Message from Dr. Jaime Muñoz
Chairperson and Associate 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 began transitioning to offer a 6-year professional doctorate degree (OTD). The profession of occupational therapy continues to have thoughtful and evidence-informed conversations about moving to the professional doctorate degree (OTD) as the only point of entry into the profession. 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 that ACOTE, the profession's accreditation body will soon mandate that all educational programs move to the OTD. While ACOTE has not yet established the OTD as the single point of entry into the profession the reality is there are 60 OTD programs that are currently accredited, accepting OTD students or completing an application to transition from an MS to an OTD. Duquesne's transition is well under way. ACOTE accredited our OTD program for the maximum initial accreditation period of 7 years on August 7, 2016. Our entry-level doctoral degree program is designed to equip graduates who exhibit advanced level expertise, design innovative programs and lead in practice and professional settings. All freshmen admitted to Duquesne University's Occupational Therapy program are now directly enrolled in a curriculum leading to a 6-year occupational therapy doctorate degree (OTD). Similarly, all post-baccalaureate students admitted through the occupational therapy centralized application system (OTCAS) enroll in a 6-year OTD degree program. Duquesne's transition to a 6-year entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) degree will be complete in 2020 when the last MS degrees will be awarded.
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. Our program provides 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 demonstrate strong competencies for evidence-based, occupation focused interventions, but also the ability to design, implement and evaluate programs, and execute studies that create the evidence that answers questions arising from their practice. All students earning the OTD degree produce independent capstone projects demonstrating these and other advanced practitioner competencies.
Our DU curriculum offers flexibility during the first 2.5 years of the program. Half (50%) of our students pursue minors in fields such as psychology, special education, rehabilitation technology or business. An international study abroad experience is strongly encouraged. Duquesne University maintains campuses in Rome, Italy and Dublin, Ireland and the Rangos School of Health Sciences faculty frequently offers study abroad opportunities focused on international health in Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia.
I invite you to read DU 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. Note how many of our publications and presentations include student co-authors and co-presenters. This is by design and reflects our commitment to mentor practice scholars who begin their professional careers with strong evidence of the competencies that ensure their success. 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 many of our 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 24 years who has attempted the certification exam has passed this national exam. In the past 4 years 95% 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 talented individuals 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.