Message from Dr. Jaime Muñoz
Chairperson and Assistant Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy
In 1992, Duquesne University was one of the very first in the nation to offer students a 5-year bachelor's to master's degree program in occupational therapy. In 2016, Duquesne University will begin offering a 6-year professional doctorate degree (OTD). The profession of occupational therapy continues to have thoughtful and evidence-informed conversations about moving the entry-level degree to practice as an occupational therapist to a professional doctorate degree (OTD). At Duquesne, we continue to maintain the forward thinking creativity, academic excellence and scholarly productivity that have earned our program recognition from our professional peers and strong national rankings compared to programs in similar institutions. We believe the profession's accreditation body will eventually decide to move the profession to the professional doctorate. When they do, we will already be there.
The graduating class of 2016 is the first cohort to be provided the option to engage in advanced practitioner training leading to an occupational therapy doctorate degree (OTD) or to conclude their training with the 5-year master's degree (MS). Beginning in fall of 2016, all freshmen admitted to Duquesne University's Occupational Therapy program will begin a curriculum leading to a 6-year occupational therapy doctorate degree (OTD). Current occupational therapy accreditation standards require students to graduate from an accredited 5-year masters program, but there are currently more than 30 programs across the nation offering or preparing to offer an entry level OTD degree.
The Department of Occupational Therapy will continue to offer the 5-year MS degree. We believe that maintaining both 5-year MS and 6-year OTD programs allows students maximum flexibility in planning their career in occupational therapy. All newly admitted freshmen enroll in a 6-year entry-level OTD degree and as they complete their 4th year of our curriculum, they can decide to opt out of the OTD program and complete their studies after 5 years thus earning the MS degree.
Both these degrees ensure a student who successfully completes our program is eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy examination and, when successful, to practice as a registered occupational therapist (OTR).
Our programs provide students with excellent academic and clinical education and the mentorship and professional development opportunities that produce practice scholars1. As practice-scholars, we expect our graduates to not only possess strong capacities for evidence-based occupational therapy interventions, but also the ability to design and implement programs and studies to create their own evidence and to answer questions arising from their practice. Students earning the OTD degree produce independent capstone projects demonstrating these and other advanced practitioner skills.
The Duquesne Department of Occupational Therapy has excellent teachers and mentors. Each has earned a doctoral degree and each has a true passion to teach. Collectively, our teaching philosophy emphasizes active and transformative learning experiences. Our students learn in the classroom, but also in the clinic and in the community. Community engaged learning and experiential learning in real-life contexts are standard teaching practices in our program and students know that they will be expected to immediately transform classroom learning into practice competencies. We work diligently to keep our class size small and typically admit 30 freshmen students each year. This effort is intentional. This approach allows us to continually integrate active, hands-on learning experiences within our curriculum and to offer every student a faculty mentor for professional development. This mentor relationship begins when the student arrives on campus and continues until they graduate. It is not unusual for graduates to maintain the relationship and to seek career advice long after they have left Duquesne's campus. I invite you to read our faculty profiles. I believe you will see we have a strong group of teacher scholars who are actively engaged in the classroom, in student mentorship, in practice, in the profession and in their own independent traditions of scholarship.
Our DU curriculum offers flexibility that enables students to complete a minor and to study abroad. Half (50%) of our students pursue minors, usually in minors in, psychology, special education, or business. Duquesne University maintains small campuses in Rome, Italy and Dublin, Ireland to support international study abroad opportunities. The Rangos School of Health Sciences faculty has consistently designed and led study abroad opportunities focused on international health, typically in Asian, African and European countries.
Employers recognize that Duquesne University produces exceptionally knowledgeable and well-trained occupational therapists. Our graduates have a 95% employment rate within 6 months of graduation and for the past several years roughly 1/3rd of the students have accepted job offers before graduation. Our students' performances on the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy exam are consistently above national averages. Every Duquesne student (100%) over the past 10 years has passed this certification exam and in the past 4 years 95.3% have passed on their 1st attempt.
I invite you to compare our program against other programs you are considering. You will see that our faculty is comprised of teacher scholars who lead by example, our curriculum is rigorous and student-centered, and our training methods are creative and comprehensive. Duquesne University's occupational therapy faculty is committed to education for the mind, heart and spirit and to preparing students who will make significant contributions to the achievement of the AOTA Centennial Vision leading to occupational therapy becoming a "powerful, widely recognized, science-driven, and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society's occupational needs."2
1. Crist, P., Muñoz, J.P., Witchger Hansen, A.M., Benson, J, & Provident, I. (2005). The practice-scholar program: An academic-practice partnership to promote the scholarship of "best practices." Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 19 (1/2), 71-93.
2. American Occupational Therapy Association. (2007). AOTA's centennial vision and executive summary. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 6, 614-615.