The Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences Occupational Therapy Program was the first entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) in Virginia and one of a dozen established in the nation. As a post-baccalaureate, entry-level professional doctoral degree applicants must complete all the requirements for a bachelor’s degree prior to matriculation into the program. The total length of the program is 118 credit hours, 3.0 years (nine semesters). The curriculum includes two, 12-week fieldwork experiences and one, 16-week doctoral experience.
In the OTD curriculum exposure to systems and settings that represent contemporary and emerging OT practice areas were highlighted in tandem with foundational knowledge requirements and basic theoretical tenets and perspectives. These carefully developed and sequenced set of courses provide a competency-based curriculum that will assure students have the capability to screen, evaluate, fabricate and deliver an evidence-based plan of care to individuals, families, organizations and communities in various geographic locations and cultural settings. Incorporated in the curriculum design are some unique features specific to the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences Occupational Therapy Program. Among them are:
- Interprofessional focus, which highlights collaborative interaction in both the diagnostic and rehabilitative realm. This approach supports students in recognizing the contributions of other team members to the benefit of the client. Quality health care practice relies on bright, flexible practitioners that are accustomed to working collaboratively across disciplines in the delivery of patient care. Fourteen courses have been developed with an interprofessional focus. The integration of basic foundational knowledge as well as collaborative clinical course work will allow for a deeper breadth of knowledge when entering the various level one, two, and doctoral clinical experiences.
- Integration of both evidence-based applications and direct research experiences cultivate the ability of the student to understand comprehensive occupational evaluation and subsequent intervention, which lies at the heart of OT practice. Students are provided learning experiences that will engender competence, professionalism, ethical behaviors, values, engagement in professional responsibilities, and interprofessional collaborations.
- Clinical educational experiences are a critical part of the OT curriculum and are included throughout the program. Clinical education delivers to students the opportunities to perform supervised professional responsibilities, participate in intra and interdisciplinary healthcare as well as community teams, and to gain knowledge and skills from professional role models. The final doctoral rotation will allow the student a customized experience connecting theory to practice through a culminating project. This crucial component of professional preparation will allow the student to identify a focus area and achieve advanced competencies and skills.
- Consistent with one of the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) key objective of “increasing the number of doctoral-level academic educators” (2012 Centennial Vision) the proposed curriculum of the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences OTD program will have an emphasis on teaching and learning. There are three specific courses in this area. OTDs graduating from Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences will demonstrate effective use of pedagogical processes in the classroom. This will provide graduates with the tools to support their return to academia after independent practice. By providing specialized course work in this area and threading this objective throughout the curriculum, Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences will help support the goal of the AOTA to increase the number of doctoral-level academic educators as well as fulfill the critical need for OT practitioners.
From the curriculum design to the layout of our new state-of-the-art health sciences facility, Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences will provide you with a cutting-edge academic opportunity. We are educating our students not only to be future practitioners but also preparing them to be future leaders of the OT profession.
The goals of the OTD Program, in keeping with the mission of Mary Baldwin College and the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences, are to:
- Provide the appropriate learning opportunities for students to acquire the theoretical knowledge, applicable skills, and attitudes necessary to function as an entry-level post-baccalaureate occupational therapist (OTD).
- Instill in students a commitment to the core values and ethics of the occupational therapy profession.
- Model the integrative, interdisciplinary, and collaborative nature of the health care industry through interprofessional educational opportunities in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings.
- Provide a learning environment that fosters critical thinking, intellectual curiosity, reflection, and personal and professional growth with a commitment to life-long learning for faculty and students.
- Provide opportunities for faculty and students to contribute positively to the health of the regional community through service, research, and clinical practice.
- Provide an environment that supports students in obtaining the knowledge and skills for understanding and applying current and emerging evidence to clinical practice, as well as participate in and utilize research to advance the scholarship of the profession.
- Support students in gaining the knowledge and skills needed to support teaching and learning in both the classroom and clinic setting.