Amber Bennett OTD, OTR/L (she/her/hers)
Director of Admissions and Associate Professor of Clinical Occupational Therapy
Amber Bennett is the Director of Admissions for the USC Chan Division, overseeing the admissions criteria and processes for USC Chan’s academic programs across the continuum of higher education.
Dr. Bennett earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies from San Jose State University, and received both her Master of Arts and Doctorate of Occupational Therapy degrees from the University of Southern California. During her doctoral residency at Keck Hospital of USC, Dr. Bennett focused on advancing occupational therapy as a partner in the continuum of care for patients with heart failure.
As faculty, Dr. Bennett has assisted former Associate Dean and Chair Dr. Florence Clark, and served as Clinical Project Coordinator for the Chan Division’s clinical care sites. In 2017, she joined the Admissions Team and contributed to the development of holistic admission review practices across academic programs. Dr. Bennett is Faculty in Residence with the Office of Residential Education, and resides on campus to support and foster the undergraduate residential community. In addition, she continues to provide services to patients at Keck Hospital of USC in acute, critical care and inpatient rehabilitation settings, and currently teaches “Foundations of Occupation: Creativity, Craft, and Activity Analysis,” and “Seniors Rising: Occupations for Graduate Success” in the division’s professional program.
Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
2014 | University of Southern California
Master of Arts (MA)
in Occupational Therapy
2013 | University of Southern California
Bachelor of Science (BS)
in Recreation and Leisure Studies
2003 | San Jose State University
Bennett, A., Nxumalo, K., Pike, W., & Carroll, O. (2020). Abstract P480: The distinct role of occupational therapy in addressing the self-care management needs of patients with heart failure. Circulation, 141(Suppl_1), AP480. https://doi.org/10.1161/circ.141.suppl_1.P480 Show abstract
Introduction. Hospitalizations for heart failure (HF) are the highest single Medicare expenditure. This cost primarily results from readmissions linked to failed self-care. Evidence suggests that effective self-care routines are equivalent to medication in preventing HF exacerbation and hospitalization. Occupational therapists (OT) are well suited to address HF self-care needs by facilitating self-efficacy and adapting patients’ routines, roles and habits. A recent study determined that OT is the only hospital spending category associated with lower HF readmission rates.
Hypothesis. Occupational therapy has a significant role in addressing the self-care management needs of patients with HF throughout the continuum of care.
Methods. The OT department launched a HF self-care management program as part of process improvement initiatives at an AHA-recognized teaching hospital. An assessment battery was developed which included the following: The Self-Care of Heart Failure Index (SCHFI) v.6.2, Minnesota Living With Heart Failure Questionnaire, Patient Health Questionnaire-9, and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. Administration of the OT HF assessment battery to a pilot group of 12 inpatients revealed factors that affect patient adoption and adherence to beneficial self-care management routines. Based on assessment battery data, an outpatient OT program was established. Eleven outpatients were enrolled and completed 3-6 hours of OT treatment. The SCHFI was administered at program evaluation and completion to measure self-care maintenance and confidence. To expand service access, a telehealth self-care program was introduced and a single patient case study was assessed to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of the virtual format.
Results. Assessment battery data enabled the development of outpatient treatment modules focusing on symptom monitoring, medication management, low sodium diet, activity tolerance and psychosocial strategies. All outpatients who completed the modules demonstrated improved self-care maintenance (ranging from 16-53 points) and half demonstrated improved self-care confidence (ranging from 6-39 points). The patient assessed after completing the telehealth program demonstrated improved self-care maintenance (70 points) and self-care confidence (28 points).
Conclusions. In conclusion, OT has a significant role in addressing the self-care management needs of patients with HF throughout the continuum of care. The utilization of a standardized OT HF assessment battery is effective in determining the needs of this population and for guiding the implementation of targeted individualized treatment. Outpatient and telehealth delivery of OT programming is effective in improving self-care for people with HF.
Carroll, O., Nxumalo, K., Bennett, A., & Pike, W. (2017). Abstract 245: Demonstrating the effectiveness of an outpatient occupational therapy program for individuals with heart failure [Poster presented at the American Heart Association's quality of care and outcomes research 2017 scientific sessions]. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 10(Suppl_3), A245. https://doi.org/10.1161/circoutcomes.10.suppl_3.245 Show abstract
Objective. To demonstrate the effectiveness of an outpatient occupational therapy program on improving self-care for individuals with heart failure.
Background. Hospitalizations for heart failure (HF) are the largest Medicare expenditure, and 12% of these admissions are considered preventable. Effective self-management of the debilitating symptoms associated with HF (shortness of breath, fatigue, fluid retention, cognitive decline) helps keep patients out of the hospital. Individuals often experience difficulty incorporating self-care management activities into their daily lives. Occupational therapy (OT) is well suited to address the self-care needs of people with HF by increasing patient self-efficacy and facilitating lifestyle modification through the incorporation of new habits, roles, and routines.
Methods. Participants with HF (n=11, ages 40-86) enrolled in an outpatient OT program focusing on self-care management. Participants received weekly, bi-weekly or monthly one-hour treatments over a six-month period. Sessions addressed the following topics: low sodium diet adherence, medication management, activity tolerance, symptom monitoring and psychosocial coping strategies. The Self-Care of Heart Failure Index (SCHFI) was administered at evaluation and upon completion of the program. The SCHFI is a reliable and valid assessment tool that measures self-care maintenance, management and confidence in people with HF.
Results. All participants who received two or more treatments demonstrated 33.33% (16.67 of 49.99) to 190.01% (63.33 of 33.33) improvement in maintenance of self-care routines based on pre and post SCHFI scores. Additionally, half of these participants demonstrated 28.47% (22.16 of 77.84) to 85.33% (38.4 of 45) improvement in confidence with self-care management based on pre and post SCHFI scores.
Conclusion. Participation in an outpatient OT program that focused on incorporating lifestyle modifications into daily routines was effective at improving self-care for people with HF, specifically maintenance of self-care routines and confidence with ability to self-manage their chronic condition.
The Art of Occupational Therapy >
For Amber Bennett, arts and crafts have always been meaningful. From constructing doll houses to making stained glass pieces and weaving baskets, Bennett has engaged in creative projects for as long as she can remember
January 30, 2020
New admissions director looks to help applicants tame the grad school jungle >
Alumna Arameh Anvarizadeh working towards a holistic admissions process
November 4, 2019
5 awardees and 82 presenters slated for OTAC 2014 conference >
By Mike McNulty Five USC Trojans received awards and 82 Trojans presented during the 2014 conference of the Occupational Therapy Association of California, October 16-19 in Pasadena. Assistant clinical professor Sarah Bream received the Award of Appreciation, alumna Diane Mayfield received the…
October 3, 2014
85 Trojans representing at 2013 OTAC conference >
85 Trojan alumni and faculty will be presenting at the 2013 Conference of the Occupational Therapy Association of California, Oct. 24-27 at the Sacramento (Calif.) Convention Center. On the evening of Friday Oct. 25, be sure to join your USC Trojan Family at the conference's alumni cocktail mixer.…
October 22, 2013
128 Trojans Presenting at 2013 AOTA Conference >
128 USC alumni, faculty, and students are scheduled to present at the 2013 Conference of the American Occupational Therapy Association, April 25-28 at the San Diego Convention Center. Presentation formats include a pre-conference institute, workshops, short courses, research and professional posters…
April 23, 2013