One cannot practice occupational therapy without a master’s degree and Keuka’s program delivers—in five years.
Students enter the graduate phase of their occupational therapy education upon successful completion (with a cumulative grade-point-average of at least 3.0) of the first four years of the five-year BS/MS program in occupational science/occupational therapy. The undergraduate degree in occupational science does not provide eligibility for certification or licensure in occupational therapy.
“Our students [earn] their degrees in five years while other programs require four years of undergraduate study not in OT and two years at the master’s level,” said Battaglia.
Something else that sets Keuka’s occupational therapy program apart from those at other colleges: the amount of clinical practice experience students garner through three January Field Periods—freshmen through junior year—and Fieldwork Level I senior year.
“Instead of four weeks at one site (as other majors do during Field Period), occupational therapy students split their time in half, spending two weeks at one place and two weeks at another,” said Battaglia, who added that Fieldwork Level I is also “two weeks at two sites.”
The reason for the additional sites is because “there are a wide variety of areas in which students can practice—so many different facilities—and a variety of populations,” according to Battaglia, who noted that Fieldwork Coordinator Jean Wannall makes certain that the students get a variety of experience by working with them on site placement. “Passing the state licensing exam qualifies them to work anywhere. The experience gives them an idea of where they’d like to work.”
Two Level II Fieldwork experiences must be successfully completed within one year of successful completion of the graduate year academic course requirements.
Action Oriented Research is the first master’s course and is team-taught by Battaglia and Professor of Occupational Therapy and Division Chair Vicki Smith.
“The students select their own research topic, so it’s something in which they’re interested,” said Battaglia, who also teaches a junior-level course, Atypical Conditions in the Older Adult. “At large universities, students are often obligated to work on a piece of their professor’s research. They don’t see the whole picture that way; only a piece of [the big picture].
“The push in OT is evidence-based practice,” explained Battaglia. “We do research to obtain evidence that our treatment is effective.”