Promoting Growth and Patients’ Fullest Participation in Life with Katie Needham

One of the most valuable lessons Katie Needham has learned during her time at Lurie Children’s is to remember why you’re here. For her, that means providing a special and unique skill set to all of our patients and their families.

Katie was always interested in working with differently abled individuals while growing up. She participated in various volunteer opportunities through high school and college, which ignited her desire to work in the medical field. But it wasn’t until her senior year of college that she realized what path she wanted to take in the healthcare world.

“Once I observed Occupational Therapy,” she opines, “I saw the melding of art and science, and the importance of creativity and promoting function in what that specific person was interested in accomplishing.”

While working on her Master’s in Occupational Therapy, Katie’s last placement was at Lurie Children’s outpatient facility. The fast-paced environment and focus on education and training piqued her interest in joining the Lurie Children’s team full-time. Katie kept her eye out for job postings on the careers site, waiting to find her dream role. Then, nearly three years ago, she found it.

She applied. She interviewed. She got it.

Today, Katie works with kids with progressive neuromuscular disorders and muscular dystrophies. “I have always been interested in the neurological population,” she says. “But I didn’t have much experience in the progressive neuromuscular region until I was given the opportunity to work in the clinic here.”

It’s an exciting time to be part of all the different clinical studies and research trials happening at Lurie Children’s, she says. It’s even more exciting to do so alongside our fabulous team.

“The amount of teamwork we have and the people–who are always there to turn to–is really amazing,” Katie gushes. “Lurie Children’s is one of the best children’s hospitals in the northwest, so we see diagnoses here that can only be seen once in a healthcare career.”

What sets Lurie Children’s apart from the rest isn’t just our collaboration, but our focus on education and the opportunities for growth.

“We’re constantly growing,” she says matter-of-factly. “Our management and clinical teams are always receptive if we present new opportunities for growth. For instance, we recently identified the potential benefit of providing groups to the inpatient floor so that some of the kids who are here for a long time can socialize amongst similarly-aged kids. So, we brought in an OTD student who created a comprehensive group seasonal program.”

That creativity is exactly what we need to see in future team members. Even if your background isn’t in providing health care, an interest in the pediatric population is imperative. “I get a lot of experience caring for kids now, even if it’s just babysitting,” Katie advised.

“We deal with kids who are still developing and may have developmental differences, so getting your observation and play skills with kids of all different ages is important. Oftentimes, new occupational therapists want to work in inpatient pediatrics, and it can be a big jump, so break it down. Take advantage of opportunities and ask questions: it’s valuable.”


Are you playful, self-motivated, and a good teammate? Apply today and join our team!