From the Program Director, Dr. Pam Story Dominican University Occupational Therapy: Meeting and Embracing “The New Normal”

Welcome to Dominican University! Our weekend format OT program paves a distinctive path into the field of occupational therapy.   The diverse experiences of our students help create a rich, unique learning environment. While they may come from different backgrounds, our students are highly motivated and dedicated to advancing their education and committed to their families, communities, future profession, clients, and each other.

The year 2021 presented many continued challenges in all areas of life. However, in true Dominican University and occupational therapy fashion, our faculty, staff, and students adapted, persevered, and thrived. 

2021 in Brief

2021 saw the program return to classes held in the physical classroom, maintaining appropriate safety protocols and monitoring according to the ever-evolving New York State Department of Education, Rockland County, New York State, and CDC guidelines. True to their future roles as occupational therapy healthcare practitioners, our students took it all in stride. While Level II fieldwork sites continued to have challenges due to the pandemic, all of the 2021 graduates completed their requirements in a timely manner due to the tireless efforts of our Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and her Fieldwork Assistant.

In March, the program’s faculty, staff, and students demonstrated to the Accreditation Council on Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) how well our distinctive format prepares entry-level occupational therapists. Following the exhaustive review of the reaccreditation self-study document and a rigorous three-day virtual onsite visit, ACOTE met in June and awarded the program a ten-year, deficiency-free reaccreditation, the highest level of accreditation a program can receive. As a result, the Dominican University Occupational Therapy Program is fully accredited through the 2030-2031 academic year.

Other services the OT students engaged in included providing mental health screening to undergraduate students on the campus during Mental Health Awareness Week. In addition,  students created and presented workshops for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Rockland and participated in the 2021 NAMI Rockland 5K Run/Walk for Wellness

In addition to all of the above, faculty and students regularly engaged in scholarship and service. Faculty members have had multiple articles published or accepted for publication. OT faculty actively collaborate with faculty in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program on a textbook. OT and DPT faculty are also engaged in interprofessional education projects focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ). The OT program students started a chapter of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) in concert with these efforts. One OT student started a campus-wide student club open to both undergraduate and graduate students focused on advocating for refugees, called Students Together Assisting Refugees (STAR).

Of course, the ultimate goal of the Dominican University OT program is to prepare students to become engaged, competent, compassionate, ethically-minded, and evidence-informed entry-level occupational therapists and leaders working to promote positive and sustainable change in the world through occupational justice. The culmination of the academic and clinical preparation qualifies the graduate to demonstrate their readiness to enter the field by taking and passing the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination to earn the credential of Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR). Passing the exam additionally qualifies the graduate to apply for and receive a license to practice occupational therapy in their state of choice. I am proud to state that 98% of the graduates who took the exam in 2021 passed it. Congratulations and welcome to our newest colleagues!

2022 is already shaping up to surpass 2021, with activities, publications, and presentations at the state and national levels.  I could go on and on about all of the amazing activities and accomplishments of our program students and faculty. But instead, I invite you to experience it for yourself by becoming a member of our Dominican OT family.