Kid's Work Therapy Blog

Local Occupational Therapist Trains Next Generation to Treat Patients and Tackle Gap in CA Healthcare Sector

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Santa Maria, CA- At a busy, pediatric occupational therapy (OT) clinic in Santa Maria, future therapists gain hands-on experience working with children with developmental delays and sensory disorders.

Dr. Stephanie Foster, founder and director of Kid’s Work Therapy, mentors students interested in or currently pursuing careers in occupational therapy. Students gain exposure to the field of OT and its role in helping pediatric patients function better at home and in school. Students enrolled in graduate OT programs conduct intake exams, develop and implement treatment plans, and gain fieldwork hours under Foster’s supervision.

Avery Robertson (center), a junior at Trivium Charter School in Santa Maria, assists clients participating in the “Fabulous Food Eaters” program.

According to a 2021 report from the California Board of Occupational Therapy, the state will now see a new job growth of 17% for certified occupational therapy assistance (OTA’s) by 2024. However, the report notes that about 250 workers will leave OTA roles annually, and the state faces an undersupply of certified OTA’s of 9% annually.

Foster works hard to prepare students to fill those roles. Currently, a junior from Trivium Charter School in Santa Maria works at the clinic to learn about careers in OT and assists with clients. This past year, a junior at Cal Poly State University completed her internship with Foster, and three graduate students traveled to Santa Maria to complete their OT fieldwork requirements before taking their national certification exam.

Juli Bishop, a junior at Cal Poly State University, showcases her sensory box creation for use with clients as part of her internship with Kid’s Work Therapy.

“Our industry needs more people pursuing careers in occupational therapy to meet the demand. Internships and fieldwork are critical to preparing the next generation to become capable, well-trained therapists”.

Dr. Stephanie Foster

Foster recently spent two weeks in Chang Mai, Thailand, mentoring eight college students completing their first fieldwork requirement through Therapy Abroad. This program provides interactive educational environments for students and professionals to learn and gain clinical hours. Every day, Foster and her group if students attended different settings– hospitals, schools, private clinics– to provide therapy for local, school-aged children.

During the group’s time in Thailand, they discovered that most settings did not have access to common OT tools like balance boards or therapy balls, according to Dr. Foster.

“It was a unique opportunity for the students to apply their training and adapt to the limited resources to make an impact. It’s rewarding and exciting to watch students move from student to professional.”

Dr. Stephanie Foster
Dr. Stephanie Foster (seated left), founder of Kid’s Work Therapy, guides OT students in Chang Mai, Thailand as they practice techniques with a local school-age child through the Therapy Abroad program.

About Dr. Stephanie Foster and Kid’s Work Therapy

Dr. Stephanie Foster, PhD, OTR/L, RYT500, is an award-winning occupational therapy practitioner, author, researcher, public speaker, and the founder of Kid’s Work Therapy in Santa Maria, CA.  Dr. Foster and her staff offer a world-class, comprehensive program designed around evidence-based research to treat children with developmental disorders.  The clinic specializes in sensory processing disorders, autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), auditory processing therapy, vestibular therapy, parent education, developmental delays, and interactive metronome. Dr. Foster has practiced occupational therapy for more than 30 years and is on a purpose-driven path to identify the root causes of the most common developmental challenges, learning barriers, and functional deficits found in children today. For more information, go to www.kidsworktherapy.com.

For more information about Therapy Abroad, go to www.therapyabroad.org or contact Chad Allen, Co-Founder and President at chad@therapyabroad.org.

A link to this article featured in the Santa Maria Times can be found here.

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