University of North Dakota Faculty/Staff Newsletter

Nielsen and Polansky earn state Occupational Therapy honors

Sarah Nielsen, assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, was honored as the 2012 Occupational Therapist of the Year by the North Dakota Occupational Therapy Association. Rebecca Polansky, a graduate student in occupational therapy, was named 2012 Occupational Therapy Student of the Year by the NDOTA.

Nielsen received her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from UND in 2000. She was a staff occupational therapist for Trinity Health in Minot from 2001 to 2011, where she provided OT services for the Trinity child and adolescent partial hospitalization program. She joined UND in December of 2011 as an assistant professor of occupational therapy. Nielsen earned a Master of Management degree from the University of Mary in 2002. In 2009, she received the University of Mary’s Kathy Perrin Fieldwork Educator of the Year Award. Nielsen received her doctoral degree in institutional analysis and adult and occupational therapy from North Dakota State University in 2011.

Nielsen’s research on OT fieldwork has been published in the American Occupational Therapy Association’s journal OT Practice, and she contributed two chapters on OT interventions for children and youth in the AOTA publication, "Occupational Therapy in Mental Health: Considerations for Advanced Practice." She is involved in OT professional organizations at the state as well as national level, where, since 2009, she has served as an accreditation evaluator for the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. ACOTE accredits occupational therapy education programs in the United States.

Rebecca Polansky has an outstanding academic record and is a member of Pi Theta Epsilon, the occupational therapy honor society, which honored her with its Leadership Award in 2011. In 2011 and 2012, she received the Department of Occupational Therapy’s Scholarship Award. Polansky serves as a teaching assistant in the senior-level anatomy, neuroscience, and muscle function courses.

She participates in Fellowship of Catholic University Students Bible studies and participates in the annual Newman Center Bike Race and several intramural sports. She is a student employee for UND, where she was named Student Employee of the Year in 2011. She earned Student Employee of the Year for North Dakota in 2011.

-- Denis MacLeod, assistant director, Office of Alumni and Community Relations, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 777.2733,

Tagged as: , , , , ,