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Doctoral Experiential: ACOTE Standards and Description

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) establishes Standards for entry-level OTD programs (ACOTE, 2018). As defined by ACOTE, “the goal of the doctoral experiential component is to develop occupational therapists with advanced skills (those that are beyond a generalist level). The doctoral experiential component shall be an integral part of the program’s curriculum design and shall include an in-depth experience in one or more of the following: clinical practice skills, research skills, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education, or theory development. The OTD program’s Doctoral Experiential (DEx) has been designed to meet or exceed ACOTE Standard D 1.1 – D 1.8.

The WNE OTD Doctoral Experiential has two phases:

  1. A preparatory phase which involves knowledge and skill building and the design of a research project in Years One and Two. Courses associated with this phase include: OTD 534, 624, 632/633, 642/643 and 662/663;
  2. An experiential/scholarship phase which involves implementation of the proposed research project, and the production and dissemination of a scholarly report on the findings in Year Three (OTD 780/785).

Students must successfully complete all academic coursework, fieldwork, and the competency requirement prior to beginning the experiential/scholarship phase of the Doctoral Experiential. The minimum duration of the Doctoral Experiential is 14 weeks (560 hours), which may be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. Additional information can be viewed here.

The entry-level (first professional degree) Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program at Western New England University (WNE) has been designed to meet and exceed the standards set for OTD programs by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Standards for the entry-level OTD require a Capstone. The WNE OTD program refers to this component as the Doctoral Experiential. This includes a Community Experiential and a Scholarly Project that have been designed to meet or exceed the ACOTE standards. Doctoral Experientials are planned and implemented jointly with students, faculty, and community partners.

The purpose of the Doctoral Experiential is for students to apply the knowledge and skills gained during their OTD academic courses and their Level I and II fieldwork experiences in ways that challenge and perhaps transform the delivery of health, educational, and social services.

Through designing and implementing a community experiential and a scholarly project that specifically responds to the needs of a population and setting, students experience the roles of a reflective practitioner, a transformative leader, and an innovative designer. The Doctoral Experiential is a complex interrelated field experience and a scholarly project that is coordinated by a student, university, and community team.

Sampling of projects produced by the Class of 2020