A Healthy Partnership

Think you have to wait until you graduate before you get real-world work experience? Think again.

UIndy and Community Health Network have created a partnership with unlimited possibilities. Community Health is a nonprofit health system with more than 200 sites of care and affiliates throughout Central Indiana. Students in the School of Occupational Therapy and the Krannert School of Physical Therapy are able to work side-by-side with Community’s therapists in the rehabilitation center located in the new UIndy Health Pavilion.

Opened in 2015, the 160,000-square-foot health pavilion provides a place for all the health sciences to collaborate and teach and connect with those in the community. The health pavilion houses the School of Nursing, Krannert School of Physical Therapy, School of Occupational Therapy, School of Psychological Sciences, Athletic Training Program and departments of Kinesiology and Social Work.

Real patients, real therapists, real experience

“We wanted UIndy students to have an opportunity to see what our company is like and to have an opportunity for them to get some real-world experience,” says Tony Lennen, South Region President for Community Health Network. “It’s been invigorating for our staff to be around students who want to learn. As it turns out, we learn as much from the students as they do from us.”

For the students, practical experiences are enhanced by working closely with professionals in the field. Physical therapists and occupational therapists may work in hospitals, clinics, rehab centers or private practice.

“There is only so much you can learn in a classroom,” says Master of Occupational Therapy student Mitch Sermersheim. “The partnership with Community Health allows us to get real-life experiences, to make connections and to learn from practicing therapists on campus.”

“People who work in the rehab center might expect to have a student with them every hour of every day. It’s just part of what they do here,” says Dean of the College of Health Sciences Dr. Stephanie Kelly. “At other clinics, clinicians may only have a student for two weeks a couple of times a year. Community Health invested in being able to provide our students with excellent educational opportunities.”

Help when you need it

In addition to these professional experiences on campus, occupational therapy and physical therapy students are encouraged to seek out internships and job shadowing opportunities off campus. And that’s when UIndy’s Professional Edge Center is helpful. The Center guides students through the process of securing internships in the health industry and being prepared for interviews and professional interactions.

“Students pursuing careers in physical or occupational therapy are often very focused about their career goals,” says Assistant Director of the Professional Edge Center Stephanie Kendall-Dietz. “We encourage them to be well-rounded and participate in a wide variety of extracurricular and community activities in addition to their academic experiences.”