About Giovanna Fichera

In 2022, Giovanna Fichera became one of the first students to earn a clinical doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Russell Sage College’s OTD program, the first accredited entry-level OTD program in New York state. 

I wanted it because it adds more to my education and opportunities,” said Giovanna, who started in Sage’s Occupational Therapy master’s program after earning her bachelor’s in Health Sciences. 

She switched to the doctoral program as soon as it opened. 

“When you have the OTD, you can become a professor,” she said. “Down the road, if I want to teach, I have that option. The other option is I can be a primary investigator on a research project, and I’m really passionate about research.”

She said her doctoral research into a new splinting technique was a highlight of her education. 

She explained that individuals with some medical conditions can’t tolerate traditional splinting, which involves molding warm thermoplastic material on patients’ arms.  

For her capstone research, Giovanna scanned study participants’ arms with a 3D scanner, printed 3D models of their arms and made splints on the models. She then evaluated the effectiveness of the splints created with this “non-contact” method. 

She’ll present her results at the New York State Occupational Therapy Association conference in October 2022 and will submit her study to the American Society of Hand Therapist’s 2023 conference. 

She’s also preparing for the exam required to become a certified occupational therapist, which she’ll take this fall. 

And while her fieldwork supervisors have encouraged her to apply for positions at their practices, she’s leaning toward becoming a traveling occupational therapist.  

Traveling occupational therapists work with an agency that places OTs in short term positions around the country — usually for three months. 

“I want to do it because you get to try different settings and learn a lot,” Giovanna said.

“I would really like to put an emphasis on how great the OTD program is, especially because it’s new,” Giovanna adds. “I feel prepared as a professional.”

“I feel prepared as a professional.”

Giovanna Fichera, OTD