The College of Health and Human Sciences is pleased to announce that Governor Gavin Newsom approved Assembly Bill 829 Aug. 30, clearing the way for San Jose State University to offer a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree. “The next step will be for the Chancellor’s Office to approve an executive order that will set the scope and guidelines for the new degree,” says Pamela Richardson, Interim Dean, College of Health and Human Sciences.
In anticipation of the approval of this bill and pending approval by the Chancellor’s Office, faculty in the College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) Department of Occupational Therapy have already begun work on developing curriculum for a doctoral degree.
“They started about a year ago in anticipation of this going through,” said Richardson. “We are looking at what the balance will be between the master’s and doctoral programs.”
The college anticipates admitting the first cohort in 2022-23.
“The OTD gives graduates additional training in research and evidence, more coursework in program evaluation and program development, and will have a capstone project and experience,” Richardson said. “They will have more potential for leadership opportunities.”
A doctoral program also will build a pipeline for future educators.
“Most academic programs hire OTDs as faculty so it creates opportunities for teaching as well,” Richardson said.
The College of Health and Human Sciences already offers one doctoral program with another in development. This year marks the first year SJSU is offering a Doctor of Nursing Practice on its own following six years of offering a joint program with Fresno State University. The College is also working on the final stages of a doctoral degree in its newly created Department of Audiology. Faculty are in the final stages of developing the curriculum, gaining conditional accreditation and recruiting audiology students for the first cohort to begin Fall 2020.
“These are certainly elevated health degrees and there will be lots of opportunity for interprofessional education,” Richardson said. “It will increase the visibility of our College as producing healthcare leaders across a variety of disciplines.”
She noted that accrediting boards in most healthcare disciplines require programs to provide interprofessional education so that graduates are prepared to work effectively on healthcare teams.
“This gives us an opportunity to build robust doctoral programs and ramp up the amount of collaborative research opportunities for faculty and students,” she said. “It takes research active faculty to appropriately train and mentor doctoral students.”
While Occupational Students were studying in Vietnam this summer they had the opportunity to work with Children’s Hope in Action (CHIA) a Vietnam non- profit. Professors Gigi Smith and Alison George led a Faculty Led Program to Vietnam this past summer that allowed OT students to become a regular part of working with children with disabilities.
Here is what CHIA had to say about SJSU’s OT students:
“Having OT and PT students attending CHIA is now a regular part of our programming. CHIA is now busy on Monday and Friday every week, and is happy to have the OT and/or PT students
from GGC volunteers come along and work with our staff and the kids at CHIA. This is a great time for the GGC students as well as our staff and children at CHIA. The children are always excited about their activities with the students and the staff are eager to share what the problems the children have and the students are thrilled to find suitable methods or exercises to work with each child’s health condition.”
The Occupational Therapy students spent their Spring Break continuing their learning. During that week, approximately 40 out of 73 Occupational Therapy graduate students attended the American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference to present their research projects. “We are so proud of our students because they have the opportunity to present their research at a professional conference”, says Dr. Wynn Schultz- Krohn, chair, department of occupational therapy. “This is a peer-reviewed professional conference and we have over half of the graduates accepted to present their research. We also have seven faculty members presenting their research at this conference. Although that means no Spring Break for the faculty members, the conference held in New Orleans was a very fun place to learn,” says Dr. Wynn Schultz-Krohn.
The SJSU Occupational Therapy Student Honor Society, Pi Theta Epsilon (PTE) along with members of the SJSU Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) joined forces to raise money to support occupational therapy research. The combined efforts of POTE and SOTA raised the largest amount ever recorded for this annual student fund raising event! Students from large, private R1 institutions, such as Columbia, typically raise the largest amount to support research. This student fund raising effort reflects the “pay-it-forward” mindset of the occupational therapy graduate students to support research efforts in the profession of occupational therapy.
Some of the topics presented at the conference by faculty and students included:
Political Advocacy of occupational therapy students
Mothers’ co-occupations after NICU discharge
Social problem solving and simulations
Financial literacy with homeless teens
Fostering decision making skills with homeless children
School based practice
Relationship between sleep and interactive technology
Parents’ perceptions of risk with children’s everyday occupations
Evidence based dysphagia
The experience of homeless mothers participating in an occupational therapy leisure group
The Occupational Therapy Program raised over $9,000 and placed first in the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) annual fund raising event to support professional research initiatives. The fund raising event is directed through the AOTF Honor Society, Pi Theta Epsilon (PTE). “Last year the PTE Honor Society was the third place winner in fund raising to support occupational therapy research through AOTF and this year we surpassed last year and we are First Place in the United States for fund raising for OT research,” says Winifred Schultz-Krohn, Professor and Chair, Occupational Therapy. “This is really an example of paying it forward.”
The OT graduate students complete a series of three classes in research and create a final project. “Our students have been very successful in having their research projects accepted at professional state and national conferences and these are not student conferences,” says Dr. Krohn. “The OT students deeply understand the importance of research to support the profession of occupational therapy. The PTE chapter along with the Student Occupational Therapy Association worked during the fall and early spring semester to raise funds to support research. I am so honored to be the Faculty Advisor for the PTE group and it is a wonderful recognition for them to receive the first place award as the highest earners for this challenge.”
One of the fund raising events included a bowling competition with the OT faculty and we have included photos from this event.