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Western New England University Welcomes Inaugural Class of Occupational Therapy Doctoral Students

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, 2017 - 11:11 AM All News , Arts and Sciences , Pharmacy and Health Sciences

Students in the Western New England University Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program, inaugural class of 2020, arrived at the end of August and have begun attending classes. While 30% of the 29 new students have ties to New England, others have arrived from the west coast (California and Oregon), the mid-west (Michigan, Minnesota & Iowa), the south (Georgia and Florida), and the mid-Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland). The OTD program is the only entry-level OTD program in western Massachusetts, and is one of only four programs in Massachusetts. The program consists of nine semesters over a three-year period, including summer semesters.

The increased marketplace demand for occupational therapists is the result of a movement in health care to expand the scope of rehabilitation practitioners on primary care, acute care and long-term care teams. This shift in the mindset of the medical community toward interprofessional practice, affords occupational therapy an important collaborative role on the health care team, along with nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, physical therapists, clinical psychologists, surgeons, etc., in traditional and non-traditional medical and health care settings.

Program director and Professor, Dr. Cathy Dow-Royer, came to Western New England University from American International College (AIC) where she was the director and faculty member of the entry-level Master’s Program in Occupational Therapy for 18 years. According to Dr. Dow-Royer, she is frequently asked to explain what occupation therapy is. Finding a precise answer challenging, she borrowed a quote used by a colleague many years ago stating, “Physicians help people live longer lives, while occupational therapists help people live better lives.” This is accomplished when OTs help people achieve independence in necessary tasks like bathing and grooming, in meaningful activities such as feeding or walking a dog, and in important life roles such as preparing a meal for one’s family or playing cards with friends.

Similar to the requirements for a law, medicine or pharmacy professional degree, the entry-level OTD program at Western New England University does not require students to have a master’s degree before applying. A bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 is among the program requirements. The most common bachelor degrees held by the inaugural class of OTD students includes psychology, health sciences, human development and kinesiology.

More information about the program can be found at wne.edu/academics/graduate/otd.