Internationally, occupational therapy education has gone through several paradigm shifts during the last few decades, moving from certificate to diploma to bachelors to masters and now in some instances to clinical doctorate as the entry-level professional credential to practice. In the United States there is a recommendation under consideration by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) that by 2025, all occupational therapy university programs will move to the clinical doctorate level. It should be noted, however, that the AOTA Board can only make recommendations and it is the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) who has regulatory authority to approve such a change. What are the potential implications for the profession, our clients, and funders of occupational therapy services? What are the primary drivers for the move towards the clinical doctorate being the educational entry point? Is the next step in the evolution of occupational therapy education globally a shift to the entry-level clinical doctorate? This article reviews current literature and discusses issues about the occupational therapy entry-level clinical doctorate. The published evidence available about the occupational therapy entry-level clinical doctorate is summarized and the perceived or frequently cited pros and cons of moving to the clinical doctorate as the singular entry point to occupational therapy practice are considered. The potential impacts of the introduction of the clinical doctorate as the entry-to-practice qualification across the United States on the occupational therapy community internationally will be briefly discussed. If the United States moves toward the entry-level clinical doctorate as the only educational starting point for the profession, will other jurisdictions follow suit? Further discourse and investigation of this issue both inside and outside of the United States is needed so that informed decisions can be made.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Occupational Therapy