Where Did You Receive Your OT Training?
I was doing some cleaning and organizing and stumbled upon a few of my old college textbooks. I started thinking about some of my occupational therapy classes at the University of Illinois at Chicago
in the mid-1970s, and about my professors there. I clearly remember Miss Beatrice Wade, the Grande Dame of the program. She seemed at least a million years old, but thanks to an Internet search, I discovered that when I was at UIC she was in her seventies, not at all old from where I sit right now.
I don't remember having Miss Wade as an instructor for any of my classes; she may have already been Professor Emeritus by then. I was terrified of making any wrong turn in Miss Wade's presence so it is ironic that one morning while rushing to class, I sped around a hallway and knocked right into Miss Wade. At that moment, I felt diminished into a naughty little three year old child.
Curious about Miss Wade, I looked online to learn more about her. She lived from 1903 to December 1994 and had been born in Iowa. She began an occupational therapy career in 1924. In 1931, she was the Illinois consultant to the State Department of Mental Health. In 1940, she relocated to Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti to start an OT Program there. In 1943, she came to Chicago to develop the OT curriculum at UI. I know that Miss Wade was considered one of the founding mothers of our profession, and I somehow had the idea that UI had the first occupational therapy program. But I discovered otherwise.
Wondering where the first OT school in the US existed, I again looked online, and nothing jumped out at me. So I started searching with key words "history of occupational therapy in..." and plugged in the names of some states, first Illinois, then Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. According to their web site, Washington University in St. Louis was the first program west of the Mississippi, starting back in 1918, after World War I, when the profession was really starting to be taken seriously. By the time I got to OT school at UI in the 1970s, there were about forty accredited universities offering bachelor's degrees in OT.
I chose to attend University of Illinois because I could get in-state tuition; a very large percentage of my high school class of approximately six hundred students, went to UI also. As for becoming an OT, it was simply by some strange quirk of fate, a chance meeting with an occupational therapist, that I stumbled into the program, which turned out to be a wonderful career path for me.
Now I‘m curious and want to hear from readers how they chose to become OTs and what were there reasons for selecting the university where they OT degree. I hope that you will take this as a genuine and sincere invitation to share your comments to this post.