Chair's Message

Welcome to the 3rd edition of UFOT Progress Notes; a publication designed to keep you in touch with news and developments in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Florida.  I encourage you to read this newsletter to learn more about the department and all the exciting activities underway.

This past quarter has been dynamic for UFOT with increases in our faculty and staff complement including faculty members 
Dr. Amber Angell, Dr. Prerna Poojary–Mazzotta, Dr. Carolyn Hanson, Dr. Zheng Wang, Dr. Sandra Winter, and staff member Betsy Westra Admin Specialist II.  Other exciting developments include faculty being awarded new grants, starting our inaugural OTD program, getting permission to launch the BHS-OTD accelerated program, and preparing to launch UF's Post Professional Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy program (DRT).  We are still accepting applications for the DRT program with classes beginning in February 2019.  To add to our commitment to Driver Rehabilitation, we have launched the SmartDriver Rehabilitation Center to residents of Gainesville and surrounding areas, and we have thus far received referrals for over 100 clients.  

For our alumni, we have added a number of quality Continuing Education Courses that will not only help you meet your CEU requirements but will be meaningful in your area of practice.

As always, we love to hear from you. Please keep in touch, send us your latest contact information and forward this link to others who are alumni and/or friends of UFOT!

Seasons Greetings and Best Wishes for 2019!

Sherrilene Classen, MPH, OTR/L, FAOTA, FGSA
Professor and Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy
Faculty Positions

2018 has been a banner year for departmental hiring in response to the University's Preeminence Initiative.  Our new faculty includes:

  • Dr. Zheng Wang
  • Dr. Prerna Poojary-Mazotta
  • Dr. Carolyn Hanson
  • Dr. Amber Angell
  • Dr. Sandra Winter
  • Dr. Jessica Kramer (start date 30 June 2019)
  • Dr. John Kramer (Start date 30 June 2019)

There are still positions available including:

  • Fieldwork Coordinator
  • Teacher-Scholar Tenure-Track Position
For more information on these positions, go to our website at
Occupational Therapy and the UF Transportation Institute invited Dr. Carissa Slotterback as the Dean’s Visiting Scholar
The Department of Occupational Therapy collaborated with numerous disciplines and stakeholders during the Dean’s Visiting Scholar on December 6th, 2018. Colleagues from Public Health, Biostatistics, Global and Environmental Health, Engineering, as well as representatives from the City of Gainesville and the Florida Department of Transportation participated in this event. The visiting scholar, Dr. Slotterback, emphasized the value of fostering relationships with stakeholders. Specifically, she promoted networking and strengthening relationships among transportation activists. Five prominent leaders in transportation (featured in the adjacent picture) presented their perspective on the current and future state of transportation, culminating in an understanding that collaboration is necessary to develop transportation equity. Colleagues and representatives took part in a conversation circle that expanded on the themes of equity, mobility as a right, human factors, and predicting the future of transportation. The conversation circle provided an opportunity for individuals to voice their opinions and to start building collaborative networks for future projects. An agenda was set with action steps to further the activities of these groups.  

(picture caption: Pictured from left to right: Dr. Sherrilene Classen, Dr. Lily Elefteriadou, Malisa McCreedy, Dr. Carissa Slotterback, Dr. Ruth Steiner, and Tom Byron)
OT Leads Interprofessional Department of Education Training Grant

Nationally, there is a need for highly qualified occupational therapists, physical therapists, and speech-language pathologists for infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children with disabilities who have high-intensity needs such as children with significant autism and multiple disabilities. INSPIRE, Interdisciplinary Related Services Personnel Preparation for Early Childhood, is an interdepartmental project offered by the Departments of OT, PT, and SLHS through a $1.24M grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Led by project director, Dr. Christine Myers from OT, with co-directors, Lori-Ann Ferraro (SLHS) and Dr. Claudia Senesac (PT), INSPIRE will provide enhanced training in early intervention and early childhood for nine OT, PT, and SLHS professional students each year for the next five years. Scholars will receive tuition stipends to cover one full year of their programs, while participating in specialized coursework, fieldwork, and simulation activities focused on interprofessional teaming and use of coaching strategies.

(pictured from left: Lori-Ann Ferraro, Dr. Christine Myers, and Dr. Claudia Senesac)

OT Leads a Project on Training Teen Distracted Drivers

Distracted driving is a critical traffic safety issue among teen drivers in the U.S., contributing each year to over 15,000 serious injuries and 1,000 fatalities. While research to date has explored the effects of distracted driving, limited programs exist in Florida toward improving teen driving and reducing the number of distracted driving related crashes. Under the leadership of Dr. Sherrilene Classen and Dr. Sandra Winter, and in collaboration with the University of Florida T-2 center, the Department of Occupational Therapy has received a Florida Department of Transportation grant to develop a computer based-training (CBT) program for teens. For phase I (2017-2018) of this project, an integrative literature review was conducted that informed the development of the CBT course curriculum. For phase II (2018-2019), the UF team and collaborators will work to test and further refine the CBT for teens, promote the CBT to Florida counties with high teen crash rates, and analyze teen distracted driving attitudes before and after completing the CBT.

OT Partners with Florida Find-A-Ride

Transportation fosters community participation and access to critical resources (e.g., health care, shopping), but transportation access may be limited. In addition, older adults may face health declines leading to driving cessation. To address the need for affordable and accessible transportation, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Safety Office awarded the Institute for Mobility, Activity, and Participation at the University of Florida a $174,000 grant. The grant provides an alternative transportation database and an interactive mapping website for identifying transportation solutions for aging road users. The principal investigator, Dr. Sherrilene Classen, will work with Dr. Sandra Winter and Mr. Jason Rogers as well as representatives of the UF Department of Urban and Regional Planning and FDOT on this project. The department’s collaborative efforts, which began in 2004, promote FDOT's Find-A-Ride page on, part of a coordinated outreach effort of Florida’s Safe Mobility for Life Coalition.

(pictured from left: Jason Rogers, Dr. Sherrilene Classen, and Dr. Sandra Winter)

Occupational Therapy Accelerated Program (BHS-OTD) Admitting First Class in 2019
The Occupational Therapy Accelerated Program is for University of Florida pre-occupational therapy students who are pursuing their Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) degree. The program is a combined degree program that allows students to take first-year Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program courses during their junior and senior years in the BHS Program. All first-year OTD courses count toward both the OTD and the BHS degrees. Students enrolled in the Occupational Therapy Accelerated Program will complete two semesters of year one OTD coursework while earning credit towards their BHS. After graduating with their BHS, they will have eight semesters of OTD coursework remaining, thus decreasing time to graduation and overall cost of tuition.
Apply Now!
UFOT's Post-Graduate Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy
UF's Professional Certificate in Driver Rehabilitation Therapy is the first of its kind offered by a U.S. university.  Graduates of this program are qualified to be entry-level driver rehabilitation therapists working with medically-at-risk drivers through the lifespan.  Go to our website for more information or watch our most recent online webinar
International PhD Student from the Department of Occupational Therapy Receives Certificate of Excellence
The University of Florida’s International Center holds an annual International Student Achievement Awards ceremony to highlight the accomplishments and contributions of international students from across disciplines at the University of Florida. The International Center honored a faculty member and four graduate students from the College of Public Health and Health Professions which included Ms. Shabnam Medhizadah from the Department of Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences program. Ms. Medhizadah, an international student from Canada, was awarded the certificate of excellence in recognition for her outstanding achievements and evidence of professional promise. She was recognized for her scholarly publications, presentations, professional developmental service. Under the mentorship of Dr. Sherrilene Classen, Ms. Medhizadah’s research focuses on fitness to drive, screening, assessments, and interventions for medically at-risk drivers across the lifespan.

(Pictured left to right:  Dr. Afsar Ali, Dr. Yan Wang, Dr. Sherrilene Classen, Shabnam
Medhizadah, Olga Munoz, Ke Ding and Alan Salvador Alonso)
MOT students travel to alumna’s
clinic in Ecuador for fieldwork experience

When it came time to choose a location for her fieldwork, Master of Occupational Therapy student Sarah Siebrandt knew she was ready for a challenge. At Centro de Rehabilitación, Educación, Capacitación, Estudios y Recursos, Inc.or CRECER, in Ecuador, she found the right challenge: a language barrier, a new country and being thousands of miles away from family and friends.

“In occupational therapy, we are continually giving our clients the ‘just right challenge’ — the specific amount of difficulty for them to be challenged by an activity yet be successful to help them grow and reach new goals,” she said. “Going to CRECER provided this for me.”  Read more....


Florida Occupational Therapy Association Conference

The Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) annual meeting was held in October. Forty-two faculty members and students from the Department of Occupational Therapy took advantage of this opportunity to present their scientific work via workshops, short courses, and poster presentations. Additionally, Dr. Linda Struckmeyer received FOTA’s Award of Recognition for her commitment to the profession through excellence in teaching, scholarship, service, and leadership. Occupational therapy student Sarah Hays and mentor Dr. Linda Struckmeyer were recognized with the Most Visually-Engaging Poster for their presentation entitled “Effects of Visual Cues on the Safety and Participation of Persons with Dementia.” Dr. Sandra Winter and occupational therapy students Rachel Chrisien, Cailyx Jackson, Claudia Luna, Dana Mack, and Courtney Wiggins received the Soul of Occupational Therapy award for their poster presentation, “Autism and Disaster Preparedness: Promoting Preparedness and Accessibility in Shelters.

2019 Sandra Edwards Colloquium
January 26, 2019
Keynote Speaker:
Anita C. Bundy, ScD, OT/L, FAOTA, FOTARA

Save the Date for the 2019 Sandra Edwards Colloquium scheduled for January 26, 2019.  This year's theme will be Driving and Community Mobility across the Lifespan: Past, Present and Future.

We are so fortunate to have as our keynote speaker Professor Anita Bundy (pictured), Department Head in Occupational Therapy at Colorado State University and Professor of Occupational Therapy at the University of Sydney. For about 10 years, she has been involved in research to develop an off-road test to predict driving performance. Bundy and Ph.D. students experienced in driver rehabilitation, tested the psychometric properties of DriveSafe-Drive Aware (DSDA), a cognitive screen published by Pearson (Psychological Corporation). DSDA tests awareness of the driving environment and of one’s own skills as a driver. The test has two versions. One version is used by occupational therapists trained in driver assessment and rehabilitation. The second is an iPad app designed for physicians, occupational therapists and other professionals not specifically trained in driver assessment.

This annual series is funded by an endowment from Sandra Edwards and her husband Al Garcia. Sandra Edwards is a native of Gainesville, Florida, and a 1965 graduate of the UF Occupational Therapy program.

Register Now!
Excellence in Continuing Education
As an occupational therapist, you know there are a lot of options to meet continuing education requirements.  But, are you finding quality programs that help you increase competencies and give you the cutting edge education that you are looking for?

UFOT has solved this problem with its 
online CEU programThese courses are designed and taught by UFOT faculty and offer excellence in the provision of occupation and evidence-based continuing education.  Courses include:  

  More courses will be added soon, so keep checking our CEU website for more quality programs. 
Calling All UFOT Alumni!!
All UFOT Alumni!   Please let us know what you are up to.  We'd love to hear from you and learn about your adventures in Occupational Therapy!  Also, let us know when you change email addresses so we can keep you up to date on UFOT.

Our mailing address is:
University of Florida
Department of Occupational Therapy
Box 100164
Gainesville, FL  32610-0164

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