Outstanding Alumni

Tracie Herman (NYU Steinhardt ’02) pursues a non-traditional path in occupational therapy.

Tracie Herman knew that it was time for a change. Since graduating NYU Steinhardt in 2002, Tracie had spent ten years as a clinical occupational therapist, working in acute care, rehab and pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center. Throughout that decade, patient stays became shorter, regulations tightened, and Tracie worried that soon she would be unable to deliver the highest quality care to her patients.

“I was losing a lot of creativity as a therapist,” she said.

Tracie resolved to improve patients’ quality of care, and quality of life, from an administrative perspective. She began to read about insurance reimbursement and learn her way around a spreadsheet. By the time Tracie accepted a job at New York Presbyterian’s Division of Quality, she was prepared to apply those years of clinical experience to her new administrative duties.

“Occupational therapy taught me how to go about solving a problem,” said Tracie. “As an occupational therapist, I developed leadership skills and learned how to communicate effectively.”

Six months ago, Tracie moved on to Northshore LIJ Health System, where she is now the assistant director of clinical excellence and quality. Her administrative duties involve data collection and reporting, to ensure that clinicians maintain best practices when dealing with patients.

But leaving bedsides and patients for desks and data sets was not easy. “It didn’t come naturally,” said Tracie. “Now I’m used to it, but going from barely being at a computer at all to being at a desk all day was a very difficult transition.”

Now that Tracie has acclimated to her desk, however, she is a proud patient advocate, championing the cause of occupational therapy as a hospital administrator.

“From the administrative side, I found that a lot of quality control is about ensuring what is best for the patient,” she said.

And Tracie maintains that she owes much of her success in administration to her years as an occupational therapist.  “I don’t think that I would be able to appreciate this position, or bring as much to it, without having first been a clinician,” she said.

“Without my experience as a clinical occupational therapist, I wouldn’t be as effective, or enjoy it nearly as much.”

Bringing OT Back Home

Shantel Isaac (NYU OT ’16) returned to Stony Brook University to spread the word about OT at NYU Steinhardt.

Picture of Shantel IsaacOur Steinhardt OT students are hard at work, offering encouragement to future occupational therapists.

As an undergraduate student at Stony Brook University, Shantel Isaac was an active member of the Pre-OT Society. Shantal, determined to learn more about occupational therapy, took advantage of opportunities to volunteer and intern in clinical settings before beginning her graduate work at NYU Steinhardt.

This October, Shantel Isaac returned to Stony Brook to share her experience at NYU with a room full of future occupational therapy students. Shantel described how her clinical exposure has culminated into an understanding of how theory meets application. “At NYU, when I learn certain theories and applications, I can remember those same theories and applications being used in different clinical settings,” Shantel wrote in an email after the event.

After the event, Shantel lingered to discuss graduate life at NYU Steinhardt. “I encouraged them to apply!” she said.

Introducing spOTlight: The NYU OT Department Blog

Welcome to spOTlight, the official blog of the NYU Steinhardt Department of Occupational Therapy. We look forward to bringing you Department announcements, faculty profiles, alumni news, and regular highlights from our current students.

Take a look around! We’re featuring a welcome message from our new Department Chair, Dr. Kristie Patten Koenig. In this short video, Dr. Koenig addresses faculty, students and alumni, relating her vision for the future of occupational therapy at NYU Steinhardt.

Also—make sure to check out Associate Professor Yael Goverover’s most recent research project, investigating whether multiple sclerosis patients benefit from self-generated therapy. Dr. Goverover’s research may have important implications for OTs specializing in MS.

And don’t forget to read about how one group of NYU OT students traveled to South Africa to share their talents with international populations through a community based collaboration with the OT department at the University of Cape Town.

Let us know what you think of the blog! Questions, comments and ideas for future stories can be submitted to spotlight@nyu.edu. NYU Alumni, we would love to hear from you. Please share your news!

The Ultimate DIY: Generation Effect in treating Multiple Sclerosis

Will MS Patients Benefit from Self-Generated Regimens?

spOTlight congratulates Associate Professor Yael Goverover, who has just received funding from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to examine new therapeutic techniques for multiple sclerosis patients.

Self-generated concepts are always easier to recall than items read in a book. Humanity’s inherent do-it-yourself spirit is captured by the generation effect- the observation that self-produced ideas are easier to remember.

The question of whether self-generation can improve the management of multiple sclerosis, however, remains undetermined. This year, Dr. Goverover will conduct clinical trials to investigate whether MS clients offered self-generated therapy respond better than individuals offered conventional treatments.

Dr. Goverover hopes that patients undergoing self-generated therapy will report higher rates of satisfaction with their treatments, and even demonstrate better memory and functional performance than the control group.

For more information about the study: click here.

Students Travel to South Africa

Last January, ten occupational therapy students from the NYU Class of 2014 travelled to South Africa for the Art Aids Art’s annual service learning trip. During their week and a half abroad, NYU students collaborated with the OT department at the University of Cape Town to visit Groote Schuur Hospital and Red Cross Hospital and expand their understanding of global OT practice.  They also visited Khayelitsha, a ramshackle city in the outskirts of Cape Town, South Africa. Characterized by some of the harshest urban poverty in the region, many residents live in cramped shacks and trek several hundred yards for access to running water.

In a local community center in the heart of Khayelitsha, NYU OT students demonstrated strategies for improving posture and body mechanics during daily activities, and gave tips about the value of stretching and performing therapeutic exercises.

Now, almost a year after the remarkable trip, Chloe Garcia (NYU OT ’14) is confident that the group of students left an indelible mark on the local population.

“During our time there we shot and edited a video and photos of the exercises we did with the different groups to leave as demonstrations,” said Chloe. “They continue to implement them in the classes offered at the center.”

And for Chloe, the trip to South Africa was only the beginning. “In the future I would really love to take more OT students and continue to build these relationships abroad,” she said. The OT Department at the University of Cape Town encouraged Chloe to return with more OT students, and Art Aids Art runs yearly trips that are sure to attract groups of NYU students in the coming semesters.

Meanwhile, Chloe is already thinking about her next trip. “I plan to do OT work in South Africa at some point more permanently,” she said. “But for now I’m content with visiting and doing as much work and help as much as I can.”