A Global Perspective on Occupational Therapy

WILMINGTON - What did you do this summer? If you ask that question to Heidi Baist, OTD, MEd, OTR/L, an Academic Clinical Coordinator of Education for the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Delaware Tech, she would have a surprising answer.

Baist spent part of her summer working in Africa to conduct occupational therapy (OT) field work in an impoverished area of Kenya. Traveling with Master’s students from Chatham University, Baist supervised a pediatric-based OT clinic at Hekima Place, a children’s home. The group provided OT services to the children there, as well as other community service such as assisting with chores and providing education support.

The group also worked with KOTA – the Kenya Occupational Therapists’ Association – to help the struggling young African OT profession with resources and ideas for growth. With only one school in the country with an OT diploma program, there is difficulty recruiting faculty and retaining therapists. A bachelor’s program is being developed online, but there is much work to be done.

Baist said the experience was eye-opening for her and she hopes to bring a new perspective to teaching her Occupational Therapy Assistant students at Delaware Tech. “I would like to see how I can challenge my students to become involved with OT in Kenya,” she says. “It would be great to take our students there so they can see first-hand what it is like there, and how lucky we are to be practicing OT here.”