Occupational Therapy

Joe Ulloa

Joe Ulloa photo

Regional Rehab Manager

Unity Point at Home




reality get personal rewards

Looking back

“I’m glad I went to St. Ambrose. Football is what took me there, but OT is getting me where I am now.”


In his/her own words:

Why did you choose St. Ambrose?

I wanted to go somewhere I could play football. I visited five schools, and Ambrose just felt like home to me. I liked students and a few professors I met. Ambrose having more allied health programs is a huge advantage.

Why did you become an occupational therapist?

It’s one of those funny stories. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I went to college. I knew I wanted to do a job where I could help people. I’m a people person. My freshman advisor was Terry Schlabach, a professor in the program. Terry knew me before I realized who she was, because she was my soccer coach in third and fourth grade. I asked her what OT was and did some research. The rest is history. I shadowed different therapists and ended up applying to the program.

How has the program prepared for other aspects of your career?

I was a rehab director in charge of as many as four nursing homes and a home health contract in Des Moines, with a staff of 10. At Ambrose you take a business class, which prepared me for that leadership role. Doing research projects, you have to learn to work with different types of people and personalities. I can look back at my education and say, “This is how I dealt with conflict and group dynamics, and I can use that here.”

What’s your most memorable learning experience?

The program gets you in all different settings, from pediatrics to geriatrics. As a student, I didn’t know I’d like working with an older population until a professor took my class to the Center for Active Seniors for a learning experience. It was amazing when I put my hand on the shoulder of one elderly woman, and her face lit up. That decided it for me.

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