The demand for occupational therapists is on the rise nationally, and Elmhurst College’s Master of Occupational Therapy program is proving to be highly successful at preparing OT students to enter the profession.
All 18 members of the May 2018 graduating class—the first cohort to graduate from Elmhurst’s occupational therapy master’s degree program—recently passed the national board exam for certification to become an Occupational Therapist, Registered, or OTR.
It’s the latest in a string of achievements for graduates of the College’s Master of Occupational Therapy program. All of the students also started, passed their fieldwork and finished the two-year program together, a rate that is far above the industry average.
“We’re thrilled to be able to report a 100 percent pass rate and a 100 percent retention rate—they’re great indicators not only of the students’ commitment to entering the profession but also the strength of our faculty and our program,” said Elizabeth Wanka, director of the Master of Occupational Therapy program.
Wanka attributes much of the program’s success to its focus on constant communication between faculty and students, and the program’s highly collaborative, supportive environment.
Faculty meet weekly to discuss their students’ progress, and “if anyone is struggling we can catch it right away instead waiting until the midterm or final exam,” she said.
“We also have a truly open-door policy,” she said. “Students can come in anytime to talk about assignments, great things that are happening with them, or if they have a problem.”
At the same time, students are treated as collaborative partners in their education. When the program was hiring new faculty last year, directors had some of the candidates teach a class and meet with students, who interviewed and ranked them.
“The students were really insightful, and they wanted faculty who are very genuine and excited about teaching,” Wanka said. “Faculty are only as strong as their students, so based on that kind of collaboration, I believe we’ve got a very strong program.”