Methodist University is scheduled to launch one of the first accredited courses in occupational therapy in the nation next year.
Associate Professor Dr. Meredith Gronski, chair of the Occupational Therapy Department at Methodist University, said that only one other university in the U.S., Huntington University offers a fully accredited Occupational Therapy Assistantbachelor's program.
“Most OT assistant programs across the nation are at the community college level and are associate degrees and our profession has recently expanded and extended training for OTAs to be at the bachelor’s level. So once we start, we will be one of the first few in the nation to have this type of program,” she said.
Twenty-five students will have an opportunity to enroll in the course once it becomes accredited in fall 2023.
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Occupational therapists address chronic disease, disability and mental health conditions in order to help patients through the recovery process so that they can do everyday activities, according to the university’s website. Occupational therapist assistants, help the occupational therapists by leading patients through stretches and exercises.
At this time, the university only offers a doctorate in occupational therapy, Gronski said, but students who earn a bachelors in the program at the university are eligible to go straight into the doctoral program.
Nearly 65 students have already graduated from the university’s doctoral program, she said.
Tajze Johnson, a student in the doctoral program, said his goal is to improve future patients’ quality of life.
“I was actually born with a kidney disease and through that I was able to find a profession that I would be able to give back,” he said. “I plan on providing some type of OT services for transplant patients that are on dialysis.”
The Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program and the coming bachelor's program are offered through the university’s College of Health Sciences & Human Services Department. The doctoral program is three and a half years and the bachelor's program is four.
Johnson said he sold his home in Charlotte and moved to Fayetteville to pursue his dream of becoming an occupational therapist. Currently, he works locally as an assistant.
Johnson said that currently there isn’t an occupational assistance program for about 50 miles, making the new program a great opportunity for local students interested in the field.
He also noted that the bachelor's program is more affordable.
“This would be a great way for individuals from lower economic statuses to be able to graduate and enter the field because not everyone can afford to get a doctorate,” he said.
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For more information about the new program, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or apply online at https://www.methodist.edu/apply/.
Health and education writer Ariana-Jasmine Castrellon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3561.
This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: Methodist University to offer occupational therapist assistant program