A major challenge over the last few years has been building the program enrollment back after the 1990s budget scare that made lots of prospective students think that there wouldn’t be enough jobs in occupational therapy and many other professions. “But that’s changing, especially since we need people in the health care professions and we need health care faculty members,” Jedlicka said. “What makes OT unique—and what helps us attract new students—is that we’re focused on the individual’s wants and needs. It’s about mind, body, and spirit, not just a client’s physical needs.” OT today is part of a growing array of medical and health care services available to clients. “It’s definitely an interprofessional service in terms of providing good health care,” Jedlicka said. “Within the
profession there’s been a strong drive to move away from the medical model— all hospital- and clinic-based practice— and to support people in the community who’re looking at wellness.” Today’s occupational therapy classes still are predominantly female. The current academic year’s starting class has six males in a group of 32 students. Most of the students come from North Dakota, with some from Minnesota and South Dakota; most of the Casper students are from Wyoming, with a few from Colorado. “Health care reform has impacted what we’re doing and where we’re going,” Jedlicka said. “We’re continuing to market the profession as one that increases people’s quality of life.”
Jennalee O’Keefe and Brittany Larson practice texture identification for purposes of sensory re-education after a peripheral nerve injury.
— Juan Pedraza NORTH DAKOTA MEDICINE Spring–Summer 2010
Spring-Summer 2010 Volume 35, Number 2-3