Home > Blog > April 2021 > Alumni Spotlight: Occupational Therapy Assistant Graduate Katie Blahnik

Alumni Spotlight: Occupational Therapy Assistant Graduate Katie Blahnik

Posted: April 2, 2021 by Stephanie Lema
Occupational Therapy Assistant associate degree graduate smiling with baby doll.
Occupational Therapy Assistant associate degree graduate, Katie Blahnik.
 


Katie worked as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) in a neonatal intensive care unit and during that time, she developed an award-winning interventional program for infants experiencing drug withdrawal.
 
She always enjoyed the educational side of being an OTA and eventually became a full-time instructor at Pima Medical Institute. Her students appreciate how she’s not only a product of the program, but she also has firsthand experience working as an OTA. Here is her story.
 
“My first exposure to OTA came while working with special needs students. I had gotten my bachelor’s degree in sociology, but wasn’t certain what I wanted to do next. As I talked with the occupational therapist about her field, it piqued my interest. When I learned Pima Medical Institute had a great OTA program, I enrolled. Different from my university experience, classes were small and I only had two instructors, which I really enjoyed. It is certainly an accelerated program and I actually found it harder than my bachelor’s.  
 
It was during my clinical experience at a hospital that I realized this was where I wanted to work. I kept in contact with my clinical instructor there and they ended up creating a position for me. After a time, I was primarily working in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and although I loved it, I wasn’t able to take on any students. Since I have always enjoyed the educational side of things, I added a part-time position assisting classes back at Pima Medical. This eventually led to a full time instructor position, which I love! My students appreciate that I was recently in their shoes and I believe it’s good for them to see a product of their program right in front of them.
 
While working at the hospital, I created a program for infants and caregivers in the NICU using protocol for the Eat Sleep Console Method. The result of this loving OT interventional program was that it reduced hospital length of stay for our infants by 50% and the use of drugs by 90%. I recently had the honor of receiving the Innovation Award from our national accrediting board for my part in this program.

Image describing 2020 Innovation Award recipient Katie Blahnik, COTA/L, NTMTC, and her work helping infants who are experiencing drug withdrawal.

I’m grateful for the quality of education I received at Pima Medical Institute. It was amazing and has proved to be very rewarding.”
 
Are you looking for a fulfilling career helping others? Occupational therapy assistants help patients of all ages and with all different types of disabilities and challenges to participate in everyday life activities. The Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Pima Medical might be the perfect fit for you. We offer hybrid learning environments and hands-on experience in clinical settings so you can graduate ready to hit the ground running. Learn more now.
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