Calling all mentors! Did you ever receive assistance, advice, or support from a professional mentor during your academic or professional career? If so, now is your chance to give back and help the next generation of OT practitioners become the best they can be. Read on to learn about the impact you could have as a mentor in COTAD’s Minority Mentorship Program.
The letter below is from Jasmin Torres, OTS in reference to an experience she shared with her mentor, Sandra Guzman, OTR.
In February of this year I travelled to Ambato, Ecuador and stayed with a connection of Sandra Guzman who has a daughter with William's Syndrome. In exchange for providing some OT recommendations, I was able to live with Sandra’s friend and her wonderful family during my stay.
During my week in Ambato, I had a variety of experiences, including working at a school for children with special needs, shadowing OTs and other professionals, and educating providers and families about occupational therapy.
During the day, I worked at a school for children with developmental and physical disabilities. I screened 20 to 30 children with various diagnoses, including epilepsy, Down syndrome, hemiplegia, and cerebral palsy and gave recommendations to other children and families. I also led an inservice with other health professionals (doctor, physical therapists, and child life specialists) to discuss occupational therapy’s role in the U.S. and the similarities and differences between rehabilitation services in each country, which was a valuable learning experience.
After school, I went to the municipal hospital where Sandra was working. She travels annually with a team of OTs, PTs and surgeons on a medical mission trip to serve children with physical disabilities in Ambato. I was also able to observe OTs who were fitting children for wheelchairs and making custom splints; in many cases, the people they were treating travelled over 12 hours with their children to receive a consultation. I even had the opportunity to scrub in on a couple of surgeries while I was there!
I also had the experience of completing home visits alongside a PT and psychologist traveling to indigenous homes. Although I only spent one day with them, it was by far the most profound learning experience I have had in my career as an OT student. I was astounded when I realized how much of an impact healthcare and rehabilitation have in different parts of the world.
Throughout my trip, I made an effort to communicate with the local professionals about how they could incorporate an "OT lens" when serving children and families. Interestingly, I learned that many of the practitioners there already thought like OTs because they had to be holistic and creative and how they approached each client.
Although our language differences could be a bit of a barrier, I believe most of the value in this experience was having the opportunity to show, rather than communicate, how OT can help individuals and how we assess various client factors.
In conclusion, on this trip I met so many incredible and inspiring women, men, and children that will forever hold a most special place in my heart.
Jasmin Torres, OTS
MGH Institute of Health Professions
Doctor of Occupational Therapy, 2020
Professional Development Chair, SOTA
There are occupational therapy students, new grads, and clinicians who are actively seeking the same type of powerful mentoring relationship Jasmin experienced. If you would like to become a mentor and help encourage the next generation of OT professionals, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.