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Mount Mary launches innovative Occupational Therapy Doctorate

Mount Mary University is an established leader in the education of occupational therapists, with more than 2,000 graduates of its B.S. and M.S. programs over the past 73 years. The university has responded to growing demands for specialization in the field with a new post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program for practicing occupational therapists who hold a master’s degree in occupational therapy. The 31-credit online program equips candidates with advanced practice and leadership competencies in the changing delivery models for OT services. Emphasizing gerontology, physical rehabilitation, pediatrics and mental health, the program also prepares OT professionals for education and healthcare leadership positions.

This first-of-its-kind OTD program requires practice-based research and a culminating portfolio specifically designed to meet rigorous criteria for American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Board Certification. These high standards provide graduates a competitive edge. Among more than 113,200 licensed occupational therapists in the country today, only 158 are board certified in specialty practice areas. “The new doctorate program underscores our commitment to meeting the needs of a changing health care environment.” said Mount Mary President Eileen Schwalbach, Ph.D.

The OTD program is open to men and women nationwide. The part-time, flexible program features “distance-delivery” courses that allow students to remain in their work settings for ongoing real-time knowledge acquisition. Students connect online with peers and program administrators weekly. Faculty offer feedback on students’ critical analysis and application of knowledge and oversee the peer learning community. Research-driven residency experiences are offered under the shared guidance of a practice mentor and faculty member.

Cathy Buck, president of Froedtert Hospital and a Mount Mary trustee, affirmed the need for highly skilled occupational therapists. “Doctoral education will allow practitioners to concentrate on clinical specialties, focus on wellness and even partner with primary care providers as health care strives to offer more affordable and effective care models,” she said.