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USD Occupational Therapy's Jessica McHugh Chairs National Group

Jessica McHugh Jessica McHugh, Ph.D., has been elected as chair of the Children and Youth Special Interest Section of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Jessica McHugh, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy at the University of South Dakota, has been elected as chair of the Children and Youth Special Interest Section of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). This national organization has identified children and youth as a key practice area within the field of occupational therapy for 2021, including addressing new regulations and new initiatives such as early interventions.

A focus of McHugh’s work and teaching is pediatrics and early interventions. In addition to her teaching responsibilities, she conducts research in pediatric neurodevelopment and issues related to vision and youth occupations.

McHugh is also AOTA board-certified in pediatrics and is a staff member at LifeScape AbleKids, in Sioux City, Iowa. McHugh has been at USD since 2012 and became a full-time faculty member in 2017.


USD’s School of Health Sciences is a national leader in interprofessional health sciences education. South Dakota’s comprehensive School of Health Sciences develops scholars, practitioners and leaders in health and human services, including addiction counselors, dental hygienists, health science practitioners, medical laboratory scientists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, public health practitioners and social workers.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News