Happy April, aka Occupational Therapy month!

Meet Sara (Gross) Adams (’16, ’17) and Lexi Hermes (’15, ’16), two CUW Occupational Therapy alumnae whose friendship has lasted beyond graduation. Both Sara and Lexi are currently employed at Hand to Shoulder Specialists of Wisconsin, and in honor of OT month, would like to share a little about their profession!

Why did you choose to go into OT?

S: I feel like OT found me more than I found OT. I knew I wanted to go into a health profession, but I wasn’t sure what area. I had no idea what OT was until my senior year of high school when my mom suggested that I investigate it. I did some job shadowing and decided to major in it, while still not 100% sure what OT was. During my freshman year at CUW I learned more about what OT is and I really enjoyed the course work associated with it.

L: I loved Anatomy and physiology in high school, and knew I wanted to work with people. I could not choose if I wanted to help people physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually, and God led me to a profession that encompassed all these aspects!

How would you describe OT to someone who does not know what it is?

L: Occupational Therapy uses science and medicine in order to help people with a disability return to what they love. The disability can range from physical such as a fracture, spinal cord injury, TBI, stroke or tendon rupture, to a psychological disability including autism and depression. For a child, their disability may keep them from play or writing, or for an older adult, it may be to help them with dressing, for a young adult it could be to help them in their sport, or maybe a mom is struggling to care for her child due to tendonitis. The possibilities are endless!

What is your specialty and why did you choose it?

S: My specialty is hand therapy, which is the just OT way of saying therapy for the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, and fingers. I chose hand therapy because I liked making orthoses (which is a custom brace) and my hand therapy classes were my favorite in school. The way the arm works just “clicked” for me in my head! The hand is such a complex part of our body and we use our hands for everything. I love helping people get use of their hand/arms back so they can get back to doing the things they love!

L: My specialty is a hand and upper extremity Therapist, and I chose this because I have always understood and have been drawn to the Upper extremity since I began Graduate school. I wanted an area of OT that encompassed every age, diagnosis and setting. I also love to splint and fabricate casts as well, bringing out my creative side. I love the challenge it brings from an anatomy perspective. You are able to build rapport with patients over time as you spend more time with them in this settings, helping create a settings that helps patients not only physically, but spiritually as well.

How has your experience at CUW impacted you?

S: I loved CUW! I wish I could go back and re-live my days there again. I really felt like I belonged at CUW- I made a great group of friends (including Lexi) and I feel like my education at CUW prepared me for my career as an OT. CUW also impacted my faith a ton. I had a strong faith in high school, but I felt like having that connection to God with all my courses and extracurricular activities helped me grow so much. I had a little bit of culture shock going from public school to CUW, but in the best way possible. I loved having anatomy classes and being able to talk about how God made our bodies and minds so complex and amazing. That is not something I have experienced anywhere else I’ve studied or worked.

L: Concordia prepared me not only to be an occupational therapist, but a certified hand therapist. Many people are not able to get into hand therapy as a new graduate, let alone pass the CHT. God used CUW to prepare me for both! I loved how CUW not only prepared me in my career, but in my faith and how to be Jesus’s light in all I do, which includes our jobs. I am beyond grateful for all the staff and students who made graduate school feel like a family.

What are your words of encouragement to anyone considering OT?

S: Stay the course. The medical field can be very daunting- there is so much to learn, but in the end, it is worth it! Looking back to when I was 18 and starting college, I never thought I would be able to accomplish all that I have. Take it step by step and you will get there too!

Sara (Gross) Adams (’16, ’17)
Lexi Hermes (’15, ’16)

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