Dr. Nathan Herz, the director of occupational therapy at Presbyterian College, loves sharing stories from his 30-plus year career in occupational therapy.
“There was a lady who had a stroke and could not move her arm up from her side,” Herz said. “Then one day, she waved ‘hi’ to me because her arm was working again.”
Herz calls these stories “moments of victories.” These “moments of victories” are the reason Herz calls occupational therapy “the profession of defining moments.”
For him, “defining moments” can be as small as helping a person be able to wash their face again and as huge as helping a Parkinson’s patient walk on their own again.
OT Program Begins in January
Herz plans to continue creating stories like these as he begins the doctor of occupational therapy program at PC. The three-year program will begin in January and will accept 35 students its first year. It’s the first program at a private school in South Carolina.
PC’s occupational therapy program is the fourth program Herz has assisted with the development of and developed. He developed and started the OT doctoral program at the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Va.
He was also the head of the master’s level OT program at the Medical College of Georgia (now Augusta University) and helped design the master’s program at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences in Roanoke, Va.
Continuing the PC Tradition of Service
The program at PC will continue PC’s tradition of service, according to Herz.
“The profession is 85 percent heart and 15 percent science,” Herz said. “The ability to connect with people is most important.”
Occupational therapists help make a physically or mentally ill person independent again. OT’s focus on the activities that occupy the patient’s time during the day and the ones that keep them from being independent. These “occupations” could be dressing, bathing, cooking or cleaning, for example.
The process for helping a patient involves an interview, evaluation, and an individualized and customized treatment plan for each patient.
“The connection is necessary because occupational therapy is so individual that it is literally different for each patient,” Herz said. “If you want to be successful as an OT, you have to connect to the patient.”
When it comes to patient care, Herz takes to heart the famous Teddy Roosevelt quote that most individuals “do not care how much you know, but want to know how much you care.” It’s only when patients know that you care that they trust you, according to Herz.
“The best program possible”
Herz chose to begin the program at PC for the opportunity to help make students successful in a field he loves.
“That’s why I do what I do,” he said. “My job is to make the best program possible so that students and their patients can be as successful as possible.”
PC’s doctor of occupational therapy students will be on campus during the first two years, which are didactic classes. Students will be off campus, focusing on clinical experiences, during their last year in the program.
Students must have taken courses such as human or vertebrate anatomy, physiology, and abnormal psychology, but Herz insists that the personal connection is what will make students succeed as occupational therapists.
He looks forward to hearing PC students share their own moments of victories, like this one he shared: “A boy with cerebral palsy climbed a 60-foot wall, rang a bell, and then he encouraged other kids that they could climb it the whole way too.”
These kinds of stories will begin when the OT program begins in January.
Apply to the OT Program
Applications are still being accepted if you want to begin the program in January. Apply using the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service at https://otcas.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login
For more information about the program please call 864-938-3710.