Methodist University will offer an occupational therapy assistant program

Methodist University is set to launch one of the first accredited course in occupational therapy in the country next year.

Associate Professor Dr Meredith Gronski, chair of the Department of Occupational Therapy at Methodist University, said that only one other university in the United States, Huntington University offers a fully accredited occupational therapy assistant program.

“Most OT Assistant programs across the country are at the community college level and are associate degrees and our profession has recently expanded and extended OTA training to be at the bachelor’s level. So once we get started, we’ll be one of the first in the country to have this type of program,” she said.

Twenty-five students will have the opportunity to enroll in the course once it becomes accredited in fall 2023.

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Occupational therapists treat chronic illnesses, disabilities and mental health issues to help patients through the recovery process so they can perform daily activities, according to the university’s curriculum. website. Occupational therapist assistants assist occupational therapists by guiding patients through stretches and exercises.

Currently, the university only offers a doctorate in occupational therapy, Gronski said, but students who earn a bachelor’s degree in the program at the university are eligible to enter directly into the doctoral program.

Nearly 65 students have already graduated from the university’s doctoral program, she said.

Tajze Johnson, a student in the doctoral program, said her goal was to improve the quality of life of future patients.

“I was actually born with kidney disease and through that I was able to find a profession that I could give back,” he said. “I plan to provide some types of occupational therapy services to transplant patients who are on dialysis.”

The doctoral program in occupational therapy and the upcoming baccalaureate program are offered by the university’s Department of Health Sciences and Human Services. The doctoral program lasts three and a half years and the bachelor’s program lasts four years.

Johnson said he sold his house in Charlotte and moved to Fayetteville to pursue his dream of becoming an occupational therapist. Currently, he works locally as an assistant.

Johnson said there is currently no vocational assistance program for about 50 miles, which makes the new program a great opportunity for local students interested in the field.

He also noted that the bachelor’s program is more affordable.

“It would be a great way for people of lower economic status to be able to graduate and enter the field, because not everyone can afford to get a PhD,” he said.

For more information about the new program, email admissions@methodist.edu or mgronski@methodist.edu or apply online at https://www.methodist.edu/apply/.

Health and Education Editor Ariana-Jasmine Castrellon can be reached at acastrellon@gannett.com or 910-486-3561.

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