Occupational Therapy OT, Alumni Stories

OT Alumni Receives Award for Professional Excellence

Mount Mary University and the Mount Mary Alumnae Association recognized Dr. Shari Bernard of Mantorville, Minn., with the 2019 Madonna Medal for Professional Excellence at the annual Awards Night celebration on October 4, 2019.

Dr. Bernard graduated Mount Mary University with a BS in Occupational Therapy in 1989 and graduated from USAHS’ OTD program in 2009. The Madonna Medal is awarded to Mount Mary University alumnae who demonstrate a longstanding commitment to their profession, volunteerism or service to the University or Alumnae Association.

“This award was very special for me,” Dr. Bernard said. She was the first generation in her family to attend college and she didn’t know what to expect.

Dr. Bernard is grateful for the commitment Mount Mary University had to her education and in return, she has carried the values of commitment, respect and compassion to everything she does.

“That foundation gave me the confidence I needed to pursue my career and further education, she said. “My search for Doctorate level education later in my career, was led by those values.”

Bernard works at the Mayo Clinic as an occupational therapy supervisor, where she excels in the field of occupational therapy dysphagia practice. She was instrumental in developing a nationally recognized program for dysphagia care and rehabilitation at the Mayo Clinic, serving both for acute and outpatient populations with impairments in swallowing. She was one of five outstanding alumnae honored at this event.

Bernard is known as a leader and collaborator in the development and promotion of best practices in occupational therapy dysphagia practices for her state, local and national communities.

“During my time at USAHS I was able to develop leadership skills and build confidence to be a therapy leader,” Dr. Bernard said. “My education and the skills I learned at USAHS helped me become part of a team at Mayo Clinic to develop the first AOTA approved OT Dysphagia Fellowship.”

USAHS has helped Dr. Bernard expand, explore and participate in professional roles with occupational therapy State and National Organizations. “I am forever grateful for the experience and learning at USAHS in research and writing as I began to see the importance of Dysphagia information being published and available for others to see,” she said.

With the information she learned, she’s been able to publish manuscripts, participate in State and National presentations, complete poster presentations and author a chapter in the Occupational Therapy preparation books for the OT and OTA National Board Exam.

Dr. Bernard said this award helped her reflect on the opportunities she’s had because of a great education and a solid foundation of values. It also is a testament to the people and resources around her that support her work.

“I thank Mount Mary University and USAHS for the wonderful opportunity to attend their universities and I am grateful for all of the opportunities I have had since graduating from these terrific programs,” Dr. Bernard said.

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