Danielle Williams is always looking for her next adventure.
For the final piece of her occupational therapy degree, she wanted to blend school with culture.
“I really enjoy Eastern cultures. I had been to Europe, Jordan and India in the past, through mission trips and traveling,” she said. “Every time I’ve gone and interacted with people, I’ve loved it.”
Williams asked her professors: How about doing a Fieldwork rotation in India?
“It was never done before in the history of our young program,” Williams said. “We were only about three years old at the time.”
How is occupational therapy done in India?
Using her past connections, Williams found a pediatric clinic – SOCH Mom’s Belief – in the Delhi area.
For three months, she shadowed the clinic’s occupational therapists and helped local children.
Occupational therapists help people with mental or physical limits adapt to daily life and enjoy the things that matter to them.
In Fieldwork, future occupational therapists gain the experience and skills they’ll need to work on their own.
“I just remember all the kids, them having fun and seeing their clinic. They didn’t have as many resources as the clinics that I had been to here in America… but they had enough,” Williams said. “And they made do with what they had.
“It definitely challenged me to think, ‘I don’t have this endless number of resources, so what resources do I have and how can use those to create a session or activity?’”
In her down time, Williams explored the area and visited the Taj Mahal.
“I loved that everything I learned here in America about occupational therapy I could apply in India. The culture and family structure were different, but the needs and the things that I would work on with the kid were the same – handwriting, sensory challenges, diagnosis.”
“Dr. Chakraborty’s from India and she was so excited when I told her I wanted to go over there,” Williams said. “I know the department wants to send more students abroad, whether it’s a short-term summer trip or what I had.
“I couldn’t have done it by myself. Everyone was super supportive all the way through. They were cheering me on from the start and the people who helped me in India were a big part of this process as well. I owe it all to them.”
Loving her profession
Graduates of Missouri State’s occupational therapy program have a 100% employment rate within six months.
Williams graduated in fall 2019 and now works at Motor Monkeys, a pediatric clinic in Bolivar, Mo.
As an Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR), Williams provides weekly therapy sessions for nearly 30 children with varying needs.
“A huge component is to make it client-centered,” she said. “If the child wants to work on something, what does he or she want to work on? If the parents have major concerns, that’s also a top priority whenever I create a care plan.”
Long term, Williams wants to remain in pediatric care – perhaps in a different country.
“I’d love to do some kind of medical mission,” Williams said.
Not too long ago, she planned to become a doctor.
“The further I got into that process, the more I realized I wanted more consistency and relationship building through health care,” she said. “I started looking into graduate programs and talking to people and discovered occupational therapy, which was the perfect match for me.
“I love the functionality of occupational therapy. It tries to increase your life quality and independence and meaning. As I got into to the pediatric side, I was just astonished at how much I enjoyed the creativity of it and the hope it offers.”