Mary Kasch Hand Therapy Certification Scholarship: Pursuing Excellence in the Field

Posted by Amber Opitz, OTR/L, CHT, CLT 01/18/2022

I have been practicing as an occupational therapist for nearly seven years and have been a Certified Hand Therapist since May 2021. I have been blessed to be surrounded by several CHTs who have shown me how valuable the CHT credential is for the betterment of our patients, surrounding medical community and local communities. I have encountered many challenging medical and social situations where I have had to seek guidance from fellow colleagues who are my mentors. I have been completely amazed at how thoroughly and professionally my mentors evaluate a patient, tailor a treatment program to the patient, advocate for the patient to their medical team, educate the patient’s family and at the same time make the patient feel comfortable and more knowledgeable about their injury. I realized early on in my career how important pursuing the CHT credential is. The credential signifies that the therapist has taken both personal and professional time to improve and evolve his or her skillset so that the highest quality care is provided to the patients we serve. I committed early on in my career to pursue the CHT credential so I could achieve the highest level of competency in our field, use my knowledge to serve our patients and teach others the importance of upper extremity rehabilitation for improving the quality of life of others.  

I was absolutely stunned and honored to be the recipient of the Mary Kasch Hand Therapy Certification Scholarship last year. This scholarship award is a wonderful opportunity that provides the recipient with funding from the Hand Therapy Certification Commission, American Society of Hand Therapists and American Hand Therapy Foundation for the CHT Exam costs including continuing education, exam fee, study materials and travel-related expenses for the exam. When I was studying for the CHT Exam, I read about Mary Kasch and this generous scholarship she provided to upcoming CHTs. I watched the video tribute on HTCC’s website and read the article tribute to her in the Journal of Hand Therapy. I grew very intrigued to apply for the scholarship. Throughout her career, Mary Kasch demonstrated exemplary leadership in our field including being a founding member, past president of ASHT and president and executive director of HTCC. She was a pioneer in our field and left behind a remarkable legacy. Learning about her reminded me of my mentors who have supported and guided me on my journey as a therapist as well as my own goals for my professional career. Once learning more about her leadership and dedication to our profession, I felt as though my career ambitions aligned with her values, and that persuaded me to apply for the scholarship award.

The Mary Kasch Hand Therapy Certification Scholarship assisted me with paying for the cost of my CHT Exam, books and supplies required for exam preparation, and my travel to the ASHT Annual Meeting in St. Louis in October 2021 where I received the award at the conference. The scholarship helped me achieve my dream of advancing in our specialty by achieving this high level of competency. Preparing to sit for the certification exam improved my knowledge base for not only the exam, but also the care of my patients. My skillset continued improving when I was able to attend my first ASHT conference in October, where I learned an incredible amount of information that I have been able to utilize to improve my patient outcomes. To me, receiving the scholarship means I have been able to continue to advance in many ways including furthering my education and dedication to the field of upper extremity rehabilitation. Like Mary Kasch, my hope is to ultimately pass on this knowledge, be a mentor and teacher, continue the growth of the specialty and teach others around the world the importance of upper extremity rehabilitation.

The Mary Kasch Hand Therapy Certification Scholarship provides opportunities for professional development by providing financial support to an OT/PT interested in pursuing certification in hand and upper extremity therapy. The application window for the 2022 scholarship is open through March 1, 2022. The award recipient will be notified June 1, 2022 and will be announced to the general public at the ASHT Annual Meeting in the fall. Please visit the Mary Kasch Scholarship page for full eligibility details.