Keuka College OT students ace National Boards

Kevin Frisch, Keuka College

One of the college’s largest-ever cohorts of Occupational Therapy students bested the national pass rate in a near-perfect performance.

Members of Keuka College's Division of Occupational Therapy pose outside Hegeman Hall.

KEUKA PARK — The 2021 cohort of Keuka College’s Occupational Therapy graduates wasn’t just one of the biggest in college history, it was one of the most successful – and resilient.

According to the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, 98% of the College’s 46 OT grads – all but one – passed the exam for national certification. That topped the pass rate reached by the 7,175 students nationally who took the certification exam.

Even more impressive: Keuka College’s OT grads completed a program that had to be reconfigured on the fly in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With much of the nation in lockdown during the summer of 2020, opportunities for on-the-job field placements – an essential component of the College’s OT instruction – were very hard to secure for students and many placements were disrupted. Department leaders responded with a little creative restructuring.

“We flipped the curriculum upside-down and taught during the summer months because of the decreased availability of fieldwork,” said Dr. Chris Alterio, founding dean of the College’s School of Health and Human Services and professor of Occupational Therapy.

That was just the beginning. With fall semester courses completed early, the following spring’s classes were taught during the first two months of the fall semester, explained Dr. Kristen Bacon, chair of the College’s Division of Applied Health and Wellness and assistant professor of Occupational Therapy. Students were then able to secure fieldwork placements later that fall.

“Our ‘upside-down’ curriculum worked out pretty well for our students,” she said.

NBCOT certification is required for initial licensure for occupational therapists to practice in the United States, so passing the exam isn’t just a résumé-builder, it’s a career must-have. The Keuka College cohort’s near-perfect performance is a reflection of the college’s success in building a program that’s comprehensive, engaging, and – as pandemic-related challenges demonstrated – flexible.

“I’m extremely proud of what the students and faculty accomplished in what was one of the most difficult years in academic history,” said Dr. Bacon. “It’s a true testament to our program and to the college as a whole.”