University Announces New Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program

Occupational Therapy Clinic
The new doctoral program will begin in June.

The School of Human Service Professions is expanding with the launch of the new Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. Beginning in June, the three-year doctoral program will include hands-on, experiential learning, clinical research, personal faculty mentorship and interdisciplinary collaboration.  

Occupational therapy is an expanding profession within the health care field and is expected to grow 24 percent by 2026. Therapists in this field help to improve clients’ abilities to perform tasks associated with daily living. 

“The Doctor of Occupational Therapy program will deliver a dynamic and valuable learning experience,” said President Julie E. Wollman. “Our committed faculty will guide students toward professional and personal success through high-quality academics and personal mentorship. Rooted in inter-professional and community-based learning experiences, the program will teach students the necessary skills to become leaders in the occupational therapy field and serve a diverse range of clients.”  

Students enrolled in the program will have the opportunity to work across health care disciplines within the university. The program’s inter-professional learning model will foster collaboration with other departments such as physical therapy, social work, human sexuality, nursing and clinical psychology to deepen the students’ understanding of the course work and enable them to provide the best quality care for diverse client populations.  

Hands-on experiential learning opportunities will be available through doctoral and fieldwork experiences in clinical and inter-professional community settings such as the Widener student-run, pro bono Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic. 

“We are thrilled to now offer this program at Widener,” said Wendy Wachter-Schutz, founding program director and associate professor of occupational therapy. “Students seeking to become an occupational therapist will benefit from the program’s close faculty mentorship, meaningful research and clinic opportunities, and collaboration with other health and human service professions across campus.”  

In November, the university was awarded a $20,000, grant from the Foundation for Delaware County that will provide necessary resources ahead of the program’s inaugural semester. The grant will equip program classrooms with the furnishings and supplies needed to simulate activities of daily life such as dressing, bathing, laundry and meal preparation. 

“We are thrilled to introduce the Doctor of Occupational Therapy within the School of Human Service Professions,” said Robin Dole, dean of the School of Human Service Professions. “Graduate students will be able to take the next step in their careers with a client-centered and evidence-based curriculum in an interdisciplinary and supportive learning environment. This program will not only allow students to advance their careers but emerge as leaders in the profession.” 

The program, which was granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), is designed to be completed in three years as a full-time graduate student. 

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A designed image includes images of occupational therapy, speech-language, and physical therapy students working the health clinic.
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