FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Huntington University cut the ribbon and opened the doors to its first doctorate program and its first campus in Fort Wayne today, July 14.
Huntington’s occupational therapy program is the university’s first doctorate program and its first degree in the allied health field.
“Launching a graduate program in occupational therapy is an exciting venture for HU,” said Dr. Ann McPherren, vice president for strategy and graduate/adult programs. “Preparing occupational therapists at HU isn’t just about teaching skills and credentialing students. It’s about developing leaders who have a heart for serving others and who have the knowledge and motivation to positively impact their places of employment and our communities.”
The program is located at the newly renovated site on the Parkview Randallia campus in Fort Wayne. The second and third floor of the former Fort Wayne Cardiology building houses office space, a student lounge and specialty classrooms and labs, such as pediatrics and neuromusculoskeletal spaces as well as an Activities of Daily Living (ADL) lab which houses a traditional bathroom and kitchen for hands-on learning.
“Classroom technology will be used to aid student learning with hands-on application for clinical assessments and interventions,” said Dr. Ruth Ford, director of occupational therapy. “Students will demonstrate competencies as well as synthesize and evaluate systems necessary for health and wellness for individuals, populations and organizations.”
Ford brings a wealth of experience to the program as its director. She has 37 clinical years of experience in management, acute care, rehabilitation, outpatient, long-term care and home health. She has managed more than 500 occupational and physical therapists and speech language pathologists and has opened multiple occupational therapy programs. In addition to her clinical work, she has 13 years of experience in academia, including expertise in the clinical and business aspects of the field.
“The three full-time OTD faculty and three adjunct faculty members bring a great wealth of clinical and professional experience,” Ford said. “We are committed to providing a rigorous, dynamic education that will prepare future occupational therapy practitioners to meet client and organizational demands in an ever-changing and challenging health care system.”
The inaugural class will feature a diverse group of 32 students from across the country, ranging from recent graduates to those who have prior medical and business experience. Students will study three years to earn their doctorates. A master’s degree is not needed to study in this program.
The program is offered in Fort Wayne because of the strong health care presence in the community. Students will have access to local health care professionals to build on their experiences as well as strengthen their skills through internships.
“Collaboration with Parkview and the greater Fort Wayne area is instrumental in the success of training future OTDs,” Ford said. “Health and wellness go beyond the institutional doors into the greater community. Key leaders and health care providers have stepped up to not only provide resources for classrooms and laboratories but also have made recommendations for networks for future learning experiences.”
To learn more about the program, visit www.huntington.edu/occupational-therapy.