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NEWS | Jan. 6, 2022

MEDCoE launches first class of Army-Baylor University Occupational Therapy Doctorate program

By Tish Williamson U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence Public Affairs

The U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston is hosting a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. Jan. 28 to launch the first class of the Army-Baylor University Occupational Therapy Doctorate, or OTD, program.
The new graduate degree program was developed as part of a Department of the Army and U.S. Army Training and Doctrine initiative to support the increased operational force manning requirements for Holistic Health and Fitness, or H2F, by 2024.
Col. Enrique Smith-Forbes, who holds a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Sciences from the University of Kentucky and is a certified hand therapist, was named Program Director of Army-Baylor Occupational Therapy in 2020. 
“The program will train occupational therapists, or OTs, with advanced practice skills, beyond entry-level civilian OT programs,” Smith-Forbes said. “Graduates will have advanced practice training in wellness, cognitive and mental health, and as practitioners with direct access care for upper extremity rehabilitation.”
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, hosted by Maj. Gen. Dennis LeMaster, MEDCoE commanding general, 11 students will be recognized as MEDCoE’s inaugural OTD class. Participants will also cut a ribbon signifying the opening of the newly renovated OTD Lab in room 2122A, located in building 2841, Willis Hall. 

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, or ACOTE, granted the MEDCoE “Candidacy Status” for the OTD program via an exception to policy. This exemption enabled MEDCoE to avoid the five-year wait for submission and allows the program to have students in seats starting January 2022.
The OTD has the distinction of being on the ACOTE's list of programs that hold candidacy status and eligible to admit students. The program curriculum requires 18 months of academic coursework and 12 months of fieldwork to prepare students to become U.S. Army Occupational Therapists (65A) ready to serve the Army in a variety of areas. Army OT’s are members of the Army Medical Specialist Corps along with physical therapists (65B), dieticians (65C) and physician assistants (65D).

If granted full accreditation status in 2024, graduates of the OTD program will be eligible to take the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, or NBCOT, and to apply for state licensure.