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Heidelberg, Wilmington partner on occupational therapy grad program




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Tiffin, Ohio — Heidelberg University students with a strong background in health sciences, anatomy and physiology, and psychology, along with a passion for helping others, now have a new opportunity for graduate school and a career in occupational therapy.

Heidelberg University and Wilmington College have recently signed a post-graduate affiliation agreement that will provide preferred status to Heidelberg graduates who enter the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program at Wilmington. This agreement is seen as a win for both institutions, with the aim of benefiting students who are interested in pursuing a career in occupational therapy.

Dr. Ryan Musgrave, assistant professor of Athletic Training, department chair, and Athletic Training program director at Heidelberg, who worked on the agreement along with Dr. Erin Bales, assistant professor in the MSOT program at Wilmington, expressed confidence in the compatibility of students from Heidelberg with the MSOT program at Wilmington.

“A student who fits at Heidelberg is going to fit at Wilmington,” said Musgrave.

Dr. Bales also added that Heidelberg students are sought after due to their passion for helping others, their knowledge related to the occupational therapy profession, and their potential as future clinicians.

“We seek students who have a passion for helping others, who have some knowledge related to the occupational therapy profession and who show strong potential as future clinicians. We believe Heidelberg students can fill that need,” Bales said.

As part of the affiliation agreement, up to three Heidelberg graduates will be provided with Guaranteed Early Admission if they meet the prerequisite criteria for admission into the MSOT program. Students from any undergraduate major can apply as long as they have completed the seven prerequisite courses and maintained a minimum 3.0 GPA required for admission. The MSOT program is a 24-month program, with the first two semesters conducted on campus and the third and fourth semesters in the field.

One notable aspect of Wilmington’s MSOT program is its unique emphasis on rural health, according to Dr. Bales. Students in the program receive coursework that prepares them to navigate the benefits and challenges of working in rural areas. For instance, they regularly participate in community outings to explore rural lifestyles and routines, and learn how to utilize resources from organizations such as AgrAbility, a project funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that assists farmers, ranchers, and agriculture workers in remaining employed on the farm after an injury, illness, or disability. Additionally, in partnership with Wilmington’s agriculture and equine departments, MSOT students are involved in piloting a Therapeutic Riding Camp for children with disabilities during the summer.

Heidelberg students who enroll in Wilmington’s MSOT program can expect a familiar family-like atmosphere. Dr. Bales mentioned that the program offers ample opportunities for hands-on learning and fosters a sense of camaraderie among classmates and faculty. All MSOT students are assigned a 1:1 faculty mentor to ensure their academic success, and they are also assigned a clinical Occupational Therapy mentor for up to one year after graduation to facilitate their smooth transition into the workplace.

The job outlook and career opportunities for occupational therapists are promising, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 14 percent employment growth from 2021-2031, which is much faster than most fields. Occupational therapists work in a variety of healthcare and non-healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare, local school districts, neonatal intensive care units, therapeutic riding centers, community-based mental health centers, and more. Dr. Bales stated that “the sky is the limit in OT” in terms of the diverse career paths available in the field.

For Heidelberg University students interested in pursuing a career in occupational therapy, this new affiliation agreement with Wilmington College presents a promising opportunity. With a focus on rural health, a supportive and familial learning environment, and strong job prospects, the MSOT program at Wilmington College could be a stepping stone towards a successful career in occupational therapy for Heidelberg graduates who meet the prerequisite criteria.

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