NAU’s occupational therapy doctoral program earns accreditation

A woman of the occupational therapy program smiles as she tends to a young child

Northern Arizona University’s Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program has received accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education for seven years, the longest term possible.

“We are very excited to share that in addition to receiving the longest accreditation term, the program was found to be compliant with all 203 educational standards,” said Patricia Crist, founding chair, Department of Occupational Therapy.

NAU’s Occupational Therapy Program began at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in 2014 with an initial class size of 24 students. While keeping curriculum quality a key focus, the program will grow from 24 to 45 students next year.

According to the ACOTE report, a major strength for NAU’s program is the administrators who are commended for their collective visionary leadership, commitment to initial fiscal support and due diligence in community canvassing to establish the first entry-level doctoral occupational therapy program at a state-funded university.

NAU students were praised in the report and cited as “excellent representatives of the program and are applauded for their commitment to the education process. They express dedication to the profession and the development of an excellent occupational therapy program at the university. They take initiative for their own learning and success. This dedication has led to successful completion of didactic coursework and Level I fieldwork and ultimately will lead to increased leadership within the occupational therapy profession locally, nationally and internationally.”

The program report included four suggested enrichment recommendations, one of which addressed increased enrollment and testing. It was noted that NAU’s program has clearly documented assessment measures by which the students are regularly evaluated; however, ACOTE recommends exploring ways to revise skill-based assessment measures as student enrollment increases from 24 to 45 to ensure that the quality of the curriculum is maintained.

“Only seven schools in the U.S. received this designation prior to NAU,” Crist said. “We are incredibly proud of our accredidation as well as our standing as the first doctoral program in a state-funded university in Arizona and the second in the nation.”