I have been asked about my position on the mandates by the Accreditation Council on Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) to move to a single point of entry for the occupational therapist at the doctoral level and for the occupational therapy assistant at the baccalaureate level by 2027. I think it is important for candidates for AOTA leadership positions to be engaged and respond to requests from members to share their opinions, positions and thinking. These are complicated issues so a thoughtful response cannot be given in 140 or 280 characters!
I have been having conversations with occupational therapy practitioners and students at several conferences and events and reading communications on social media. I have seen and heard numerous references to the importance of transparency; so let me begin there by being transparent about my past activities related to a single entry-level for the occupational therapist.
I served on the AOTA Board of Directors (BOD) from 2013-2016 including the time when the BOD issued its position statement on moving to a single point of entry for the occupational therapist at the doctoral level. In fact, I led one of the Ad Hoc committees that led to the BOD assuming its position and agreed to coordinate communication on behalf of the BOD on OTConnections. It was not an easy decision. There were clear pros and cons and I have stated on numerous occasions that thoughtful and informed members interpreted the same information differently and reached a different conclusion. At that time, and today, I believe that what would serve the profession the best in the long term would be moving to a single point of entry at the doctoral level for the occupational therapist. My personal rationale was largely in line with the rationale provided by the BOD in 2014 and you can find information at https://www.aota.org/AboutAOTA/Get-Involved/BOD/OTD-FAQs.aspx.
While I favor ultimately moving to the OTD entry-level for the occupational therapist, I also think that how we get there is critically important. I believe that while the position of the BOD or any other decision making body is important, the process for making a decision on critical issues such as these is more important. In 2014 the BOD issued its statement AND called for a profession wide dialogue. It then set about creating numerous opportunities and venues to facilitate that dialogue. Despite attempts to convince members of the profession, consensus was not achieved and ACOTE made a determination to keep entry at two points. The process the BOD used was transparent and while not everyone had the same interpretation of data and information, it was clear how the BOD came to its position and what the position was based upon. We engaged with membership, answered questions and listened to those who shared the same position and those who did not.
I was surprised by the announcement that ACOTE had voted to mandate changes in the entry-level requirement for both the OT and the OTA. To my knowledge, ACOTE used its independent decision making authority and no one including the current BOD received notice in advance of ACOTE’s announcement.
I do not currently have enough information to voice my support for changing the entry-level requirement for the OTA to the baccalaureate level and I have more concerns about the down sides than I did with the decision for the OT. Like the move to the OTD, I can see clear advantages and disadvantages, but I do not have access to a clear rationale used by ACOTE and have many unanswered questions that I expect should be answered by a clear report by ACOTE.
I am pleased that ACOTE has responded to concerns of members and non-members, has held the move in abeyance and is collecting feedback. Despite my belief that the best interest of the profession would be to ultimately move to the OTD entry for the occupational therapist, I would support a similar decision by ACOTE in this regard at this time. The expectation of being provided a clear report on the data, information and other forms of evidence used to make determinations is appropriate and should be forthcoming in regards to both mandates. In the absence of these reports, I cannot voice my support for moving forward with the mandates.
Finally, I want to express my thanks and respect for the members of the BOD and of ACOTE for their service. Whether I agree or disagree with any individual decision by either body, my experience with members of both groups over the years has been extremely positive. Calls for more information and transparency in regards to the decision making process are reasonable. However, I am disappointed and disheartened to read and hear some suggestions that members of these bodies are acting with anything but the best interest of the profession in mind. Moreover, in my two terms serving on the BOD as Chairperson of the SISSC Council and as Secretary, I saw nothing to indicate that the independent decision making authority of ACOTE was not in place in full force.
I hope that I have stated this clearly, but understand that there may additional questions. I am happy to answer questions, but am not involved in advocating any other action that those I have stated here at this time.
The opinions expressed in my blog are personal and neither represent the views of my employer nor any organization.