Occupational Therapy Student Strengthens Research Skills to Improve Patient Care

By Katherine Tancredi

Published on October 30, 2018

Erica HellersteinErica Hellerstein MOT’19 applied to the Summer Institute of Future Scientists in Occupational Therapy in part to strengthen her research skills and help her meet one of her future career goals, improving the experience for the benefit of the patient. During her time at University of the Sciences, Hellerstein has learned that research is essential to create change and ultimately improve the practice of occupational therapy.

Hellerstein has already seen how research can impact the field. She completed an independent study that assessed how LGBTQ health issues are addressed in occupational therapy education. Her study was developed into a workshop for doctoral students, a presentation at a Student Occupational Therapy Association and eventually presented at the 2018 American Occupational Therapy Association Conference.

“Completing an independent study during my second professional year helped me learn that research is important evidence that can help influence positive change and growth,” said Hellerstein.

Erica Hellerstein at AOTAHer passion for research led her to apply for the Summer Institute of Future Scientists in Occupational Therapy, a program presented by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation and the American Occupational Therapy Association which seeks to identify and connect potential scientists.

In addition to honing her research skills, Hellerstein had the opportunity to meet mentors and fellow students from across the country, which provided new opportunities to collaborate on projects in the future.

“It’s a wonderful way to get support from the occupational therapy community for your passions,” said Hellerstein. “I’ve been given a lot of mentorship from top therapists, clinicians, and researchers in the profession that has helped guide me in my next steps.”

Currently, Hellerstein is completing her senior clinical rotation at John Hopkins University Hospital. One of the things she values most about the experience is the benefit of working directly with patients, which has reinforced her excitement for the profession.

Erica Hellerstein“Working with patients, hearing their stories and empowering them to return to their most meaningful activities has reinforced why I love this profession so much,” said Hellerstein.

Hellerstein’s research experience and fieldwork during her rotation have given her with a deeper understanding of the occupational therapy, as well as the ways she can improve upon it to help her patients in the future.

“Both of these experiences have shaped my desire to continue being a lifelong learner,” said Hellerstein. “I know that while being a clinician is a priority I will continue to be actively engaged in advocacy efforts, research, and education. I know that this will not just be a ‘job’ for me, but a career, and a chance to help change the world.”

Categories: News, Academics, Students, Occupational Therapy, Samson College of Health Sciences, Department of Occupational Therapy, Awards and Honors, Proven Everywhere, Research