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The College of St. Scholastica

St. Scholastica faculty member Dr. Kelly Erickson ‘96 (MS ‘97) has written and published a framework to increase diversity awareness and inclusive practices within the occupational therapy field. Her model “Framework for Addressing DEI in Everyday Practice for OTH” was published by the American Occupational Therapy Association in September.

According to Erickson, who serves as chair of the department, the College’s Occupational Therapy program has been engaged in diversity work for many years, work that requires intentional reflection.

“OTs are predominantly white and female; we need to consider what have we done as a profession to keep people out,” she said.

This focus, coupled with the program’s increasing cohort diversity, urged Erickson and members of the OT department to recognize that student needs must be met with correct supports in place, both in the classroom and in their fieldwork experiences. Erickson began her research by looking at the evidence and researching the diverse needs of students during their fieldwork. She found inspiration from an Occupational Adaptation Model that focused on international students and built upon that literature to create her framework.

“We use a lot of models to work with our clients and we always try to tell students, these models apply to our lives, too,” said Erickson. “In this model, the environmental piece was really important. What are the social situation factors that impact how a student shows up? What are other factors that might be influencing their performance this week?”

Erickson hopes the framework will provide talking points to support addressing the diverse needs of students and to ensure inclusive conversations can occur between students, their faculty and fieldwork educators.

Her model can be found here: A Framework for Addressing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Everyday Practice for Occupational Therapy.

About the OT program

Occupational Therapy (OT) remains a dual-entry degree profession, which allows the choice between earning an entry-level Master’s degree or an entry-level Doctorate. The entry-level Master’s degree program at St. Scholastica offers a well-established, rigorous pathway to becoming a practitioner through state-of-the-art facilities with faculty engaged in scholarship and service in diverse ways. The OT program at St. Scholastica is cost-effective and takes less time when compared with an entry-level Doctorate degree.

Because of the one-on-one attention students receive and the “early and often” approach to hands-on learning, our graduates are in high demand. Graduate surveys indicate between 97% and 100% of graduates are employed as occupational therapists after one year. Many students have employment offers before graduation.

Kelly Erickson