Doctor of Occupational Therapy program fully accredited


For The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program has received full accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

One of 54 doctoral degree programs among 251 ACOTE-accredited occupational therapy programs, St. Ambrose’s program is at the forefront of an industry transformation. ACOTE has mandated that all entry-level occupational therapy programs transition from master’s to doctorate curricula by 2027.

St. Ambrose launched its program in the fall of 2016 with ACOTE candidacy status and is now fully accredited for the next seven years. Graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Completion of the exam results in the status of Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR).


The first Doctor of Occupational Therapy degrees will be awarded to St. Ambrose graduates during the commencement ceremony in May 2019. Program Director Lynn Kilburg predicted the graduates will build on a long history of success stepping into the workforce.

“We have had 100 percent job placement for many years now and 80 percent of our master’s graduates selected their job in their first choice of practice and/or geographical location within six weeks of graduation,” Kilburg said. “We anticipate that with the doctoral students’ focused emphasis in a doctoral project, they will further pinpoint the jobs they’re interested in and impact the clients they serve.”

Sandra Cassady, St. Ambrose’s vice president for strategic initiatives and dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said the OTD program received high commendation from the ACOTE committee that assessed it during an on-site visit in July.

In its report, the committee cited strengths that included:

• “Service initiatives and outreach activities (that) promote awareness for the need to develop caring and compassionate practitioners with occupational justice for all individuals.”

• “The faculty has a tremendous depth and breadth of expertise in both areas of clinical practice and educational experience. The team-teaching approach adopted by faculty strengthens the ties between didactic learning and the clinical experience and allows the faculty to capitalize on their areas of expertise. …”

• “The administration has adopted an open-door policy, from faculty to the dean, to the president’s office, facilitating collaboration and innovative programming that have resulted in robust opportunities for inter-professional education with the physical therapy, speech therapy and physician assistant programs.”

The ACOTE committee also made a suggestion related to exploring process and distribution of workload. No areas of non-compliance were noted.

Occupational Therapy debuted as an undergraduate degree major program at St. Ambrose in the late 1980s and produced its first graduates in 1991. It is the longest-standing occupational therapy program in Iowa and currently offers the state’s only accredited doctoral degree in the discipline. The first Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) degrees were awarded in 2000. The final MOT cohort graduated in August.

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