Occupational Therapy Month: Meet the Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital outpatient staff

Did you know that April is Occupational Therapy Month? Occupational therapy is also celebrating its centennial year as well! For these two great reasons, our Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital outpatient staff would like to share why they became occupational therapists and what they love most about their job! Let’s meet each of them:

Emily Strabbing, COTA (pictured second from the left) became a certified occupational therapy assistant in November of 2016 and joined the Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital outpatient team in January of 2017. Prior to becoming an occupational therapy practitioner, Emily worked as an adult English language instructor both in Albuquerque and overseas. Her love for working with individuals to achieve personal goals and greater independence through language proficiency translates beautifully to her work as a COTA. There is no typical day in OT for Emily. The diversity of patients and the array of diagnoses make each day unique. The best part of any day for her is when a patient achieves a meaningful goal they have been working toward. From getting dressed to making a meal for yourself, she thinks this aspect of how occupational therapy helps patients is the absolute best.  

Lisa Allison, OT (pictured in the middle) has been practicing for 21 years and has been at Lovelace for five years. She became interested in the medical field when helping her cousin who is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. While at a career fair at her local hospital in high school, she was introduced to occupational therapy. This was the ultimate catalyst to applying to occupational therapy school at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, MN. A typical day in outpatient for Lisa involves evaluating and treating a variety of clients with orthopedic and neurological diagnoses to facilitate skills for the job of living. She enjoys being a valuable part of our clients’ recovery and when a client comes in and can do something meaningful they could not do yesterday, she sees this as a victory. As one spouse once told her: “You gave me my husband back.” This is the ultimate reward for Lisa in her work.

Annandhi Chandrasekaran, OT (pictured second from the right) has been practicing for four years and started with Lovelace in February, 2017. Her road to becoming an occupational therapist took her across continents and spanned many years. She first came to the U. S. from India with a job as a computer programmer. After 15 years of working in the IT industry, while looking at alternate careers like nursing and special education, she chanced upon the field of occupational therapy. It took about a year to get into the University of New Mexico’s occupational therapy program, and becoming an OT has been one of the highlights of her life. A typical day for Annandhi involves evaluating and treating people with neurological or orthopedic diagnoses to enable them to get back to living a full life. Every day in the clinic, she sees miracles (backed by science) happen. She feels fortunate to be a new member of the Lovelace/Ardent family; a place giving her the privilege to work with her clients.

Stephanie Singleton, OTD, (pictured separately) has worked for Lovelace on three different occasions. This time around, she has been in the outpatient therapy department since 2011. In college, Stephanie was originally a pre-law student and was very unhappy with that choice. She went through all of the testing to find out what would be a "good fit" but nothing showed up. Her dad suggested that she speak with an advisor friend of his, who told Stephanie about OT. “I was very intrigued!” Stephanie says. “I applied to the program, was accepted and the rest is history! I have been practicing as an OT for over 27 years.” Stephanie works at two different locations: Jemez Pueblo twice per week and the Enchanted Hills facility twice per week. Both of these are outpatient facilities. She sees clients with a variety of diagnoses. Her job is to help them be able to regain function in their necessary areas of occupation. At the Pueblo, she also helps the vocational rehabilitation program with completion of ergonomic evaluations in order to help those people return to gainful employment. Stephanie loves helping people to be able to do what they want and need to be able to do. She loves the human interaction! She is always meeting really neat people in the work that she does. She is a lifelong learner and being an OT helps her to always keep learning. There are always opportunities to learn and grow as a professional.

A vital part of our program also involves student mentoring. Our staff has supervised students from UNM, San Juan College and as far away as Southern Maine University. “We are grateful for the opportunity to help shape future OT practitioners in such a personal manner,” says Lisa Allison. (Pictured above on either end are two UNM students)

To learn more about Lovelace Rehabilitation Hospital, please click here

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