CHS’s Heidi Plach Receives Prestigious GOLD Award

Heidi Plach, M.S., OTR
Heidi Plach, M.S., OTR

College of Health Sciences’ (CHS) Clinical Instructor, Heidi Plach, M.S., OTR, Occupational Therapy Department, received a UWM Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD) Award.

The award, given annually by the UWM Alumni Association during the Spring Commencement festivities, recognizes recent UWM graduates who have achieved a measure of success in their field, bringing credit to themselves and the university.

Cited for her “passion to make a difference,” Heidi Plach (‘09 M.S. and ‘00 B.S. Occupational Therapy) has served the needs of children and adults with serious mental issues for the last 10 years, working as an occupational therapist and “above and beyond” as a volunteer.

Last fall, she completed a study “Addressing the needs of young veterans across the occupational performance areas of self care, leisure and productivity,” as part of her master’s thesis work. The research led to Plach’s connection with UWM student veterans and area veterans’ groups, and an appointment to a UWM task force addressing the needs of UWM student veterans.

“She is considered a role model for occupational therapy (OT) students as an advocate and activist promoting respect, support and full opportunities for veterans and persons living with the effects of mental illness and substance abuse disorders,” said one nominator.

Prior to her research on veterans, Plach was cited for her work with the Day One treatment program and innovative programs she developed for Our Space, a drop-in center to assist adults with mental health needs. Plach is described as being “mature beyond her years in her insight and awareness of others’ pain in living with mental illness in the family. Her feedback is on target and compassionate.”

In addition, her ability to design meaningful learning opportunities for OT students working with children and adults with psychiatric disabilities led to a full-time teaching position with UWM’s OT program, where she is now employed.

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