OT students host annual SOTA conference

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The SVSU Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) held its annual SOTA Conference on Friday, April 6, in Curtiss Hall and the TSAR.

The conference has been held ever since the beginning of the occupational therapy program at SVSU and brings together students, professionals and guest speakers who have been impacted by occupational therapy in order to highlight the profession.

Approximately 300 people were in attendance, including 75 clinicians and a number of Grand Valley occupational therapy students as well.

The conference is nearly a nine-month long build up that is completely organized by the SOTA board with the help of the SOTA members. A speaker committee is responsible for recruiting speakers to the event who are experts in their respective fields.

The keynote speaker for this year’s conference was Jordyn Funk, a licensed occupational therapist who spoke on the importance of an interdisciplinary team and was joined by Travis Killingsworth, one of Funk’s patients. Funk related her speech to Killingsworth’s experience and the importance of an interdisciplinary team in his recovery.

This was Killingsworth’s first public speaking performance, in which he spoke about his personal journey with Funk at the Recovery Project, an outpatient rehabilitation clinic.

During the keynote presentation the, TSAR was standing room only.

“I really loved incorporating Travis into the speech; we’ve been excited about this for months,” Funk said. “It was a lot of preparation to get ready for the speech, but I feel as if he did a great job despite the challenges.”

Funk spoke on Killingsworth’s long road to recovery and the impact he has made on those around him. She also discussed the importance of utilizing an interdisciplinary approach in order to treat the patient’s needs effectively.

“I like to look at patients before their injury to let me know this is a person who wants to return to their normal lives,” Funk said. “I hope (Killingsworth’s experience) inspired future therapists to not give up on their patients no matter what the circumstances is.”

Following the keynote speaker, graduate research poster presentations and occupation-based kits were presented.

Research poster presentations marked the summit of two years worth of research on an occupational therapy based topic for the graduate students. Attendees were able to walk around and look at the culmination of all of the student’s work while also connecting with those who were presenting.

“I’m most excited for the opportunity for all of the Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy students to connect with local clinicians,” said Alex Smith, the SOTA president and a second-year MSOT student. “They are not only able to build communication for future jobs, but they are also able to take in a vast amount of knowledge.”

A variety of other speakers helped to contribute to the event, with four speakers allotted to each break out session, creating a number of options for attendees to go to. A popular option at the conference was a presentation on human trafficking by Michigan State Police trooper Will Smith. The presentation was good for a human trafficking training credit, and attending the event was also beneficial for clinicians to receive continuing education credits.

“I think the conference helped to set apart SVSU’s occupational therapy department in the eyes of clinicians,” Smith said. “It has been a long process to organize the conference, but it is more than worth it.”

Over 100 volunteers, primarily composed of SOTA members, contributed to making the conference possible. After the speakers completed their presentations, silent auction winners were announced, and an MSOT alumni reception took place in the Alumni Lounge.