Mary Jane Mulcahey, PhD, OTR/L
Dr. Mulcahey is Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Professions, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dr . Mulcahey's research focuses on the long-term outcomes of children with spinal injuries; developing computer adaptive testing platforms of activity performance and participation and; developing trajectories of typical participation patterns of children and adolescence living in the United States as way to better understand the similarities and disparities of participation in children with health conditions compared to peers without health conditions. She believes building knowledge on similarities and disparities will catalyze work involving the development of occupationally based methods to enhance participation. (Retrieved on February 25, 2015 from http://www.jefferson.edu/university/health_professions/departments/occupational_therapy/faculty/faculty/mulcahey.html.)
Q and A
Identify three words that others have used to describe you.
Collaborative; Passionate; Optimistic.
How do you hope to make a difference in the world through research?
I hope my work will lead to the outcomes that are most meaningful to the people living with chronic conditions; I hope that through my work, people with chronic conditions have more opportunities for participation in the activities the are most relevant for them.
What is one piece of advice you have for individuals considering a career in science and research?
Seek out and develop strong relationships with several mentors and remain open to the possibilities they present to you. Focus on your vision.
Beside your own areas of inquiry, what is one research priority that you believe is important for the future of occupational science and occupational therapy?
One of the most significant research priorities in occupational therapy and occupational science is to study, understand and test "interventions" that are most effective in altering the environment so that persons with differences can participate in everyday living unencumbered by physical, social and cultural environments. Our research must focus on system level interventions that promote everyday living as opposed to intervention focused on changing individuals to a "norm."
Describe the most important role that mentors played in your professional journey.
My mentors taught me how to be systematic, reflective, collaborative and humble. They modeled high ethical standards. They affirmed me; pushed me beyond my comfort zone; celebrated my accomplishments and; showed me how to succeed in failure.
Identify a favorite occupation that renews you outside of your work.
What has been the most surprising or rewarding aspects of a career in science and research?
The most rewarding aspect of a career in research are the relationships you establish with other people -- people from such diverse perspectives; the diversity and their influence have made me a better scientist, clinician and person.
Mulcahey MJ, Merenda, L, Tian, F, Kozin, S, James, M, Gogola, G, & Ni, P. (2013). Computer adaptive test approach to the assessment of children and youth with brachial plexus birth palsy. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 67, 524-533.
Muller, M, Toth-Cohen, S & Mulcahey, MJ. (2014). Development and evaluation of a hospital-based peer support group for younger individuals with stroke. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 28, 277-295.
Russell, HF, January, AM, Kelly, EH, Mulcahey, MJ, Betz, RR & Vogel, LC. (2015). Patterns of coping strategy use and relationships with psychosocial health in adolescents with spinal cord injury. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 2015 Jan 23. pii: jsu159. [Epub ahead of print]
Tian, F, Ni, P, Mulcahey, MJ, Hambleton, RK, Tulsky, D, Haley, SM & Jette, AM. (2014). Tracking functional status across the spinal cord injury lifespan: linking pediatric and adult patient-reported outcome scores. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 95, 2078-2085.