UTMB Students Help CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread Clients Achieve Better Quality of Life

UTMB Occupational therapy students; Kelsey Burrous, Taylor Harder, Sarah Savedra, Courtney Martin, and Lakin Carpenter help the homeless at CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread with occupational therapyUniversity of Texas Medical Branch Medical (UTMB) students, on their psycho social rotations are incorporating their fieldwork into the CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread program. The students use their occupational therapy knowledge and practicum to help the homeless population acclimate to the community, using occupational therapy.

Defining Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is not what you think it is. It is more than therapy related to a person’s occupation (work). It is therapy associated with helping people live their best lives.

“Most people assume that the word occupational, in occupational therapy, relates to a job,” said UTMB student Taylor Harder. “Actually, an occupation can be anything you engage in, like combing your hair, brushing your teeth and other things we need or want to do daily.”

The students visit with the homeless population and develop an occupational profile. The profile includes the clients’ varied interests and past. Using the profile, the students also work toward keying in on what makes each individual who they are. The profile helps to establish the individual’s wants and needs, making therapy customized and more efficient.

“Occupational therapy helps people engage in some of the most important and meaningful things,” said UTMB student Lakin Carpenter. “The inability to do the meaningful things that a person loves to do takes away from their chance at a fulfilling existence.”

Professional Perspective

Occupational therapy is about the clients. It is about connecting with that person. It is about looking at an individual as a whole, finding their interests and truly getting to know that person.

Patricia Fingerhut, OT, PHD, assistant professor and chair of the department of occupational therapy at the University of Texas Medical Branch-Galveston said, “Our program is the number one entry level Master’s program in Texas and will soon be transitioning into an entry level doctorate program.”

According to Dr. Fingerhut, a grant initiated the partnership between CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread and UTMB-Galveston allowing students to do rotations at the facility.

“We’re really proud of our students,” said Dr. Fingerhut. “Our students have sometimes volunteered at CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread outside of coursework requirements as well as within the parameters of their psycho social rotations.”

The students are at the end of their third year, leaving one more semester before graduation. In their time spent with the population at CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread, they have seen great progress in assisting individuals to the tune of positive feedback from the population.

“These people all have unique experiences and issues going on in their lives, said UTMB student Courtney Martin. “They are very appreciative of the time we spend with them as well. Some of them have profusely thanked us for helping them,” Martin added.

CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread encountered 10,416 clients in 2018.

You can support CHRISTUS Our Daily Bread by making a gift, of any size, or donating your time, to help us continue the mission of extending the healing ministry of Jesus Christ: https://www.christusfoundation.org/donate