Sandra Pelham-Foster, OTD, MPA/HA, OTR/L

Fieldwork Coordinator
Health Professions Building 2 365

I was educated in South Africa receiving my bachelor of science in occupational therapy at the University of Witwatersrand, at a time when many changes were occurring around the world, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dismantling of the Apartheid System. Professors told us, at that time, that we would never be sorry that we have chosen occupational therapy as a career.

This has never been truer than in my life and my career. Occupational therapy has been the profession that made it possible for me to work and ultimately come to live in the United States. Occupational therapy has made it possible for me to experience incredible diversity across the world. I further advanced my understanding and skills in organization systems, when I obtained a master's degree in Public and Health Administration from Portland State University, College of Urban and Public Affairs.

In my work as an occupational therapist I have provided services to the rural people of Northeastern South Africa, implementing a World Health Organization mandate; I have worked with families in Oregon and Washington, in the metro areas, rural areas, and up and down the I-5 corridor. I have provided services to individuals and families who were adjusting to the changes within the logging industry here in the Northwest and travelled to China to work with disabled children and provide staff training to hospital personnel.

I have made my home in the Northwest working in local hospitals, skilled nursing rehab centers, home health, school systems and early intervention programs, developmental and evaluation clinic for children and opened a private practice, Optimum Performance Therapeutics, in 2002.  I have mentored occupational therapy students in all of these settings as a fieldwork educator and assumed the position of Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at Pacific University, in 2006.

I obtained Board Certification in Pediatrics in 1998, developed a specialty focus in the area of pediatric feeding and I completed a clinical doctorate in Occupational Therapy in 2013. The occupation of pediatric feeding requires an understanding of family systems and emotional and psychosocial dynamics within a family and for the child. I continue to pursue my strong interest in the mental and emotional health and wellbeing of both child and mother through the mentorship of doctoral projects within the occupational therapy program.

During the past 25 years I have built relationships with people in the many places I have worked and in the committees and organization I have volunteered my time. These endearing relationships have provided me with an incredible network in the therapy community. This network has proved to be invaluable in my role as the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at Pacific University.

In my personal time, I enjoy walking my labradoodle, Finley and outdoor activities. I am an avid gardener and creatively participate in home projects and hand arts, often making items rather than buying them. Occupational Therapy is more than a career for me, it is a way of life.


2013, Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy, University of Utah, UT

2001, Master's, Public Administration/Health Administration, Portland State University, Ore.

1989, B.S., Occupational Therapy, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

Recent Accomplishments/Awards

2011- Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon Grace Black Award

Research and Grants

2012/13. Faculty Development Grant: Building capacity for innovative occupational therapy practice sites through clinical instructor education. Awarded $3000

2011/12.  Berglund Fellowship recipient- The use of technology in occupational therapy clinical education. Awarded $3500


Pelham-Foster, S. (2013, October 6). Why mealtime can be so challenging. EP Magazine.

Pelham-Foster, S. (2013). The transactional experience of mealtimes. University of Utah Library Archives

Pelham-Foster, S. (2013). The cultural values of mealtimes through history. University of Utah Library Archives

Pelham-Foster, S. (2013). Investigating the Use of Mobile Technology in Healthcare and Clinical Education. In J. Barlow (ed.). Interface: The Journal of Education, Community, and Values (Vol. 12, pp. 25-30). Forest Grove, OR: The Berglund Center for Internet Studies.

Karimi, R, Pelham-Foster, S, Scott, B, Aamodt, G. (2012). Developing and Implementing an Interprofessional Course and Identifying Its Strengths and Challenges. Health and Interprofessional Practice 1(2):eP1019:

University Service

OT Director Search Committee Member (2014-current)

Faculty Appeals Committee Alternate Rep (2011-2016)

Oregon Healthcare Workforce Committee- Senate Bill 879 (2011- 2014)

University Interstate Regulatory Task Force (2011/2013)

Faculty Chairperson of College of Health Professions (August 2009- June 2011)

Chairperson of Experiential Education for CHP Interprofessional Course (2009-2011)

University Faculty Marshall – Commencement Ceremonies (2010-2014)

Chair of CHP By-Laws Revision Task Force (2011)

University Council Governance Structure Review Task Force (2010-2012)

CHP representative to the Senate (2009-2011)

CHP representative to the University Council (2009- 2011)

Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities Accrediting Site Visit Team (2010)

MHA Faculty Search Committee (2010)