Melissa Smith, occupational therapy assistant (OTA) instructor and academic fieldwork coordinator, was appointed to the Kansas Occupational Therapist Council of the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts (KSBHA).
In her new position, Smith will determine applicants who successfully pass their boards, adopt rules and regulations to administer and represent all occupational therapists (OT) and OTAs in the state of Kansas.
She said she is excited to represent a profession she loves while working to ensure that all OTs and OTAs follow the guidelines.
“If I can make a difference for future OTs by speaking up and advocating on our behalf, that would make me proud.”
She also hopes to educate fellow board members about OT and help ensure that it will be around for a long time.
Smith has worked as an OT for 33 years; “I have loved minute of it,” she said.
She has worked in rehabilitation, acute care, pediatrics, hand therapy, ergonomics, home health and now teaching.
She was approached by a former Newman University OTA director after giving a presentation eight years ago. He asked her if she’d be interested in adjunct teaching and she was thrilled.
Eventually, there was an opening in the program for a full-time academic fieldwork coordinator and Smith was offered the position.
“I could not be happier to be here at this great university challenging my students to be the best therapists they can be and go out and transform society.”
Smith enjoys sharing her passion and knowledge for OT with her students.
“They really have no idea when they enter the program how many lives they will improve and what a blessing they will be to so many of their patients. I also really enjoy the part of my job that allows me to travel to see the facilities that take our students. It is important to thank the OTs and OTAs that take the time to help mold our students and get them ready to practice in the real world. I am constantly amazed and grateful for the support I receive from our educators in the field.”