Occupational Therapy Professor Dr. Patricia Crist represented Duquesne on a recent trip to Poland, where she presented at an international conference, consulted on curriculum development and conducted a workshop to help efforts to establish the first-ever occupational therapy programs there.
Duquesne first got involved in this endeavor last fall, when they hosted Dr. Andrzej Gryglewicz, dean of student affairs and chair of rehabilitation psychology at the Joseph Pilsudski University of Physical Education, who visited campus to observe and learn how occupational therapy is taught and practiced in America. Gryglewicz’s trip was sponsored by the European Network of Occupational Therapy in Higher Education, which is working with four Polish universities to develop occupational therapy curricula.
Crist said she was grateful for the opportunity to help with the development of these inaugural occupational therapy programs and the chance to encourage the use of Duquesne’s leading concept of the practice-scholar as integral to their curriculum objectives.
“Due to the importance of faculty doing research and grant-writing in Poland, coupled with this intense desire to demonstrate beneficial outcomes from occupational therapy to increase government support, those in attendance at the conference were very interested in considering our practice-scholar model,” Crist said.
The occupational therapy department’s practice-scholar concept has been presented in Sweden, Chile and Canada, according to Crist, but her trip to Poland marks the first opportunity to encourage an international curriculum to adopt the approach from the beginning of development which will influence the practice of occupational therapy as it emerges in Poland.
In her workshop there, Crist focused on helping to prepare the first fieldwork educators in Poland. “Initially, very few occupational therapists will be available to mentor students during fieldwork except faculty, until the new programs graduate their first classes,” Crist explained.
Two of the four Polish universities have been approved to enroll occupational therapy students in the fall and are expected to graduate students within two to three years.