessler has her own practice, Vision-n-Motion Occupational Therapy, in Rapid City, South Dakota.

“It is just me at my practice, so I make my own schedule,” she said. “Most of the children I see are referrals from optometrists for vision related disorders. I am a mom, too, so I get to adjust my schedule and be a mom, and participate in activities with my kids.”

Her advice to professionals considering getting their OTD is to “just do it.”

“It will open up doors and advance your career, interests and passion,” she said. “Work and it will open so many doors wherever you want those doors to open.”