Sarah McCarthy G’21
Sarah McCarthy G‘21 is a Bay Path student graduating with her Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) degree this spring. As a part of Bay Path’s 5 year Occupational Therapy (OT) program, she took an accelerated route to begin working in a highly rewarding field.
Sarah McCarthy G'21 is a Bay Path student graduating with her Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) degree this spring. As a part of Bay Path’s 5-year Occupational Therapy (OT) program, she took an accelerated route to begin working in a highly rewarding field. When considering this fast-paced path to a degree, Sarah was drawn to Bay Path’s focus on free tutoring services at the Catok Learning Commons. This gave her a source of comfort knowing if she struggled in any course, there was always a full team of professionals and peers prepared to help her succeed. On one of Sarah’s first visits to Bay Path, she bumped into a student-athlete who was currently enrolled in the OT program. The student immediately took her under her wing and gave her a private tour of the dorms, allowing her to see the strength of community and friendships between students on campus.
When looking back on highlights from her time here, Sarah’s study abroad experience in Barcelona, Spain stands out. She was able to live with a host family and truly immerse herself into the culture, which helped her mature both personally and professionally. Upon returning to the Bay Path campus after her experience abroad, her grades improved with the new skills she was able to learn and develop. “I got a C my first semester at Bay Path, which was stressful. I came back from Spain and was an honors student for the rest of my time here.” Sarah hopes this encourages other students in the MOT accelerated program to pursue study abroad in the future, as it promises to promote personal and academic growth.
Reflecting on her journey to choosing OT as her major, Sarah admits she originally struggled to find her career path. She wanted to do something different from a doctor or Physician Assistant but still work with patients in a teaching capacity. Thanks to her sister, she was exposed to the many possibilities of the OT field through a picture of a sensory room. Seeing the bright colorful foam, the swings, and the balls, Sarah knew this was what she saw herself doing. “I loved the ideology of being a holistic and client-centered practice. It involves teaching people, psychology, anatomy, sociology, and a lot of aspects related to mental health. Now, in the grad program, it also involves a lot of neurology, so I literally kind of get to stick my hands in everything.” Sarah is happy to know she will never get bored. After a fear of committing to one thing, she found OT to be a field where she can be committed to anything and everything.
While acknowledging the intensity of the 5 year MOT program, Sarah is thankful to the undergraduate OT professors for covering all areas of the field by creating models and promoting shadowing opportunities. In simulations, students gain a chance to understand the perspective of their patients. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sarah noted that Professor Wendy Lachtara went above and beyond to make coursework transferable online. By administering weekly quizzes and reviewing them, she continuously personalized her classes based on her students’ changing needs both before and after transferring to an online format.
Although the pandemic has impacted internships and fieldwork everywhere, Sarah is glad she expanded her reach into the virtual world and gained experience in the growing field of telehealth. Her original plan was to specialize in pediatrics, but the program’s knack for providing a well-rounded education leaves her continuously reevaluating what other areas she could excel in. Sarah’s first level II fieldwork is currently in geriatrics, which she has enjoyed immensely. She looks forward to working in pediatrics someday soon but is open to whatever the constantly expanding field of occupational therapy has to offer her. She encourages incoming students to keep an open mind about different areas of practice, as they may spark passion in an area they did not expect.