Once an OT, always an OT

(The following is a guest post by Mary Donohue, former faculty member and alumna of the Department of Occupational Therapy at NYU Steinhardt about life as an occupational therapist after retirement)

For almost twenty years I taught psychosocial courses at NYU in the professional master’s program and served on the doctoral proposal board for OT, PT and rehab. My career in occupational therapy began in my late thirties, but when I retired at almost 70, I had not ‘finished’ my OT pursuit of knowledge.

After I retired, I was ready to sit down and co-author a book about social participation with Marli Cole, and to write a manual for the Social Profile assessment tool. Writing the book was a dream come true. Previously, I had not had time to focus on writing and publishing extensive works, but I had always had an interest in the role sociability, social presence and socialization play in our lives.

Working with the Social Profile Assessment tool gave me the opportunity to develop presentations illustrating the measurement capacity of this calibrated instrument and I have spoken about this program in guest lectures and posters over the past seven years at different conferences.

Since my retirement I have also found the time to focus on volunteering for occupational therapy committees and boards that I like to support. I have been a co-chair of the metro MNYD Research Committee for 30 years where I am now working with Nancy Finklestein Klein as my co-chair, to present a Research Forum of local OT studies annually. We also coach occupational therapists that need guidance in putting together studies.

For me, being on the high seas is both challenging and relaxing at the same time. I love being on the water. I’ve been a member of New York Sailing Club since 1980. It’s a great social club. After I retired, I had time to serve as Commodore for two years and I often provided galley gourmet meals on board for boat owners and hospitality at my house after seal watches on the Bay near Jones Beach. Our club is a ‘mature,’ generous group of boat owners and crew who share life on board, and lending a hand as a sailor. They rank high on the Social Profile scale of service and sharing. They are like family to me.

What drives me to continue to work in occupational therapy is two-fold: the energy that occupation provides to people to enrich their lives and live a healthy life-style, as well as the opportunity to keep in touch with inspiring colleagues in the field. For future OTs I encourage them to find what motivates their children, clients and community to help them to fulfill their lives’ dreams.


Open House

On the evening of October 14th, the Department celebrated its move to Pless Hall with an “Open House” event that brought together local alumni, fieldwork site directors, faculty and staff. The new Dean of Steinhardt, Dominic Brewer, and Associate Deans’ Lindsay Wright and Patricia Carey were on hand to meet our many guests. Visitors were given a tour of our wonderful new lab and office spaces, and were treated to wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Please enjoy the following photos from the event as well as a virtual tour. Feel free to drop in and see the new space if you are ever in the neighborhood!

NYU OT doctoral student receives Mitchell Leaska Dissertation Research Award

Grace KimGrace Kim, a doctoral student in the Department of Occupational Therapy, was recently awarded the Mitchell Leaska Dissertation Research Award, by the Steinhardt Office of Research and Doctoral Studies at NYU. The award includes a $5,000 stipend to help students complete their doctoral dissertation.

Kim is currently working on her dissertation titled, “The Effects of Attentional Focus on Motor Training of the Upper Extremity Using Robotics with Individuals after Chronic Stroke” under Jim Hinojosa, professor of occupational therapy. In addition to pursuing her doctoral studies, Kim also manages the clinical robotics program at Weill Cornell for inpatients and outpatients with neurological diagnoses.

The award is memory of Mitchell Leaska, a former Professor of English who taught at the Steinhardt School for more than 40 years.