Brenau Atlanta-Based Ot Program Wins Full Accreditation

Aug 26, 2011
Rudi Kiefer

Originally published on 1/26/10

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has fully accredited the five-year occupational therapy program at Brenau University’s North Atlanta campus in Norcross.

The accreditation is good for four years, at which time it will go through the same periodic review as the university’s core occupational therapy program that is based on its Gainesville, Ga., campus.

“We are very pleased with the accrediting board’s action,” said Barbara Schell, chair of the occupational therapy department at Brenau. “We are very proud of our students, our faculty and the support we receive from our occupational therapy colleagues in the field, all of whom make up our community of learning.”

Although occupational therapy celebrated its 10th anniversary at Brenau last year, the program on the Atlanta campus is a relatively new – but enormously successful – addition. The program there started last summer with 24 students, and began a second cohort there this term with another full complement of 24 students. Interviews are already being scheduled for open spots in the program for the next academic year. The 16-hour-per-semester program on the Gainesville campus has been accredited since its inception, but the recent ACOTE action marks the first time that the 13-semester-hourAtlanta program, which caters primarily to students who work full time and need to attend classes in the evenings and on weekends, has been fully sanctioned.

According to the ACOTE report filed in December after a thorough review and visit to the Atlanta site, the Brenau program was in full compliance in all areas. (To see the full report, go to Brenau’s Accreditation page)

Brenau’s OT program is well-known for blending both classroom academics and practical clinical experience. Students are immersed in strenuous academic subjects such as occupational science, kinesiology, anatomy, physiology and abnormal psychology, but they are also required to do hands-on field work in Georgia and other locales. In the first semester, for example, the program pairs students with senior citizens or other adults in the community who have difficulty performing everyday tasks.

Occupational therapy is based on the premise that people can be helped to participate in life by careful attention to both the ways they do activities and the places they do them. Occupational therapists draw from the fields of medicine, psychology, sociology, anthropology, ethnography, architecture and many other disciplines in working with individuals to help them live healthier, more fulfilling lives by learning and relearning every-day tasks and coping skills. The unique 10-year-old dual degree Brenau program, in which graduates can earn both bachelor of science and master of science degrees in five years, was created before a master’s degree was required for individual licensing in occupational therapy. It was the first master’s degree offered at Brenau.

“One of the things we believe strongly is that our students must be strong intellectually and theoretically,” said Schell, “but they also must have practical experience. That is central to the program.”

For more information about occupational therapy at Brenau, visit the Department of Occupational Therapy Web site. Brenau’s North Atlanta Web page offers more information about the campus.

To learn more about the occupational therapy profession, tune into a National Public Radio broadcast which points out that occupational therapy is one of the many health-related jobs growing during the economic downturn.