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Objective: This life history is one of 30 life history interviews, which are part of a larger project, Histories of Individuals Who Have Been Influential in Developing Occupational Therapy (OT) at the National Level and Beyond. The purpose of this qualitative study is to provide current and future generations of occupational therapists a view of the history of occupational therapy and how the practice has evolved from the beginning to its current practice through the life history stories of accomplished occupational therapists.

Method: An in-depth, semi-structured, 120-minute interview was conducted with Susan Haiman via telephone from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Questions were created using the Kawa model as a guide to gather the information that added to the understanding of different aspects of the participant's life that shaped them in the practice of OT. The interview was audio-recorded and later transcribed and coded for emergent themes.

Results: The predominant themes representing the major elements of Susan’s success as a leader was her passion for education, personal experiences, policy, and occupational therapy as a profession. The findings indicate that she has made a large impact on the profession by serving the needs of her clients and being a strong advocate for mental health.

Conclusion: Susan’s interview provided a profound understanding and insight into her values and motivations that carried her through her OT career and allowed her to partake in her various leadership and educational positions successfully. Through Susan’s curriculum vitae, interview, and other outside research, the researchers were able to develop an understanding of the major challenges and accomplishments that impacted her career. Susan’s passion for the profession and the ability to take the initiative allowed her to make many significant changes in the field of occupational therapy.

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Occupational Therapists, Inventing gadgets, adaptive equipment, influential experiences


Occupational Therapy

The Evolution of Occupational Therapy Practice: Life History of  Susan Haiman, MPS, OT/L, FAOTA