CPERL bids farewell to it’s next OTD graduate – Andrea Gurga – who successfully defended her OTD project and was recruited by community partner for this project, Blue Bird Day, to work as an occupational therapist in their early childhood program. Andrea has had experience collaborating with Blue Bird Day during initial PEM+ feasibility and usability testing, as well as for her doctoral project that focused on visually optimizing the report functions that display the results of the PEM assessment and PEM+ care planning intervention. The PEM was recently adopted into the clinical workflow at Blue Bird Day, and the PEM+ is under development for their future use.

Andrea shares:

“Parting is such sweet sorrow” – These words hold so very true of my experience in CPERL. I am honored to have been a member of this amazing team and have had the opportunity to work, learn, and  grow with them.  Dr. Khetani and CPERL have helped me to shape how I see myself as a research-informed clinician, ever-aware of the power of collaboration between academia and practice. I have gained a strong understanding of the importance of family-centered, participation-focused (re)habilitative care and the immense effort that goes into its conduction. From researchers developing participation-focused tools, healthcare organizations and their providers interacting with these tools, to the families empowered to use them to capture and share their perspective – it truly takes a village to advance pediatric care.

I’ve had opportunities to contribute to work on an AOTF-funded project to test the usability and feasibility of PEM+ and contribute to its further development by means of my doctoral project.  The progress that I have witnessed in both myself, these tools, and the relationships we have worked so hard to build with our community partners is awe-inspiring, humbling, and worthy of immense pride. It is this feeling I will take with me as I embark on my journey forward as a research-informed clinician, forever changed by this experience.”

Mary shares:

“Andrea joined CPERL in 2016, shortly after completing an elective course I taught for the first time. She had a clear vision to advance pediatric processes of care through the uptake of tools into clinical workflows that strengthen family-centered and participation focused care. Since beginning in our lab, Andrea has been an understated force in our lab – she is not one to draw attention to herself, so we got in the habit of watching closely so as not to miss out on something amazing she had done or discovered, whether following up with a parent enrolled in our PEM+ trial, analyzing gobs of data on caregiver strategies, or polishing a manuscript prior to resubmission. Her capstone project reflects her immense growth as a research engaged practitioner. She cared enough to gain a strong foundation for her project and then grew in being decisive to advance her project as designed. She did whatever it took to get her project done right, when there were many opportunities to scale back to just get it done. Andrea has moved mountains to complete her ambitious program of study and has inspired us, through word and action, to never settle. We are excited by her choice to join the progressive team at Blue Bird Day, where she will be supported to advance her vision with individual families and within her innovative organization, and look forward to continued collaboration.”

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