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'The future is positive'
Lynn Shaw PhD, OT Reg (NS), professor and past director in Dal’s School of Occupational Therapy (SOT), is ecstatic at the Academic Accrediting Council of the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists’ “overwhelmingly positive” feedback of the MScOT Entry Level program,
“Getting a seven-year accreditation is reflective of the incredible quality of work that we do in the School of Occupational Therapy. It is a recognition and an acknowledgment that we are doing our due diligence with tending to quality assurance while progressing the program,” she said.
The Accreditation Award was bestowed upon the MScOT program during the Covid-19 pandemic—an “amazing feat” for the school. Faculty and staff went above and beyond to successfully complete the council’s first ever online accreditation. The process began in February 2020, when the SOT faculty began a self-study of the program. The self-study was sent to the council in July of 2021. The online site visit took place in February 2022, Shaw elaborates on the Council’s expectations for the future of accredited programs,
“You have to have strategic plans, you have to have goals, you have to be striving toward them,” she said.
Support from wider OT community crucial to program success
A pillar of graduate-level excellence in the Maritimes, the MScOT Entry Level program is grateful for the support and guidance offered from occupational therapists, preceptors, clinicians, stakeholders, and post-secondary OT programs across the country. The directors of the 14 Canadian OT schools meet regularly to collaborate on projects and program goals, working together to drive occupational therapy education, fieldwork and research forward. Reflecting on the SOT’s partnerships, collaborators, and patrons, Shaw insists,
“They are essential—without them, we can’t have a school.”
Across the four Maritime provinces, the SOT has strong connections with various community agencies, the university, and health organizations that offer instruction within the Dalhousie School of Occupational Therapy master’s program, and fieldwork experiences for students. Most recently, the school partnered with Dal’s Department of Family Medicine to offer virtual primary care placements to MScOT students.
SOT international fieldwork placements have been on hold since the beginning of the pandemic but the school looks forward to their reintroduction, planning to welcome further international students and resume overseas placements for students in Halifax. With its Accreditation Award lasting to October 2028, the SOT hopes to continue attracting a broad range of high-quality students and faculty to the MScOT program and to the University.
As the SOT celebrates its 40th anniversary, Shaw expresses her pride at the faculty and staff’s incredible commitment to the school and to the improvement of education. Several PhD-accredited professors conduct research that is “propelling the OT profession forward”. Shaw credits their work as integral to the successful accreditation of the MScOT program.
The SOT is in the early stages of a curriculum renewal process, with a strategic plan in place “to make sure they are moving steadily ahead” in providing the best education possible for future Occupational Therapists,
“It is part of protecting the public, that our program is accredited and is teaching students what they need to know now and ten years out, to continue to evolve in their practice,” Shaw said.
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