“The Society’s most valued award recognizes and honours an individual who has rendered distinguished and longstanding service to the profession of Occupational Therapy or to the Society. Susan’s career and her contributions, commitment, and passion for the profession of occupational therapy exemplify valued service to both the profession and the Society.” (OSOT, Nov 6, 2019)
From the nomination:
Following graduation from Queen’s University, Susan practised occupational therapy for a decade in Kingston, Hamilton, London, and Toronto. During this period, she was a staff therapist, a senior therapist in neurorehabilitation, an acting manager, and a community-based occupational therapist. These experiences provided her with an understanding of practice with various populations and different treatment settings within Ontario.
Susan joined the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto in 1996 after having completed a PhD on the sociology of the health care professions. Her teaching and research activities have helped to shape the development of occupational therapy in Ontario. For example, Susan developed the three Professional Issues courses for the MScOT Program, incorporating new content on professionalism, practice processes, health and rehabilitation policy, and research utilization. She also incorporated College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario PREP modules into the Professional Issues courses, making U of T the first program to include these modules in entry-level programs.
As Chair of the Department of OS&OT since 2009, She oversaw the oldest and largest program of occupational therapy in Canada and ensured its ongoing development. Among Susan’s most significant achievements is the expansion of the occupational therapy program at U of T to include a cohort of students on U of T’s Mississauga (UTM) campus. Similar to the program for medical students already in place, the occupational therapy program at UTM provides an opportunity for learning in a smaller setting, in a fast-growing geographical area where there is a clear need for more health professionals. The aim of the enrolment expansion at UTM has been for the Department to work with its hospital and community partners to build occupational therapy capacity in established and evolving roles across Peel, one of the fastest growing regions in Canada.
Another program under Susan’s management is the Advanced Standing Option designed for occupational therapists with an undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy who wish to obtain an MScOT degree. The program was seen as not only meeting an important need for clinicians to upgrade but also as “a transformative learning experience since the students’ newly developed knowledge translation skills were immediately applied to their real-life practice issues”. While the program is currently on hold, it will soon continue to provide established occupational therapists with research training to create new evidence for occupational therapy practice.
As Chair of OS&OT, she led the faculty in the development of its theoretically based pedagogy and scholarship. She has helped develop new faculty positions which will support research and teaching in areas important for the growth of the profession.
Photo credited to the Ontario Society of Occupational Therapists, October 2019. Featured, from left, are Sylvia Davidson, OSOT Past-President, Susan Rappolt, and Christie Brenchley, OSOT Executive DirectorProf. Rappolt completed her term as Chair of the Dept. of OS&OT in 2019.