If you’re an experienced occupational therapist who wants to meet the field’s growing call for doctoral-level education, Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PPOTD) programs are designed with you in mind. But how can the PPOTD open more doors for your career? What kinds of roles can you take on with the advanced knowledge and credentials of a doctoral degree?
Below are ten career paths you can take after graduation, inspired by alumni of the PPOTD program at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) who are working in these roles today.
We compiled 10 reasons why you should consider earning your PPOTD.
- Follow your existing career path by applying your advanced knowledge to your current practice. You may, like many of our graduates, choose to stay in your current position to create positive change in your workplace. Many of the PPOTD course assignments are designed to be immediately applicable within your current practice, so you can apply the most current research to improve client outcomes. You can opt to complete your Capstone project using an issue from your workplace.
- Continue within your current practice area and advance to a leadership role. A doctoral degree opens doors to leadership roles. So that promotion you’ve been eyeing may be within closer reach. The Executive Leadership specialization in USAHS’s PPOTD program will prepare you to see the bigger picture of your organization and to think strategically about how to improve its systems and approach to working with clients. You will learn alongside professionals from other healthcare disciplines, which prepares you to lead interprofessional teams.
- Open your own private practice. If you dream of opening your own practice, a doctorate will give you a bird’s-eye view of the profession that prepares you to choose an area of focus and lead a team. Of course, running a practice also requires entrepreneurship knowledge, which you can learn through self-study or by doing. See our post on opening a private practice.
- Work as an independent contractor. Some OTs work as independent contractors, picking up short-term assignments. It’s a flexible way to practice, and one that never gets boring. The PPOTD will broaden your knowledge about a variety of practice areas, giving you the expertise to try something new as a contractor or sample a few different types of clinical work. Networking with our interprofessional students and faculty may also lead to interesting contract opportunities.
- Pursue state, national, and/or international organizational leadership roles. If you’re passionate about OT and see yourself playing a role in advancing the profession for the good of clients and your colleagues, consider a role on your state OT board or within a national organization such as the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). You might also consider organizations that focus on broader healthcare issues beyond OT.
- Pursue academic and/or administrative positions in occupational therapy degree programs. Several of our PPOTD graduates have gone on to teach in OT degree programs at colleges and universities. Choose the Teaching and Learning specialization in our PPOTD program if this is your goal. You may also enjoy a role as a fieldwork educator at a facility where students complete their fieldwork, as a mentor/advisor to entry-level OTD capstone students, or as a trainer for new hires within your clinic.
- Become an unconventional OT. More and more practitioners these days are choosing creative careers in occupational therapy. You could work in an emerging practice area, such as with people who have mental health issues or who are experiencing homelessness or incarceration. Or you could design adaptive equipment, become an OT podcaster or blogger, or carve out your own OT niche that no one else has thought of. Check out our post on 22 creative careers in OT.
- Pursue further scholarship in education or health policy. Some of our students take advantage of our PPOTD to Doctor of Education (EdD) Bridge option as further preparation for positions in teaching and academic administration. Others study health policy in order to become greater advocates for the OT profession and influence legislation.
- Pursue textbook and journal publication opportunities. As you gain more research experience during your PPOTD, you may get fired up to explore an area of OT theory or practice by researching it further and publishing your findings. You could even leverage your Capstone project into scholarly publication and presentation opportunities.
- Pursue publishing and editing positions. If you enjoy writing about OT topics, consider writing for an online or print OT journal as a freelancer or staff member. Or launch your own website, blog, or journal!
Many of our PPOTD graduates say that, besides opening new career possibilities, the program rejuvenates their professional motivation and reignites their love of OT. This is only a sampling of the possible career paths you can take after graduation. We would love to hear about yours!
The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) offers an online Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy (PPOTD) program* designed for working clinicians and OT educators, with optional on-campus immersions (currently postponed due to COVID-19). Specializations include Executive Leadership and Teaching and Learning. In this flexible and individualized program, you will advance your studies in clinical practice, research, leadership, advocacy, and education—and become a change agent in the field of occupational therapy.
*OT entry-level programs are subject to the accreditation regulations of ACOTE; however, post-professional programs are not under the jurisdiction of ACOTE.