After working as an occupational therapist in the private sector for 12 years, Deek Cunningham decided it was time to return to his alma mater, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, to teach in the Department of Occupational Therapy in the School of Health Professions.
“One of my goals was to teach in the OT program,” said Cunningham, M.S., OTR/L, ATP, “I always knew, however, I needed more clinical experience to bring to the table.”
Over the years, Cunningham guest lectured at UAB and the University of South Alabama and worked with students during their three-months of fieldwork. As an assistant professor, Cunningham will teach mental health classes as well as co-teach groups and communities class.
“The curriculum has changed so much since I was in school,” said Cunningham. “I agree with the groups and problem-based learning. It makes the students think while using their clinical skills of what you would do next or interact with your patient. It’s what these students will be faced with in a real job.”
Cunningham graduated from the UAB OT program in 1998. He is certified in SIPT (Sensory Integration and Praxis Test), Interactive Metronome and Therapeutic Listening. Once a teacher, Jan Rowe, Dr. OT, interim director of the OT program, will now be his boss.
“The hire on Deek was pretty easy,” said Rowe. “He is so generalized. He has practice expertise in so many areas including kids, burns/trauma, adults and elders as well as having many certifications equaling more expertise. Deek is in this for the long run, he wants to be a ‘lifetime’ faculty member, and we like that.”
Most of Cunningham’s career was spent working with pediatrics at Children’s Health System in Birmingham and Children’s Therapy of Tuscaloosa, Ala. He worked in the outpatient pediatric clinic at the Infirmary Health System-Thomas Hospital in Fairhope and at the Center for Pediatric Rehabilitation in Pensacola, Fla. Most recently, he worked in acute care at The University of South Alabama Medical Center in Mobile and Mercy Medical Home Health in Daphne, Ala.
Cunningham is a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association, the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and the Alabama Occupational Therapy Association where he is the membership co-chair.