The entry-level doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy curriculum at Slippery Rock University is designed to be a challenging 36-month program for students that will receive training in advanced clinical, professional and leadership skills.
SRU's Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program offers an on-campus, face-to-face learning format with scheduled off campus fieldwork placements. The curriculum focuses on contemporary practice using evidence-based strategies to provide students with generalist and advanced training learning experiences. Classroom and laboratory learning opportunities are influenced by accreditation standards established by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The first academic year of the program is comprised of clinical and applied sciences along with foundational occupational therapy offerings. In the second academic year, students are involved in classroom learning experiences that include assessment and intervention with children, youth and adults and related technology that can be utilized with these populations.
The third year in the program is based primarily off-site in two Level II (full-time) fieldwork settings and at a doctoral practicum site. This doctoral experiential capstone is scheduled to allow students to develop advanced skills in clinical practice, research, administration, leadership, program or policy development, advocacy, education or theory development.
The entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.
All students must complete Level II fieldwork (OCTH 810 & OCTH 815) and doctoral experiential requirements (OCTH 820) within 24 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program.
The timeline for accreditation for the program by ACOTE involves three steps: (1) Applicant Status (completed), (2) Candidacy Status (completed), and (3) Initial On-site Evaluation (completed). Initial accreditation will result in program graduates being able to sit for the national certification exam after their commencement in 2021.
The first OT class will be graduating in August 2021 due to COVID-19. However, students will typically graduate at the end of the spring semester. Graduation from an ACOTE accredited educational program makes one eligible to sit for the certification exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) to become an Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) and to apply for state licensure in the state(s) one wishes to practice.
Vision of the Program
Slippery Rock University's Entry-Level Doctorate in Occupational Therapy Program will be recognized for preparing practitioners who will use transferrable knowledge and skills in a variety of practice areas. As such, they will be committed to lifelong learning and ethical, competent and evidence-based practice in an era of continued change and challenge, while providing personal and professional leadership to improve the world in which they live. This vision aligns with key aspects of the vision statements developed by Slippery Rock University and the College of Health, Engineering and Science. It also considers the profession of Occupational Therapy, including the AOTA Centennial Vision Statement (for 2003-2017) and the AOTA Vision Statement 2025, the ACOTE Accreditation Standards and specific competency areas that are unique to the training of the occupational therapist.
The mission of SRU's Doctorate in Occupational Therapy Program is, to facilitate and support the education of future occupational therapy professionals who will demonstrate compassion, evidence-based knowledge, and advanced practice skills with both individuals and distinct populations.
The job outlook for occupational therapists has been excellent and is projected to remain that way according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Outlook Handbook (2016). Occupational therapy practitioners will continue to provide important evaluation and treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities such as Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, Alzheimer's disease, Cerebral Palsy, Autism, Orthopedic injuries, Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Burns, Amputation or Mental Health conditions.
The increased demand for occupational therapists in the health care and educational systems is driving the need for more practitioners in Slippery Rock University's region, and the evidence suggests that the doctorate will gain in popularity in coming years until, eventually, it becomes the required entry-level credential. Given the continued need and projected growth for occupational therapists both locally, regionally and nationally, Slippery Rock University is well positioned to offer occupational therapy as a new academic program that compliments existing undergraduate and graduate programs at the University, serves the health and rehabilitative needs of the community, and advances the institution's strengths.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), annual salaries for occupational therapists' average $80,150. Salaries are impacted by service area (skilled nursing facility salaries are higher and pediatric early intervention lower) and geographic location (urban/ metropolitan salaries are higher than rural). Available candidate positions in occupational therapy educational programs have not met the demand of applicants for decades with many programs receiving five to ten times the number of applicants than they have seats to offer.