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Interest in Teaching, Caring for Others Drew Ulmer to OTA Profession

April 05, 2012

Sandra Ulmer  
STLCC graduate Sandra Ulmer has been an occupational
therapy assistant for 26 years, including the past 14 years
with BJC Hospital.

When Sandra Ulmer decided to go back to school in the 1980s, she had no idea which course of study to pursue.

A special program and career assessment offered at the time by St. Louis Community College helped Ulmer find her niche as an occupational therapy assistant (OTA), and she’s never looked back.

“The Women in New Goals (WINGS) program at the Florissant Valley campus was a workshop that prepared homemakers like me and other women in transition return to the work force,” Ulmer said. “After taking an assessment to explore individual suitability for a course of study and career, I found that the occupational therapy assistant was right for me. STLCC allowed me to obtain marketable skills very quickly, and relatively inexpensively.”

OTAs help treat patients with injuries, illnesses or disabilities through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help patients develop, recover and improve the skills need for daily living and working.

Ulmer, who resides in Florissant, has worked as an OTA for 26 years, including the past 14 years with BJC Hospital. When she enrolled for classes at STLCC, Ulmer had four pre-teen and teenage children. Having been away from school to focus on raising her children, Ulmer had no difficulty getting back into an academic environment. The college experience, Ulmer said, served as a support group.

“I really enjoyed meeting other women, who were from different backgrounds and different ages, coming together to learn something new,” Ulmer said. “Plus, my children and I also had something in common – school and homework.”

Ulmer earned her OTA associate degree in 1986. She worked for several contract healthcare companies and the Visiting Nurse Association prior to joining BJC. She also has served as an OTA instructor for Sanford Brown College.

Ulmer noted that individuals who possess great empathy and compassion, and who are teachers at heart, would find OTA to be a good fit for them.

“It’s interesting because many of the traits I possess that initially drew me to this profession at that assessment session really do serve you well as a practicing professional,” Ulmer said.

Discover if OTA is the right career for you. St. Louis Community College is hosting an information session for those who wish to find out more about the occupational therapy assistant program 5:30-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, in Room 201 in the Student Center at the college’s Meramec campus, 11333 Big Bend Road in Kirkwood. Registration is requested. Call 314-539-5002 or visit www.stlcc.edu/visit.

For more information, call 314-539-5002 or e-mail AskUs@stlcc.edu. Individuals with disabilities who need accommodations should call 314-539-5002.