Graduate Education

Graduate Student Spotlight: Elizabeth Benedetti, Occupational Therapy Graduate

Are you considering a career in healthcare and thinking about getting your master’s degree in Occupational Therapy? Occupational therapists are and will continue to be in high demand, meaning high prospects for job placement after degree completion. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for occupational therapists will continue to grow by 17%, which is much faster than average career growth. 

In this Graduate Student Spotlight, we talk to Elizabeth Benedetti, a recent alumnus of our Occupational Therapy master’s degree program out of our main campus in Potsdam, New York, about her experience in the program, what her career has been like so far, and why she’s excited to go to work as an occupational therapist every day.

Clarkson University: Where did you get your undergraduate degree and when? What did you study?

Elizabeth Benedetti: I got my undergraduate degree from Grand Valley State University (in Michigan) in exercise science health and wellness in 2017.              

CU: What is your current position and company? What do you do in this role?

EB: I am an Occupational Therapist at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, a community hospital in a suburb of Detroit. I work the acute care floors and am trained in their early mobility program which aims to mobilize patients even if they are on a ventilator.

CU: What are your favorite aspects of your current role?

EB: I enjoy how close I get to work with my colleagues. We are a smaller hospital and it gives me the opportunity to learn from other therapists as well as other professions like nursing and social work. This is so important when working with a patient and making sure we can achieve their discharge goals.

CU: How did you come across Clarkson’s Occupational Therapy program and why did you decide to attend?

EB:  I was looking up different OT programs outside of my home state of Michigan because I wanted to move out of state and start a new adventure. I knew I would probably end up settling in Michigan as that’s where my family was. Clarkson’s OT program accepted my prerequisite courses and its location, hockey team, and reputation was something I wanted to experience. 

CU: When and how did you know you wanted to become an occupational therapist? 

EB: I had always wanted to help people but wasn’t really sure how. I had looked into nursing and was leaning towards that route when my mother, who was also in the healthcare field, suggested I look into occupational therapy. She was helping me look up majors and stumbled upon a pamphlet about OT. I read it and I knew instantly it was what I wanted to do.

CU: Talk about your clinical experiences. What were they like? How did these experiences impact you? 

EB: I gave my top three ideal settings for clinicals which in my case were acute care, skilled nursing, and long-term acute care. I then gave my ideal location, which was closer to home. I got exactly where I wanted to be as well as my top two settings (acute care and skilled nursing). I had a wonderful clinical experience and was able to access my coordinator if I had any concerns. Having the support from Clarkson and knowing I could reach out when I needed to, not just to my coordinator but other professors and classmates, made it a great experience and really helped boost my confidence as I came one step closer to becoming an OT. 

CU: What were your favorite aspects of the Occupational Therapy program at Clarkson?

EB: I loved the small class sizes and how hands-on the OT program was. I had plenty of opportunities to get to know my professors which made me more confident in asking them questions. When I was having a difficult time with something we were learning in class, I was able to feel confident when approaching my professors to ask for more clarification. This was not the case in my undergraduate experience, approaching my professors was something I struggled with due to being in bigger class size. 

We got to be involved with the community which contributed to that hands-on experience as we worked and collaborated with people that would benefit from OT services. This gave us real-life experience and skills to prepare us for our role as OT practitioners. If there was something we wanted to get more experience on like safety with transfers, completing evaluations, or working on interventions we had that opportunity to discuss with our professors to create extra lab days to make sure we were prepared for our future career. 

CU: Talk about your courses. What did you enjoy most about them?

EB: I enjoyed how most of the courses had two parts: the didactic portion and a lab/practical portion. The morning would be spent learning the material from books and lectures while the afternoon was filled with getting out of our seats to work on performing standardized/non-standardized assessments, interventions, and using equipment that we would encounter as OTs. 

CU: What excites or motivates you as a healthcare professional, especially in the current climate?

EB: The opportunity to advocate for my profession and how we as health professionals can work with an interprofessional team to achieve the goals of our clients.

CU: What are your career goals? How did you end up in your current position?

EB: I would really like to seek a certification that would make me a bigger asset to the health system I am currently part of. I have been taking an interest in pelvic health as well as bowel and bladder management. As an OT in the acute care setting, I work on a lot of interventions that involve using the bathroom and see the potential of expanding my knowledge in this part of OT.

CU: Any final thoughts you’d like to make sure you talk about?

EB: I had a wonderful sense of community with my Clarkson cohort including my professors. I was really lucky for this opportunity and it for sure gave me the tools I needed to be successful as an OT practitioner.

CU: Looking back, would you do it all again?

EB: In a heartbeat.

About the Graduate Student Spotlight series

Deciding whether or not to attend graduate school can be a tough decision. In our Graduate Student Spotlight blog series, we showcase graduate students from our 20+ different graduate degree programs to share their experiences and help prospective students understand whether graduate school may be the right choice for them.

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