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NYSOTA Member Leads Fieldwork Brigade to Costa Rica

Tuesday, May 8, 2018  
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In January 2018, D'Youville College Occupational Therapy faculty members, Erin Lafferty, MS, OTR/L, along with Occupational Therapy Department Chair Dr. Theresa Vallon, led a group of ten Master's students on a service learning/Level I Fieldwork brigade to Alajuela Province, towns of Alajuela and San Jose, Costa Rica.

During this brigade, a team of Costa Rican healthcare professionals and interpreters traveled alongside the D'Youville OT students and faculty. They made daily excursions to the Bethlehem Shelter Home for teen mothers and their babies as well as Manos Abiertas, a home for disabled individuals. In this area of Costa Rica, there is low access to healthcare, poor transportation infrastructure, poor educational resources, and a pediatric/adult population affected by disability.

Workflow consisted of assessing patients across the lifespan for various cognitive, motor, sensory, and psychosocial dysfunction through the use of a translator and various screening tools. The students ran psychosocial groups, assisted with ADLs, gained a better understanding of the developmental sequence in real-time and experienced approximately 60 hours of hands-on and reflective learning opportunities over a five day period.

This was the inaugural study abroad experience solely designed for the occupational therapy department. In the spirit of sustainability, as well as in the spirit of Marguerite d'Youville who stated "we will never refuse to serve", a return study abroad experience for January 2019 is in the planning stages.

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