Young Alumni Q & A: Maddy Gardner

Maddy Gardner outdoors

Maddy Garnder grew up in Colorado, attending CU Boulder for her undergraduate degree and CSU for her Masters in Occupational Therapy. She is a huge music fan and tries to make time for herself which includes meditation and yoga, cooking, watercolor, and working outside.

Describe your current position and some of the responsibilities that come with it.

I am working as an occupational therapist doing mobile outpatient therapy with adults. I get to work with clients in their home or out in the community addressing home safety, fall prevention, health maintenance, and rehabilitation from injury or illness. I complete comprehensive evaluations of my clients and create treatment plans that help them to address their goals, whether that be improving safety while taking a shower, compensatory strategies to remember loved ones names, or finding a new meaningful hobby that promotes well-being.

How has COVID-19 changed operations for your industry, and how are you responding to it?

The healthcare industry doesn’t stop so we have had to pivot and adapt to the COVID-19 health crisis. This has included implementation of PPE with every client and health screenings. It has required significant flexibility because things have been constantly evolving and there are many adjustments to be made. I have felt as an occupational therapist, I have played a valuable role in assisting my clients in accessing correct and reputable information about the pandemic, teaching clients about infection prevention, problem-solving challenges brought about by the pandemic, and supporting mental health during such a difficult and isolating time.

Why did you decide to pursue your current career path?

I chose occupational therapy because of the huge variety of opportunity within this field. You can work in so many different sectors of not only healthcare but other industries (e.g. schools, ergonomics, technology, policy, management etc.) and you can work with people across the whole lifespan. I liked that it came with options and I feel like I will always have a job doing something as an occupational therapist!

How have your education and experiences at CSU helped you in your career?

I was always impressed by the variety of unique and practical degrees available at CSU. The CSU OT program provided the framework for understanding the history of occupational therapy, and developed my sense of professionalism. So much of what we learn comes from real-life experiences, but I felt like I had the tools to succeed as a new grad.

What advice do you have for students looking to join your field?

My advice would be to strongly consider working with older adults! It is hugely needed in our society, and I have heard from many people (myself being one of them!) that they were surprised to learn that they loved working with this population. Volunteer or find employment working with seniors and you will see how incredible it is to hear their stories and make those connections with another generation.

The Department of Occupational Therapy is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences