Hey readers! This week we are talking about the OTD vs MSOT debate. I may be a little biased (shout out to my OTD program), so I gathered opinions from other OT students and OT practitioners to hear what they had to say about the matter. I think that this is 100% an individual decision, but it may be helpful to hear what some of the arguments are for either side. I will also throw my own personal reasoning in there, just for fun! If you are a pre-OT student or are thinking about going into OT at all, check out my blog post about how to become an OT as well! It is also important to note that this argument is really only applicable for students who will graduate prior to July 1, 2027. By July 1, 2027, the entry-level degree requirement for occupational therapy practice is an OTD, according to the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). AOTA members can read more about the mandate here. *EDIT: a reader let me know that as of April 10, 2019, AOTA and ACOTE came to a vote that decided to not have a mandated OTD requirement for entry-level practitioners. Read more here.*
Arguments for the OTD
- The OTD is 3 years while most MSOT programs are 2.5 years – 6 months is not a large amount of additional time to dedicate to school
- Experience 1 additional 16-week (640 hours) fieldwork placement – Think about how much you will learn here!!
- Knowledge to treat more complex diagnoses/conditions
- Learn more about expanding technology
- Engage in evidence-based practice – Not only in school, but this will also create practitioners who value the importance and necessity of evidence-based practice once in the field
- Creates researchers – ACOTE’s standards state that students will “complete evidence-based reviews, develop clinical guidelines, or measure systems outcomes” to reach the goal of scholarly study (read more here)
- Engage in health promotion and interprofessional care – This is so important! We all need to be able to work together with other healthcare providers and to assert OT’s role in the care process!
- Allows OT to be viewed as a “powerful, science-driven, evidence-based profession” (ACOTE)
- Desire to complete your own research – It is important to fill the void of OT research, we are really lacking here!
- Long-term goal of working in academia – You will likely even need a PhD
- Desire for more experience and exposure to OT prior to graduation
- Having an OTD may provide you with opportunities to fulfill unique roles or qualify for advancement sooner – May lead to increased salary
Arguments for the MSOT
- Tuition – Mixed reviews; some people say that MSOT was cheaper, others actually paid less for the OTD (may be due to scholarships)
- OTD does not get paid more (see the last bullet of “Arguments for the OTD” section)
- Length of school – Some programs offer BS to MSOT program (usually 5-5.5 years in length); MSOT program is usually 2.5 years long
- Wanted to become an OT quicker – get right to clinical practice!
- You have the option to go back to school later – Post-professional OTD programs
- As of now, the OTD isn’t required
- Desire not to have to do extra research
- If you want to do research later, you can get a PhD and focus in on a specific area of research that you are interested in
Why I Chose the OTD
Honestly, I am just the kind of person where if I am going to do something, I want to do it all the way. I didn’t want to go back to school later to get my OTD; I wanted to get it all done at once. I also felt like since the profession is moving in the direction of the OTD, I didn’t want to not have an OTD.
Another component for me was location and tuition. I wanted to be in Boston to be close to home (I commute), and many of the schools in the area that I applied to were OTD programs. Once I received a scholarship from an OTD program, my decision was solidified.
Finally, something that my professors have said a number of times is “you don’t know what you don’t know.” I don’t mean to discredit the knowledge and education of OTs with bachelors and masters degrees, especially those with years of experience, but this statement is very true. I mean, there is a reason why the OTD is a higher degree: there is more learning, clinical experience, and research involved. No one can ever know everything about a topic, even OTs who have been practicing for 20+ years. They simply don’t know what they don’t know. Everyone can always benefit from extra learning and knowledge.
I would love to hear additional points of view on this topic. Feel free to comment below!
Thanks for reading!