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4 tips for clinicians making the leap to academia

Victoria Wilburn, assistant professor School of Occupational TherapyIn clinical practice, Victoria Wilburn, DHSc, OTR specialized in treating children with autism and adults with neurological illnesses and injuries. That led her to a position as director of therapy at an autism center.

Fast-forward three years and a Doctor of Health Science degree later, Victoria is a member of the occupational therapy faculty at the University of Indianapolis.

If you’ve considered taking your clinical experience in OT, PT or athletic training into academia, read on for Victoria’s suggestions for making the transition.

4 tips for making the leap to academia

  1. Approach course development like you would a client or patient. “When I worked with patients, I had to think about different ways to reach my client to help them achieve their goals,” Victoria said. “Developing a course is very similar; you have to find several ways to reach different learners.”
  2. It’s not about expertise. “You don’t have to be an expert in everything, in fact you probably know a lot more than you think you know.” Victoria said teaching requires being able to dissect concepts and information at a basic level. When you move into academia, you are developing a new expertise in addition to your clinical knowledge.
  3. Find a good faculty mentor. As both an adjunct professor and a new faculty member, Victoria had faculty mentors who helped her figure out the best way to approach a class and how to navigate the university setting. “One of my mentors was not even the same discipline,” she said. “It didn’t matter, he was teaching me how to be an educator.”
  4. Don’t be afraid. “Academia can seem so overwhelming,” Victoria said. “But once I got in it, I realized how much I love it. Connecting with my students is like reaching goals with clients. Going for ‘the win’ feels just as good.”

Go ahead…JUMP!

If you are considering transitioning your career from the clinic to the classroom, join us for the Institute for Emerging Educators in Healthcare (IEEH), August 7-8, 2015 at the University of Indianapolis.

Early bird registration rates are available until July 24. To learn more about IEEH or to register, visit the conference website.

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