The Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA) named Virginia O’Brien, OTD, OTR/L, CHT as Clinician of the Year.

Virginia O'Brien

MOTA, a professional association of about 850 occupational therapists, assistants and students, uses the award to recognize clinicians who have made notable contributions to their profession.

“Virginia is someone you can turn to for advice and support when needed,” says Alice Snorteland, OTR/L, CHT, Hand Therapy Supervisor. “She’s always willing to step up to help, get the job done and comes up with creative ways to help our patients with their rehabilitation.”

A Lifelong Leader

Virginia, a hand therapy residency coordinator at the University Orthopaedics Therapy Center, has dedicated her life to her practice, getting her Bachelors of Science in occupational therapy in 1976.

She then found her passion in the specialty field of hand therapy, and in 1997, achieved specialty certification in hand rehabilitation via the Hand Therapy Certification Commission. Most recently, in 2010, she received her clinical doctorate in occupational therapy.

“She leads by example and is hard working and self-motivated to continue to learn and grow in her knowledge and treatment skills in order to benefit all those around her, including her patients, co-workers and all OTs,” says colleague Amy Pattock,  OTR/L, CHT. “She is generous with her time and shares her knowledge to educate others.”

A Researcher

Virginia co-developed, published research findings on and has spoken nationally and internationally on the dynamic stability of the thumb, published six articles in the Journal of Hand Therapy and is a co-investigator on three current OT research projects.

All of those experiences, and more, were the reason Virginia was first nominated for the award by her colleagues.

She was the supervisor of Physical and Hand Therapy Departments of University Orthopedics Therapy Center from 2004 to 2013 and supervised numerous pre-clinical level I OT students and eight Level II OT students while working in hand therapy at Fairview.

An Innovator

Not stopping there, she also co-created and implemented Fairview’s first hand therapy residency program, which began in 2014 and had its first resident complete their residency in 2015.

“Virginia is a person whose passion it is to learn and to teach others,” says Alice. “She truly cares about her patients and co-workers, and she is a leader in hand therapy at Fairview. She has been a mentor to many of us in hand therapy as well as occupational therapy and physical therapy across the Fairview system.”