By Kate Hunger
Department of Occupational Therapy Chair and Associate Professor Bridgett Piernik-Yoder, Ph.D., OTR, has received a 2021 Roster of Fellows Award from the American Occupational Therapy Association.
The AOTA Roster of Fellows award recognizes occupational therapists for their contributions to the profession. Dr. Piernik-Yoder was recognized for "outstanding impact through leadership, mentorship and education." Earlier this year, Dr. Piernik-Yoder was selected as a member of The University of Texas System Kenneth I. Shine, M.D., Academy of Health Science Education.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” she said of the awards. “Most of all I hope they really signify and represent my ongoing commitment to excellence in OT education.”
Occupational therapy education has evolved along with the profession to prepare graduates for complex systems in which they will work, she said.
“Interprofessional education, issues related to access to health care and equity, as well as a growth in evidence-based practice — all of these need to be infused throughout the curriculum,” she said.
Dr. Piernik-Yoder has made significant contributions to the profession at both the state and national levels, said Professor Karin Barnes, Ph.D., OTR, who nominated Dr. Piernik-Yoder for both awards.
“Her contributions have a wide scope in education, community and organizational service and relevant research, all of which support and enhance the lives of many people,” Dr. Barnes said. “Her leadership and vision in occupational therapy is seen by the outcomes of the OT graduates, clients served by occupational therapy and the wider health care and rehabilitation community. These awards reflect the depth of her positive leadership and influence.”
It was Dr. Barnes who inspired Dr. Piernik-Yoder to consider a career in OT education.
“(Dr. Barnes) has been my mentor my entire career, and it was in one of her classes as an OT student that I began to think about what it would be like to go into OT academic education,” Dr. Piernik-Yoder said. “Her influence on me was tremendous.”
In 2019, Dr. Piernik-Yoder was elected chairperson for the AOTA Academic Education Special Interest Section and appointed to the AOTA Commission on Education. She has been on the leadership team of the AOTA Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Institute and Mentoring program since 2018. She has completed the 2018–2019 AOTA Academic Leadership Institute and received the AOTA designation of Credentialed Leader in Academia.