UACCB alum chosen to present at national occupational therapy conference

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Article By Hannah Keller Flanery, UACCB communications and marketing coordinator

Stephanie Bolin (pictured) will add another success to her impressive academic journey in March when she presents at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)’s national conference in Boston. Bolin, a graduate of the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB), will complete her doctorate in occupational therapy in August 2020 at Arkansas State University-Jonesboro.

A Batesville native, Bolin graduated from Batesville High School in 2013. She earned her associate degree in general education from UACCB in 2015, graduating with a 4.0 GPA and was named UACCB’s Academic All-Star, which earned her a full-tuition transfer scholarship from a public four-year university in the state. While at UACCB, she was a student ambassador, Circle K president, and treasurer of the Student Government Association.

Bolin chose to use her Academic All-Star scholarship to attend ASU and earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies in 2017. She was one of only 30 students accepted each year to ASU’s doctorate of occupational therapy program. She is vice president of the occupational therapy student organization and as such is responsible for finding volunteer opportunities for the students. 

Bolin said she has had been exposed to a variety of career options that she could pursue after graduation, but she said her ultimate goal is to work in acute care in a hospital setting.

“At first, I was scared to death to work at the hospital because I used to pass out at the sight of blood, but now I’m working in the ICU, setting patients up on the ventilator by myself. I’ve had the chance to observe two surgeries. I got to help prep the patients for their surgeries and then conduct patient evaluations after their procedure,” she said.

Bolin has had the opportunity to work at a pediatric center in Cabot as well as St. Bernard’s Medical Center in Jonesboro through the doctorate program. She also worked at STARS Academy in Batesville for four and a half years. 

“I always thought I would do pediatrics, but I had the chance to volunteer at different assisted living centers and discovered I love working in geriatrics. I enjoy working with Alzheimer’s and stroke patients. I have the opportunity to work with a patient with a spinal cord injury, which is not something many students get the chance to do,” Bolin said.

Bolin has also been able to help with hippotherapy, which involves utilizing horseback riding in patients’ therapy programs.

“We assess the patients and work on different things while they are riding the horse. Horses have a similar gate and walking pattern as we do. We can also work on fine motor skills and sensory therapy while they are riding,” Bolin said. 

Bolin said she along with her classmate and research partner, Madicyn Huddleston, were chosen to participate in the poster presentations at AOTA’s national conference after submitting their research project and poster titled “Implications of Passenger Conversations on Reaction Time in the Elderly Population.”

“We tested 15 people age 60 and older to see if passenger conversation had an impact on reaction time for older adults utilizing driving simulation technology,” Bolin said. 

Bolin said that driving simulators are being used more and more in occupational therapy for driving rehabilitation. She said the results from the project showed limited implications of passenger conversation on the reaction time of older drivers. 

Bolin and Huddleston concluded in their research that “additional research is needed to determine the implications of passenger conversation using more challenging settings on the driving simulator as well as increasing insight of driving simulation technology among the older adult population to understand the effects of passenger conversation on reaction time among the older adult population.”

Bolin, Huddleston, and their mentor, Dr. Amanda Mohler, will attend the conference. Bolin said she will need $1,300-$1,500 for travel expenses in order to attend the conference. She is currently home for the holiday break and working at the Melba Theater. She will return to Jonesboro when classes begin again in January.

Those who would like to support Bolin and provide a donation to help with travel expenses may contact her at (870) 612-4666.

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