Occupational Therapy Program Granted Accreditation

The five-year master's degree program in occupational therapy (see story, page 11) has been awarded first-time accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. The certificate by the nation's accrediting agency for occupational therapy instruction was granted for seven years, the highest level conferred to an institution in its initial application.

"We produced a voluminous self-study document that was followed by a site visit to verify our report," says David Dresser, associate dean in the School of Health Sciences and Human Performance. "The review included curriculum, faculty qualifications, space needs, and fiscal resources."

Adds Catherine Gordon, director and associate professor of occupational therapy, "The accreditors examined how the whole program fits together. As a first-time applicant, we could have been accredited at the seven-year level or the five-year level with possible suggestions or recommendations. Being accredited for seven years shows how well organized our curriculum is and that we did a good job on our documentation."

First offered in 1995, the program was granted developing program status by ACOTE with a first-time accrediting review scheduled to take place during the current school year. The program's first class of 24 students is scheduled to graduate this summer.

"The students in our first graduating class took a risk," Gordon says. "We told them we'd have the new building and the accreditation in place by the time they finished the program, and that's what happened. With the opening of the Center for Health Sciences in August and this grant of accreditation, we honored our commitment to our students."

With the initial accrediting process now completed, occupational therapy graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certifying examination. Passing that exam qualifies them to apply for state licensing.



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