University of the Sciences in Philadelphia has been given provisional approval by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to offer a program leading to the doctor of occupational therapy (DrOT) degree. The transition of the master’s of occupational therapy at USciences to the DrOT was also granted “developing program status” by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).
“We wanted to make USciences a destination point for OT education in the area,” said Dr. Paula Kramer, professor and chair of the OT department. “If you look at other healthcare professions, like pharmacy, physical therapy, and audiology, they have already moved to a clinical doctorate, and if we as a profession want to be at the table and be equal to our counterparts in healthcare, the doctorate is where we are going.”
USciences’ is the only entry-level DrOT program on the East Coast and one of only five entry-level OT doctoral programs in the country. The opportunity to focus on community practice or leadership and the extra fieldwork in the advanced degree will benefit graduates by positioning them on the cutting edge of practice and enhancing their ability to serve a wide variety of communities. Students entering the accelerated pathway of the USciences DrOT program will be able to earn both a baccalaureate and a clinical doctorate degree in as few as six years.
“The higher standards of the DrOT degree not only is a more value added education, but it will provide students with the foundation to thrive in the changing healthcare landscape,” Kramer said. Currently OT at USciences remains fully accredited at the master’s level and with plans to phase out that program once the doctoral program gains full ACOTE accreditation.
Occupational therapists can be found in numerous medical and nonmedical settings helping people with physical, developmental, and behavioral disabilities participate effectively in meaningful and goal-directed activities. An occupational therapist can work in hospitals, schools, homes, mental health clinics, rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics, and private practices. OT has been tabbed by the U.S. Department of Labor as one of the fastest-growing professions in America today.