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ETSU College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences adding programs, students

Contributed • Jun 7, 2019 at 4:59 PM

East Tennessee State University College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences said goodbye to 296 graduates — the largest class in the college’s history — at ETSU’s spring commencement last month.

However, the college anticipates even larger class sizes in the coming years due to the proposed addition of new degree programs and growth in its existing programs.

At its last meeting, the ETSU Board of Trustees approved a letter of notification regarding the establishment of a Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. In addition, a Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics program is in development and set to come before the ETSU board at its next meeting.

There are still several steps before these programs can be implemented at ETSU, including approval by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“Although we have a ways to go before these programs are finalized, we anticipate that we will be admitting students for the first class of both of these new programs during the summer of 2022,” said Dr. Don Samples, dean of CCRHS. “The intent of our growth is to continue to meet the health care needs of our region. Both of these new programs represent areas in which there is a significant need.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 24% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than average for all occupations. In addition, occupational therapy was ranked No. 13 on U.S. News & World Report’s “100 Best Jobs of 2019” listing.

Currently, there are only two public schools in Tennessee accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy that offer entry-level doctoral OT programs.

The Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics program will also fill a need in the region. There are currently only 12 prosthetics and orthotics programs in the United States, and the closest program to Johnson City is more than 400 miles away and there are no programs in Tennessee.

If approved, these new programs will join the varied and extensive list of programs and majors currently offered in CCRHS. The existing offerings include clinical doctoral programs of study in audiology and physical therapy. Master’s programs include allied health, speech-language pathology, clinical nutrition and social work.

The bachelor’s degree programs include allied health leadership, respiratory therapy, dental hygiene, radiology, nutrition, social work and rehabilitative health sciences.

“Rehabilitative health sciences is our newest major that we added just last fall and it is already growing by leaps and bounds,” Samples said. “It’s a very appealing major because it prepares undergraduates for a variety of graduate programs in the health care realm or it can prepare them for entry-level rehabilitative or health care positions. It is multi-faceted and versatile.”

To learn more about the CCRHS programs, visit www.etsu.edu/crhs

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