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Objective. The purpose of this qualitative life history study was to examine the life and work of Dr. Debra Hanson to gather information about the history and evolution of occupational therapy in North Dakota and Wyoming from her perspective.

Method. An audio recorded semistructured interview was utilized to gather information and perspective from Dr. Hanson regarding her involvement in the evolution of occupational therapy practice. Dr. Hanson was one participant selected from a participant list compiled through purposive sampling by the project directors. The interview was transcribed and coded. Categories with corresponding themes and a final assertion emerged through the data analysis process.

Results. The predominant categories representing the professional life of Dr. Hanson included finding meaning and occupational identity, professional practice, and connectedness in the profession. The findings indicate that Dr. Hanson found meaning and satisfaction in her role as an occupational therapist by continued learning as well as connectedness to others and the profession.

Conclusion. Dr. Hanson has served as an instrumental leader in the development of occupational therapy throughout North Dakota and Wyoming. Her movements in scholarship and academia boosted occupational therapy as theoretical models and frames of reference developed in practice and as the program at UND developed in Casper, WY.

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occupational therapists, Deinstitutionalization from mental health, connectedness to others, disabilities.


Occupational Therapy

Evolution of Occupational Therapy Practice: Life History of Dr. Hanson, OTR/L, FAOTA