Master of Occupational Therapy Program Receives Accreditation

Occupational therapy exercise

Occupational therapists help individuals through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.

Radford University’s Master of Occupational Therapy (M.O.T.) program has been awarded full accreditation status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The program met all 190 ACOTE standards, and earned the maximum initial accreditation period of seven years.  

“Our M.O.T program is a very important part of our portfolio of new programs in allied healthcare and we’re very proud to earn this accreditation on schedule,” said Raymond Linville, dean of the Waldron College of Health and Human Services.  “Dr. Mitchell and his colleagues have worked with diligence and resolve to reach this goal and they should all be commended.”

ACOTE’s approval is significant, because only graduates of an accredited program may be credentialed and employed as occupational therapists. The first occupational therapy graduates will sit for the national certification examination in early 2012.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapists help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).  Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

The ACOTE evaluators visited campus in April, reviewing the program’s 347-page Report of Self-Study and its records, and meeting with administrators, faculty, students, and local clinicians to verify the program’s compliance with accreditation standards.

“The on-site team was very complimentary about our service mission, our faculty, students, and resources for learning, and the university’s support of the program,” said Douglas Mitchell, the founding chair of the program.  “Many individuals across all divisions of the university worked very hard to make this accreditation process successful.”       

The accreditation culminates a five-year process of program development. Radford began researching the potential for a M.O.T. program in response to an unmet need for occupational therapists in the rural southwestern region of Virginia. The need for occupational therapists is expected to grow as the current population ages. With a course concentration that will prepare students to help clients return to their everyday occupations, the M.O.T program will uniquely focus on rural healthcare. Ultimately, the college hopes to graduate students committed to serving the local community.

An administrative team led by Linville worked for two years with local health care providers and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to earn state approval for the M.O.T. program.  Mitchell and Founding Director of Clinical Education Cynthia Creighton were hired in August 2008.  ACOTE awarded Developing Program Status in April 2009.

During the spring and summer of that year, a 3,800 square-foot space on campus was remodeled and equipped for occupational therapy classrooms and laboratories. Additional full-time faculty members and an administrative assistant joined the department’s staff, and an inaugural class of students was admitted. The students have completed their course work on campus, and will begin full-time fieldwork placements in local hospitals, nursing homes and schools this month.

Applicants for the M.O.T. program may have bachelor’s degrees in any discipline and must meet the program’s criteria for prerequisite coursework and undergraduate grade point average.  

In addition to the M.O.T. program, the university has recently added doctoral degrees in psychology, physical therapy, and nursing practice.

May 3, 2011
Bonnie Erickson