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.”
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the eighth in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.
Halie Squires ’13 of Parish, N.Y., earned a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in occupational sciences and is continuing at Keuka to pursue her master’s degree in occupational therapy.
She’s currently completing the first of two 12-week fieldwork placements for hands-on experience in both traditional and non-traditional OT environments. Her current post is at a short-term rehab facility in Saratoga Springs, and when that concludes, she’ll return to campus for another semester of studies.
Squires said she is most thankful for the professionalism developed through Keuka’s Field Period program.
“After eight Field Periods or fieldwork placements, I feel as if I can carry myself with respect in a professional place of employment and communicate effectively and assuredly,” she said.
Editor’s Note: Where can a Keuka degree take you? This is the first in a series of snapshot profiles on members of Keuka’s Class of 2013.
Jayme Peterson ’13 earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice and was hired by a private probation company, Intervention Inc., in Colorado less than a month after graduation.
According Dr. Janine Bower, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice, Peterson received the job offer after completing a semester-long internship this spring with a probation department in the 20th Judicial District, Boulder, Colo. During her time at Keuka, Peterson participated in a number of campus clubs, served as a tutor at Dundee Library and in the Academic Success at Keuka (ASK) office, was a member of the step team, and served on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee.
“This is exactly what I wanted to do after graduating college and the experience from my Field Period directly influenced my ability to obtain this job,” said Peterson, adding that she also received a job offer from one Field Period site, but turned it down because the position was partly volunteer.
The Gloversville resident said she most valued the ability to work closely with professors as an active learner and beleived Keuka’s small class sizes led to better discussions and more in-depth analysis of course material. In addition, Keuka’s Field Period program helped her practice how to research and apply for jobs, and develop confidence with professionals in her field, she said.
Conducting a 140-hour annual internship or exploratory study each year was “very valuable,” Peterson said, because it developed work experience prior to graduation and helped her confirm that working as a probation officer “was actually the right career path for me.”