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Master of Occupational Therapy granted Candidacy Status

A journey two years in the making crossed another major bridge on April 16, 2019. Late in the afternoon, the University received notification from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) that the Master of Occupational Therapy program had been granted Candidacy Status.

To be granted Candidacy Status, the University had to prove that “resource allocation and a plan for the development of the proposed program appear to demonstrate the ability to meet the applicable ACOTE Accreditation Standards.” Upon the hiring of Dr. Robert Mullaney as the program director, Mullaney and a team of University leaders proceeded to complete and submit the Eligibility Data and then the Candidacy Application.

At the spring meeting in early April, ACOTE members voted on the status of the program and decided to move to step two of the accreditation process. The movement to Candidacy Status allows the University to notify qualified applicants of their admission into the program. “We are excited to now be extending offers to our top candidates to be a part of TWU’s inaugural MOT class. This class will pave the way for the entire program and help us continue the path to complete accreditation.”

Students were notified the night of April 16 that they had been admitted into TWU’s new program. Current TWU undergrad, Hunter Simpson was among the first 30 to receive their letter. “Honestly, I started tearing up,” Simpson responded about opening her acceptance letter. “This was the only school I had in mind, and I felt so honored and excited to be accepted. I can’t wait for the next 2 years!” Simpson, a stand-out on the Women’s Basketball team, says she had the best experience during her undergrad years at TWU and wanted to continue her education here.

The academic excellence Hunter experienced will carry over as she moves to Knoxville, where the program will be housed. The space, located within the Newland Building at Ft. Sanders Regional Medical Center, continues to be seen as one of many program strengths. A fieldwork coordinator is in place and is already making connections to provide this first class valuable hands-on experiences. This summer, an additional full-time faculty member will be hired to complete the faculty team at this time.

ACOTE Accreditation Process for New Programs

The American Occupational Therapy Association outlines the process for the pre-accreditation review. During this step, the program will ensure compliance with ACOTE Standards and provides a Report of Self-Study. This study will indicate to ACOTE that the program will likely meet the standards if it is implemented as the study lays out. The Report of Self-Study will be submitted in July 2020 with an on-site visit from ACOTE scheduled for March 2021.

In an email to the TWU family, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Grant Willhite stated, “It is hard to understate the significance of reaching this stage in the introduction of TWU’s first health-related master’s program. I firmly believe this is a harbinger of more good things to come!” Dr. Mullaney added his excitement about the ACOTE decision, “this is a significant step towards our full accreditation status. It is an indication that ACOTE has reviewed our program’s strategic plan, curriculum design, space and resources, faculty and overall host-institution and has agreed that this is a program which has a high likelihood for success in meeting all required ACOTE standards.”

Now the program must implement the plan as presented and prepare for the on-site visit in 2020. As the University continues to make health profession programs in Knoxville a priority, the launch of the MOT program is a significant step in this focus. MOT joins the outstanding academic tradition that the TWU-Ft. Sanders Nursing Department has carried in the city for many years and looks forward to training excellent healthcare providers in the region.

The TWU MOT Program is currently in Candidacy Status with ACOTE: Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD. 20814-3449. Phone: 301-652-6611 x2042 www.acoteonline.org. SACSCOC Approval received on 12/4/2018.