By Department Chair Al Copolillo
This year marks the end of our Master’s Level OT program. Our final cohort, the class of 2017, begins Fieldwork II in the next couple of weeks and will return to Theatre Row for the last time as an enrolled class in January 2018. It’s a bittersweet feeling to watch the master’s program transition to the entry level doctorate. To see so many students benefit from the MSOT program over many years is a deeply fulfilling experience for all who contributed to it, but the need for change to the OTD is here and brings a sense of excitement for what’s to come.
At this moment in time, I can’t think of a better way to appreciate the MSOT program than to recognize and honor this final class, the Class of 2017. Like many of the students who came before them, this group displayed a sense of maturity and confidence, a willingness to work hard, and a passionate desire to embrace the core of this profession, helping people to improve their occupations.
Every person in this class has demonstrated leadership in a unique way. The elected class officers, recognizing the value of building positive relationships as a central part of learning, quickly united their class through social events and community service. The class as a whole built strong relationships with the faculty and contributed to a sense of solidarity in the teaching/learning process. From my vantage point, I saw a group of students taking the idea of professionalism seriously, working to support each other, and recognizing the importance of practicing the foundational characteristics of occupational therapy, not just with designated clients or patients, but with each other.
Class of 2017
This year’s Research Forum, one of several culminations of the learning that occurs throughout the program, exemplifies the strength of this class. As with many culminating academic experiences, capstone presentation formats where students are required to stand up in front of their professors and classmates can feel intimidating. However, the Class of 2017 presented a year’s worth of faculty-guided research in an impressively professional way, describing their involvement in research design, participant recruitment and data collection, interpreting complex statistical analyses, and fielding difficult questions. Most impressively, they were well-prepared, appeared relaxed and confident, and at times even seemed to be having fun!
Class of 2017 Research Projects
• Assessment of the Ecological Validity of the TIP and the MIPM, Jamielynn Bodman, Karen DeMarco, Kathryn Hamlin-Pacheco, Margaret Kuhlman, Julie Kurtz, & Catherine McCarthy
Faculty Advisor: Carole Ivey
• Community Reintegration and Quality of Life after Brain Injury at The Mill House: The Clubhouse Model, Evan Amabile, Meredith Arnold, Andrea Caramore, Tatiana Schrader, Emily Taylor, & Lindsay Thomas
Faculty Advisor: Kelli Gary
• Development of Quality Indicators for School-Based Occupational Therapy Practitioners, Melissa McCann, Hannah McLoone, Laura Moore, & Leah Reed
Faculty Advisor: Patty Laverdure
• Effects of Deep Pressure on Arousal and Performance in Persons with Autism, Kaitlyn Baumann, Marika Emanuel, Anthony Guarriello, Paige Hebard, & Caitlin McDaniel
Faculty Advisor: Stacey Reynolds
• The Effect of an Occupational Therapy Computer Workstation Intervention on Ergonomic Knowledge, Self-efficacy, and Habit Formation, Chris Bott, Lars Hofland, Chad Murla, Sarah Plummer, & Megan Smith
Faculty Advisor: Al Copolillo
• Examining Functional Performance Based Cognitive Assessments Used by Occupational Therapists for Clients with ABI and SMI, Tara Burns, Zachary Grant, Dustin Mays, & Tay Om
Faculty Advisor: Dianne Simons
• Group-Based Healthy Living Instruction for Diabetes Mellitus Type II, Varsha Dante, James Dunaway, Ben Kiesler, Allison Lockwood, Hannah Newlon, & Meg Wright
Faculty Advisor: Tony Gentry
• The Impact of Home Modifications on the Performance of In-Home Activities in Community-Dwelling Older Adults, Cailin Clinton, Sara Cooper, Kelly Durkin, Holly Kaulius, & Becky Tupaj
Faculty Advisor: Jodi Teitelman
A huge and heartfelt thank you to Dr. Kelli Gary for serving as course facilitator and for planning and organizing the Research Forum with assistance from Adriene Hall-Johnson and Lawrencine Smith. Our gratitude and appreciation for all community partners and study participants too.
Congratulations and best wishes to all of the members of the Class of 2017 and to all MSOT students who chose VCU as their path to becoming outstanding occupational therapists.