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May 2018 Member Highlight
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Meet Mary Iwanenko, MS, OTR/L, ppOTDc, our April drawing winner and "Member of the Month"

Tell me about what you do.
I have been working in the field of occupational therapy for 25 years. I am currently a Hospital Adminstrator at Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, NY. I am the Director of Pediatric Special Therapy Programs.

Why OT?
I knew that I wanted to be in healthcare. I knew that I wanted to work with children. I initially thought I'd go into Pediatrics. With occupational therapy, I could work in a healthcare field and still work on an individual level with clients and what motivates them to meet their optimum potential, and in the natural context. I especially like working with children through the occupation of play.

Tell me about a memorable/life-changing event.
I was fortunate enough to be able to train with Geneva Woodruff in transdisciplinary care. It was profession-altering for me. I gained a great appreciation and insight into collaboration, partnership and the importance of teaming. I am currently enrolled in a post-professional OT doctorate program. My doctoral capstone is centered around teaming and interprofessional collaborative practice. Throughout my career, I have been interested in practicing and learning more about collaboration and partnerships.

What trends are you seeing in occupational therapy?
I see more often where we are really trying to take leadership roles and find niches that use our abilities to be more holistic and collaborative. You can see this in the emerging practices of OT in Primary Care, and in Care Coordination. Even in the proposed ACOTE standards, we are using the term "interprofessional" more often, and as a profession have recently joined the membership of the Interprofessional Education Collaborative to help promote the addition of core competencies of interprofessional collaborative practice into OT curriculum. In Vision 2025, as a profession, we are moving towards identifying ourselves as collaborative leaders in healthcare and complex systems, and towards providing effective and accessible care to the community. In schools, we're seeing OT used more often in response to intervention models. We're being adopted more into the preventative level of care as well. Instead of just working at the top of the pyramid, we are involved in more areas throughout the model. There is a better understanding of how the supportive health services complement the educational system to work in the best interest of our clients.

What are the benefits of being a member of NYSOTA?
NYSOTA is a good way to remain connected, stay active and stay informed about what's changing, what's emerging, and what areas need more help from membership. Getting a lot of attention right now is the ACOTE mandate for entry-level. There's a lot happening in the profession, it's a pivotal time. I'm trying to stay up to date.

Do you have a personal philosophy?
If we just worked as a team, and towards joint objectives, it doesn't matter who gets the credit, only that we get the job done. When trying to work for the good of the whole, we need to put personal vested interest aside to more clearly see the path to the shared goal.

What do you do when you're not working?
Family. I have three children. Huge involvement in what's going on in their lives. My husband is the Vice-President for Academic Affairs at Gannon University. I love being able to participate in supporting him in that role. It's really all about family.

What is your favorite sensory activity?
I have so many it's hard to pick just one. I hate to have messy hands, but being a pediatric therapist, my hands are always messy. I love to use anything that can change the texture and feedback for proprioceptive and tactile integration like shaving cream or Wikki Stix for teaching letters, shapes and numbers. I also love to use baby food jars or gallon bags for visual activities and playmats. And as a resource, I often use the AOTA document "Providing Occupational Therapy Using Sensory Integration Theory and Methods in School-Based Practice" since it has great references and ideas for SI in school-based settings:

Favorite quote:
"Play is the highest form of research" - Albert Einstein



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