UHart Preparing for New Occupational Therapy Program
The University of Hartford is launching new programs in occupational therapy in 2021, helping to meet demand for professionals in this growing field.
With opening of the Hursey Center, the College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions (ENHP) has taken the next step to establishing bachelor's and master's degree programs in occupational therapy. The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) has been granted candidacy status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) and is now admitting students for the program that begins in summer 2022. ENHP also welcomed its first class of students in a five-year combined BS/MSOT program in fall 2021.
The addition of occupational therapy is part of an expansion in the College of ENHP to prepare health professionals for in-demand careers. Jobs for occupational therapists are expected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Occupational therapy is a natural complement to our established programs in physical therapy, prosthetics/orthotics and related health professions, and will allow us to grow our enrollment while meeting the need for more therapists,” said ENHP Dean Cesarina Thompson.
The Hursey Center is the new state-of-the-art academic building that opened in fall 2021 in the heart of campus. In addition to occupational therapy, the Hursey Center includes lab and classroom space for ENHP programs in nursing, physical therapy, and exercise science.
Cesarina Thompson, Dean, College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions
Occupational therapy is a natural complement to our established programs in physical therapy, prosthetics/orthotics and related health professions, and will allow us to grow our enrollment while meeting the need for more therapists."
Occupational therapists (OTs) work with people of all ages, helping them overcome health challenges to live active, independent lives. They may assist young children who have physical or mental disabilities, individuals who have sustained a brain injury, or older adults recovering from a stroke. OTs work in a variety of settings including schools, homes, outpatient clinics, mental health facilities, home health, and hospitals. Occupational therapy is an important part of treatment for people with illnesses and disabilities such as spinal cord injury, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, or limb loss.
The new Hursey Center provides state-of-the-art labs and learning spaces for the OT program. Facilities include a home health suite with a working kitchen and model bathroom, where students can practice skills such as helping patients with cooking, laundry, and getting in and out of the shower. Opening soon is an OT skills lab with a climbing wall, ball pit and therapy swings for use with pediatric patients.
“Occupational therapy is a very rewarding career with strong demand and high salaries,” said Sarah Psillas, assistant professor and director of the Occupational Therapy program. “Getting to see your patients make progress and celebrate their victories is extremely gratifying.”
The ENHP occupational therapy program offers students a number of advantages. Students in the combined BS/MSOT program will earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in only five years, helping them start their careers sooner. The graduate program will feature small class sizes, strong fieldwork partnerships, and research opportunities. Students will also benefit from inter-professional education with other ENHP students in physical therapy, prosthetics/orthotics, and related allied health professions, Psillas said.