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OT Student Wants to Make a Difference in Patients' Lives
Madison Duran
Firth, NE
Occupational Therapy Doctorate

Madison Duran’s first exposure to occupational therapy was a life-changing experience. Her grandmother had cancer.

“During that traumatic and sad time, the therapists made a difference in her life and for us as a family,” Madison said. “They focused on the specific needs of my grandma and each family member. They brought what was important to her into the treatment session. The focus on her goals was collaborative. Having that approach to a profession is really what drew me to occupational therapy.”

Madison, a Norris High School graduate, transferred to College of Saint Mary and entered the occupational therapy doctorate accelerated pathway, which allows undergraduate students to earn a bachelor’s degree in three years while retaining a spot in the OTD program.

CSM’s OTD program focuses on developing clinical practice skills, administration, leadership, program development, advocacy, and education. In addition, students must complete two 12-week fieldwork experiences along with a 14-week doctoral experience that culminates in a scholarly project.

Madison, a member of the Class of 2025, started her OT classes in the fall of 2022.

“All of the faculty members were very supportive of our transition into the graduate program,” she said. “We were given tips for success. They understood the workload was a lot more, and the classes were more intense, but they were also a lot more fun because they were geared toward what we wanted to do.”

Because they have similar goals, Madison said she has enjoyed interacting with her classmates. She’s also had a positive experience with her professors.

“I’ve never had a group more interactive with us and more supportive of us, not only within our lives at school but also in our personal lives,” Madison said. “The open-door policy is great because any time they are not in a meeting or working on something, their door is open and we’re welcome in at any time whether you have a meeting scheduled or not.”

As she prepares for her fieldwork in June, Madison is still undecided on a specialty.

“I’m interested in every single area. I thought my classes would help me narrow down what I wanted to do, but I really love everything,” she said. “I’ve looked at working in pediatrics, but I’ve also looked at working with older adults because of my grandma. I’ve seen a lot of occupational therapy in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. I feel like it’s fun for them to have a young spirit come in and brighten their day. I really want to be that difference for somebody.”