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Clinic Aided Learning

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Kaitlyn O'Leary (front) and her friend Abby Courtney at the Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis.

Watch an SAUtv story about the St. Ambrose Interprofessional Health Clinic

May 2017


Kaitlyn O'Leary '16 and Danika Schroeder received different post-graduate degrees during the St. Ambrose University spring commencement ceremony, yet they have one major learning experience in common — putting lessons into action at the St. Ambrose Interprofessional Health Clinic.

Kaitlyn was awarded a Master of Occupational Therapy degree and Danika was awarded a Master of Speech-Language Pathology degree during the May 13 commencement ceremony at the i Wireless Center in Moline, Ill.

"The clinic was one of the most beneficial components of my education, and it was an optional thing that I took advantage of. It was great," Kaitlyn said.

The clinic provides student-led health care services to underserved populations in the Quad Cities. It opened in November 2015 and sees clients at the Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis, 1320 W. Lombard St. on Tuesdays.

Teams of students and faculty from Nursing, the Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, Master of Social Work, and Master of Speech-Language Pathology programs provide physical therapy, occupational therapy, and communication therapy for clients at no cost.

"We work with one student from each discipline, and we develop a treatment plan together. It helps break that barrier, or stigma, that we are separate. We work together to help the patient," Kaitlyn said.

She said the clinic provides beneficial experience because the students are thrown in and have to "learn the tools." Kaitlyn worked at the clinic for five weeks.

"In the classroom they can't necessarily teach you all of the variable components that may happen, or how things sometimes don't go as planned. The clinic allows you to apply your critical thinking skills and be flexible and go with the flow. You really get to know the patient and understand what they are going through on a different level than what a textbook could teach you," she added.

Danika volunteered for four weeks at the clinic and said she enjoyed working with, and learning from, students in the other health science fields.

"Anyone who has the opportunity to participate in the Interprofessional Health Clinic should definitely take advantage of the opportunity," Danika said. "It is a great learning experience."

Her experience has already been put to good use.

Danika's first field placement was in acute rehab at Mercy Medical in Des Moines. There, she worked collaboratively with the OT and/or PT who was working with the same patient. "We would meet weekly to go over patient progress and goals. The healthcare field is definitely moving that way," she said about the team approach to care.

Danika graduated from Iowa State University in 2015 with bachelor's degrees in linguistics and psychology. Her mother encouraged her to consider speech-language pathology. "I looked into it and decided, yes, this is what I am meant to do," she said.

Danika said her clinic and field experiences helped her realize she likes working with adults and children, and she is seeking employment working with either population.

"I think I succeeded at SAU because of the exceptional faculty in the program and my fellow students. The program gave us lots of opportunities to grow as students, as student clinicians and as individuals. I learned a lot from the faculty, my advisors and my peers," Danika said.

Kaitlyn is also proud of her success at St. Ambrose. She has accepted a prestigious residency, specializing in gerontology, at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Neb. As part of the program, she will be mentored by clinical faculty and OT experts in all areas of older adult clinical practice as well as teach students in Creighton's OTD program.

"It is really exciting," she said.

Kaitlyn said she knew she wanted to be an OT her sophomore year of high school. Her hometown, DeWitt, Iowa, is about 20 minutes from campus. When she learned about SAU's 3+2 program, she chose to stay closer to home, and earned a BA in psychology in 2016.

Kaitlyn said she feels blessed to be a part of SAU's OT program.

"They have taught me to identify occupational injustices in the community, whether it be people with physical or mental disabilities. OT is the perfect combination of creativity, compassion and science," she said.

MORE LIKE THIS:About SAU Students, AmbroseZine, Health Sciences, Master of Speech-Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy

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