From Left to right: Col. Enrique Smith-Forbes, Cmdr Maria Barefield, Maj, Jamie Bell, Col. Theodore Croy, Capt. Lyddia Petrofsky, Capt. Corinne Heffernan, and Lt. Col. Brian Gregg.
From Left to right: Col. Enrique Smith-Forbes, Cmdr Maria Barefield, Maj, Jamie Bell, Col. Theodore Croy, Capt. Lyddia Petrofsky, Capt. Corinne Heffernan, and Lt. Col. Brian Gregg. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO TX - The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) considered the candidacy application from the Army-Baylor University Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program at the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence (MEDCoE) and voted to grant candidacy status. As a result of this action, the institution may now admit students into the program according to the approved timeline of January 2022 and may proceed to the preaccreditation review step of the accreditation process. The OTD will be included on ACOTE's list of programs that hold candidacy status who are eligible to admit students.

Program faculty and the MEDCoE, along with Baylor University, must now ensure that all accreditation standards are met to be considered for full accreditation. The program curriculum requires 18 months of academic coursework and 12 months of fieldwork to prepare students to become U.S. Army Occupational Therapists (65A) ready to serve the Army in a variety of areas. Army OT’s are members of the Army Medical Specialist Corps along with physical therapists (65B), dieticians (65C) and physician assistants (65D).

The program may now move to step two of the initial accreditation process, preaccreditation review, and may begin work on the self-study that is due on or before July 3, 2023. Upon review of the candidacy application, ACOTE indicated that there are no areas of concern and plans should continue to resource the program.

Colonel Theodore Croy, the Dean of the MEDCoE Graduate School, said, “The Army-Baylor OTD program will provide excellent opportunities for young men and women to learn, lead, and contribute to the health of the U.S. Army.”  Colonel Enrique Smith-Forbes, the OTD Program Director, agreed, “The Army-Baylor OTD program will provide a golden opportunity to train entry level Occupational Therapists to meet the unique health needs of the Army.”

If granted full accreditation status in 2024, the program graduates of the OTD program will be eligible to take the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) and to apply for state licensure.

ACOTE estimates that the OTD program has strengths in the following areas: a strong foundational reputation of the university and fiscal resources and commitment of the MEDCoE to provide the technology and resources to ensure excellence and promote program, faculty, and student success. Undergraduate pre-health degrees from colleges and universities across the country will be a positive feeder for the program including opportunities from Baylor’s undergraduate population (over 14,000 in 2020) who are pursuing pre-med or pre-health fields of study. Online library materials available to students and faculty are relevant to OTD and are well established to support the established U.S. Army-Baylor DScOT Post-Professional OTD Program, along with the new entry-level OTD program and to support the Army’s educational and scholarship goals. Collaborative clinical experiences across a nationwide network of military hospital clinical education sites are planned for OTD students.

ACOTE ensures quality occupational therapy education by developing national accreditation standards and verifying implementation to support the preparation of safe and competent occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.

Occupational Therapists (OTs) provide services to maximize Soldier performance and improve unit readiness. OTs address psychosocial, cognitive, physical, occupational, and environmental barriers and opportunities to prevent injury, mitigate injury risk, and facilitate a rapid return to duty following injury. Some of these services address performance behaviors, including lifestyle habits, routines, sleep patterns, self-awareness, communication, cohesion, anger/stress management, and problem-solving skills. Additionally, OTs work with physical therapists, dietitians, other health professionals, and unit leaders to improve Soldier health, readiness, and lethality.

For more information on the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, call (210) 221-7100 or visit https://www.baylor.edu/graduate/dscot/index.php?id=976730.