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Two Maine Higher Education Institutions’ Joint Simulation Exercise Designed to Improve Patient Care

Published on: February 21, 2022

two people practicing occupational therapy

BANGOR, MAINE – Occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs) attend different schools and complete different curricula. Both of these health care professionals, however, need to be able to effectively work together in order to help patients maintain, or regain, the ability to participate in tasks associated with daily living.

Occupational therapists help people of all ages and in a range of settings, such as their homes, hospitals, schools and the community. They help people enjoy life to its fullest by utilizing creativity, flexibility and problem-solving skills to help people find practical real-life solutions to the challenges they’re facing.

In the professional workplace, the occupational therapist (OT) evaluates a client, creates a care plan and collaboratively works with a client to create goals. The OTA is then able to follow the care plan, and under the supervision of the occupational therapist, implement meaningful interventions to help attain goals. The OT and the OTA then work symbiotically throughout the course of treatment to provide a customized series of interventions to help meet clients’ needs and goals. 

In an effort to help OT and OTA students understand the roles and responsibilities of their respective professional counterparts and prepare them for future collaborative relationships, Husson University and Kennebec Valley Community College are working together to create an afternoon of simulation exercises at Husson University’s Wellness Learning Center on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. This is the first time the two schools have collaborated together on training OT and OTA students in this manner.  

“We want to improve the level of intraprofessional communication between OTs and OTAs,” said Dr. Katey Howland, an assistant professor in Husson University’s School of Occupational Therapy. 

According to the Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, intraprofessional communication occurs when a team of professionals, who are all from the same profession, collaborate on the same case and exchange information.[1] This is different from interprofessional communication which occurs when two or more individuals from different professions, or areas of expertise, collaborate.[2] 

Howland continued: “The training is designed to enhance collaboration and understanding between different types of occupational therapy professionals. A higher level of intraprofessional communication will result in better outcomes for our clients and improved quality of care. Students from KVCC and Husson will both benefit from this experience.”

The afternoon will consist of four one-hour simulation sessions. The simulation sessions will take place in a hospital-like setting with a “standardized patient.” A standardized patient is an individual who is trained to portray specific medical conditions and situations. In these simulation sessions, the OT student will conduct an initial assessment and develop a care plan while the OTA student will conduct interventions and carry out screenings under the supervision of the OT student.

Each hour-long session will have four students actively engaged in two simulations. The remaining six or seven students will observe and critique the sessions through closed circuit video. This shared learning experience will help all of the students appreciate and understand the challenges associated with intraprofessional collaboration.

At the end of every hour, a new group of 10 - 11 student will participate in the process. Over the course of the four hours, it’s anticipated that five KVCC and 37 Husson occupational therapy students will complete this training.

Individuals interested in learning more about the occupational therapist (OT) programs at Husson University can get more information by visiting or calling 207-973-1078. More information about the occupational therapist assistant (OTA) program at Kennebec Valley Community College can be found at or by calling 207-453-5822.

Husson University’s School of Occupational Therapy prepares students for rewarding professional careers through rigorous academic coursework and hands-on practical experience. 

The school offers a wide range of local experiential placements, access to modern and dedicated labs and a robust advisor program. With a low student-to-faculty ratio, students receive individualized attention from dedicated faculty members from the very beginning. Students have the opportunity to enroll in one of two different degrees programs. They include a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy/Master of Science in Healthcare Administration and Public Health program and a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) degree. 

The School of Occupational Therapy is just one of several schools that are a part of Husson University’s College of Health and Pharmacy. Others include the School of Nursing, the School of Pharmacy and the School of Physical Therapy.

Kennebec Valley Community College (KVCC) is one of seven community colleges in Maine that operate under the authority of the Maine Community College System Board of Trustees. KVCC is a public, non-profit, post-secondary institution supported in part by State legislative from the same profession, collaborate appropriations and federal funds. The College offers more than 35 programs of study ranging from two-year associate degrees to certificates, as well as a comprehensive schedule of continuing education courses and business and industry outreach programs. For more information about KVCC go to

For more than 120 years, Husson University has shown its adaptability and strength in delivering educational programs that prepare future leaders to handle the challenges of tomorrow through innovative undergraduate and graduate degrees. With a commitment to delivering affordable classroom, online and experiential learning opportunities, Husson University has come to represent a superior value in higher education. The hallmarks of a Husson education include advanced knowledge delivered through quality educational programs in business; health and education; pharmacy studies; science and humanities; as well as communication. According to a recent analysis of tuition and fees by U.S. News & World Report, Husson University is one of the most affordable private colleges in New England. For more information about educational opportunities that can lead to personal and professional success, visit

[1] “Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health,” Seventh Edition. © 2003 by Saunders, an imprint of Elsevier, Inc.

[2] Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “Interprofessional,”,an%20interprofessional%20committee%20interprofessional%20collaboration, Accessed: February 21, 2022.


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