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Tennessee Wesleyan University accepts applications for inaugural Master of Occupational Therapy class

University strives to meet the needs of the growing population

Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in the field of occupational therapy could begin their application process on July 18, 2018, through a centralized system from the American Occupational Therapy Association, and for the first time, prospective students found Tennessee Wesleyan University on that list. TWU announced it would seek accreditation for a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program in November 2017 following a feasibility study conducted by Dr. Shelley F. Griffith by request of the TWU Board of Trustees.

The study determined that Tennessee had just five OT schools and that none of these programs were within close proximity to TWU. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects occupational therapy careers to increase up to 29 percent by 2026. The feasibility study also found a significant need for OT practitioners to serve the population in the eight nearest counties to Wesleyan.

With the leadership identified, the accreditation process begins

With the need identified, TWU administration began the search for a program director to lead the initiatives to develop the MOT program. With experience in successful new-program start-ups, Dr. Robert Mullaney was hired as the founding directory. “It is so exciting to have the opportunity to use my previous OT program start-up experience to launch Wesleyan’s new Master of Occupational Therapy program in the heart of Downtown Knoxville’s Medical District.” Mullaney adds, “this will be the only program of the type in Knoxville. Our program is unique in that it provides students with opportunities to tailor some of their coursework to their specific desires, such as focusing on leadership, advocacy, teaching and learning and spirituality in the healthcare arena.”

Under the leadership of Dr. Mullaney, the University submitted proposals to two accrediting agencies to approve the program to be offered among the growing list of academic offerings. All TWU degree programs are accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC). Specific programs also have additional accrediting bodies, and the MOT program also seeks accreditation by the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The SACSCOC prospectus was submitted on June 28, 2018, and the ACOTE process is currently in the application status.

Meeting the needs of the region in the heart of Knoxville’s medical district

The inaugural OT class is scheduled to begin on August 12, 2019. OT students will find their home in Knoxville – in the heart of the thriving medical district downtown. The University also seeks accreditation for this new off-campus instruction site in the Ft. Sanders Regional Medical Center Campus. This site will house three labs that include an apartment-style home to simulate a patient’s home environment, a pediatric and school-based lab and a space to practice OT evaluations, intervention and overall skills competencies.

Along with the development of a graduate level OT program, the University has dedicated resources to develop pre-professional emphases in the natural sciences, physical therapy and occupational therapy for the undergraduate population. The natural science and health and human performance departments have both experienced enrollment growth in the past few years and now comprise 27 percent of all undergraduate students at TWU.

Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Grant Willhite shares, “Tennessee Wesleyan has a long history of preparing students for professional school in healthcare fields through a rigorous curriculum and excellent, accessible faculty mentors. TWU alums serve East Tennessee and beyond as physicians, pharmacists, dentists, physical and occupational therapists and more. As TWU builds out new graduate-level degree programs in health-related fields, we want to ensure that TWU undergraduate, pre-professional students are the best prepared and most competitive candidates for our graduate programs as well as others across the country.”

TWU offers more than 30 academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Explore our majors to discover the right option for you.