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Posted On January 1, 2016

Lenoir-Rhyne is expanding their occupational therapy program with plans to offer that grad program in Columbia next summer.

By Cecile S Holmes

Lenoir-Rhyne University is expanding its graduate offerings at its Columbia campus, adding a master of science program in Occupational Therapy.

The program, has begun accepting applications, requires that students apply by Jan. 31, 2017. The new program will help meet potential needs in South Carolina and beyond for qualified occupational therapy professionals, according to Dr. Toni Oakes, program director for occupational therapy at Lenoir-Rhyne.

Moreover, the expansion of the program to Lenoir-Rhyne’s Columbia campus provides “more students with the opportunity to take advantage of this competitive program,” says Dr. Michael McGee, dean of the College of Health Science.

"LR's master's program in occupational therapy continues to prepare highly skilled and caring occupational therapists, ready to serve diverse populations in a variety of settings,” Dr. Oaks says. “We are excited to empower more professionals to serve in this growing and rewarding profession."

Dr. Oakes says the program will help South Carolina meet potential future needs for qualified professionals in the field in this state and beyond. “By adding this location, the experienced faculty on both campuses will interact to provide diverse and engaging learning experiences for the OT student.”

In the Columbia program, faculty will teach face-to-face and use streaming technology combined with online activities to meet students’ needs. “Our educational program aims to develop practitioners who consistently use client-centered, occupation-based, theory-driven, and evidence-based reasoning. We believe it is essential to develop reflective practitioners who respond adaptively to individual, community and societal needs.”

That approach not only benefits the students but also offers better treatment to prospective client populations including pediatric, geriatric, physical rehabilitation and mental health patients. Oakes says students and clients will gain from student interaction during internships and student projects in the area surrounding Columbia.

The university’s occupational therapy school in Hickory is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), and the program in Columbia is currently under candidacy review. The Columbia program must be accredited in order to qualify its graduates to take national certification boards in occupational therapy. The Columbia school expects to receive that accreditation before the graduation of its first group of students. 

"We are proud that our Hickory program has maintained a 100 percent pass rate for the NBCOT exam over the past three-year period," Dr. Oakes said. "Our faculty and staff are focused on providing students with the knowledge and skills consistent with the highest of professional standards." 

Occupational therapy classes at the Columbia campus will begin this summer. Oakes says the School of Occupational Therapy in Hickory “looks forward” to uniting with the program in Columbia to improve what it provides to its students.  

Interested students must apply by the Jan. 31 deadline. Students are encouraged to begin the application process, designating the Columbia Site on the application. To apply, go to www.lr.edu/admission/graduate/apply.

Lenoir Rhyne currently offers over 25 graduate programs through its three campuses in Hickory, Columbia, and Asheville, North Carolina. Most programs offer classes in the evening, weekends and/or online for the convenience of working professionals.

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