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Alumna Jessica Kilpatrick: Making a Difference in Philadelphia’s Schools

Jessica KilpatrickJessica Kilpatrick came to Temple with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Shippensburg University. As an OT with CORA Services in Philadelphia, she works with children at diverse area schools. She completed her master’s in OT in 2013. We talked with her as part of our celebration of Temple OT's 50th anniversary.

How did you get into occupational therapy?
I discovered occupational therapy when I was doing observations at the end of my undergrad program. I’d looked into physical therapy, too, and I liked how client-centered OT is. We really work on what's important to the client, making sure they're more independent.

Why did you choose Temple?
The location brings a lot of opportunities, and the community engagement focus really taught me a lot. I was interested in providing care to people from all sorts of income, class, and cultural backgrounds. Temple offers a lot of opportunities for a variety of experiences. It’s big, and it’s connected to the whole city. You get a sense that Temple is very much embedded in the city.

What’s a community engagement opportunity you remember?
The summer between my first and second years, I did a program called "Bridging the Gap" that places medical, dental, nursing, OT, and PT students in community organizations. I was placed at a kid's summer camp right off of Temple's main campus. We developed services that met their needs while also satisfying our learning objectives.

What’s the greatest takeaway from your Temple experience?
I feel that as a Temple alum, I have a better sense of community, especially for the city of Philadelphia, because Temple really does integrate you in all different settings in the area. I feel like Temple prepares you differently than other schools.
 
What’s it like to work in North Philly?
It’s interesting. In North Philly, the schools have very tight budgets, and a lot of the kids don’t have great home lives. School is kind of their safe haven. I feel like I’m really helping here. 

What are some things you love about being an OT?
When I was a student one of my fieldwork supervisors said, "The best thing about OT is you can make anything relate to OT." Our whole focus is looking at the activities people already do or need to do, and figure out ways to meet therapeutic goals with it. Creativity is a big part of OT in practice. I enjoy seeing clients’ progress even though sometimes it's slow and sometimes you feel like you're not getting anywhere. I love collaborating with other professionals to pool all our strengths together and help a student.

What were some of the highlights of being a Temple student?
My fieldwork – that’s when we became a lot more hands on. I was placed in a school in New Jersey, and then in a hospital outside Philadelphia. By the end of each one I had a full case load seeing all my supervisors’ students and patients. It was very hands on and I learned a lot.

You host Temple students doing fieldwork now. Have you noticed any changes since you were a student?
I host level one fieldwork, and when I was a student it was mainly observation; now the level ones are required to run sessions. I think getting that hands-on experience early really accelerates learning. It helps you appreciate what OT is all about.


Learn more about Occupational Therapy programs, and learn more about Temple OT's 50th anniversary here!

Posted:  March 22, 2017