Nick Gilbert OT ’18

Nick Gilbert OT ’18 Is on a Mission to Improve Lives

June 28, 2017

  • Nick Gilbert OT ’18 always knew he wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, but when it came to choosing a field, he found inspiration in his personal life.

    “Ultimately, what pushed me to occupational therapy was an experience with my grandparents,” said Nick. “For various reasons, they were admitted to the hospital and needed occupational therapy services before they could return home safely.”

    Nick saw that once-ordinary tasks had become a struggle for his grandparents and was impressed by how occupational therapy positively impacted their lives. “I saw them adapt and learn new and efficient ways to complete their daily occupations with the help of OT,” he said. “They were once again smiling and enjoying their lives.”

    The experience proved to be inspirational for Nick. “Seeing that process, the struggle and the positive outcome, was moving, and to this day it motivates me to continue pursuing my career in occupational therapy,” he said.

    Now a first-year student in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program on the MCPHS–Manchester campus, Nick is working toward a future in the field that helped his grandparents so profoundly. “What excites me most about my future as an occupational therapist is having the opportunity to help individuals return to their normal lives after injury or illness and being able to help someone through a rough period in their life,” said Nick.

    Nick is a member of the first class in the new occupational therapy program, which was launched in September 2016 on the Manchester, NH, campus. “I had the opportunity to be a part of the inaugural class and help pave the way for future cohorts, which is cool, in my opinion,” he said. “It meant that I had the opportunity to help build the program and improve it for future classes.”

    Nick is eager to begin his career in occupational therapy, so the accelerated format of the program appealed to him. “Other programs I applied to were three years, but MCPHS offers a two-year program,” said Nick. “The idea of practicing a full year sooner is motivating.”

    Douglas Simmons, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, who is the director of the occupational therapy program and a professor in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences, says that a focus on mental health makes the program unique. “Students receive an educational experience that allows them to practice as generalists in all areas,” said Dr. Simmons. “But, because of our program’s location and faculty expertise, students graduate with many community experiences focused on psychosocial and mental health occupational therapy for children, adolescents, adults, and older adults.”

    Nick points to this focus on mental health as one of the highlights of the program. “Occupational therapy is important when it comes to mental health, which is why we had a course introducing us to the many mental health conditions we might encounter,” he said. “We focus on how occupational therapy services can be used in various settings related to mental health.”

    Another focus of the occupational therapy program is hands-on experience. As part of their coursework, students complete fieldwork in a variety of settings. At the end of the summer, Nick and his classmates will participate in a two-week, full-time fieldwork placement with licensed therapists. “I am very much looking forward to my fieldwork sessions,” said Nick. “They are a great opportunity to experience occupational therapy in person and help makes sense of the knowledge I gained in class.”

    He hopes those fieldwork placements will give him the exposure he needs to make a decision about what setting he wants to work in when he graduates. “Hopefully my fieldwork will spark an interest and help me choose,” said Nick.

    His advice for those considering a future in occupational therapy is to experience the role firsthand through shadowing opportunities. “Shadow therapists in various settings to see if this field is for you,” said Nick, who has shadowed therapists in home health and outpatient settings. “Only though exposure to the field will you be able to make a decision about whether or not it is for you.”

    As he works toward a future in occupational therapy, Nick is already appreciative of the community he has found at MCPHS–Manchester. “I am glad to have been accepted into such a great community,” said Nick. “MCPHS is providing me with knowledge that will help me for the rest of my career, and the relationships made here will last a lifetime.”

    In the full-time, two-year Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program at MCPHS–Manchester, students work alongside professional experts in advanced simulation laboratories and gain experience in a variety of clinical settings.