The team at Faulkner University’s College of Health Sciences is steadily expanding. The university has hired directors to develop the next three programs, the physician assistant (PA) program is scheduled to begin in 2020, physical therapy (PT), in 2021 and occupational therapy (OT) in 2022, pending accreditation.
Amy Oliver, director of the occupational therapy program is the most recent hire. Oliver earned her occupational therapy degree from The University of Mississippi Medical Center and her doctoral degree in occupational therapy from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Utah. She has been in clinic work and pediatrics for the last 26 years. Before coming to Faulkner, she served as an occupational therapist at the Ouachita Parish School District in West Monroe, Louisians and at the University of Louisiana.
Oliver first stumbled upon OT in high school when she was observing a physical therapy group for a class. She noticed another group and was drawn to them because they were laughing and seemed to be having a good time.
“They were batting balloons to each other using their arms which were affected by strokes or other neurological conditions,” said Oliver.
“I learned that OT is a way to help people function again, to live their lives as independently as possible.”
Oliver began looking for an OT program where service to others was paramount.
“When I found Faulkner, I knew this was from God,” Oliver said. “It was my desire to teach the next generation about occupational therapy in a way that serves the community, the patient, the family members and especially children with autism.”
Oliver especially liked the plan to have OT, PT, speech and language pathology (SLP) and PA working collaboratively in one building, learning to work together as a team.
“This interdisciplinary education is a reflection on how rehab staff works together in clinics and hospitals,” she said.
“The future of health science careers is moving in the direction of team based health care and collaboration. This is the unique educational environment we are offering our students at Faulkner,” said Heather Mount, director of the physical therapy program.
Mount, originally from Wisconsin, moved to Andalusia, Ala. after PT school. She worked as a PT in rural Alabama for 14 years, and taught for seven years in the PT program at Alabama State University.
“Health care providers can have a tremendous impact in their communities and beyond. By helping others, we are doing God’s work.”
Doing God’s work is exactly what sealed the deal for Paul Jordan, director of the PA program.
Jordan was practicing in Southern California at the time he received the offer to organize the new PA program at Faulkner.
Jordan was initially not interested in the offer, but he agreed to a visit. While on campus, he came face-to-face with Scott Gleaves, dean of Faulkner’s College of Biblical Studies, and the man he credits to bringing him to maturity in Christ.
That was all the confirmation Jordan needed. He knew God’s hand was at work here.
“I’m most excited about the opportunity to use this new platform to influence future medical providers to learn how to incorporate faith and ministry into medical care,” Jordan said. “The PA field is the perfect open door for that.”