Occupational therapy seeks to restore a person’s ability to do the things they need and want to do every day within their roles at home, work, and in the community. Our students embrace this charge wholeheartedly and derive meaning from helping someone with a disability drive for the first time, learn to manage multiple medications more effectively, figure out how to use an injured hand to complete a task that was once second nature, or anything else that will help a person live their life fully.
Guatemala Service Learning Trip
Each year, a student-led team of OT students and licensed therapists travel to Zacapa, Guatemala for a service learning trip. As a part of this experience, students assist in providing therapeutic interventions alongside of local occupational and physical therapists in a variety of care settings. Partnering with a local, sustainable agency, the students work in rehabilitation clinics, schools, nutrition centers, hospitals and/or other sites where they interact with individuals across the lifespan with a wide variety of conditions and challenges.
This Guatemala Service Learning team has the opportunity to learn through hands-on experience in a clinical practice area that comes with a different set of challenges than the healthcare system in the US. Students encounter limited access to resources and use their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to help people accomplish their goals. This unique volunteer experience helps shape clinical skills, increase cultural sensitivity, provide an international OT lens for future practice, and simultaneously help meet the needs of an underserved population.
The purpose of the Washington University Student Occupational Therapy Association (WUSOTA) is to promote awareness of occupational therapy on campus and in the greater community, to promote interaction and professional development of association members, and to engage in philanthropic and service activities in the community in order to strengthen the profession of occupational therapy and to prepare association members for life long careers in health care and related fields.
During the course of the year, WUSOTA actively participates in educational talks, fundraising and volunteer events, cultural awareness events and social gatherings. Many students attend and present their research annually at both the Missouri Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Association conferences. WUSOTA happily gives back to the community by volunteering for organizations such as the Crown Center for Senior Living, Hope Lodge, Peter and Paul Community Services and is open to exploring new partnerships and opportunities each year. Through volunteerism, WUSOTA members enrich the lives of many individuals in the community by promoting participation, inclusion and accessibility.