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Johns Hopkins Mental Health Occupational Therapy Fellowship

This fellowship accomplishes in one year what may otherwise take many years to achieve professionally. The fellowship and the AOTA Board and Specialty Certification Program share an emphasis on the AOTA Standards for Continuing Competence: knowledge, critical reasoning, interpersonal skills, performance skills and ethical practice. It also prepares the fellow for subsequent promotion along the clinical ladder beyond the level of peers without board certification. As an employee of the Johns Hopkins Health System, the fellow will receive a salary, medical benefits and other full-time employee benefits, including paid time off. 

Duration: 12 months
Accreditation: AOTA Approved
Application deadline: The 2020 enrollment period is closed, please check back for 2021 deadlines
Admission decision: late May
Program start: August
View program flyer

Please click the pay application link to pay the supplementary application fee. Application will not be processed until the fee is received and application is complete. All fees are non-refundable.

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I was fortunate to work with a variety of mentors. Each of them offered guidance and direction regarding treatment interventions, group dynamics and evaluation measures. They challenged me to expand my knowledge while respecting and fostering my skill set to provide advanced clinical practice. 

- Joanna Lackner, class of 2018

Fellowship Features

  • Specialized skills and knowledge in the area of mental health
  • Advanced clinical practice across a continuum of care
  • Evidence-based high-quality service delivery
  • Advocacy, teaching and mentorship opportunities
  • Participation in research and/or quality improvement projects for presentation or publication

Covered service areas include: general psychiatry, schizophrenia, mood disorders, child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, substance use, pain treatment and eating disorders. The fellow will also be exposed to the Psychiatric Occupational Therapy/Medicine Consult Service.

Alumni Achievements

What our alumni have achieved after finishing the program:

  • Advancing clinical practice models of existing clinical programs
  • Becoming AOTA Board Certified in Mental Health
  • Developing new occupational therapy clinical programs
  • Obtaining advanced level and leadership therapy positions
  • Presenting at the local, state and national level

Fellowship Coordinator

Bobby Walsh, psychiatric occupational therapist

Bobby Walsh


2016 Fellowship Alumnus


Current Fellow | Class of 2020

Samantha Susson

Samantha Susson, OTR/L

Undergraduate school: University of Delaware, bachelor’s in health studies
Graduate School: Thomas Jefferson University, master’s in occupational therapy
Hometown: Voorhees Township, New Jersey
Professional interestscommunity-based practice for people with serious mental illnesses
Why I chose Johns Hopkins: I chose Hopkins because of the ability to see multiple areas of psychiatry, and the way that assessment and intervention strategies differ based on someone’s diagnosis and the opportunity to be mentored by many clinicians who are working at the top of our field.  
What I like about Baltimore: I love the pathway around the harbor where you can see the boats sailing on the water, and that there are so many great parks to be in nature both within the city and close by.

Fellowship Alumni

Photo coming soon

Kelsey Nicks, OTR/L | Class of 2019

Undergraduate school: Northern Arizona University; B.S. in psychology
Graduate School: California State University, Dominguez Hills; M.S. in occupational therapy
Hometown: Monterey, California 
Professional interests: reducing the mental health stigma, children and adolescents, prevention and community-based mental health, advocacy for mental health/occupational therapy, program development 
Why I chose Johns Hopkins: I chose Johns Hopkins because it is a leading innovator in the healthcare industry and I wanted to be a part of a team and organization that prioritizes client-centered care, evidenced-based practice and motivates me to be better. I was previously doing program development for a community-based facility as the only occupational therapist and I wanted to enhance, expand and solidify my knowledge and experience as an advanced occupational therapy mental health practitioner, thus I looked to Johns Hopkins to bridge the gaps in my professional endeavors. Furthermore, I was seeking mentorship as I strongly believe that surrounding oneself with like-minded individuals is a sure way to reach goals and challenge capabilities. 
What I like about Baltimore: I have only been here three weeks, but when I visited I fell in love with the cobblestone roads, the historic and artsy feel, the down-to-earth people, and all the red brick! 

Joanna Lackner, occupational therapist

Joanna Lackner, OTR/L | Class of 2018

Read Q&A with Joanna about her fellowship experience.
Undergraduate school: University of Minnesota; B.S. in psychology
Graduate School: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, M.S. in occupational therapy
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Professional interests: affective disorders, pediatric mental health
Why I chose Johns Hopkins: This well-designed fellowship focuses on mentorship and excellence in evidence-based practice. The program provides a diverse collection of educational experiences, including opportunities to attend didactic lectures within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, advocate to further our profession at the state and national levels, and receive personalized mentorship throughout each of the eight service line rotations. 
What I like about Baltimore: Baltimore is a city filled with history and culture — there’s always something to do in one of the city’s great neighborhoods. Baltimore is also within driving distance of many great destinations such as D.C., Philadelphia and the Eastern Shore. 

photo coming soon

Elizabeth Duggan, OTR/L | Class of 2017

Undergraduate school: State University of New York at New Paltz in New Paltz, NY; BS in visual arts education and BFA in photography
Graduate School: University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA; MOT in occupational therapy
Hometown: East Amherst, New York

Frequently Asked Questions

How many hours will I be working a week?

Fellows are scheduled for 40-50 hours a week. We will try to accommodate your scheduling requests. There will also be independent study readings to be completed on your own time.

How many hours of patient care will I see?

Fellows are scheduled for an average of 15 hours a week of direct billable patient care during clinical modules.

Do I have to pay for any courses?

Fellows don't have to pay out of pocket for any didactic courses they attend at Johns Hopkins. In addition, you will get a stipend to cover some of the cost for CEU courses, local or national conferences, the amount of which will fluctuate based upon annual budget.

What other resources are available for learning?

Each clinical area maintains its own library of references for evidence-based practice and clinical protocols, patient education handouts and service-based learning packets. The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences also maintains a library of psychiatry journals and books, which are available to staff as needed. In addition, at least one clinical specialist is assigned to each area of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for mentoring and consultation related to clinical practice. This person maintains at least 3-5 years of clinical experience and has demonstrated involvement and knowledge in research, quality improvement, clinical programming and evidence-based practice.

What does the clinic space look like?

The Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation provides full access to all treatment areas, all assessment tools and treatment modalities/equipment therein for fellowship use. The psychiatric occupational therapy staff maintains a clinic space on the second floor of the Meyer Building, which includes an activities of daily living (ADL) area, an ADL bathroom, a kitchen, an outdoor patio and space for individual and group treatments. The psychiatric units are also utilized for therapy services and each has a day room, activity room, some treatment space, full kitchen and tub/shower rooms.

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