Tracy Van Oss, DHSc, OTR/L, SCEM
Philosophical Statement and Executive Summary
"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."
- John Quincy Adams
DHSc (Doctor of Health Science), Nova Southeastern University (2008); Master of Public Health, Southern Connecticut State University (2000); Certificate in Occupational Therapy, Quinnipiac University (1995); BS, Corporate Communications, Southern Connecticut State University (1991).
Associate Clinical Professor of Occupational Therapy (2012–present) and various teaching positions (full time since 2005, part-time since 1998), Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT; President, Classic Care, North Haven, 2006–present;
Home Care Occupational Therapist, VNA Community Healthcare, Guilford/Hamden (2009–present) and Masonicare Visiting Nurse Association, Wallingford (2005–present);
Occupational Therapist Level 2, Yale New Haven Hospital, New Haven (1996–2005;per diem until 2015).
My philosophy of teaching is to be an inspirational faculty member to teach and advise students how to think and apply themselves in preparation for professional and personal growth over time. My role as a faculty member is essential to create productive leaders in life and in the occupational therapy profession. I have been successful in building leadership qualities and aim for students to do the same by modeling involvement in local, state, national and global organizations. I feel it is my responsibility to foster student learning using teaching methods that promote critical thinking, student engagement, and reflection. I believe our role, as faculty, is critical to set the stage for students to embark on a life-long journey of learning and skillfully mastering life’s chosen field in our global community.
My journey in higher education continues to be exhilarating. I seek opportunities to continue my professional growth and take on new challenges to further develop my leadership skills. I strive to create experiences for students to learn in both traditional and non-traditional settings to practice various future professional proficiencies as well as life long skills. I seek learning opportunities in service and scholarship to include student involvement to enhance learning and student success in the areas of teaching and learning, unintentional injury prevention as it relates to environmental modification and global health issues.
Education and Professional Background/ Professional Development:
I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Corporate Communications, a certificate in Occupational Therapy, a Master in Public Health (MPH) degree with a focus on community health, and a Doctor of Health Science (DHSc). The accomplishment of educational achievement illustrates to students my belief on the importance of higher education. I maintain professional certification and licensure and maintain currency in the field as evident with upholding a current NBCOT certification. I also maintain a current State of Connecticut license, and have been an ongoing member of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) since 1994.
I passed a national exam to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) in 2000. I also earned a specialization as a Certified as an Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) from the National Association of Home Builders in 2004. I am able to maintain these specialty certifications with continuing education requirements. I completed the requirements to obtain a Specialty Certification in Environmental Modification (SCEM) from the AOTA which, to date, has been earned by only 1% of the occupational therapists in the nation. I continue to work as a reviewer on the SCEM committee for AOTA since 2012. In 2014, I took courses to complete a certificate at the Social Marketing Training Academy. I also completed 6 courses from the Experiential Education Academy to earn a certificate from the National Society of Experiential Education. These specialty certifications help reinforce to students the positive outcome of ongoing work toward personal and professional goals.
I have been working as a part time faculty member at Quinnipiac University since 1998 and was invited to be a full time visiting assistant professor from 2005-2008. I moved to an administrative role as a clinical coordinator for a year before beginning my role as an assistant clinical professor in and since promoted to associate clinical professor. I added a new title of Academic Coordinator to a now full time position in July 2016. To date, I continue my clinical work in home care and environmental modification. I previously worked in acute care as a level II therapist on the trauma, medicine, cardiac, pediatric and neurology rotations. My collective experiences have blended into my professional roles as an occupational therapist, health educator and a higher education faculty member.
My professional development continues to have a continuous thread over time. I have attended numerous workshops and lectures on areas related to my role as an occupational therapist, health educator and a higher education faculty member. I have committed to continue my studies on three threads: home and community health, wellness and prevention on a global scale, and environmental modification. This will enable me to gain depth and advance my area of expertise to share with students in various coursework or experiential education opportunities.
I plan to continue working toward making the occupational therapy profession widely recognized at each professional development opportunity I encounter. I will continue my philosophy of leading occupational therapy students and professionals toward ongoing growth and leadership of the profession. I have and will continue to invite and mentor students and alumni to present alongside me. I support student engagement and have mentored students and alumni to present at various venues including: the AOTA annual conference (4/15); the Connecticut Occupational Therapy Association (3/16 & 10/14); the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Barcelona, Spain (11/15); and the Barbados Diabetes Center 2nd Annual Multidisciplinary conference (6/16). I feel giving such an opportunity can propel students to become leaders in life and the profession of occupational therapy. In addition, I am certain to educate persons from various disciplines on the role of occupational therapy while networking at interprofessional conferences and community events. The value of representing the occupational therapy profession in an array of settings can continue to heighten the awareness and value of our profession with individual clients, populations, and communities.
I have had the opportunity to teach at various student levels. I continue to teach three Interprofessional Community-Based Service Learning courses with faculty from physical therapy and athletic training. These courses are now available for the medical students to complete as a “selective” and have been successful for students across various disciplines to learn with, by and from each other while providing meaningful service in the local community. Next, I developed and led an international Interprofessional Community-Based Service Learning course in Barbados. Collaborating with persons in health related areas on the island of Barbados has been ongoing since September 2014. I was able to secure four fieldwork level I sites for three occupational therapy students in January 2016. In addition, I was able to complete a capstone project with the Diabetes Center in Barbados and continue to build networks for sustainable relationships for our students to learn viable life skills in a global society.
I am the coordinator of the senior year evaluation and intervention course sequence with coinciding labs. This has enabled me to improve continuity and depth within the courses. I have developed a student lab manual for the now combined OT 420L and OT 421L to include a variety of teaching methods to match course objectives including learning experiences in the SIM lab and incorporation of the standardized patient to enhance student engagement. I continue to update assignments to connect practice, theory, and evidence based practice. This approach has facilitated the developmental hierarchy to increase the difficulty of content to ensure clinical application and competency.
My personal philosophy of teaching aligns with the occupational therapy department’s curriculum design. Developmentally, a strong foundation must be set prior to incremental learning of the necessary content and skill sets required to become an occupational therapist. I was a freshman advisor highlighting the learning paradigm to incorporate students’ vision and goals toward education. It is essential to engage students to think and experience hands-on for clinical competence to promote critical thinking in a changing health care environment. When advising freshman and now sophomores, I emphasize the importance of being an active learner; being part of the QU community by getting involved in co-curricular activities/clubs, and taking risks to learn new things and meet new people. I was able to do the same mentoring with my freshman students in the FYS course in the Fall of 2015.
My teaching evaluations have met the standard for a promotion to a full clinical professor. I appreciate the student feedback and have worked toward increasing clarity in my rate of delivery by asking for any questions prior to and at the end of each class. I have incorporated meaningful experiences for students to actively participate in learning experiences in the classroom. I have added the use of grading rubrics for assignments to add clarity for optimal student understanding. I have and will continue to use techniques learned from professional development to increase student engagement and participation and share this with junior faculty. I will continue to incorporate student feedback as I find this most helpful as the generations of students evolve.
The occupational therapy department embraces the Boyer Model of professional endeavors. Although scholarship is not required for a clinical faculty I believe it is an important part of my commitment as a faculty member to be a role model for students and as an occupational therapist to facilitate moving the profession forward. I have publications in the Journal of Experiential Education, AOTA’s Work Special Interest Section Quarterly and my first book chapter in “Occupational Therapy Interventions: Function and Occupations.”
In addition to publications I have a continuous record of accepted proposal to present at local, state and national and international peer reviewed conferences. In October 2014, I invited two alumni to speak at the ConnOTA conference on Documenting in the 21st Century for Productive Aging. I invited an alumni and a current student to present with me at the AOTA annual conference (4/15); the Connecticut Occupational Therapy Association (3/16); the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Barcelona, Spain (11/15); and the Barbados Diabetes Center 2nd Annual Multidisciplinary conference (6/16). Collaboration with various talented faculty in other disciplines from QU allowed successful proposals for presentations at: the New England Faculty Development Consortium (11/14 & 5/15); Student leadership conference at QU (2/15); National Academy of Practice (4/15); and the 13th Summer Conference Innovative Pedagogy & Course Redesign (5/15). These interprofessional experiences have led me to value varied audiences and methods of educational delivery. Working alongside occupational therapy colleagues is always a professional honor (AOTA 4/15 & 4/16). I was able to present the work on the development of a bathroom assessment at the AOTA specialty conference: Improving Health & Participation of Older Adults (12/14). The highlight of my professional career was presenting at the United Nations at the Commission on the Status of Women on the topic of occupational therapy (3/16). The presentations/posters, and publications align with the Boyer Model Scholarship of Application.
In 2015, I was awarded a sabbatical for the spring semester. During this time, I was able to network to gain an in depth understanding of how service learning course are developed and executed in various universities. It became clear there are parallel challenges to recruit faculty to develop service learning courses. I was able to recruit and teach my first international interprofessional service learning course in June 2014. This led me to continue my work with the support of a Quinnipiac SHS summer grant in 2015 to develop an Interprofessional Service Learning Academy. I was able to enroll twenty students from the various health profession schools to work alongside one another on a virtual project for a community led project. The lesson learned from this pilot project has prepared me for the next phase of developing an interprofessional hybrid service learning course with plans to implement in 2017.
Contribution to the University, School, Department
I co-chair the Committee on Service and Service Learning for which I share responsibilities of running meetings and collaborating with persons across the University in developing and delivering service learning courses locally and abroad. Each Spring, there is a venue for students to be celebrated and highlight service courses and work. Service learning certificates and essay winner recipients share in the celebration that is newly combined with the Interprofessional Poster Day.
I was invited to be a member of the Albert Schweitzer Institute advisory board in August 2014. Since that time, I have been involved in a working group for education at the United Nations and have met with the UN Ambassador for Costa Rica to begin networking toward uniting with occupational therapy practitioners in that country. In addition, this position has led to meeting with Nobel Laureates who have an interest in future collaborations with OT.
I was chair of the Interprofessional Simulation Learning and Assessment Committee Standardized until my sabbatical in 2015 and continue as a member. In the past three years this committee has completed simulation projects with the inclusion of students and/or community members in each learning experience including Fall Prevention Awareness Day and Josh’s Journey. The work on this committee has been stimulating and I look forward to continued work and development with this group. To complement this committee work, I am also a member of the SHS Electronic Medical Records, Simulation and Standardized Patients committee since 2013. We have been working toward the development of interprofessional cases and equipment needs to be shared by all departments in the SHS.
I serve as a member of the SHS IMaGinE committee since 2013 and have been the SHS representative since 2015. I am also been a member of the Interprofessional Education committee (2011-present). I have been involved in the development of interprofessional case studies for the IPE Center on the topics of diabetes and concussions with colleagues in the SHS. I was a facilitator for the IPE case team challenge with a guest and his family from the community sharing their challenges of living with a chronic illness and seeking creative solutions from an interprofessional student group. All of these experiences were enlightening and educational and led me to involvement in the IPE “Hotspotter” grant project. I enjoy working with other departments with the goal of strengthening our QU community and creating health care professionals who will truly understand the importance of teamwork.
Within the department of occupational therapy, I am now in a new role as of July 2016 of the Academic Coordinator. I have completed fieldwork site visits and coordinated various tasks with the leadership form our department and look forward to learning more in this new role.
Contribution to the Profession
I am an active participant involved at the local, state national and international level in the area of occupational therapy. I was the elected Home and Community Health Special Interest Section (HCHSIS) Chairperson from 2012-2015 for AOTA. I have been actively involved with this committee since 2006 and have contributed to numerous projects related to environmental modification and home health. I am a member of the World Federation of Occupational Therapy since 2015. I continue to remain in a leadership role with ConnOTA as the Productive Aging Special Interest Section Chair. This past year we were able to secure an AOTA board of director to present a webinar on environmental modifications for our local members.
Contribution to the Community
I am visible in various community organizations promoting the value of occupational therapy. I am on the Board of Directors at the Columbus House in New Haven, as well as, the advisory committee for the CT Area Health education Center (AHEC) since 2016. I am also the co-coordinator of the Community of Engagement Professionals network for CT Campus Compact since 2015. I serve on each as a faculty member at Quinnipiac University and in my role as an occupational therapy practitioner. I am a past board member and now member of the Connecticut Public Health Association. I continue to share the important role occupational therapy can have to impact the health and wellness of communities and populations.
I have been able to consistently achieve my professional goals and continue to work toward excellence in the areas of teaching, service, professional development and student engagement. I am passionate to teach students to become entry-level general practitioners and future leaders of the profession. I will continue to mentor, role model and teach others the value of occupational therapy. I have demonstrated continuous service with participation on committees at the University, the profession of occupational therapy and the field of public health. It is essential to engage students to think and experience hands-on for clinical competence and to promote critical thinking in today’s health care environment. I have a commitment to promoting and communicating the distinct value of occupational therapy in the areas of home and community health, wellness and prevention on a global scale, and environmental modification. I have and will continue to incorporate students into: grant projects; community programs; local, state and national and global presentations; and publications. These opportunities can allow students to develop confidence and professional identity and ultimately foster future leaders to strengthen the occupational therapy profession for years to come.