University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Redesigning Lives Globally
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About Us
About Us

Meet Our Trojan Family

Olivia Carroll, OTD ‘17, MA ‘16, BS ‘15

Olivia Carroll, OTD ‘17, MA ‘16, BS ‘15

OTD program

Leadership concentration: Advanced Clinical Practice

Hometown: San Carlos, CA

What brought you to occupational therapy?
I have always had a passion for helping others. Since I was young I have enjoyed volunteering with various groups of people including older adults, children with disabilities and homeless families. When I started college I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to major in so I met with academic advisors from all different disciplines. One day during a meeting I told my advisor that I wanted a career where I could help people do what is important to them. She replied, “You should look into occupational therapy!”. Here I am and couldn’t be happier! 

Where are you located for your residency and what services are provided there?
For my residency I am working at Keck Hospital. Keck provides inpatient and outpatient occupational therapy services to a wide range of people including those with cardiopulmonary, neurological and musculoskeletal conditions who may be recovering from surgery or managing chronic illness.

What do you hope to learn from this year?
This year I hope to continue to improve my interpersonal, clinical reasoning and specific clinical skills in both inpatient and outpatient settings. I want to improve my ability to collaborate on a multidisciplinary team and demonstrate the importance and value of occupational therapy. Additionally, I want to learn about the processes involved in program development and strengthen my leadership skills.  Most importantly I hope to gain confidence in myself as a future practitioner.

If you could give any words of advice for incoming Master’s students, what would it be?
Take advantage of all of the opportunities that the Master’s program offers! Some of my favorite memories and most valuable experiences as a Master’s student include getting involved with events and programs like the OT/PT Forum, OT Extravaganza and Inter-Professional Geriatrics Curriculum. Also, remember to take time for yourself and continue to do the things you love in order to maintain a balanced lifestyle.

Rebecca Cunningham, OTD ‘16, MA ‘15

Rebecca Cunningham, OTD ‘16, MA ‘15

OTD program

Track: Advanced Clinical Practice

Why did you choose to pursue the OTD?
In addition to the benefits of mentorship during my first year as a practitioner and a personal desire to have a terminal degree, I pursued the OTD due to my interest in teaching. I feel that having the OTD will help to facilitate the eventual achievement of that goal.

Where are you located for your residency and what do you do there?
I am completing my residency at the USC Occupational Faculty Practice (OTFP), which provides Lifestyle Redesign® and behavioral health based occupational therapy services to a number of populations, including weight management, Multiple Sclerosis, college student, young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and chronic pain.

What did you gain from the OTD thus far?
What I have gained thus far, is really two-fold. First, the support from the OTFP staff and the facilitated space for autonomy and independence allowed me to cultivate my clinical reasoning, documentation, and therapeutic use of self skills, which has resulted in increased confidence when working with clients. Second, and arguably more meaningful, is the improved engagement in and prioritization of self-care, which has facilitated a more balanced daily routine. As I was diagnosed with a rheumatological autoimmune condition at the start of the OTD program, this has been an invaluable asset in managing my symptoms and enabling continued participation in the pursuit of my degree and goals. With the support of OTFP staff and mentors within the division, I feel I am making the transition from surviving to thriving.

Elizabeth Franco, OTD ‘16, MA ‘15

Elizabeth Franco, OTD ‘16, MA ‘15

OTD program

Track: Clinical Research

Why did you choose to pursue the OTD?
I embarked on the USC Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program because I believe that the intersection between translational research and occupational therapy can improve the lives of individuals by providing the necessary knowledge to optimize occupational therapy interventions. In the master’s program, my curiosity for research led me to work with two prominent researchers within the division, Dr. Barbara Thompson and Dr. Erna Blanche. As a volunteer research assistant for two years, I explored my interest in sensory integration intervention (SI) for populations with neurodevelopmental disorders and this prompted me to continue my journey in clinical research through the OTD. My long-term goal is to become an occupational therapist who can apply and advance clinical research in the assessment and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Where are you located for your residency and what do you do there?
I am currently an OTD resident in Dr. Barbara Thompson’s Social and Emotional Neurodevelopmental lab at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. My main focus has been on a research project investigating the effects of sensory integration intervention (SI) in children with autism spectrum disorders.  Under the mentorship of both Dr. Thompson and Dr. Blanche, I have creatively merged neuroscience techniques with clinical research, to document changes in behaviors during SI. Additionally, I am performing detailed data analysis. Under my leadership goals, I am training research assistants for using these behavioral coding techniques and establishing rapport with OT clinics delivering SI.  I have had the opportunity to present our research at both OTAC and AOTA.

What did you gain from the OTD thus far?
As a doctoral resident, I see myself as embodying both researcher and clinician to inform occupational science and occupational therapy. The OTD has provided opportunities for mentorship, networking, and presenting that have helped me hone my leadership skills. Through my involvement in translational research, I am at the epicenter of furthering both my understanding of SI, but also the scientific and clinical comprehension of SI. As a result of these opportunities, I will continue to provide my expertise and extensive research knowledge to advance the occupational therapy profession.

Shain Davis, OTD ‘13, MA ‘12

Shain Davis, OTD ‘13, MA ‘12

OTD program

Track: Research Expertise

The OTD program has allowed me to practice as a pediatric occupational therapist while completing my residency on an active research study. In my residency, Beating the Odds: Facilitating Lifestyle Change in Urban Latino Young Adults with Diabetes, I collaborate with a variety of health-care professionals including doctors, nurses, nutritionists, and certified diabetes educators as I work to design a diabetes management intervention manual for young adults. I am taking coursework to further my clinical skills and leadership training and I hope that the intervention manual I develop will be used in the near future to conduct a funded randomized control trial examining the potential benefits of using a Lifestyle Redesign® approach versus traditional medical protocols.

Samruddhi Ghaisas, OTD ‘12, MA ‘11

Samruddhi Ghaisas, OTD ‘12, MA ‘11

OTD program

Track: Research Expertise

As a pediatric occupational therapist in India, I decided to come to USC for Sensory Integration and research experience. As a Master’s student, I took OT 610: Sensory Integration and for my OTD, I completed my residency in the Pressure Ulcer Prevention Study. To aid in my research, I took PM 536: Program Evaluation, which trained me in statistical methods and OT 645: Narrative, Healing, and the Culture of Biomedicine, which helped me understand the intricacies of narratives. My residency helped me understand how a major research-study functions and I developed my own case study focusing on the relationship between the development of pressure ulcers and lifestyle changes in adults with spinal cord injury.

Samia Rafeedie, OTD ‘06, MA ‘05

Samia Rafeedie, OTD ‘06, MA ‘05

OTD program

Track: Educational Leadership

I knew I wanted to pursue a career as an educator so while enhancing my clinical skills and knowledge of occupational science, I also took EDHP 587: Field Work in Higher, Adult, and Professional Education at the USC Rossier School of Education to learn more about pedagogy for adult learners in allied healthcare. For my OTD project, I designed a course entitled, “Integrating Occupational Science into Occupational Therapy Practice” for The Ohio State University, where I completed my residency and taught an elective course for students in the OT program. Obtaining my OTD has opened so many doors for me; it was definitely the best decision I have made for my career.

Michaelann Gabriele, OTD ‘13, MA ‘12

Michaelann Gabriele, OTD ‘13, MA ‘12

OTD program

Track: Policy and Administrative Leadership

In my OTD, I focused on understanding the effects of healthcare policies on the pediatric population’s access and reimbursement to care. I took OT 610: Sensory Integration to develop expertise in a specific area of pediatric practice and PM 585: Child Health Policy, a Preventive Medicine course at the USC Keck School of Medicine for an in-depth look at policy issues that address the pediatric population and insight into how such policies are developed. Through my coursework and residency at a private pediatric clinic, I developed a deeper understanding of business plans and administrative techniques that keep occupational therapy clinics running smoothly and positioned myself for leadership roles as I continue in my career.

Karen McNulty, OTD ‘08, MA ‘04

Karen McNulty, OTD ‘08, MA ‘04

OTD program

Track: Educational Leadership

For my OTD project, I created an occupational therapy intervention program: Lifestyle Redesign® for the College Student. I took courses through the USC Rossier School of Education - EDUC 531: A Survey of Students with Disabilities and EDCO 500: The Counseling Process - where I gained a greater understanding of the history of students with disabilities in higher education and reflected on my own skills as a therapist. I was able to form valuable connections on campus which eventually led to the creation of an OT position in USC Disability Services and Programs. I am now a full-time lecturer at University College Cork in Ireland and the OTD was the key reason I was hired.

 

Janna Kuntz, OTD ‘10, MA ‘08

Janna Kuntz, OTD ‘10, MA ‘08

OTD program

Track: Advanced Clinical Practice

In my OTD, I focused on assisting veterans in their reintegration following combat. I was able to individualize my coursework through two independent study electives: one in qualitative interviewing to help me assess barriers to engagement in rehabilitation and support services and the other in entrepreneurship through the USC Marshall School of Business to guide me in creating a community based, non-profit run by the very population I aimed to serve—combat veterans. Through my OTD, I founded Xtreme Sports 4 Veterans Incorporated and I was able to impact not only the culture of veteran support in my community, but also the lives of many combat veterans and their family members in Montana.

Arameh Anvarizadeh, OTD ‘07, BS-MA ‘06

Arameh Anvarizadeh, OTD ‘07, BS-MA ‘06

OTD program

Track: Policy and Administrative Leadership

I was and still am very interested in how public policy impacts the health and wellness of communities. In my OTD coursework, I made sure to take classes in the USC Price School of Public Policy and I also took leadership courses so that I can continue to develop programs, create organizational structures, and be an influence in the growth of associations, academia, and facilities in which I am involved. I believe that it is because of my OTD that I have received so many career growth opportunities including: program development committees, guest lectures/presentations, video presentations, labor/management committees, state and national association leadership, AOTA Emerging Leader program, non-profit board, and leadership roles at my facility.

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