our students

Jared Thomas

Jared Thomas.

How did you get involved in this field of study?

Growing up, I always had the desire to help others. I intended to pursue nursing as my major when I enrolled at UB because I wanted to follow my mother’s footsteps. I had high expectations going into the field of nursing, believing that this was the most meaningful way I could help people. After two semesters, I realized that this major was not right for me. I became aware of occupational therapy while looking into the different majors offered at UB. I learned that occupational therapists assist people by modifying daily activities so that they can be completed despite the person’s condition or diagnosis. Additionally, I learned that they worked in a variety of settings. I had the opportunity to observe and shadow an occupational therapist at a pediatric outpatient clinic for 6 months. During that time, she told me about the ways in which she had assisted children in reaching their developmental milestones with occupational therapy. I was convinced that this was the field in which I wanted to work after seeing what she did and hearing how much her patients improved under her care. 

Why did you choose UB?

I learned that the University at Buffalo is a top school for health sciences when I was looking for colleges to apply for the OT program. In contrast to other schools, when I decided to switch my major to occupational therapy, I was able to transfer a majority of the prerequisites I had taken for nursing to UB's OT program. There was also a very high pass rate for the NBCOT among graduates of the OT program at UB.

Tell us about your course work. What's your favorite course so far and why?

The majority of the coursework is based on health sciences. Anatomy and physiology provide a foundation of knowledge for all occupational therapists. Courses in the program approach various specialties in the field, such as hand therapy in Orthotics and Prosthetics with Dr. Stavisky and Neurorehabilitation with Dr. Merrill. The program's professors are all outstanding, and they want you to succeed in your classes. Gross Anatomy, Functional Anatomy, and Medical Conditions have been my favorite among the many courses I have taken at UB. Because of how well I retained the information, I was able to apply my knowledge and skills to a number of other classes. The professors who taught those courses did an outstanding job of ensuring that we understood the topics and subjects thoroughly. 

What advice would you give to a high school student or undergrad considering your field of study?

Thoroughly researching the major you want to pursue is highly recommended. If you decide on pursuing a major in OT, I would recommend you shadow and observe a licensed OT. Occupational therapy is a very satisfying and rewarding field. Hospitals, schools, community centers, and nursing homes are a few places where OTs can be employed. 

How would you describe the difference between occupational therapy and physical therapy?

Physical therapy helps strengthen a patient, whereas occupational therapy uses that strength to help the patient perform their daily activities.