The Faculty of Health Sciences will upgrade its highly-touted occupational and physiotherapy programs to the master’s level this fall, offering a master’s degree in clinical health sciences in both fields.
When discussing the move, the Faculty consulted with a variety of local, provincial and national associations in both fields, as well as other universities and past and present students and faculty. The
conclusions were clear. It was recognized that both occupational
therapists and physiotherapists are working in increasingly complex
practice settings that are requiring different and more advanced skill
sets. In order to acclimate students to these changes, the Faculty must
enhance its studies.
It is seen by the associations and regulatory colleges of OT and PT as another offering available to students who wish to be prepared as entry level practitioners. Currently, only Ontario is entering graduate level preparation. U of T and Ottawa are also proposing to mount similar programs, says Muriel Westmorland, health sciences’ associate dean of rehabilitation science and director of the School of Rehabilitation Science.
To achieve this, many elements of the current programs required
upgrading. This step will necessitate an entire curriculum renewal, not just simple changes, said Sue Baptiste, associate professor and chair of the current OT program. But we will be committed to the same principles of a self-directed, student-centre, independent learning.
The master’s programs won’t, however, reduce the value of the degrees of current or past students in the baccalaureate stream. That concern has been frequently raised since the announcement of the changes.
Our current group of students and our graduates are superb and highly
sought-after in the market, Baptiste contends. I tell students who come to me with concerns that we are working towards adjusting to societal trends, but it certainly doesn’t make your education any less valuable.
Each program will admit 51 students each year, together with a maximum
of six students through the international pool.