SRU’s occupational therapy program approved by BOG


April 6, 2017

Frank Brogan


HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Board of Governors of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education have approved Slippery Rock University's doctoral degree program in occupational therapy. The program, which will begin in June 2018, is the first of its kind in the State System.

The program will be a 36-month, year-round program for students who have earned a bachelor's degree or participate in one of the 3+3 pre-occupational therapy undergraduate tracks at the University. According to organizers, the program will be delivered face-to-face at SRU's Harrisville Building, in a didactic learning format with off-campus field placements. The new curriculum would focus on contemporary practice using evidence-based strategies to provide students with a dynamic learning experience. All classroom and clinical learning experiences will be driven by standards that are defined by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapists evaluate and provide people with interventions that promotes participation in the things they want and need to do. Therapeutic treatment can assist clients in functioning in all of their environments - home, work, school and community - and addresses the physical, psychological and cognitive aspects of their well-being through engagement in occupations.

The program will build on the success of the University's existing master's programs in related fields such as exercise science, therapeutic recreation and athletic training; and, because it will be the only program of its kind in the State System, will provide many opportunities for articulation agreements with other State System universities.

The state Department of Aging estimates that the number of Pennsylvania residents aged 65 or older will climb to 19 percent of the state's population by 2020 and to 23 percent by 2030, for a total increase of 1 million people over 20 years. This large and growing senior population will experience longer lifetimes than ever before, with associated chronic conditions that result in impairments, disabilities and handicaps needing to be managed for longer periods. To meet this increasing volume and duration of healthcare services, the state will need a growing healthcare labor force that includes rehabilitation providers. Occupational therapists also provide services to children with developmental delays, injuries or educational challenges.

"This new program not only will provide opportunities for individuals to earn advanced degrees that will help advance their careers, but also will address important workforce needs," said Chancellor Frank Brogan. "It is a further example of how our universities are redesigning their curricula to address the emerging and future needs of students, their future employers and the Commonwealth."

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