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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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News and Events
News and Events

Faculty duo earn national award for industry magazine article
December 17, 2019

Stephanie Tsai and Elyse Peterson to receive the 2020 AOTA Jeanette Bair Writer’s Award.

Associations and Bodies Awards Chan in the Media Clinical Faculty

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By Mike McNulty

Stephanie Tsai

Stephanie Tsai, assistant clinical professor

USC Chan faculty members Stephanie Tsai MA ’16, OTD ’17 and Elyse Peterson MA ’11, OTD ’12 have been named recipients of the 2020 Jeanette Bair Writer’s Award by the American Occupational Therapy Association for their OT Practice magazine article on the use of outcome measures in acute care practice. Peterson and Tsai, both assistant clinical professors primarily responsible for providing patient care at Keck Hospital of USC, will receive the honor in March during AOTA’s annual conference.

Their article, titled “Championing High-Quality Care: Integrating Assessments into Occupational Therapy Acute Care Practice,” originally appeared in the Apr. 2019 issue of OT Practice. In it, Tsai and Peterson described the process of selecting and integrating outcome measures in acute care, hospital-based occupational therapy practice.

“Throughout the article we highlight the importance of using outcome measures as a crucial way to demonstrate occupational therapy’s distinct value in acute care,” Tsai said.

Elyse Peterson

Elyse Peterson, assistant clinical professor

“As therapists in the acute care setting — being on-the-move and treating a wide variety of patients and diagnoses — it can be challenging to incorporate assessments into our practice,” Peterson said. “We assessed barriers to the use of assessments, explored strategies and opportunities to overcome them and implemented resources and trainings to increase the use of assessments.”

Established by AOTA in 1999 in the name of former association executive director Jeanette Bair, the Jeannette Bair Writer’s Award recognizes the authors of an article featured in OT Practice magazine that inspires occupational therapy practitioners to improve patient access to occupational therapy services and promote the profession. Tsai and Peterson are the first USC Trojans to receive this award in its 20-year history.

Improving practice nationwide

The topic of outcome measures in acute care is a timely one. Recent research has demonstrated that occupational therapy is the only spending category to significantly reduce hospital readmission rates — a valuable quality and cost metric — for heart failure, pneumonia and acute myocardial infarction categories. Yet there is significant variability in the use of outcome measures within acute care settings.

“The use of assessments seems to be a widespread challenge across OT practice in hospital settings,” Peterson said. “Many OTs have expressed motivation to change and improve practice with additional evidence-based strategies and quantitative support for interventions.”

“Since our article was published, we have actually received many emails from occupational therapists and department managers all over the country, sharing their challenges with using outcome measures, and that they have felt encouraged that we were able to address so many barriers and increase formalized assessment use in our department,” Tsai added.

The write stuff

While the topic is timely, the award is also a testament to Tsai’s and Peterson’s writing skills. The duo offered these tips for improving your own professional writing:

  • Know your audience. “We wanted to make sure that our message could be received by as many occupational therapists as possible, regardless of clinical experience or patient population,” Tsai said. “This helped influence the style of our writing and organization of content.”
  • Make an outline. “Take a step back and break down all the steps, from beginning to end,” Peterson said. “This helps form an outline and shape a vision for the article.”
  • Outsource proofreading. “I tend to write (and speak) in run-on sentences, so having somebody else review your drafts helps make sure your writing is clear and concise to deliver your message effectively,” Tsai said.