University adds occupational therapy program


Army Capt. Michelle Greer, a chief of occupational therapy, interacts with a patient at an Army medical center. Photo via

A local university will soon be offering a master’s degree for one of the fastest-growing careers in America.

Grand Rapids-based Davenport University recently said it plans to launch a master of science in occupational therapy next fall semester at its main campus.

The 78 credit, 2.5-year program is designed to prepare students for in-the-field work through clinical and classroom experiences.

The program has been approved by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is a client-centered physical therapy practice that focuses on helping people of all ages functionally recover from injury or illness, said Christy Nelson, founding chair of the Davenport program.

It is commonly known for being used to assist patients suffering from a stroke, a seizure, Down syndrome or cerebral palsy, Nelson said.

“Occupational therapy is consistently ranked as one of the top employable and recession-proof jobs nationwide,” Nelson said. “This program fits in well with DU’s mission of preparing graduates for successful careers in business, technology and health.”

So far, the local medical community has been supportive of the idea of the new program, Nelson said, although there was some concern about the local availability of field-work sites.

Davenport anticipates the program involving local, in state and out-of-state field work.


There’s a very strong demand nationwide for occupational therapy education, Nelson said, adding that many occupational therapy schools already have more applications than can be accepted.

Nelson said Davenport students and people across the state have also expressed interest in the need for the program.

Nelson added that occupational therapy jobs are projected to grow 33 percent between 2010 and 2020, citing data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“There’s number of reasons for this,” Nelson said. “The population in general is aging, and they have more health care needs and rehabilitation support. We’ve also seen advances in medical technology.”

Davenport University is accepting applications for the program.

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