Inquire Now

OT Graduate Student Finds ‘Wonderful Way of Learning’ at CSM
Michelle Davidson
Omaha, NE
Occupational Therapy Doctorate

As Michelle Davidson, a graduate student at College of Saint Mary, was developing her capstone project, she decided to draw on her own experience: ice skating.

Michelle planned Skating Away Stress: A Mental Health Program for Adolescents. The capstone project is the last requirement before earning her doctorate in occupational therapy.

“Overwhelming evidence shows that physical activity is great for mental health,” said Michelle, who ice skated as a child. “With adolescents, it’s such an important time for social-emotional development, so I wanted to target that area specifically.”

The interactive group ice skating program, open to children ages 10-18, was scheduled for several days in March at Grover Ice Rink. It was a therapeutic and leisurely way to promote positive mental health through engaging in physical and various mental health activities. Michelle will use research and all information gathered during the program in her final presentation.

Michelle, an Omaha native, enrolled in CSM’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program after earning her undergraduate degree in biology from Wayne State College.

“I wanted to stay close to home,” she said. “I heard great things about CSM before coming here. I was excited.”

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

Michelle completed her fieldwork in a neurological outpatient center in Florida and a school-based experience in northeast Nebraska. After two years of didactic work, Michelle took advantage of the learning opportunities during her fieldwork.

“You just dive in, and you get to see diagnoses that you didn’t get to see in class,” she said. “This is all new for you, and you must problem-solve and work through it. There is just so much you learn by being hands-on. It gives you the experience.”

As graduation nears, Michelle remains receptive to a variety of specialties in occupational therapy. While most narrow down what they want to specialize in during clinical rotation, Michelle found she enjoys all aspects of OT. “I’m still open. I’ve loved every setting I’ve worked in so far,” she said.

Michelle is grateful for the support she received from her professors during classes and throughout her capstone project, which is a self-driven portion of the program.

“They want the best for you. It’s a wonderful way of learning. It’s very hands-on,” she said. “There are so many positives about this OT program that I couldn’t imagine myself going anywhere else.”