Mentoring Profile: Laura VanPuymbrouck, PhD, OTR/L, College of Health Sciences

The Rush Women Mentoring Program fosters professional development and a sense of community and collaboration among women faculty at Rush University. In this series, we highlight program mentors and mentees and learn more about how mentoring has impacted them.

Laura VanPuymbrouck, PhD, OTR/L, assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, College of Health Sciences, joined Rush University in January 2018.

Tell us about your background.

I earned my PhD in disability studies and degree in occupational therapy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. My research and teaching interests include weaving disability studies principles into OT professional education and evaluating structural barriers to health and wellness of people with disabilities.

What inspired you to get into your field?

I am drawn to occupational therapy because of its commitment to viewing the whole person, addressing issues of social inclusion, social justice and enabling occupational participation. Disability studies offers a differing lens of the many contextual factors that influence these concerns.

What excites you about your work at Rush?

The Rush commitment to being a leader in health care education and community needs provides an opportunity to invest my experience as a clinician, researcher and educator in a community where there are reciprocating expectations of excellence.

What is your opinion of mentoring and sponsorship?

I believe mentoring is invaluable for the role it plays for all participants. My own experiences make me question what experiences have taught me more: acting in the role of mentor or mentee? Clinically the benefits result in more positive experiences for the clients we serve. Professionally it creates an opportunity for life-long learning.

Do you have tips or advice you would recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?

To understand occupational therapy’s depth and breadth, a person must should explore more than a single clinical context. Understanding how OT works to increase participation comes with seeing the approaches of the profession used across diverse communities, populations and groups.

What are your hobbies? How do you like to spend your free time?

My interests outside of work include sports and outdoor experiences of all kinds; even better is spent with my family and friends.