The first graduates of the UF Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree program received their diplomas December 17. They also hold the distinction of being the first OTD graduates from a Florida public institution.
“As the first doctor of occupational therapy program in one of Florida’s public universities, we have accomplished what we set out to do, which was to train our graduates to serve as clinician-scholars in a dynamic health care environment,” said Christine T. Myers, Ph.D., OTR/L, a clinical associate professor in the department of occupational therapy and the director of the doctoral program.
Like the master’s degree, the Doctor of Occupational Therapy prepares students for entry-level practice, but the curriculum also includes enhanced training in evidence-based practice, leadership and advocacy, as well as interprofessional education and an advanced clinical capstone experience.
Laura Sellew, who was elected class speaker of UF’s first OTD class, appreciated that in addition to foundational knowledge, coursework included the importance of lifelong learning, continuing competence and self-reflection, as well as skills outside of traditional OT practice, such as research, teaching and running a business.
“It’s been an honor to be a part of UF’s inaugural class of OTD students,” Sellew said. “Being in the first class felt innovative and exciting. The faculty made us feel like we were valued collaborators, requesting our feedback on everything from the curriculum to potential new hires. It was really exciting to get to shape the program for future classes of UF OTD students.”