Occupational Therapy Students Use Mentorship Opportunity to Publish Paper in National Magazine

When six students from the School of Occupational Therapy (OT) participated in the Advancing Youth in Medical Education (A.Y.M.E.) day at Touro University Nevada, they never thought they’d be able to publish a paper about their experience.

After spending the afternoon with local middle school students and teaching them about occupational therapy, Professor Johnny Rider thought it would be great for the students to help him write a paper about their mentorship experience.

With Rider’s assistance, students Brittany Dluzneiski, Madison Shasteen, Aaron Tay, Alex Chevez, Mark Schwartz, and Anai Guardado helped contribute to the article that was published in “OT Practice,” the official magazine of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

“It was incredible to see our names in the article,” Dluzneiski said. “It was important for us to introduce these kids to occupational therapy at an early age. During the A.Y.M.E. experience, they all seemed very interested.”

Under the supervision of the OT students, the middle schoolers learned what it was like to live with several different disabilities, including cataracts, glaucoma, astereognosis, and more. Thanks to interactive games and challenges, the middle schoolers were very intrigued by the experience.

“These kids never really think about having a disability and how it affects them, and I think this was a really eye-opening experience for them,” Shasteen said. “We were able to make the experience fun and interactive for these kids.”

Tava McGinty-Jimenez, director of admissions and architect of the A.Y.M.E. program at Touro, said the experience benefitted both the students learning about these health care professions as well as the Touro students teaching them.

“A.Y.M.E. is crucial to exposing these children to a myriad of health care-related careers at such a young age,” she said. “I’m so glad that A.Y.M.E. allowed our students to have such a profound impact on these kids.”

Dluzneiski and Shasteen were grateful for the opportunity to have their experience published in a national magazine, though they were even more thankful for the opportunity to make a difference in the children’s lives.

“I didn’t even hear about OT until my early 20s, so I was more than excited to get these kids involved,” Dluzneiski said.

Shasteen, who first discovered occupational therapy when she was 10, shared Dluzneiski’s sentiment.

“We still talk to plenty of adults who don’t know what occupational therapy is,” she said. “Being able to work with these kids helped us spread the awareness about our profession, and that’s the best part.”

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