Technology can be a blessing or a curse depending on your point of view. Nathan Ramsey is firmly in the camp of embracing and celebrating technology, especially when it comes to helping people live healthier, more independent lives.
“We currently live in a society where access to technology is vital for quality of life, leisure, socialization and for job opportunities,” he said.
And that dependence on technology is only increasing, according to Ramsey, along with a need to incorporate technology solutions into the care and support of people with disabilities. “We also need health care practitioners who are comfortable and competent with providing technology-based services,” he said.
Ramsey began studying assistive technology as a student in UB’s BS/MS program in occupational therapy (OT).
“I was born without my left hand, and received some occupational therapy for prosthetic training as a child,” he said. “Later, I thought that I could use my unique experience and perspective to help other people. The best way to do that was through OT.”
Ramsey said the BS/MS program—and the peer and mentor relationships he gained—helped him develop as a person and as a professional. “The curriculum was well-rounded and had a holistic focus,” he said. “Not only did we learn to be competent health care professionals, we also had opportunities to participate outside of the medical model. One day you might be fabricating custom thermoplastic splints in a hospital setting, the next day you might be developing a training program that helps refugees learn how to ride the bus. Either way, you’re providing valuable services that help others, while also developing new skills of your own.”
Wanting to study assistive technology in more detail, he enrolled in the graduate certificate program in assistive and rehabilitation technology (ART).
“Through the ART program, I was fortunate enough to work closely with renowned service providers and researchers – including some of the top experts in the world,” he said. “I loved the ART program because it combined two things that I love: working with people and technology.
“The curriculum was very hands-on; it expanded beyond conventional ‘book learning’ for content that was memorable and easier to understand, but absolutely grounded within the foundations of science and evidence-based practice. The classes were fun as well as informative – there isn’t a more practical way to learn.
“By pursuing the ART certificate, I was exposed to a depth and variety of content that is difficult to find anywhere else,” he said. “ART has given me a unique combination of skills and knowledge in a high-demand area of practice.”
A recent graduate, Ramsey plans to become more involved with educating people about assistive technology, and advancing the use of technology in therapeutic settings. “I also have a professional interest in prosthetics and upper extremity rehabilitation – providing services that expand beyond the traditional scope to include a greater focus on new technologies and addressing the person’s psychosocial needs,” he said. “My mission is to ensure that people have the resources and skills that they need to be successful, happy and healthy.”