Market demand is growing for occupational therapists with advanced degrees. Those with doctorates can train future therapists and produce research that leads to evidence-based interventions. They’re also prime candidates for health care management roles, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to increase by 20% over the next eight years.
These are just a few of the reasons Ann Elizabeth Millard chose UW–Madison’s online Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. The university’s reputation as an occupational therapy (OT) leader sealed the deal.
“UW–Madison is one of the top OT schools in the country,” she says. “It’s a regionally accredited university with a track record of excellence.”
This track record spans more than seven decades. During this time, UW–Madison has prepared thousands of students to excel in OT. Plus, its OT graduate programs placed in the top 10 percent in the latest national rankings by U.S. News & World Report.
Tailored to student goals
The Doctor of Occupational Therapy program’s interprofessional focus prepares students to thrive in settings ranging from hospitals and clinics to educational institutions. All of the learning takes place online, except for an orientation at the start of the program and a capstone project presentation near the end.
Students take nine semesters of courses in areas such as leadership theory, administrative tools, teaching techniques, and applied research methods. Millard has developed skills in informatics and online teaching as well. Thanks to an independent study, she’s even prepared to apply for a specialty certification offered by the American Occupational Therapy Association.
The independent study is just one example of how students can tailor the program to their goals. Millard is also developing an online curriculum for a specific practice area as part of her coursework.
“The program has allowed me to work toward this goal as my capstone project,” she explains, adding that its networking opportunities have fueled her progress. “I’ve received support from professors, and I’ve developed lasting relationships with colleagues all over the country who I never would have had the opportunity to meet.”
Millard has also benefited from the program’s commitment to research.
“A great deal has changed in the area of research since I graduated with my master’s in 2003,” she says. “The Doctor of Occupational Therapy program has opened my eyes to the many evidence-based resources I can access.”
Flexible online format
Millard hopes to become a full-time occupational therapy professor after she graduates in 2019. UW–Madison’s online doctorate program has allowed her to keep working as a part-time instructor while pursuing her degree. She has even been able to continue her full-time job as a school-based occupational therapist who helps children with special needs. And she’s done all of this from California.
“I could not have pursued this degree without the online format,” she says. “There is a bit of a learning curve at the beginning for those who are used to face-face classes, but it is worth it.”