As an occupational therapist, Morgan Durham ’13 has helped many patients improve their quality of life. One patient suffering from COVID-19 stands out most of all.
“She came to us on a ventilator after spending weeks in the ICU with a COVID diagnosis,” Durham said. “Prior to that, she was completely independent. When we first evaluated her, she couldn’t lift a finger. She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t eat. She obviously couldn’t breathe on her own.”
Durham and a team of healthcare providers worked diligently with the patient. Eventually the patient began performing the everyday tasks that most of us take for granted, like sitting and breathing on her own.
“She began talking. She began eating. She began walking,” Durham said. “I got to hug her and cheer her on as she was discharged and greeted by all her loved ones.
“Her prognosis was poor, but she was a survivor. I got to be a small part of her recovery, and that is something really special.”
Choosing a Medical Career
Durham learned about the field of occupational therapy two years before she arrived on the PC campus. Her grandmother had a stroke and spent almost 80 days receiving rehab in both the acute care and inpatient rehab settings.
“She recovered extremely well and was able to achieve independence in all areas of her life, most importantly, in areas of self care,” Durham said. “I knew from that moment on I wanted to be in the medical field in some form or facet, and I loved the idea of being part of the rehab phase.”
Durham majored in psychology and played softball at PC. She went on to earn a Master of Occupational Therapy and began working as an occupational therapist shortly after. Durham has served as an OT at Bon Secours Health System and Regency Hospital in Greenville, S.C., since then.
In her roles as OT and now as rehabilitation therapy manager, she’s collaborated with other healthcare providers to help patients perform tasks that most occupy their time.
“Occupational therapists are skilled practitioners who help clients and patients develop the skills needed to achieve their most independent level of functioning with daily activities in order to promote quality of life,” Durham said.
Daily activities include dressing, bathing, toileting, driving, cooking.
“This looks different in various settings, like pediatrics versus hospitals,” Durham explained, “but the optimal goal is to improve and / or modify areas of life which may impede daily function in order to promote a greater quality of life.”
Education That’s Relevant in Today’s World
Durham’s major at PC, psychology, is one of the most popular majors for occupational therapists. While she didn’t earn her master’s in occupational therapy from PC, Durham is excited about PC’s new Doctor of Occupational Therapy program.
“I’m so proud to be an alumna of a school that continues to be relevant in its pursuit for continued education,” she said.
Before, only one university in the state offered an OT program. Students like Durham were forced to go out of state to obtain their OT degrees.
“The job projections for OTs are above the national average,” Durham said, “and PC is surrounded by thriving communities where healthcare is expanding, so the fit couldn’t be better.”
Become an Occupational Therapist
Are you interested in making a difference as an occupational therapist? Applications are still being accepted to begin the program in January. Apply using the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service. For more information about the program please call 864-938-3710 or complete this form.