Methodist University’s second doctoral program Occupational Therapy is the first doctorate-level Occupational Therapy program in North Carolina.
The program recently received regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) on March 24, and is currently pending accreditation by the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).
Classes for this program are expected to begin in Fall 2018.
Dr. Meredith Gronski, chair of the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Methodist University, said that other occupational therapy programs exist at ECU, Lenoir Rhyne, WSSU, Caberrus and UNC Chapel Hill. There are also occupational therapy assistant programs at Durham Tech and Rowan-Caberrus Community College (Concord).
“We look forward to collaborating with them and fostering relationships with Carolina health care facilities, school districts and community service agencies through clinical education and research initiatives,” she said.
Gronski joined Methodist University in 2015 as a consultant. She became full-time faculty in 2016 and is working to develop the program and guiding it through the remainder of the accreditation process.
She received her bachelor’s degree and her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. Prior to joining the staff at Methodist, she was an assistant professor of occupational therapy and otolaryngology at Washington University as well as a lead therapist for children, youth and families in the Washington University School of Medicine, which is her area of specialization. Board certified and licensed to practice in North Carolina, she also serves on the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Commission on Practice and is on the executive board of the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association (NCOTA).
“Occupational therapy is an exciting profession that serves individuals and communities as a bridge between medical science and the social-cultural human arts,” Gronski said. “Our students will launch their careers to address chronic disease, disability, and mental health conditions in a variety of clinics, schools, home-based care, and communities. Our goal is produce highly skilled, compassionate occupational therapists who are committed to bringing innovative care to our communities in North Carolina.”
Provost Dr. Delmas Crisp said the program is a good fit for Methodist, which has a large network of clinical and community-based sites that offer expansive clinical fieldwork and service learning opportunities. On campus, the program will use custom-designed classrooms and labs in the Thomas R. McLean Health Sciences Building, which opened last year and also houses the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program.
“Methodist University has a proven track record offering health science programming that highlights inter-professional collaboration, including the DPT, the Master of Medical Science in Physician Assistant Studies program, and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Athletic Training, and Kinesiology programs,” Crisp said.
The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) Program aims to be accredited by the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Currently, the OTD Program is considered a “Developing Program” by ACOTE. There are several phases involved in the pre-accreditation process, with a final decision not expected until 2020, prior to the first cohort graduating from the three-year program.