Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions is pleased to announce the appointment of Bryan M. Gee, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, BCP, CLA, as Department Chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy and program director of the proposed entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. The University is currently reviewing candidates to replace Gee in his role as the program director for the post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy program.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupational therapy is projected to grow 24 percent by 2029. Occupational therapists work to enable patients of all ages to promote, prevent, or live better with injury, illness, or disability (AOTA).
Since the profession’s initial creation, occupational therapy has evolved to include support and practice areas such as children and youth, productive aging, health and wellness, mental health, healthcare reform, rehabilitation and disability, and work and industry.
With a growing profession, Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions is poised to help meet the needs of that growth through its planned development of a entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program for the fall of 2023. Additionally RMUoHP and the Department of Occupational Therapy is moving forward with an entry-level Master of Occupational Therapy Program (bridge program for occupational therapy assistants) with enrollment planned for the fall of 2024. Both programs will uniquely deliver the curriculum using a limited residency instructional model with the majority of the instructional content online with three week-long visits to campus each semester.
Gee explains that the planned entry-level OT programs at RMU will “have a curricular focus on psychosocial dysfunction participation, the social determinants of health (healthcare and education access and quality, social quality and context, neighborhood and built environments, etc.), occupational justice, and generating clinical scholarship (through case reports, single-subject design research, and program development).”
For occupational therapy, practitioners can enter the profession at either the master’s or doctoral level. The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), which accredits occupational therapy degree programs, requires students entering the profession at the doctoral level to participate in an additional 14-week doctoral experiential, which allows the students to create a culminating capstone project, and to prepare for leadership and administrative roles to further advance the profession.
While the OT profession is projected to grow, the University of Utah is currently the only other school in the state with an entry-level OT program. The addition of RMUoHP’s OT programs, in combination with the post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, uniquely positions RMUoHP to offer three avenues of OT education to students.
“Through the curriculum focus and the unique interprofessional collaborations, the University’s programs will not only add competent and employable occupational therapists to the profession but counter the shortfall of occupational therapists in the intermountain West and across the nation,” explained Gee.
The proposed entry-level occupational therapy programs will consist of six semesters for the master’s program and eight semesters for the doctorate program in occupational therapy and will prepare OT professionals to work with patients within home, school, work, and community environments. The programs will prepare students to plan and apply evidence-based occupational therapy interventions to support engagement in meaningful activities of daily living for clients across the lifespan.
Gee and program administrators are working with the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) for programmatic accreditation. Graduates of ACOTE accredited institutions are eligible to sit for the NBCOT Certification Examination for Occupational Therapists.