The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education issued a mandate on August 21, 2017 stating that entry-level education for occupational therapists will transition to the doctoral level by July 1, 2027.
Why Transition to the OTD?
For years many prospective students, legislators, and stake holders have questioned the reason for having two points of entry for occupational therapists. One point of entry means that all individuals preparing to be occupational therapists will do so under a single set of learning standards. This single set of standards will help the profession to maintain consistency over the competencies associated with entry-level practice. In a 2014 statement , the Board of the American Occupational Therapy Association indicated that many health care professions are advancing toward the doctoral level, or considering this move, in order to experience greater autonomy, parity, and authority in current and future healthcare environments. The Board considered many factors prior to issuing this statement, including how the mandatory transition to the doctorate would impact fieldwork, faculty shortages, student debt, and service reimbursement.
Not the First Transition
Many occupational therapists were trained at the baccalaureate level up until the mid to late 2000s. In 1999 the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Representative Assembly adopted Resolution J requiring all occupational therapists to be prepared at the post-baccalaureate level by 2007. When this transition occurred, occupational therapists trained at the baccalaureate level were “grandfathered in” and allowed to keep practicing.
The Future of Master’s Degree Programs
Master’s degree programs will be permitted to enroll new students for the next six years . In addition, Master’s programs have 10 years to fully transition to the doctoral level.
Important to Keep in Mind
Occupational therapists that graduate prior to 2027 with a Master’s degree, and those with baccalaureate degrees, will still be allowed to practice.
For more information and to read the ACOTE 2027 Mandate go to: https://www.aota.org/Education-Careers/Accreditation/acote-doctoral-mandate-2027.aspx