Dr. Pat Walsh, Cortni Krusemark, Rachelle Keck, Todd Kn

Briar Cliff University Announces New Doctoral Program

January 26, 2022

Briar Cliff University officials announce the addition of the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD). The program will welcome its first cohort of students in the summer of 2023. The addition of OTD at the University further meets the community’s needs for HelpCare™ services, a Briar Cliff term used to describe career paths designed to help care for others.

“According to Iowa Workforce Development and the Iowa Nursing Association, nearly 13,000 health care workers are currently employed in Siouxland, with more than 3,700 indicating a potential to leave the field. When you combine these impending departures with current openings and upcoming retirements, the exodus could create an even greater workforce shortage of nearly 5,000 health care workers,” shares Dr. Rachelle Keck, President of Briar Cliff University. “Briar Cliff University is here to respond to these needs. To grow our HelpCare™ workforce. And to care for our communities.”

Briar Cliff’s OTD program aims to provide interprofessional, occupation-centered, and community-conscious education that is inclusive and student centered. 

“Students will professionally transform as reflective practitioners and servant leaders who critically think using evidence and occupation to promote health and well-being with the individuals and populations they serve,” shares Dr. Cortni Krusemark, OTD founding director. 

Krusemark shares the vision of the program is to be recognized as a regional leader in occupational therapy education, providing a holistic, integrated clinical doctorate degree, and prepare graduates to confidently serve underserved individuals and communities using occupation for disease prevention and health promotion.

The University began preparing for the program in 2017, with the Briar Cliff Board of Trustees approving development in 2018. Program startup costs were supported by generous donors. Both the OTD and Doctor of Physical Therapy programs will be located at Briar Cliff’s Mayfair site, where both programs will also provide service through the University’s pro bono clinic.

“Our OTD program aims to keep our communities active and support residents across their lifespans, using participation in occupation to promote their health and well-being,” adds Dr. Todd Knealing, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. “Our interdisciplinary approach and early clinical practice will further ensure the University is developing caring, exceptionally competent professionals in the field of Occupational Therapy.”

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