Welcome to the source of information for those interested in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The UMMC Department of Occupational Therapy is in the process of completing the necessary steps to transition from a master's level degree (MOT) program to a doctoral level degree (OTD) program. We anticipate admitting our first doctoral-level students in summer 2018. Our institution offers the only degree for occupational therapists in Mississippi. Our program was accredited as a bachelor's (BS) degree in 1991, and it transitioned to a master's (MOT) degree in 2003. The UMMC Department of Occupational Therapy earned a full 10 year reaccreditation status for its Master of Occupational Therapy program in 2014. Most recently, the Department of Occupational Therapy applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status for a new entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE's telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org.
As the single educator of occupational therapists in Mississippi, it is critical that the UMMC occupational therapy department offers a rigorous degree program that keeps pace with national developments. Reflective of the AOTA Board of Directors encouragement, entry-level doctoral preparation for occupational therapists is rapidly becoming a national trend.
In a statement which was released on April 30, 2014, the AOTA Board of Directors offered the following: "In response to the changing demands of higher education, the health care environment, and within occupational therapy, it is the position of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Board of Directors that the profession should take action to transition toward a doctoral-level single point of entry for occupational therapists, with a target date of 2025. Support of high quality entry-level doctoral education for occupational therapists will benefit the profession, consumers, and society."
More recently at ACOTE's August 2017 meeting, it mandated the doctoral degree as the entry-level degree requirement for the occupational therapist by July 1, 2027. Therefore, the UMMC OT faculty have identified this degree transition as a priority for our program. Additionally, our occupational therapy faculty believes our profession needs to seize opportunities to remain relevant, competent and highly specialized along with other professions who have advanced their entry-level degrees. Offering an entry-level doctoral degree at UMMC for occupational therapy will help to ensure that our profession remains viable among reimbursers and keeps pace with other like professions on the rehabilitation team.
Occupational therapy intervention can be implemented with individuals, groups, or populations and the ultimate goals are to increase independence, increase safety, promote health and wellness, and prevent further disability. Maximizing daily activities and empowering clients to facilitate their own progress toward independence can reduce the burden on other services such as emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and long term care. The unique ability of the doctorally prepared occupational therapists to assist clients, groups and populations to engage in productive and healthy occupations is of particular value in Mississippi, where health disparities are rampant and access to resources and services is challenging.
This UMMC doctorate program will continue to prepare occupational therapists who are able to provide education and intervention to individuals across the life span whose lives have been impacted by physical, cognitive, psychological or developmental problems or other individuals who could also benefit from health promotion services. The graduates of this new doctoral program will be uniquely trained to design activities for individuals or groups to maximize occupational performance in self-care, work, leisure and other daily occupations. In addition to the core skills required of an entry-level occupational therapist, the doctoral curriculum will include an increased emphasis on leadership and advocacy skills; broadened research efforts and dissemination; advancement into diverse, non-clinical areas of practice to promote wellness and population health; and skills in management and public policy. This will ensure an occupational therapy workforce in Mississippi is able to tackle the complex and changing healthcare needs of Mississippi residents.
The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) is the accrediting body for entry level occupational therapy programs in the United States. All new entry-level occupational therapy doctoral programs must be granted Candidacy Status, have a pre-accreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status for graduates to be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The initial accreditation process will be ongoing throughout the first three years of the program; this process and timeline is standard across all newly developed programs seeking ACOTE accreditation. For more information about the ACOTE accreditation process, please visit www.acoteonline.org.
If you are interested in learning more about occupational therapy, you are invited to join us on campus for the School of Health Related Professions' Annual Program Awareness Day in the spring and Program Focus Day in the fall for a Q&A session.