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Whitney awarded SAMSHA grant

Rondalyn V Whitney

Rondalyn Whitney, director of Faculty Development and Scholarship in the Division of Occupational Therapy, has been awarded the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration grant for her grant titled “Development and Integration of Curriculum into Occupational Therapy Education to Prepare the Modern Workforce of Occupational Therapists for Treatment and Prevention of Substance Use Disorders.” 

The grant will support the development of evidence-informed content with six modules that address substance use disorders in diverse populations and across the lifespan. The case based approach modules will be embedded into the occupational therapy educational curriculum and strategically tied to accreditation standards.

Whitney is the former president of the West Virginia Occupational Therapy Association. During the 2017 legislative session, she was instrumental in the successful WVOTA advocacy campaign to include occupational therapy practitioners in the treatment of opioid in West Virginia. “Occupational therapy is included as a core component of quality mental health care, and OT practitioners are included among health professionals making up the behavioral health workforce,” according to Whitney. “The bill authorizes occupational therapy practitioners as qualified mental health practitioners.” 

The Division of Occupational Therapy is committed to provide high quality, evidence based education for future and current health care practitioners in West Virginia through engagement in scholarly activity, research and service to the community. “As the flagship OT program in a rural state, we need a state-of-the-art curriculum to offer which can be provided immediately to our students,” Whitney said.  She will be working in collaboration with WVOTA and the American Occupational Therapy Association to disseminate this curriculum widely through a series of micro-credentialing opportunities free to all occupational therapy educational programs and available at a nominal cost for occupational therapy practitioners and other health field practitioners. “I’m particularly excited that this grant will allow me to develop a curriculum that integrates my area of research: using a narrative approach to understand trauma and resilience, adverse childhood experiences and protective social influencers on health and wellbeing. The occupations of addiction are critical to address, often overlooked but essential active ingredients to generating a healthy society,” she said. 

Whitney was inducted into the Roster of Fellows for the American Occupational Therapy Association and was awarded one of AOTA’s highest awards, the Virginia Scardina Award for her lifelong contribution to families and children. She has completed advanced education in mental health and substance abuse disorders and non-pharmaceutical pain management through the American Occupational Therapy Association Mental Health Special Interest Section. She is a member of the WV ACE Coalition, AOTA’s Mental Health Special Interest Section and WV Infant/Toddler Mental Health Association. She is currently completing a Certificate in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies and is the chair of the Developmental Special Interest Section for the American Occupational Therapy Association in Bethesda, Maryland. Whitney is a prolific author with her most recent narratives appearing in “The Healer's Burden: Stories and Poems of Professional Grief” (University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine), Northern Appalachia Review Journal and the “From the Front Lines of Appalachian Addiction Crisis: Healthcare Providers Discuss Opioids, Meth and Recovery” (McFarland Press).