JWU Launches Rhode Island’s First Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program

Story by JWU Media Relations , on Jun 17, 2019 2:00 PM

Program Includes Culinary, Equine and Design Collaborations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — June 17, 2019 – Johnson & Wales University (JWU) is expanding its presence and influence in the health arena by offering the first entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program in Rhode Island. The university welcomed its first student cohort to campus on June 10 to begin the full-time, 36-month program.

“As Johnson & Wales University explored a larger presence in the healthcare market, the institution heard directly from industry of the growing need for more occupational therapists,” said Ann Burkhardt, founding director, Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program, College of Health & Wellness. “With input from industry leaders, we designed a program with diversity of access to inter-professional partners, a broader view of health and wellness as it affects quality of life, and real life experiences to push the borders of practice to be more inclusive. Our graduates will have the knowledge, skills, and experience to propose, design, develop and grow practices to better meet the needs of people across the lifespan and to change care delivery for the shifting demographic of consumers of care.”

The program is housed in newly renovated space on JWU’s Downcity Campus, at 138 Mathewson Street, the former home of the College of Engineering & Design. The space contains two labs: an Occupations Lab and an Action Lab. The Occupations Lab includes a modified home setup of a living room, kitchen and bathroom, high-tech visual assessment and training equipment, a vestibular testing device for balance assessment, a 3-D printer for the production of splints and adapted equipment, and a hospital bed area for practice interactions with an artificial intelligence patient. In addition, students have access to a state-of-the-art driving simulator, which is used as part of a comprehensive assessment to determine the extent that impairments in visual, cognitive and motor abilities may limit driving ability and performance. The Action Lab is designed ergonomically to protect students as they learn to transfer and move clients with a variety of special needs, such as mobility impairments.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 27 percent job growth in occupational therapy through 2024, with a doctorate required for entry-level employment by 2027. JWU’s OTD program, which requires a bachelor’s degree, has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The program will use a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to address the importance of the physical, psychological and emotional needs of people through facility and community based care. Graduates of the program can pursue careers in occupational therapy practice settings such as hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, outpatient clinics, school-based settings, early intervention, skilled nursing facilities, ergonomic and work practice, home and community health and mental health practice.

In keeping with JWU’s interdisciplinary curriculum, OTD students will collaborate with culinary arts faculty and students on the approach to improving food choices and preparation to support health and wellness for consumers. Together, they will explore the impact of culture, food and cooking in contributing to the health, wellness and care of individuals, communities and populations served.

JWU’s Equine Studies program will offer OTD students the opportunity to study the benefits of hippotherapy and prevocational equine activities. Therapeutic riding is an assisted activity that contributes positively to the cognitive, physical, emotional and social well-being of individuals with special needs. Working in an equine setting will help individuals develop the skills that can be transferred into other employment settings.

OTD students will work with the College of Engineering & Design’s Integrated Product Design program to create solutions that increase person-environment-occupation fit for people with disabilities or challenges. In this partnership, OTD students can share critical insights and knowledge to inform design and better serve the end-user of relevant products and prototypes.


About JWU

Founded in 1914, Johnson & Wales University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with approximately 13,000 graduate, undergraduate and online students at its four campuses in Providence, Rhode Island; North Miami, Florida; Denver, Colorado; and Charlotte, North Carolina. An innovative educational leader, the university offers degree programs in arts and sciences, business, culinary arts, design and engineering, education, health and wellness, hospitality, nutrition and physician assistant studies. Its unique model integrates arts and sciences and industry-focused education with work experience and leadership opportunities, inspiring students to achieve professional success and lifelong personal and intellectual growth. The university’s impact is global, with alumni from 125 countries pursuing careers worldwide. For more information, visit jwu.edu.

MEDIA CONTACT Ryan Crowley, communications & media relations specialist, 401-598-2752. Follow @JWUnews