Entry-level occupational therapy degree requirements have varied since the establishment of the profession. Currently multiple degree paths exist. There are cited benefits for a multiple degree path system; however, barriers also exist. Most notable among these are confusion among recipients of services and other health care providers. As other healthcare professional programs have transitioned to a single point of entry at the doctoral level, occupational therapy, until recently, had not yet made this change. A nationwide online survey was used to assess perceptions of the entry-level doctorate. Participants included current occupational therapy practitioners (clinicians or educators) and students in entry-level occupational therapy or occupational therapy assistant programs. Results indicated decreased awareness of the benefits of an entry-level doctorate and suggested that the majority of occupational therapy practitioners, educators, and students surveyed were in favor of an optional entry-level doctorate. Fewer respondents believed that the doctorate should be required for entry-level competence. Education among current occupational therapists and occupational therapy students regarding the benefits of a mandatory entry-level clinical doctorate would be beneficial as the profession moves towards this as the mandated degree. Future research should address to what extent experiential learning, carried out during a doctoral rotation, increases student preparation, as well as how these experiences influence clinical practice and scholarship.
Whitney Lucas Molitor, OTD, OTR/L, BCG earned her OTD from the University of South Dakota in 2016. Her clinical experience is primarily with adult and geriatric populations. Teaching interests include health and wellness promotion, physical rehabilitation, and research. Dr. Lucas Molitor is Board Certified from the American Occupational Therapy Association in Gerontology. Ranelle Nissen, PhD, OTR/L is the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Professor at the University of South Dakota Occupational Therapy Program. She holds a PhD in occupational therapy from Texas Woman’s University.
Declaration of Interest
The authors report no declarations of interest.
Lucas Molitor, W. M., & Nissen, R. (2018). Clinician, Educator, and Student Perceptions of Entry-level Academic Degree Requirements in Occupational Therapy Education. Journal of Occupational Therapy Education, 2 (1). https://doi.org/10.26681/jote.2018.020102