Joint Degree MSOT/MPH Student Profiles
Amy Fjerstad, MSOT/MPH '17
Hometown: Wildwood, MO
Amy Fjerstad attended Washington University in St. Louis as an undergraduate student, and earned a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology with a minor in psychology. “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Washington University, and decided to stay and get my Master’s in Occupational Therapy from the School of Medicine,” Fjerstad says. “I jumped at the opportunity to be part of inaugural class for the joint degree MSOT/MPH because I believe much can be gained by aligning the fields of occupational therapy and public health.” Fjerstad’s current career goals include utilizing her occupational therapy and public health skills in the field of community practice, with a focus on mental health.
Berrit Goodman, MSOT/MPH '17
Hometown: Woodstock, IL
Berrit Goodman attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., and received a Bachelor of Music in viola performance and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. “I decided to pursue the joint degree MSOT/MPH to allow me to work at a population level to address health disparities,” Goodman says. “Topics in health literacy and universal design presented to us in the occupational therapy program curriculum initially piqued my interest in public health. I am still deciding what type of population or setting I would like to work once I graduate, but the joint degree will give me several options and opportunities.
Cindy Mach, MSOT/MPH '17
Hometown: Rogers, AR
Cindy Mach’s passion for helping others on a wider spectrum led her to apply to the joint degree MSOT/MPH program to provide services for people in need with a focus on prevention. “Combining the fields of occupational therapy and public health into a joint degree program will allow me to succeed in what I ultimately want to do - working with medically underserved individuals and geriatric populations,” Mach says. “The joint degree will provide a better understanding of these populations, and help me provide holistic and client-centered services.
Megan Matthew, MSOT/MPH '17
Hometown: Naperville, IL
Megan Matthew was already interested in pursuing an MPH degree in addition to the MSOT, so the joint degree program was a perfect fit for her. She learned about it during a presentation Steve Taff, PhD, OTR/L, gave to the first-year class in January. “I was excited about the opportunity because I want to work in a community clinic with medically underserved populations,” Matthews says. “Partnering occupational therapy with public health will allow me to provide client-centered health care and to advocate for those most in need of services.
Bailey Widener, MSOT/MPH '17
Hometown: Kansas City, KS
Bailey Widener hopes to pursue a career within the realm of public policy and community intervention, and feels the joint degree MSOT/MPH will help her gain clinical and population-focused training. “There’s a tremendous amount of interplay between these two disciplines. The joint degree combination equips clinicians with a great skillset for understanding and addressing current health-care issues related to their client,” Widener says. She believes a systemic, global approach of public health adds a further dimension to her skillset and helps her achieve her career goals. “The tailored, client-centered focus of occupational therapy has and will continue to play an integral role in shaping my approach to serving the health care needs of the individual. Combining these two complementary perspectives provides a really wonderful framework for focusing on client needs at all points along the continuum of care,” Widener adds.