Sarah Nielsen Chosen to Receive Roster of Fellows Award

Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center
Publication Date: Nov 10, 2020

Sarah Nielsen Chosen to Receive Roster of Fellows Award

November 10, 2020Sarah Nielsen, PhD, OTR/L has been chosen to receive the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Roster of Fellows Award for her dedication and extraordinary leadership in the field of occupational therapy. The AOTA Roster of Fellows recognizes occupational therapist members of AOTA, who through their knowledge, expertise, leadership, advocacy, and/or guidance have made a significant contribution over time to the profession, with a measured impact on consumers of occupational therapy services and/or members of the Association.


Nielsen, an associate professor at the University of North Dakota (UND), earned her OTR/L degree from UND, and her PhD in Institutional Analysis and Adult Learning from North Dakota State University. Her occupational therapy career began at Trinity Health’s Child and Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program, where she worked for eleven years. She is credited on eleven publications in peer-reviewed journals, has written three chapters for occupational therapy textbooks, and currently serves as a chair of the North Dakota State Board of Occupational Therapy.


In August 2018, The Center for Rural Health, at UND, was awarded a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to create the Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC). Nielsen was part of the initial team that submitted the grant proposal. She now works with Mountain Plains MHTTC as a technical trainer focused on school mental health.


When asked to reflect on memorable experiences throughout her career thus far, Nielsen struggled to choose only one. “Teaching students in the clinical setting and seeing their personal growth, in both technical skills and professional development, may have been my most rewarding experience,” said Nielsen. “Being a fieldwork supervisor gave me ‘the bug’ to teach.”


Nielsen offered some advice for students considering a career in occupational therapy. “Occupational therapy is about helping people engage in activities that are meaningful to them. If you enjoy being creative and believe that ‘What we do is who we are,’ then OT could be the field for you.”


Roster of Fellows awardees will be identified on the AOTA website and in the November/December 2021 archival issue of The American Journal of Occupational Therapy. Awardees will also be recognized at the National AOTA conference in San Diego this April.


Nielsen has contributed to these excellent Mountain Plains MHTTC resources: