Adapting Graduate Fieldwork in Occupational Therapy due to the Pandemic

By: Dr. Winifred Schultz-Krohn

For the past 20 years a unique fieldwork (FW) opportunity has been provided for two graduate occupational therapy students at the Family Supportive Housing Homeless Shelter. Dr. Winifred Schultz-Krohn has provided pro bono occupational therapy services there for over 20 years and has served as the FW educator for the students at SJSU. The program was developed to meet the needs for family members using age related groups such as those for parents, teens, children 7 to 12 years old, children ages 4 to 6, and infant/toddler massage classes with mothers. These occupational therapy groups were designed to create support among members from different families while also supporting various family members during the stressful time of experiencing homelessness. The groups focused on various topics such as stress reduction, parent-child bonding, social skill development, financial management, work readiness, and parenting skills.

The shelter-in-place (SIP) restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic created substantial disruptions to FW opportunities for occupational therapy students. Fieldwork placements were cancelled for many SJSU occupational therapy students, as was the case nationally. Dr. Schultz-Krohn worked with the Executive Director of the shelter to preserve the FW experience and created a new plan for students to provide occupational therapy services to families at the shelter. This necessitated changing the program dramatically and focusing on supporting family engagement in meaningful occupations instead of providing group occupational therapy sessions. The revisions also included the need for extensive cleaning protocols to be developed given sessions were in-person, albeit with social distancing and mask-use, but within the same room.

The two graduate occupational therapy students displayed a high degree of flexibility and adaptability as the FW program needed to pivot to provide services to families and not through age related groups. They successfully worked with the FW educator to blend theoretical models that supported this process. A focus on meaningful family occupations was used throughout the FW experience and addressed not only the stress of being homeless but the additional stress of COVID-19 pandemic. Families responded well to the support provided along with the care to clean the room thoroughly between appointments with each family.

The students gained a valuable experience of being able to pivot during a pandemic and still provide authentic occupational therapy services. The students collaborated with the FW educator to submit a poster describing their experience to the American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference and are awaiting the results of the blinded peer review.  Many parents were able to locate employment, often part time jobs, during this stressful period of time with the support of the occupational therapy students. Stress reducing family routines were introduced and supported as a means to mitigate the deleterious effects of homelessness. Family members repeatedly thanked the students for their support and guidance during their FW experience.

The students were so kind and wrote Dr. Winifred Schultz-Krohn a letter after they had completed their fieldwork experience. They commented that they had developed a “real OT brain!” One of the case managers commented “we love having the OTs here to help our families.” It was the last week of the internship and one family commented “You always made us feel accepted and supported; you were like our extra family here.” On the last day another family repeatedly visited the OTs and said “you really cared about us, about how we were feeling.”

TVSON Inter-Departmental Collaboration for Infant Health

By: Arlene Spilker, DNP, RN, FNP-C, CNE

One never knows where an opportunity will present itself. In fact, many people say that luck is the combination of chance and preparation. Working at SJSU, and being a part of the academic community proved this for me.

Prior to working in academia, I had a long career as a registered nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). One of the essential skills for a NICU nurse is the ability to properly position premature infants for optimal growth and development. Teaching nurses this skill has been an ongoing project of mine since the mid-1990s; this interest naturally evolved into the subject of my doctoral project and continues to this day. In short, preterm infants do not attain the typical curled up, flexed fetal position because of their decreased amount of time spent in utero. It is then vital that NICU nurses provide proper boundaries and support, ensuring that the babies are helped to achieve a midline and flexed position that mimics the intrauterine environment.

Research has shown that poor positioning causes musculoskeletal deformities, and negatively impacts growth and sleep which are critical to premature infant health and development. There are many commercially made developmental positioning supplies (boundaries and support items) currently on the market to assist hospitals and guardians in taking care of their in-need babies. However, there is no infant mannequin that fits the learning needs of the nurses caring for these tiny patients; they need something with articulated limbs and the flexibility of a premature infant.  The kinesthetic skills needed for this training cannot be accomplished using dolls or stuffed animals, and I had, for years, wanted to develop a realistic articulated positioning mannequin that NICU nurses can use to practice and perfect their developmental positioning skills.  My opportunity arose about two years ago: I attended an event organized by the deans of the various colleges at SJSU. The goal of the event was to provide an opportunity for networking in the hopes that interdisciplinary collaboration would occur.  At that event, I met a biomedical engineering (BME) faculty member who introduced me to a colleague. Shortly after, these two connections began partnering undergraduate students with me on this project as part of their final coursework.

Over the last few semesters I have worked with about eight different BME students and we have made significant progress on the project: a realistic, fully articulated, fully positionable mannequin that NICU nurses can use for hands-on practice of developmental positioning skills. In order for the BME students to understand the rationale for the project, providing them with the life-saving context of the work, I had them review my doctoral work as well as many photo references and anatomical guidelines for the proper proportions and flexibility. Over time, what started as a collection of plastic parts obtained from a hardware store has evolved into a 3D printed model that looks more like a premature infant. It weighs less than two (2) pounds and is thirteen (13) inches long and is fully articulated. We are continuing to refine the model, and it will soon be ready for prototype testing with experts. I have also been in contact with the Division of Research and Innovation at SJSU and will be pursuing potential commercial possibilities for this invention/innovation.

It has been exciting to see the vision in my head become a reality because of the collaboration, expertise, and equipment available at SJSU. If anyone has an innovation or invention that they have always wanted to pursue, I highly encourage them to use the talent and resources that are available in our own backyard to make it a reality.

Nutrition and Food Science (NUFS) Student Club

By: Tannaz Vandaie and Madison Young

Club Impact
President Tannaz Vandaie and Vice President Madison Young’s goal was to make the club more inclusive of all concentrations of Nutrition and to give back to the community of students who are the driving force of the Nutrition and Food Science (NUFS) Club. Together they redesigned and streamlined the NUFS Club operations to thrive in a virtual format and worked hard to bring their goals to fruition. This restructuring included providing inclusive opportunities for all students in the Nutrition, Food Science, and Packaging (NUFSPKG) department concentrations and revising the membership format enabling the club to make monthly donations to community-based non-profit organizations. Other modifications included hosting guest speakers from diverse fields, providing educational workshops, access to virtual conferences, and community service opportunities to students. The revision of the club format and its benefits to students resulted in a record number of members. Here’s what they have to say about the NUFS Club:

  • “Not only has the NUFS Club assisted me with academic opportunities, but also with amazing connections and friendships. The NUFS Club provides so much insight and opportunities in the nutrition field which is extremely helpful. As a member, I would say the NUFS Club is one of the most outstanding, informative, and supportive clubs I have joined.”  – Winnie Liao, Nutritional Science/Applied Nutrition & Food Science
  • “Through the event that featured Ellice Ogle from Tandem Foods, I was granted access to attend the Cultured Meat Symposium 2020. I was able to attend the presentations and listen to experts in the field share their discoveries and information regarding cultivated meat products.” – Phillip Nguyen, Nutritional Science/Applied Nutrition & Food Science

Outreach Work
A primary focus for the NUFS club this past year has been to increase community involvement. Tannaz, Club President, facilitated a virtual food drive for Second Harvest Food Bank to help decrease food insecurity in the community during a challenging time. She recruited club members to help increase awareness and together with the NUFS Club officers raised $920. This provided a total of 1840 meals to local food insecure individuals and families. Additionally, through the restructuring of the NUFS club membership and making a commitment of donating 15% of all proceeds, they have donated $290 to two local nutrition assistance organizations, Community Seva Inc. and the Alameda County Community Food Bank.

Hannah Kodur, the Professional Development Coordinator, was responsible for facilitating the various events hosted by the club. Speakers included Dr. Maya Warren, an Ice Cream Scientist who worked as the Senior Director of the International Development and Research and is an Amazing Race winner. The club also hosted Kevin O’Connor, the Executive Chef at Google, who manages all eateries at six Google campuses and advocates zero-waste cooking and business practices. Ellice Ogle, CEO of Tandem Foods LLC, was also hosted to share her expertise in food science, safety, quality control, and product development. A variety of registered dietitians have also been featured including those in academia, with private practices, and a military clinical dietitian.

Hannah also organized workshops to provide students with opportunities to develop their skills to guide their professional growth. Topics included Tips For Navigating Online Learning and Professionalism. Both club members and officers worked together to create a positive learning experience for NUFSPKG department students.

Professional Partnerships
This semester, the NUFS Club reestablished a partnership with the Silicon Valley District of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) to provide students opportunities for professional growth and networking. The NUFS Club is currently in the process of becoming a recognized student chapter under the Institute of Food Technology (IFT) in order to provide more opportunities to members. For the first time, the NUFS Club will be representing the SJSU NUFSPKG Department at the annual Northern California IFT virtual Holiday Happy Hour.

You can learn more about the NUFS Club and upcoming projects, events, or join as a member on their website: Check out the club on Instagram for more information as well: @sjsu_nufs_club

Kinesiology Faculty Member Host the 49th NAPEC Online

By: Dr. Erin Siebert and Dr. Jihyun Lee

Dr. Erin Siebert (Conference Director) and Dr. Jihyun Lee (Program Director) from the Department of Kinesiology hosted the 49th National Adapted Physical Education Conference (NAPEC) online on November 13-14, 2020. The conference was marketed on various social media platforms as #NAPEC49online. This annual conference is presented by the California Alliance of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (CAHPERD) and in coordination with the State Council on Adapted Physical Education (SCAPE). With the theme of “the Ripples of Our Impact,” this conference well represented the overarching emphasis on resilience. It was the first ever virtual conference since the organizations started hosting an annual conference back in 1971, originally called the National Conference on Physical Activity for the Exceptional Individual. Hosting a national conference takes a great deal of planning, energy, and work. However, administering the conference via a virtual platform for the first time during COVID-19 added a unique challenge.

Both Dr. Siebert and Dr. Lee responded well and were able to provide a most successful conference with over 300 attendees including a diverse group of presenters from across the country. Attendance at the conference exceeded the in-person attendance estimates they had originally been planning for, roughly 250 attendees. Presenters and attendees were adapted physical education (APE) teachers, physical education (PE) teachers, higher education professionals teaching adapted physical activity, APE and PE courses, as well as undergraduate and graduate students studying in the field. Many of the presentations at the conference provided information to attendees regarding how to teach APE at the university level as well as to children with disabilities in the public schools through online and various virtual platforms and legal issues regarding APE/PE remote learning. Also, many presentations showed the resilience of APE/PE professionals during these difficult times. For example, APE specialists in the Butte County Office of Education, which was selected as the NAPEC 2020 Program of the Year, presented some of their stories coming out of wildfire disasters in 2019, including how they continued APE services and helped children cope with the challenges they were facing even when the teachers themselves were dealing with the same situation. All presentations provided timely and valuable information to help those in the field continue to support children with disabilities and their families through quality APE/PE services during these challenging times.

Drs. Siebert and Lee utilized Zoom, YouTube, Adobe, and Google Workspace to make this conference possible. All sessions, keynote presentations, meetings, and socials were held via Zoom meetings and webinars. These sessions played recorded presentations held on the newly created NAPEC SCAPE YouTube channel. This was then followed by a live question and answer session moderated by two co-hosts. There was a break between each session where a countdown video played providing attendees with conference announcements, photos from previous conferences, and a save the date for next year’s 50th anniversary conference.

Zoom meetings were scheduled as rooms so that conference attendees could move from session to session much like they would at an in-person conference. This allowed for greater flexibility in the attendees’ schedule and the ability to view multiple presentations scheduled at the same time. Conference registration fees for attendees were kept to a minimum so that the information could be accessible to as many professionals and future professionals as possible given budget and travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19. What was even better was that after the conclusion of the conference, all of the recorded sessions were made publicly available on the YouTube channel to allow attendees and others not in attendance (e.g., parents of individuals with disabilities, special education teachers and directors, other APE professionals, etc.) to view and review any of the sessions.

Drs. Siebert and Lee received many positive feedback comments from conference attendees such as, “…I truly enjoyed the virtual conference experience! I was able to understand more with doing the virtual conference instead of in person conference due to my hearing impairment and with the use of subtitles/closed captioning has been so helpful! Thanks so much for the information and am looking forward to more future conferences!”, as well as from presenters who shared, “…that it isn’t an easy task – especially for you guys who had to be the pioneers for a virtual NAPEC. Well done, ladies! I am grateful to you for all you have done and will continue to do going forward.” Colleagues in the field of higher education said “I can certainly appreciate all the hard work that goes into administering the NAPEC, having attended the conference every year since 1988 and being responsible for helping to administer the conference on three separate occasions… I strongly believe that Dr. Siebert and Dr. Lee are the type of professionals who throughout their careers will remain committed to excellence and will continue to make strides toward contributing to the profession. They both represent the APE profession and San Jose (State University) well.”

Drs. Siebert and Lee would like to extend a special thank you to all the conference volunteers, moderators, presenters and attendees who put in the extra work to make this first ever-virtual conference not only possible but also a huge success.

SJSU Shield Up Campaign

By: Dr. Ni (Jennie) Zhang and Shield Up Team

Virtual learning may take students out of the physical setting of campus, but students, faculty and staff are the foundation of what makes a campus community. Since March, San José State University (SJSU) staff and students have worked diligently to create a respectful and cooperative environment. The transition was difficult for many, but unity and perseverance prevailed. It seems easy to be disheartened in these dark and difficult times, but that is why it is crucial to keep encouraging one another. To help inspire this spirit of positivity, a new campaign was introduced―one which not only aims to educate the SJSU student body about COVID-19, but also aspires to support students, build community between one another, and provide various health resources to reinforce support. SJSU’s Shield Up health communication campaign has been hard at work to accomplish all of these goals.

Funded by the Provost’s Office and supported by the Department of Public Health and Recreation, the Shield Up Campaign is a student-centered health communication campaign, designed by Assistant Professor Dr. Ni (Jennie) Zhang from the Department of Public Health and Recreation and a group of public health students, Pranuthi Pagidipati, Jasmine Thai, Hsin Yi Tseng, Sarah Ahmed, Huda Assaf, and Nikita Madan (see below in the picture). As a sub-brand of SJSU Adapt, this student-led campaign has taken up the initiative to invigorate students and build a virtual community with fellow peers. Through social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, the campaign hosts a variety of interactive activities to keep up student engagement, including polls, contests and giveaways. The goal is to foster a positive environment while ensuring that there is a steady flow of information and resources available regarding COVID-19 for students. Shield Up also features a variety of SJSU’s own students’ creative artwork and digital storytelling to inspire the best in others, and motivate students to continue following CDC guidelines and safety precautions.

There has never been more of a need for positivity as there is now. In the midst of this pandemic, there is no difference between one person and another, which is what Shield Up works to demonstrate while promoting the university’s overall goal of establishing unity. The virus affects everyone in one way or another. The general academic anxiety, coupled with the consequences of COVID-19 seems almost impossible to bear, and no one should have to suffer through it alone. For that very reason, Shield Up works day and night to assure that students on and off campus feel a sense of community and solidarity when they log on to our profile. The team encourages positivity on a day-to-day basis, practices cultural humility, and values the diversity of students that we encounter online.

This year, Shield Up has been proud to announce its acceptance into the Symposium for Undergraduate Research at UC Santa Cruz (SURU), a special event held for students from diverse disciplines to celebrate and share their research and achievements. With this opportunity to present at SURU, Shield Up has had the honor to represent and reflect the academic and winning spirit of San Jose State University. And so, Shield Up held true to the campus spirit and brought home the first place award for San Jose State at this year’s symposium. It is hoped that this joy is shared with the whole campus community and that it will bring a note of encouragement as the semester closes.

There is no doubt that SJSU students are resilient. This year has been marked with hardship and, as the world faces the greatest challenge yet, San José State University will come out strong as always.

Please reach out to us:
Instagram: @shieldupsjsu
Twitter: @shieldupsjsu
Facebook: @shieldupsjsu