Kayla Berthiaume G'16 G'20
Master of Occupational Therapy, Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Within each of our Bay Path community members is an inspirational story of perseverance and strength, and we are honored to share them. This narrative originally appeared as part of Bay Path's #MyPath on social media.
Kayla Berthiaume got her Master's and Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at Bay Path. She's been teaching here since 2017 and works full-time at the Department of Children and Families in Connecticut in a psychiatric residential treatment facility for adolescents. Part of her role at Bay Path is taking Level 2 fieldwork students from the same Master's program she took as a student to intern at her workplace at DCF. Read her #MyPath feature below to learn more about her story.
"I went to Springfield College in 2010 to study athletic training. Going into my senior year at Springfield, I had a summer job opportunity working as a personal care attendant for a little boy with cerebral palsy, and he changed my whole perspective. It broadened my idea of what helping professionals could do, which led me to occupational therapy.
"I decided to pursue my masters in OT, and Bay Path was my top choice. I did the two-year Master of OT Program. I absolutely loved it and made lifelong friends. One of my final experiences as a student was to complete two Level 2 fieldwork experiences. In those roles, you work up to taking over all the responsibilities of the OT in that work site. For my second Level 2 fieldwork, I worked at the Department of Children and Families in Connecticut. I fell in love with DCF, where I've been for a little over six years now.
"Bay Path is where it all started. A year after I graduated, I reconnected with the Master's program I had graduated from and started teaching a lab. Now I work as an adjunct professor in a few different departments at Bay Path while working full-time for the State of Connecticut.
"One of my teaching roles is taking Level 2 fieldwork students to come and work with me in my psychiatric facility. It keeps you on your A-game as a clinical instructor to be able to answer all the questions that eager students have. I enjoy seeing how my program at the state has developed with student input and with my endeavors. When I started with the state for my internship, we were in the basement, in a relatively small room, making the best of things with the equipment that we had. Fast forward six years, and we have two large OT rooms with state-of-the-art sensory equipment, virtual reality, and things I would've never dreamed of having as an OT. When students intern with us, they're blown away imagining that this could be their life as an OT."
"It's often hard for people to grasp what OTs do. They say, 'Oh, my grandma had OT when she broke her hip. So, you do things like PTs?' Sure… in certain settings, our profession is more focused on physical rehabilitation. But we're like chameleons. We morph into different roles across the lifespan depending on what our clients need to be their most independent selves.
"Bay Path's doing a great job at evolving and giving students the best education possible. The fieldwork department for the Master of OT is phenomenal! They constantly outreach to different community resources to create relationships so students can have valuable fieldwork experiences. As a clinical instructor, students work 40 hours a week by my side and learn how to treat clients and develop their skills as a soon-to-be therapist. By the end of their 12 weeks, they're essentially doing almost everything we do as the OTs.
"It feels good to offer students a real snapshot into mental health and how rewarding it can be to work with clients with complex needs. Of the 16 fieldwork students I've had, nine or ten have ended up working in mental health settings. They all say, 'I never thought I'd be there.' Well, neither did I when I was in college originally. But sometimes, you have that one internship experience or networking opportunity that changes your whole perspective.
"Right now, jobs in healthcare services are at an all-time high, and there are many emerging fields. If you're a senior in high school, you should reach out to places with OTs and ask to shadow. Read, watch videos, and educate yourself to see if it might be the right profession for you." - Kayla Berthiaume, OTD, OTR/L, Adjunct Professor #MyPath.