Two University of Florida occupational therapy faculty members, Joanne J. Foss, Ph.D., OTR/L, and Emily S. Pugh, M.A., OTR/L, have been elected to receive the Roster of Fellows award from the American Occupational Therapy Association, or AOTA. The award recognizes AOTA members who have made significant contributions to the continuing education and professional development of its members.
Foss, the interim chair of the department and director of the master’s in occupational therapy program, was recognized as an “Exemplary Leader in Pediatric and Professional Practice.” Foss has written and developed several book chapter, papers, presentations and workshops to help provide much-needed education for therapists on the implications of complex medical conditions and prematurity on infants and their families. With support from a grant from the Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy, Foss led an interdisciplinary team in the development of training modules focused on infant mental health in occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language pathology. These modules are now available online for all health care providers and consumers.
Foss has served on the AOTA Academic Leadership Council since 2003 and is a member of the association’s ad hoc committee on faculty shortages. She serves on the board of directors of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, or NBCOT, helping to shape NBCOT’s relationship with educational programs, establish exam standards and determine ways the NBCOT can provide resources for education and continuing competency.
Foss has received several teaching awards at the department, college and Health Science Center levels, and has mentored hundreds of current and former students as they pursue careers in patient care, academia or research.
Pugh, a program director and associate in occupational therapy, is acknowledged for “Exemplary Leadership, Education, and Facilitating Client Safety.” Pugh has served in leadership roles in the AOTA and the Florida Occupational Therapy Association, including on the AOTA Representative Assembly representing Florida. She was also elected to the positions of recorder and agenda chair on the AOTA Representative Assembly and has served on the Representative Assembly Leadership Committee. As an educator, Pugh’s innovations include the development of a safety education program that provides students or early career occupational therapists with a clinical reasoning framework for comprehensively assessing an immediate safety situation before initiating an assessment or intervention.
Pugh’s career-long dedication to patient safety can be traced to her volunteer role as a support group facilitator for individuals with HIV/AIDS and their caregivers in the 1980s. She is a state-approved provider of required training on safe practice and error reduction for both the occupational therapy and physical therapy boards. She is the only occupational therapist who has been licensed in Florida as a health care risk manager, and one of only a few occupational therapists in the country who has practiced operationally in the areas of client safety, medical error reduction, quality management and risk management. She is the recipient of a number of state and national awards, including the David Clark Award of Excellence from the Florida Occupational Therapy Association.
Foss and Pugh will be recognized during the AOTA’s centennial celebrations at the association’s annual conference next spring in Philadelphia.