Four Keuka College faculty from the Division of Occupational Therapy and two graduates of the master’s program in occupational therapy wowed professional occupational therapists (OTs) with peer-reviewed presentations at the National American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in Nashville, April 16-19. In addition, nine current OT majors attended the conference, gaining exposure to professional development and new research within the field.
“There were over 9,000 OT’s in attendance,” said Dr. Vicki Smith, division chair and professor of occupational therapy. “All our topics were current to present clinical and academic practice. All our topics were a hit.”
Dr. Smith and Dr. Michele Bennett, assistant professor of occupational therapy, participated in a peer review presentation, “Big Fish from Small Academic Ponds: Preparing Students for Primary Care,” along with representatives from Ithaca College, St Francis University, and the University of Findlay.
According to Smith, the collaborative “Big Fish” presentation focused on how each of the four institutions prepares OT students for the changes in clinical practice due to the Affordable Care Act. Within that context, Smith and Bennett highlighted the Keuka College approach of expanding clinical education placement of OT students into community-based fieldwork locations.
In the last two years, Smith said “we have accrued more than 50 nontraditional and community-based sites where our students can gain new hands-on skills to meet future health care needs.”
Among those sites are assisted living communities, home health care agencies, migrant worker programs, palliative care homes like Keuka Comfort Care, organizations such as the Literacy Volunteers of Ontario or Yates Counties, Syracuse Rescue Mission and businesses such as Wegmans.
According to Smith, the representatives from Ithaca focused on their students’ use of technology with older adults and needs assessment for the ‘well-elderly’ population. Those from St. Francis emphasized adult dayhab programming, research and missions work, while OT students at Findlay have been offering supervised OT programs in partnership with the prison system, working with inmates along the range of incarceration to community re-entry and probation.
“We are all small schools and this is how we get our clinical experiences done to prepare future practitioners,” Smith said.
During the conference, Dr. Bennett and Dr. Carmela Battaglia, professor of occupational therapy, also presented a poster presentation on “Designing Learning Objectives and Activities for Achieving Measurable Student Outcomes.”
“What Carmela and Michele did was excellent,” Smith said, describing how the duo presented an electronic process for evaluating the strength of the occupational therapy curriculum through a more extensive use of Moodle, the College’s online course delivery channel.
“Instead of students just posting assignments into Moodle, they collected additional data based on the outcomes of everything the students submit,” Smith explained. As a result, the integrated data helps provide a more accurate measure of the learning outcomes of the curriculum, she described.
In addition, Dr. Holly Preston, associate professor of occupational therapy, and 2014 OT master’s graduates Matt Nowak and Kacie Horoszewski presented “Validity and Reliability of an iPod Forearm Goniometer App” as another poster presentation. Preston, Nowak and Horoszewski previously presented their collaborative research at the end of Nowak and Horoszewski’s graduate year of study, sharing it at a research summit hosted at SUNY Brockport with other colleges.
Traditionally, a physical tool is used to measure the joint and/or muscle flexibility of a patient, such as forearm or elbow movements. Their work tested the reliability of using a handheld mobile device running the Apple-based mobile app. Research like this potentially could replace the traditional tool, with measurements taken by the app as the patient moves his or her arm while holding the device.
According to Nowak, “we measure joint angles a lot when doing therapy. We found this app and we found there hadn’t been any recent research on it when we did our review. We know Dr. Preston was interested in this research, so we thought she was a great asset and could help guide us through the experimental process a little better, given that she was already versed in it.”
“We were very well received at a national conference, and it was very validating to have people from all of the U.S. contact us and seek our research out,” said Nowak, who now works full-time as a licensed OT in the Auburn area with Lifetime Care, a home care agency based in Rochester.
Horoszewski added that it was exciting to have other OT colleagues at the conference “seek out our poster, ask thought- provoking questions and encourage us to conduct a follow up study with the most current Apple technology available.”
“Overall, the experience has given me the confidence to pursue further research opportunities in the clinic and seek additional collaborations with the Keuka College occupational therapy program in the future,” said Horoszewski, who is now working as a licensed OT in a geriatric rehabilitation center outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“As an OT graduate, this was my first professional presentation, and I think it went it great,” Nowak said, crediting the numerous pre-professional experiences gleaned through his Keuka College career to set the stage for success.
“Field Period™ was the first thing and the actual experiences of getting out in the professional world on our breaks from school – that was a big part of it, the experiential learning. Having to do multiple presentations throughout my college career really set us up to do that presentation too,” Nowak added. “The faculty and staff in the OT division served us pretty well and they were able to get us all ready to be entry-level professionals in our field.”
Keuka College has received a gift from Donald and Christine Wertman of Hall, N.Y., to help establish the Keuka College Center for Business Analytics & Health Informatics.
Donald Wertman is COO of Seedway LLC, vice president of the Keuka College Board of Trustees, and sits on the Finger Lakes Health (FLH) Board of Directors.
The Wertmans are supporting the Center because of their interest in health care, in particular student wellness.
“While we support all areas of the College’s Long Range Strategic Plan, we are financially supporting the component of the plan that deals with student wellness in all forms—physical, mental, and spiritual,” said Donald Wertman. “Wellness is critically important to student success.”
FLH plans to partner with the College on the project because “we believe it has the potential to improve the struggling economy of Yates County while enhancing the region’s health education opportunities and access to health care services,” said Dr. Jose Acevedo, president and CEO of FLH.
Keuka College President Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera agrees.
“The Center will leverage the College’s existing health care expertise and programs through its highly rated nursing and occupational therapy programs,” said Díaz-Herrera.
Keuka offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing at sites around New York state through its Accelerated Studies for Adults (ASAP) program, as well as a bachelor’s degree in occupational science and master’s degree in occupational therapy on its home campus in Keuka Park.
Pending approval by the New York State Education Department, the College and FLH will jointly offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing beginning in fall 2014.
Díaz-Herrera expects the Center to anchor a new college-town development—called for in the strategic plan— that will become the hub for Yates County entrepreneurial programs and research.
Part of that college-town development could include a health clinic—perhaps managed by FLH—that would serve the needs of students and the community, according to Wertman.
While a health clinic remains only a possibility for now, there is no doubt that the Center for Business Analytics & Health Informatics would be a boon to Yates County in terms of jobs.
“The Center will provide the required infrastructure for expanding business opportunities and job creation in the region,” said Acevedo.
Díaz-Herrera said the Center will “create construction, high-tech, health sciences, and education jobs in addition to helping our region’s fastest growing employment sector train and retain a highly educated work force.
“The Center will help the county and region support the need for new high-tech industry development while providing health care workers with specific health informatics training,” said the president. “It is a perfect fit for our Digital Learning@Keuka initiative.”
“It’s clear,” said Wertman, “that the Center and partnership between Keuka College and FLH will not only be a win-win for both entities, but for our entire community. We trust that our gift will inspire others to evaluate how they might share resources in support of Keuka College’s strategic plan.”
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a two-part series of Q&As with new, full-time faculty members. Today, meet three of Keuka’s new additions.
Dr. David Pak Leon, assistant professor of political science, teaches International Relations, Political Development in Asia, and Globalization.
Last book read: Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty, by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.
Favorite quote: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” by George Orwell.
If you could be a fictional character, who would be and why? I can’t really think of a fictional character that I would like to be.
What makes teaching fun? It is always fun and interesting when I see students grow in knowledge throughout a semester. I enjoy lively discussions in and outside the classroom when different perspectives are presented. It is also nice when students tell me what they are learning and reading on their own, or when they bring in relevant outside materials or their own experiences that enrich our collective understanding of different issues. Seeing eager and engaged students makes teaching rewarding.
What do you do for fun? I enjoy listening to music and reading (politics, history, architecture, economics, and finance). I like browsing bookstores and antique shops, and biking.
Sunny Winstead of Burdett, N.Y., assistant professor of occupational therapy, is teaching classes in occupational therapy assessment and intervention for older adults.
Last book read: Other than a textbook? Maybe a Ruth Rendell mystery, but unfortunately it’s been awhile!
Favorite quote: You’ll never be sorry for taking the high road.
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why? Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. She’s smart, inventive, and brave. Plus, I’d love to have a Time-Turner so I could be in two places at once!
What makes teaching fun? Collaborating with students and seeing their confidence grow as they move toward clinical practice.
What do you do for fun? I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, gardening, and hiking.
Dr. Jason McKinney of Penfield, assistant professor of social work, is teaching a number of classes this year, including Youth Services Delivery, Research Methods, Ethics and Diversity, and Field Practicum.
Last book read: Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, by Scott Jurek.
Favorite quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” Mahatma Gandhi
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be, and why?:Cookie Monster. I wish I could eat junk food all day and never gain a pound!
What makes teaching fun? Students make teaching fun! I love the interactive part of teaching, such as class discussion or learning activities designed to connect theory and practice.
What do you do for fun? I play guitar, ukulele, and percussion. I run, garden, lift weights, and study Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Coming Monday: Three more Q&A profiles of new, full-time faculty members.
Keuka College will be well represented at the Master’s Level Graduate Research Conference Saturday, April 20, at SUNY Brockport.
Nine occupational therapy majors will present original research, including:
Emily Conrad and Alicia Steeves: “Effects of Parent Training for Children with Behavioral Difficulties.”
The Master’s Level Graduate Research Conference is open to the public and will feature work by hundreds of master’s level students across the disciplines from Brockport and more than 30 other colleges and universities.
Students will present original research and artistic endeavors in poster sessions, oral presentations, and creative performances. In addition, there will be workshops for on career development and doctoral study and one for visiting faculty on government and foundation grant opportunities.
Dr. Timothy Killeen, president of the SUNY Research Foundation and SUNY vice chancellor for research, will deliver the keynote address on “National and International Change Research.”
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.”