Occupational Therapy Master's Program Approved at CAHS
The University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Allied Health Sciences will begin the final steps toward a new Masterís Degree Program in Occupational Therapy after receiving approval by the Ohio Board of Regents last month.
The program was unanimously approved with commendations from the review committee after being presented by CAHS Associate Dean Tina Whalen, DPT, EdD.
Whalen has led the programís development for several years, and says the impetus for it came from partners at local and regional community colleges who offer occupational therapy assisting degrees at the associate level.
"The entry level degree for a practicing occupational therapist is a masterís,Ē says Whalen. "Having a masterís degree program at UC would provide a career ladder for people who have obtained the assisting degree and are looking to progress in the field.Ē
With completed prerequisites, both occupational therapy assistants and graduates with bachelorís degrees in health sciences, psychology or other fields could enter UCís program.
The college will now begin the recruitment process for a program director and field service coordinator, positions required for program accreditation. Whalen estimates the program will start with the first class of 30 students in the summer of 2016, but will begin offering prerequisites in the fall of 2014.
"Itís a long process to program approval, but itís a good process,Ē she says. "Weíve worked with local consultants and an advisory board, who have provided excellent input into the curriculum.Ē
She says the final curriculum was designed to be flexible enough so students could continue to work while completing their degree. The blended curriculum will divide the semester into two seven-week terms, the first involving a week-long "residencyĒ on-campus.
During the residency, students will learn the clinical practice of occupational therapy in lab-based courses, including the assessment and intervention skills they will need to practice in several OT focus areas: neuromuscular, mental health, developmental pediatrics and cognitive. Weeks 2-6 of each term will cover content lessons in an online course format, with competency testing at the end of each term.
Whalen says she is already advising students interested in applying for the program, so they can start their prerequisites courses soon.
"The most recent Ohio Jobs Outlook shows a 27.9 percent vacancy rate in occupational therapists,Ē she says. "Weíve received a lot of support from local hospitals for this program, because they have a real need for OTs. By creating a program where existing health care professionals can go back to school, and their place of employment can retain them and help support tuitionóthatís a win-win for everybody.Ē