Dhara Patel, a student in Brenau's occupational therapy program, helps attendees at the Caregiver Assistance and Resource Event (CARE) Fair. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Occupational therapy students gain experience and confidence while assisting at health fair

Sep 16, 2021
Brenau Staff

Students from Brenau University’s Entry-Level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program offered their services to attendees at the Caregiver Assistance and Resource Event (CARE) Fair on Sept. 10-11 at Sexton Hall Enrichment Center in Cumming, Georgia.

During the event, which was hosted by Forsyth County Senior Services, students provided balance screenings for attendees mostly in their 70s or older. The students also guided participants through selecting assistive devices, including tools for those with dementia, arthritis and mobility issues.

Kathleen Foley, director of occupational therapy, said the fair gave students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to real-life clients instead of actors. It was also a chance for them to talk about occupational therapy with people unfamiliar with the field. All of these things, Foley said, helped build confidence in the students.

“When they’re in the classroom, they think they don’t know a lot, and this gives them a chance to share what they know,” Foley said. “And, it gives them confidence for when they’re out being evaluated in clinical education and in their own practice.”

Brenau OT student Patrick Uy said he was nervous at first, since the fair was only his second time applying what he has learned in the classroom to clients. But as the day went on, he became more comfortable and enjoyed the experience.

“Doing this today was so fun,” Uy said. “After the first client, I just got through it, and I was like, ‘OK, I can do this.’”

Jordan Nembhard, an OT student who worked at the assistive device station during the fair, said she stressed to participants the importance of devices to help with preventative care. For example, she said, a gripper to put less stress on the hands could help someone with arthritis.

“There are a lot of items out there that nobody has heard about because, unfortunately, a lot of assistive technology is used after something has happened,” Nembhard said.