University News

Department of Occupational Therapy Expands Partnership with John J. Duggan Academy

Published: April 16, 2024 | Categories: All News, Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Duggan Academy interns learning the art and science of Occupational Therapy from WNE OTD students

In a continued commitment to fostering educational opportunities and community engagement, the Department of Occupational Therapy (OTD) at Western New England University (WNE) proudly announces the expansion of its internship program in collaboration with the John J. Duggan Academy.

Since its inception in Summer 2023, this partnership has provided invaluable experiential learning opportunities for both WNE OTD students and aspiring healthcare professionals from the John J. Duggan Academy. The internship program offers a multifaceted approach to understanding the dynamic field of occupational therapy, combining practical experience with academic enrichment.

During the summer sessions, participating students from John J. Duggan Academy engaged in paid internships, spending two days per week at the WNE OTD department. Here, they contribute to the BEAR PAW Center and undertake OT-related projects, gaining firsthand insight into the profession while actively supporting the department's initiatives. In the subsequent spring sessions, interns attend WNE OTD classes twice a week, earning course credit as they immerse themselves in graduate-level coursework and the vibrant college environment.

Brittany Adams, Program Director and Chair of the OTD department, underscores the program's pivotal role in exposing interns to the diverse scope of occupational therapy practice. "Our aim is to provide interns with a comprehensive understanding of occupational therapy," Adams explains. "Through hands-on experiences at the BEAR PAW Center and interactive classroom sessions, interns encounter the real-world application of OT principles, enriching their educational journey."

Central to the program's success is the mentorship provided by WNE OTD students, who eagerly share their academic and professional insights with the interns. "Our students are graduate-level scholars, equipped with a wealth of knowledge and experience," says Adams. "Their guidance not only enhances the interns' understanding of OT but also prepares them for the rigors of collegiate life."

"I am learning a little bit more about what Occupational Therapy is and what it looks like to become an OT," said Mirielys Delgado Cancel as she completed her third week of internship. "The experience I am getting from this internship, I know will be remarkable and will help me have a better understanding of the people around me and their needs."

Dr. Kimberly Gross and Dr. Alexis Morin, esteemed faculty members at WNE, play pivotal roles in shaping the interns' educational experience. Through specialized classes focusing on outpatient orthopedics and community-based OT practice, interns gain practical skills and theoretical foundations essential for success in the field.

Looking ahead, the WNE OTD department is poised to welcome a new cohort of interns this summer, further strengthening its partnership with John J. Duggan Academy. By fostering collaboration between academia and the community, this initiative continues to empower future healthcare leaders and enrich the fabric of Springfield's educational landscape.

"We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Western New England University's Department of Occupational Therapy," said Director of Partnerships for Duggan Academy Mary Kay Brown. "It is an extraordinary opportunity for our students. Having access to WNE, right in our backyard not only enriches their educational journey but also exposes them to a myriad of career options in a warm and welcoming university setting. This collaboration empowers our students to explore their passions, gain invaluable experience, and chart a path towards a successful future in healthcare and beyond."