By Kate Hunger
The School of Health Professions’ occupational therapy doctoral program is the first accredited state-supported entry-level OTD program in Texas.
The program received news of its full accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) in December.
“Achieving program accreditation is the culmination of a lengthy process that began about seven years ago with developing the proposal for the degree plan and attaining permission from the UT Board of Regents and Texas Higher Education Board to plan the program,” said Department chair and Associate Professor Bridgett Piernik-Yoder, PhD, OTR.
The first OTD cohort was admitted in the summer of 2018 and will graduate this May. Stephanie Urigwe, MPH, president of the class of 2021, considers the accreditation a milestone to be proud of.
“Our discipline continues to enrich the continuum of health care and our program serves as a great asset to the state of Texas and beyond,” she said. “There are always challenges with embracing change, but it is worth it to enjoy a rewarding career in OT and to move our profession forward. The presence of full accreditation only continues to underscore our impactful OT program.”
The OTD program includes enhanced leadership and management education as well as a doctoral capstone project.
“The students throughout the program display a high commitment to scholarly activities and many have presented at national conferences and participated in publications with faculty,” Piernik-Yoder said.
Research has shown that graduates of doctoral-level programs are more likely to hold leadership positions and to own their own practices compared to graduates of non-doctoral programs, she said. About half of the entry-level programs across the profession are now doctoral level, Piernik-Yoder said.