Rhode Island Free Clinic, Johnson & Wales University Announce Partnership

Story by JWU Media Relations , on Sep 22, 2021 11:57 AM


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — September 22, 2021 – The Rhode Island Free Clinic has started a new partnership with the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program at Johnson & Wales University (JWU). JWU OTD students will work with The Clinic’s licensed occupational therapists, providing assessment and intervention techniques to assist people in developing, recovering, or maintaining the meaningful activities or occupations in their lives in their lives.

 “Part of our mission is to produce occupational therapists who consistently seek to meet the changing needs of their communities and become leaders in interprofessional practice who emphasize occupation as a determinant of health,” said Nancy R. Dooley Ph.D., associate professor and director of JWU’s OTD program. “At The Clinic, our students practice providing occupational therapy in a truly community-based setting for people without health insurance coverage, collaborating with other healthcare providers to help clients overcome barriers to health and full participation in all they want and need to do.”

 “We’re thrilled to partner with the JWU Occupational Therapy Doctorate program,” said Marie Ghazal, DNP, RN, Clinic CEO. “Our new and growing partnership compliments the vital services provided to uninsured, low-income Rhode Islanders and provides JWU OTD students with hands-on training at the forefront of community health and public service.”  

The first group to collaborate was JWU OTD students Jessica Karcher and Ashika Shah, and Lucille Garcia, an experienced occupational therapist and JWU adjunct faculty member. They established the program and client education sessions that introduce the concept of occupational therapy into The Clinic. Students also work interprofessionally with physical therapy students and a variety of providers.

Providers benefit from the OT programming as students provide ergonomic assessments and suggestions to keep the providers safe as they work with the clients. It is the goal of The Clinic to continue to grow and develop occupational therapy services to augment the integrated care available underserved adults. For more information, please visit www.rifreeclinic.org.

JWU’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, the first entry-level program in Rhode Island, launched in 2019 and will graduate its first class in May 2022. It is housed in the university’s College of Health & Wellness, which includes JWU’s Physician Assistant Studies program, and offers an integrative, multidisciplinary approach to preparing students for a health-related career. Undergraduate programs offered include Dietetics and Applied Nutrition, Health Science, Public Health, and Exercise and Sports Science. As of fall 2021, nearly 400 students were enrolled in the college.


About JWU

Founded in 1914, Johnson & Wales University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 9,000 graduate, undergraduate and online students at its campuses in Providence, Rhode Island and Charlotte, North Carolina. An innovative educational leader, the university offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in arts and sciences, business, engineering, food innovation, hospitality, nutrition, health and wellness. It also offers undergraduate programs in culinary arts, dietetics and design. JWU’s unique model provides students with the personalized attention, academic expertise and industry connections that inspire professional success and personal growth. The university’s impact is global, with alumni in 125 countries pursuing careers worldwide. For more information, visit www.jwu.edu.

About Rhode Island Free Clinic

Founded in 1999, the Rhode Island Free Clinic provides a comprehensive Medical Home to uninsured, low-income Rhode Island adults, and serves as an educational training site for aspiring health care professionals through partnerships with Rhode Island’s leading Academic Partners.

Care includes primary care, dental, behavioral health, specialty care, physical and occupational therapy, wellness education, and medicine -- all free to vulnerable Rhode Islanders. On the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the past year the Clinic served over 5,600 vulnerable RI adults, and provided over 10,000 COVID-19 Tests and Vaccines to keep our community safe and well.