Meet Bobbie Vergo, OTD, OTR. She joined the CUW Occupational Therapy Department in January 2022. Dr. Vergo teaches courses related to behavioral/mental health and pediatric occupational therapy.
What is your educational and career background?
I graduated from Capital University in Columbus, OH with a bachelor’s in biology and minor in psychology. I almost had a minor in art therapy, which was actually my stepping-stone to pursing OT! I got my clinical doctorate in occupational therapy from Washington University in St. Louis. The majority of my career has been in pediatrics, at all different levels—early intervention, ABA, outpatient, school-based, residential school-based, and different levels of mental health care. I also dabbled frequently in skilled nursing, mostly PRN.
What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy the outdoors! I’ve been working on a long-term landscaping project of restoring my backyard to native plants. I also have been trying to get into gardening, which is something my parents forced me to do as a kid….and now, I kind of want to! I also enjoy dance, particularly salsa dancing and belly dancing. I read a lot, and enjoy being creative with DIY projects and art.
What’s the most interesting part of your field that people might not know?
I think one of the most interesting parts of OT is the variety of educational backgrounds that OTs come from. There are the “usuals”—psychology, biology, pre-OT—and then there are the very interesting, like dance, anthropology, even the circus arts! I love how people find their way to OT and how beneficial it is to our clients to have OTs from such a wide variety of backgrounds, educationally and in general just as humans with different experiences and identities.
What brought you to Concordia?
Long story short: God. I wasn’t looking for this job when it found me through a friend. I knew I wanted to teach fulltime one day, and I had been doing some adjunct work, but I didn’t know if I was ready to step into a full time position. When my friend told me about a peds professor position opening up at CUW, I didn’t hesitate, I just applied. As I went through the interview process and the position morphed into mental health AND peds, it seemed like the perfect fit. It’s cool to see how God has worked in my career to shape me for this exact job, and I’m grateful to be here.
What is your area of expertise within Occupational Therapy? Share a little bit about the ways you share this with students/community.
My area of expertise is mental health in pediatrics. I have tended to gravitate towards clients with diagnoses like Autism, ADHD, anxiety, and trauma backgrounds. I am fascinated by the intersection of sensory perception and modulation and mental health as well as the ways children develop a sense of self through what they do and what they are exposed to.
I get to share this with my students pretty directly because I get to teach the clinical reasoning in behavioral health course, where we discuss mental and behavioral health across the lifespan and how this impacts occupation. I also get to teach the community clinic pediatric rotation at Granville Lutheran School where we work directly with children, and sometimes have to use behavioral health skills while working on school participation.
I like to use narrative a lot when I teach, sharing stories about experiences I have had as a clinician to help students connect the importance of behavioral health in OT for all ages, especially children. One other way I get to share my expertise is by being a content consultant for Pathways.org, a non-for-profit organization that runs a fantastic educational website about multiple areas of child development. Access to content is completely free, available in digital and print formats, and multiple languages. Check it out. You might even see videos of me and my kids!
What do you love about the CUW OT program?
I love how our students are exposed to clinical practice pretty much immediately so they can connect the concepts they are learning to real clients. When I am teaching my students in the behavioral health class, they are also participating in the community clinic, so we can draw real-life connections about what they are seeing, and students often get to try out strategies with real clients that we learn about or simulate in the didactic class. I also love the students—seeing how they make connections, seeing the passion they have to not do well just in our program but also out in the community in some real and big ways, it’s such a privilege and pleasure to get to be a part of this!
What is your advice to potential OT students?
This will sound familiar to any student who has taken a course with me—remember who you are. No matter what setting we go into, it can be easy to lose sight of the distinct value of OT due to the many pressures of the healthcare system. I want students to remember their identity, to be able to articulate and advocate for OT in their setting. I want them to be able to execute genuine occupational therapy because what we do has incredible value to our clients in ways we all have difficulty describing, but we know it down in the core of who we are when we see how our clients respond to what we do. Who are we? OCCUPATIONAL therapists! What is most important? OCCUPATION!
Wherever you’re at in your journey into occupational therapy, Concordia University has options for you at both the undergraduate, master’s, doctoral levels.
As a Christ-centered university, our program will help you advance in your calling, by learning from experienced therapists in a hands-on environment and developing a foundation in ethical leadership.
We offer the following programs in Occupational Therapy:
- Master of Occupational Therapy
- Accelerated track (for incoming freshmen)
- Bridge track
- Post-Baccalaureate track
- Entry Level Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTDe)
- OTA to OT Bridge Program
- Bachelor’s in Rehabilitation Science (BSRS)