For occupational therapists looking to expand their skillsets during this unprecedented interlude in normal daily activity, UNLV has a new doctorate degree available – one that doesn’t break social distancing rules.
The post-professional occupational therapy doctorate degree was recently created as an advanced degree for practicing occupational therapists who are interested in higher level roles in teaching, advanced clinical practice, and/or leadership.
“There are very few occupational therapists in Nevada who have doctorate degrees,” Donna Costa said. Costa is the orignal program director and an associate professor. “So rather than having to attend programs outside the state, UNLV decided to offer this program and begin to develop our own doctorally trained occupational therapy workforce.”
The first-time degree will provide an evidence-based and sequenced curriculum, all available through online course instruction.
“We designed the program for working occupational therapists,” Costa adds. “To support that, it is being offered completely online so therapists can complete their studies without having to rearrange their work schedules, facilitating their pursuit of advanced learning while fulfilling their professional and personal responsibilities.”
Considering the current coronavirus situation, Costa encourages occupational therapists to maximize their career advancement opportunities right now.
“At a time when so much of our lives have been disrupted by this crisis, this is an opportunity for occupational therapists to advance their professional education with minimal disruption to their lives due to the accessibility and affordability of this program,” she said. “The timing could not be better as many of us are considering other employment options and find ourselves with extra time on our hands.”
The program can help students fill needs in the field for areas of advanced practice, and to eventually help fill some of the many vacant faculty positions for occupational therapists around the country.
According to Costa, this degree will give graduates the qualifications they will need to apply for those academic positions. The same is true for leadership positions, where companies are often looking for a combination of advanced degrees and clinical practice experience to fill managerial or leadership positions.
“Despite the extraordinary job market disruption from COVID-19, there are many jobs for faculty positions throughout the U.S. and the demand for additional faculty is expected to grow in the future,” she said. “Graduates of this program will have the knowledge and skills needed to pursue these academic positions. Similarly, there are many managerial and leadership positions in healthcare organizations that are actively recruiting.”