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03-09-2015

New Occupational Therapy Program at Clarkson University Approved by New York State

Clarkson University's new Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program has been approved by the New York State Education Department. The program has also been granted candidacy status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

Clarkson University Director and Founding Chair of the Occupational Therapy Program Rondalyn V. Whitney, right, works with Gavin Thompson to develop his muscle building skills, hand-eye coordination and social skills through occupational therapy.The 27-month Occupational Therapy (OT) program taps into Clarkson's core strengths in engineering, science, entrepreneurship and the arts to prepare students to become occupational therapists.

The program will complement the University's successful Doctor of Physical Therapy and Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies programs and will be housed in the same facility, Clarkson Hall, on Clarkson's downtown campus.

"We are pleased to have Occupational Therapy join our existing health sciences programs, Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant Studies," said Senior Vice President and Provost Chuck Thorpe. "As we have designed our OT program, I have been continually surprised and impressed with the breadth of topics they cover: OT’s concerns for the 'activities of daily living' stretch from autism spectrum disorder to adjusting cars for aging drivers. I’m looking forward to the impact our OT professors and students will have on the lives of our North Country neighbors."

OT students will begin their classes at Clarkson in August. For more information, interested students can visit www.clarkson.edu/ot or email ot@clarkson.edu.

"The addition of Occupational Therapy to our health professional programs represents an exciting step forward," Dean of Arts and Sciences Peter Turner said. "I am proud to have been part of this growth, which is important not just for the University itself but also for the community in which we live and work. Last summer, Canton-Potsdam Hospital recognized the importance of our health professions programs with their Board of Directors Service Award. Occupational Therapy will increase that contribution in ways that will raise the reputation of Clarkson and, more importantly, improve the lives of many in our community. There is a great need for occupational therapists in our schools, hospitals, clinics and homes. It is very satisfying to contribute to meeting that need. I look forward to welcoming our first OT students in August."

Occupational therapists help people of all ages participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. The term "occupation" is not limited to an individual's profession, and can be anything from studying to playing to cooking a meal.

"The outcome can be quantified in a number of different ways, such as standing unassisted to bake a pie, swallowing while eating dinner, having good judgment while driving, helping a child with autism develop social skills and make a friend or being able to maintain dignity and independence with day-to-day activities after a stroke or amputation," said Director and Founding Chair of the Occupational Therapy Program Rondalyn V. Whitney. "It's all a matter of finding what is important to each person. We help people live their lives to the fullest in spite of disability or disorders."

Clarkson students have the opportunity to pursue one of three OT specialty tracks of study, which will allow them to become immersed in advanced study in their area of interest: Technology for Health Related Quality of Life, Occupational Therapist as an Educator and Innovative Practitioner.

The Technology for Health Related Quality of Life track is designed for students who want to become clinicians who can design and implement individual, organization a population based programs that leverage the promise of technology.

Students in the Occupational Therapist as an Educator track will become clinicians who can design and implement individual, organization and population based programs in academia, clinical research or intervention directed to the current and emerging needs of children and youth.

The Innovative Practitioner track enables students to become clinicians who can design and implement individual, organization and population based programs in innovative practice to include, but not limited to, primary care practitioner, product designer or entrepreneur.

The OT program utilizes a Smart Simulation Lab, which simulates an actual living space that incorporates high-tech solutions to everyday challenges, such as low vision supports, adaptive driving equipment and simulators, assistive technology devices and environmental controls. This state-of-the-art facility will provide students with rich experiential learning opportunities they can translate into real-life work situations.

Because occupational therapists do not work in isolation, the program's curriculum emphasizes the importance of inter-professional collaboration during the learning experience. Students are placed in the field at two different stages of the OT program: the first time with a focus on developing professionalism, and the second time exploring the wide range of occupational therapy delivery models, including both traditional and innovative practice.

"Students are placed in a variety of settings, since there are many sites in which occupational therapy occurs -- not just in hospitals," said Lisa Tebo, OT instructor / clinical educator / fieldwork coordinator. "Elementary schools, in-home rehab programs, assisted living and other similar places are other options. These placements are not necessarily only in the North Country. Model programs from around the country are being examined for student placement as well."

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University Director and Founding Chair of the Occupational Therapy Program Rondalyn V. Whitney, right, works with Gavin Thompson to develop his muscle building skills, hand-eye coordination and social skills through occupational therapy. Clarkson's new Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program has been approved by the New York State Education Department and has also been granted candidacy status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/rwhitney-ot.jpg .]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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