Marit Watson was recently named the Post-Professional Occupational Therapy (POTD) Student of the Year by the Department of Occupational Therapy faculty. Watson reflected on choosing occupational therapy as a career, undergoing personal tragedies during her time in the program, and being close to her final goal of obtaining her occupational therapy doctorate from Creighton University
Why did you choose occupational therapy as a career?
Growing up, I wanted to be a nurse, teacher and ballerina. Occupational therapy provided the perfect opportunity to creatively combine my interests in medicine and education. As an occupational therapist, I am able to empower, strengthen and build resiliency working with individuals who are navigating injury, illness or loss.
Why did you choose Creighton University for your Post-Professional OTD?
As a military spouse, I appreciated the “portability” of the post-professional program at Creighton University. It was important to me to be able to complete my education, while simultaneously supporting my husband’s service in the Air Force. I was also drawn to the possibility of having a “constant” in my own ever-evolving occupational therapy career. I was encouraged by the widely respected reputation of Creighton, and loved the idea of being able to develop my own doctoral experiential components. The opportunity to move beyond my comfort zone and “dream big” in my desire to become a more competent clinician and scholar was a big factor in my decision to become a Creighton Bluejay.
What is a highlight or positive experience you have received because of the pathway you are in?
My journey through the Post-Professional OTD program at Creighton has unfolded alongside some of my life’s most defining moments. The morning I was to leave for the on-campus orientation, my husband and I received the heartbreaking news that we lost our son in the second trimester of my pregnancy. I realize that is not perhaps the highlight one would typically mention. However, the incredible support I received from faculty and staff, on quite possibly the darkest day of my life, will forever reaffirm my decision to attend Creighton University.
After deferring enrollment for a semester, my official journey at Creighton began. Since that time, my husband and I navigated additional pregnancy loss, celebrated the adoption of our oldest daughter, relocated from Oklahoma to New Jersey, experienced numerous military deployments, navigated a high-risk pregnancy and celebrated the birth of our twins, relocated from New Jersey to Illinois, and grew together as parents of three little girls 22-months apart. Even now, as I am entering my final year in the program, my husband is packing for a remote yearlong tour to South Korea. Whew! The flexibility of the distance pathway and the unwavering support and encouragement of faculty, staff and my student colleagues have been integral to my success in the Post-Professional OTD program at Creighton University.
Since being in the POTD program at Creighton has anything caught you off guard or was a pleasant surprise you didn’t expect?
My progression through the program has been rather prolonged due to my multitude of concurrent life changes. However, I have been surprised at how much I value the personal, professional and scholarly growth I have experienced during my years as a Creighton student. Rather than focusing on the potential disadvantages of my nontraditional progression through the program, I have grown to realize my life experiences as a military spouse positively influenced my growth as a leader, contributed to a strong clinical foundation, and fostered respect for diversity. Reflection on my personal experiences with pregnancy loss became a catalyst for devoting time and talent to the exploration of miscarriage, motherhood and occupation in the context of bereavement. My personal journey has become one of courage, grace and unexpected opportunities for empowerment.
What are your overall thoughts, or can you share an experience about why you love Creighton OT?
When I began the program, I was navigating my way through loss and toward motherhood. I was transitioning from full-time clinical work toward an unexpected opportunity to stay at home with our new baby. As I struggled to redefine my occupational roles and routines, the Creighton POTD program provided a sense of constancy in the chaos. Now as I near the end of my journey as a student at Creighton, I plan to continue to chase big dreams, create new pathways, and celebrate the beautiful diversity within the profession of occupational therapy. I will be forever grateful to the Creighton University students, faculty and staff who inspired me, challenged me and empowered me. Thank you!
To find out more about Marit’s journey, download her research publication: ”Journey Interrupted: A Phenomenological Exploration of Miscarriage.”