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Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program Announced

explaining a feature at Jim's Place

February 2016


Watch coverage of the OTD program announcement by KWQC-TV
Watch the story that aired on WHBF-TV

St. Ambrose University's reputation as one of the Midwest's health science education leaders is growing with the announcement that its long-standing Occupational Therapy program will move to granting a doctoral-level (OTD) degree. Currently, there are only seven OTD programs in the U.S. The new program is SAU's third doctoral-level academic program, and the second in the health sciences, joining the Doctor of Physical Therapy.

The OTD program will begin admitting students in August 2016 having received candidacy status from the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education. A decision on full accreditation is anticipated in April 2018. The generalist curriculum requires three years of coursework that includes fieldwork and internships, emphasizes occupational justice and occupational participation for people of all ages and abilities, and includes a capstone doctoral project. 

"St. Ambrose was the first university in Iowa to offer an accredited program leading to an entry-level occupational therapy degree," said Sister Joan Lescinski, CSJ, president of St. Ambrose.  "Being able to advance this degree to the doctoral level is an exciting development and an indication of the strength of our health science programs."

Evidence of the OT program's strength includes last year's stellar OT graduating class, which achieved a 100 percent first-time pass rate on the national licensing exam, and realized a 100 percent job placement rate in the field.

"Such success is a testament to the excellence of our OT program faculty and staff and the quality of students enrolled in the program," said Sandy Cassady, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. "With a first-time exam pass rate consistently above the national average and the knowledge that fulfilling, good-paying jobs are waiting, prospective students and their families are very interested in St. Ambrose."

Occupational therapy studies at SAU began as a bachelor's degree program in 1987 and developed into a master's degree in 1998. The program's assistive technology "solutions" house, Jim's Place, provides students with additional educational opportunities, while serving community members and regional health care professionals by showcasing home adaptations for persons with disabilities. The OT program has graduated more than 800 occupational therapists, who have gone on to fill a critical need for highly trained health care professionals.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 27 percent by 2024. In 2014, TIME listed occupational therapist as one of "The Five Most In-Demand Jobs Right Now," and MSN included occupational therapy on its "The 19 hottest jobs for 2016" list.

The growing SAU College of Health and Human Services has more than 1,000 health sciences students, with nearly 300 enrolled in its graduate programs in occupational therapy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies and speech-language pathology. Along with nursing, PT and MPAS, the OT program is housed in the $15-million Center for Health Sciences Education, offering state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories. 

St. Ambrose also offers a nationally accredited program in social work and has the only post-doctoral orthopedic PT clinical residency in the state of Iowa. SAU health science programs serve the community through volunteer work, clinical rotations and a free Rite Care speech therapy clinic. 

MORE LIKE THIS:AmbroseZine, College of Health and Human Services, Institutional-Campus

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