Occupational Therapy Program aims to keep up with demand as baby boomers age
Occupational Therapy Program aims to keep up with demand as baby boomers age

The health care industry will experience major changes over the next decade as the large baby-boom generation ages, and the need for occupational therapists continues to increase, especially in mountainous regions. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study predicts more than 30,000 new occupational therapist jobs will be created by 2022, a projection that outpaces the national average for all occupations. Creighton University is staying ahead of the curve by attracting more students to its Occupational Therapy programs, which provide students with a more flexible learning environment.

Creighton is entering the third year of a first-of-its kind joint partnership with Regis University in Denver. The partnership offers a distance learning opportunity for entry-level doctor of occupational therapy (OTD) students. The program allows students to complete their degree remotely and mirrors a hybrid learning collaboration program between Creighton and the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA).

Creighton began its Occupational Therapy Program in 1985 and began offering a doctorate degree in 1999. It was the nation’s first entry-level OTD education program and the first innovative hybrid pathways program. The hybrid pathways program was created for students who needed a flexible learning environment to accommodate their busy lifestyles. While the pathways are different from a traditional campus setting, the program and workload are the same. For all pathways, students can view course lectures from Creighton faculty and staff online at their preferred time and location. Laboratory components of the curriculum and fieldwork are completed on the Regis campus and at other locations around the state of Colorado, including hospitals, clinics, school systems and community centers. Students will have ready access to academic support and career mentoring from Creighton faculty for the program’s duration. Upon successful completion, students will earn a Creighton University diploma. Since the program’s inception, 92 percent of Creighton students entering the Occupational Therapy Program have graduated.

 “Students learn how to rehabilitate people who are experiencing an injury, illness or disability,” said Dr. Amy Mayer, Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy at Creighton. “Occupational therapy teaches people alternatives to how they’re typically used to performing activities in their daily lives. By being engaged in their day-to-day activities, people can make their lives as meaningful as possible.”

To provide a smooth transition into the program, Creighton is hosting Welcome Week activities at each pathway location in August. Students will meet a variety of support staff and students who can help them achieve a healthy balance between their academic, professional and personal endeavors. More than 100 incoming occupational therapy students have enrolled in this year’s entry-level program. Students can earn their doctorate within eight semesters. After earning their diploma, graduates can explore careers in their field or continue their education by entering a paid residency program.

The Creighton Regis Occupational Therapy Collaboration is the only partnership among Jesuit universities and was the first program to offer an entry-level OTD degree in Colorado. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education through the 2020-21 academic year. The next accreditation site visit is scheduled for 2020. Creighton has sustained its sterling reputation as a leader in the fields of distance learning and health profession education, which began in 2001 with the nation’s first Internet-based distance Doctor of Pharmacy degree pathway.

Welcome Week Schedule for Distance Learning Pathways

  • University of Alaska-Anchorage: Monday, July 31 through Friday, August 4 2017
  • Regis University-Denver: Monday, August 7 through Friday, August 11 2017