Welcome to Baker College’s Spotlight feature, a series of brief interviews with notable BC faculty and alumni who are making news and reaching new heights in their educational and professional pursuits.
This edition of Spotlight features Annette Horton, MOT OTRL, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Professor in the Master of Occupational Therapy Program. Horton recently coauthored an article published in the January ‘21 issue of OT Practice Magazine spotlighting how faculty can better support OT students with disabilities during their fieldwork. Here we learn more about Annette’s professional path and passions.
Baker College (BC-) Thanks for talking with us today! Start out by telling us how long you’ve been with Baker College?
Annette Horton (AH)- I have been employed with Baker College since August 2016.
BC- Have you always worked in the role as Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for BC’s Master of OT program, or have you served in any other capacities?
AH- Yes, always in the role as Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for Baker College’s Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program. Initially part-time and later transitioned to full-time in August 2017.
BC- What are your responsibilities as Fieldwork Coordinator for the Masters of OT program?
AH- As the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, I am primarily responsible for establishing and maintaining relationships with fieldwork sites, which includes occasional travel to fieldwork sites throughout Southeast Michigan, ensuring properly executed Affiliation Agreements are current, and managing a fieldwork database system. I am also responsible for advising students on fieldwork-related policies, facilitating the pairing and placement of occupational therapy students at fieldwork sites, liaising between students and fieldwork sites, and assuring students have completed requirements for fieldwork.
BC- You definitely sound like an instructor on the go! Can you tell us more about what Occupational Therapists do?
AH- An Occupational Therapist, using a holistic and evidence-based approach, helps individuals of all ages after an illness, injury, or disability gain or regain skills necessary to participate in the daily living activities we call occupations. We focus on adapting tasks and/or the environment to meet the individualized needs of the person.
BC- Have you always wanted to work in higher education?
AH- As a firstborn, I always had a natural tendency towards teaching others. I was groomed early on to lead and take responsibility for the vulnerable. Throughout my career, I had many unexpected teaching opportunities, including preceptor for new employees, fieldwork educator for internship students, orthopedic pathway preparation class instructor, peer-to-peer continuing education debriefings, and educating the interdisciplinary team or payor sources on the occupational therapy role and treatment recommendations. When the Baker College opportunity presented itself, it was an obvious career transition and privilege to share the skills that I had acquired over time.
BC- Our OT students are always mentioning how supportive and dedicated the program faculty is. What is your own educational background?
AH- I have earned an associate’s degree in occupational therapy assistant, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and a master’s degree in occupational therapy. I am currently pursuing a PhD in education with a concentration in postsecondary and adult education.
BC- What is your proudest professional achievement to date?
AH- I actually have two. My proudest professional achievement to date is having my first professional publication in the January 2021 issue of OT Practice which I coauthored with three colleagues from other institutions. The other is the progression of my occupational therapy career from Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant to faculty in such a short period of time.
BC- Let’s talk about your article for OT Practice magazine on, “Supporting Occupational Therapy Students with Disabilities During Fieldwork.” Tell us more about its content and why this is an important topic?
AH- In 2018, The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) developed a Disability Support Committee composed of Academic Fieldwork Educators who volunteered to serve. The purpose of the committee is to educate and support Academic Fieldwork Coordinators and Fieldwork Educators as they encounter and serve students who have a disability. To date, a few of the committee’s highlights are 1) the development of a disability support resource manual presented to Academic Fieldwork Coordinators during the 2019 AOTA Academic Leadership Conference, 2) the development of a disability support poster presentation which was to be presented during the 2020 AOTA Annual Conference but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 3) and the OT Practice article.
The committee supports AOTA’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for those in our profession and those trying to become a part of the profession. The topic is important because researchers have discussed increasing postsecondary enrollment among students with disabilities and implore the provision of a supportive learning environment as an integral predictor of student success.
BC- Such an important endeavor considering how much organizations and professions gain from having access to diverse insights in their respective fields. Other than publishing, what do you enjoy most about your work? Conversely, what do you find most challenging?
AH- I love the variety of my job. In addition to my fieldwork responsibilities, I also have the opportunity to teach assigned courses related to fieldwork, support community engagement efforts on behalf of the occupational therapy program, participate in presentations, collaborate with other professionals at other colleges, and volunteer within the Baker College system.
The most challenging part of my job is securing and retaining fieldwork sites in an ever-changing political, social, and academic environment.
BC- What would you advise students who may be considering a degree in OT?
AH- I would advise students who may be considering a degree in OT to shadow someone in the profession and to have a passion for helping vulnerable populations from diverse backgrounds.
BC- And what best piece of career advice would you share with any/all college students?
AH- The best piece of career advice I would share with any/all college students is a quote by Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” You are going to have to work hard to get to where you want to go, but it is well worth it at the end.
BC- Finally, what would you want others to know/understand about Baker College, its programs and students?
AH- I would want others to know/understand the Baker College mission statement which is to “provide quality higher education and training which enable graduates to be successful throughout challenging and rewarding careers.” Everything we do as faculty and administration is motivated by this mission and supports enduring outcomes for students and alumni.
Learn more about Baker College’s Occupational Therapy programs on our School of Occupational Therapy page.