Professor of Occupational Therapy Jean Wannall and graduate students Emily Conrad and Cindy Prober represented Keuka College and the OT profession at the recent Healthcare Alliance of the Finger Lakes’ Career Exploration Day at Finger Lakes Community College.
More than 270 students from 15 Finger Lakes high schools learned about health care and human service needs, according to Wannall.
The Healthcare Alliance of the Finger Lakes is a partnership of private and public sector agencies whose primary goal is to create solutions for finding and keeping a qualified workforce in the healthcare industry within the local area.
“The main focus of the career fair is to expose our youth to various health care professions and agencies while encouraging them to learn, work and live in the Finger Lakes area,” said Wannall. “Various professionals from around the area gave of their time to present information about their chosen profession.”
Including the trio from Keuka, who shared what it was like to be an occupational therapist.
“Students learned not only the educational requirements of becoming an OT, but where OTs work,” explained Wannall. “Demonstrations included the use of adaptive equipment, technology, and several evaluation tools typically used by OTs.”
Providing the high school students with a glimpse of what it is like to be occupational therapists was very important to Wannall.
“We need to reach out to the youth of today and get them excited about the potential career opportunities within health care or we are not going to have enough people to take care of the needs in our society,” she said.
Both graduate student presenters took the day off from their Level II internships to share their knowledge about the field and encourage younger students to explore the field of occupational therapy.
And it’s certainly worthy of exploration.
“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, OT is one of the top 10 needed professions in health care right now,” said Wannall. “Baby boomers are retiring, people are living longer healthier lives and as a result staying in their own homes longer. Not only is there a huge need for therapists to work with the geriatric population but within school districts as well. According to recently released studies from the U.S. government, the rate of children on the autism spectrum has risen from 1 in 88 to 1 in 50, creating the potential for many more jobs for OTs working in pediatrics.”
Conrad is finishing up her second placement at Marcus Whitman School District and Prober is completing her second at Geneva General Hospital in both the acute and long-term care sections of the hospital. Both students will graduate in May and have already started interviewing for jobs in the local area.
Said Wannall: “Cindy and Emily are prime examples of what the Healthcare Alliance of the Finger Lakes is all about— keeping people in our area.”