Elizabeth Skidmore, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, FACRM - Leading by Example
Dr. Elizabeth Skidmore epitomizes servant leadership in the most inspiring and impactful way. Skidmore is professor and chair of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Occupational Therapy and associate dean of research in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.
In addition to her academic roles, Skidmore is also a leader in the field of occupational therapy. In 2017, Skidmore was named one of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Top 100 OTs in 100 years. During Barack Obama’s presidency, she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers – the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government upon science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers. She is the only occupational therapist to ever receive this award.
Skidmore has received numerous other research, teaching and service awards including the Research Award and Academic Educator Award from the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association, and the Deborah L. Wilkerson Early Career Award from the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. Her CV speaks for itself.
From Student to Teacher
Skidmore could lend her expertise anywhere in the world, but she has chosen to call the University of Pittsburgh home. After earning her master’s and doctoral degrees from Pitt’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, she was compelled to share her knowledge with future health care generations through one of the country’s highest ranked occupational therapy programs.
She began teaching for the Department of Occupational Therapy in 2003, became chair in 2015 and was named associate dean of research for the school in 2018. Her full career has been grounded in clinical practice, academics, research, and mentorship and much more awaits in her bright future.
Skidmore has a passion for investigative work that examines rehabilitation intervention elements that stimulate cognitive function, reduce depressive symptoms and apathy, reduce disability and promote healthy levels of activity and participation after acquired brain injury and stroke. She also enjoys “working together [with her students] to derive creative and sustainable solutions” and gets “great joy in helping students realize their goals and following their successes over the years.”
The Circle of Learning
Skidmore’s work extends far beyond the classroom. She runs a federally funded research program, is co-founder of the BRiTE Wellness Program and is continuously published in peer-reviewed journals. She takes what she learns from her experiences and applies it to her teaching.
For example, she shares techniques discovered through research by implementing them in the classroom to "engage the learner in new and creative ways, and seat new knowledge and skills through a variety of applied learning activities.”
Despite her robust schedule, she is devoted to making herself available to her students both inside and outside the classroom. No matter what the issue may be, Skidmore is dedicated to providing counsel and mentorship to those who need it, often stating that these discussions are the best part of her job.
It is not just students who learn from her, though. Skidmore believes that the “circle of learning and mentoring is one of the most rewarding experiences as an educator.” She nurtures relationships with students long after they graduate and has built long-lasting networks that can, and do, benefit her current students, alumni, faculty and colleagues.
Results Expected and Delivered
The Department of Occupational Therapy has received recognition for education, research and service. It’s ranked third in the country and first in Pennsylvania for its entry-level program.
Graduates of this program are known for their excellent work; the faculty are nationally recognized for their “innovation and leadership in occupational therapy education, research and service.” It is no surprise that the results expected, by both students and faculty, are results that get delivered time and time again.
The post-professional Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) in Occupational Therapy program is no different.
Skidmore believes “our profession, our health care and educational systems and our society all need thoughtful, well-trained and engaged leaders to meet the needs of our changing world.” She strives to provide this through the University of Pittsburgh’s Occupational Therapy programs.
The Doctor of Clinical Science in Occupational Therapy program, for example, provides state-of-the-science training in the core skills needed for success in the field. “This training is individually tailored to the professional goals of the students, whether training for advanced practice in clinical, educational or administrative settings.”
When asked what she hopes students will gain from this program, Skidmore states:
“I hope that students will not only gain the knowledge and skills necessary to develop and implement plans for sustainable change in their respective clinical or educational practices, but that they will also develop lasting collaborations with faculty and peers that will support these efforts in the years to come.”
A Culture of Collaboration
Skidmore says that “graduates will leave this program with advanced skills in establishing and nurturing productive collaborations essential to promoting change.” The CScD in Occupational Therapy program is designed to empower licensed occupational therapists to develop advanced leadership skills, implement evidence into practice and transform the profession.
Collaboration is a necessity for success in leadership. The Department of Occupational Therapy is “known for its excellence in creating opportunities for and training through a wide range of collaborations with people inside and outside the profession.”
Building a network is necessary for collaboration. “Students enter this program with existing networks in place and then extend them through collaborations with faculty and the circles these faculty make available to students.”
Top Program, Top-Ranked Students
You, too, can learn from Dr. Elizabeth Skidmore and the other accomplished faculty members of the Department of Occupational Therapy. The Doctor of Clinical Science in Occupational Therapy program is delivered 100% online, serving top-ranked students all over the world.
Graduates of the CScD in Occupational Therapy will also earn an Advanced Practice Certificate in Implementation of Evidence in Clinical Practice, the only advanced certificate of its kind.
Learn more about Pitt’s online CScD in Occupational Therapy and how it can help you advance your practice in this profession.