The University of Texas System and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston today announced the expansion of UTMB’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) to be offered at the UT Education and Research Center at Laredo (UT Center at Laredo). It is the first-ever doctorate program to offer in-person learning at the UT System’s multi-institution teaching center which now offers ten degree and certificate programs in health-related professions from five UT institutions.
“UT’s expanded education and training footprint in Laredo is part of our plan to provide greater availability and access to healthcare for the community,” said UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken. “We are delighted to welcome UTMB’s presence at the UT Center at Laredo which now joins UT San Antonio, UT Health San Antonio, UTHealth Houston and UT Rio Grande Valley in a commitment to help meet critical workforce demands in this important region of Texas.”
The new doctorate program is specifically designed to prepare the next generation of occupational therapy leaders and practitioners while contributing to the expansion of healthcare programs critical to addressing existing healthcare disparities in the region.
“Launching this new program is a testament to our commitment to advancing healthcare education and addressing evolving healthcare needs of the Lone Star State,” said UTMB President Jochen Reiser, MD, Ph.D. “It is our vision that graduates from the OTD program will be at the forefront of innovation, contributing to the overall health and vitality of our community here in Laredo and beyond.”
The OTD program at the UT Center at Laredo will be the first hybrid occupational therapy program offered by a public university in Texas – with certain coursework provided online and lab activities performed on campus. The curriculum combines rigorous academic coursework with hands-on clinical experiences while the program aims to elevate healthcare education and research opportunities, fostering a new era of excellence in occupational therapy. UTMB is currently working with Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education to finalize accreditation of the program.
“UTMB’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy program will forge the next generation of occupational therapists right here in Laredo, where the need for health professionals has never been greater. Beyond providing a world-class education, the new program will also deliver good-paying jobs and rewarding careers for aspiring Laredo students,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar, Ph.D. “Thank you to Chancellor Milliken, Dr. Zerwas, Dr. Reiser and Director Nunemaker for bringing this important program to fruition. I will continue to work with our state and local officials to deliver for Laredo students.”
“In 1999, when I passed Senate Bill 1288 creating this wonderful institution, we authorized it to offer joint and doctoral degrees by collaborating with other institutions,” said Texas State Senator Judith Zaffirini. “Thanks to its new, dynamic direction and administration under the UT System and Director Nunemaker, at long-last we are celebrating this exciting new program at our UT Center at Laredo, namely, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy offered in collaboration with UTMB. This is a milestone for strengthening healthcare education and meeting healthcare needs in our beloved hometown and region. It’s a great day for Laredo.”
In 2021, Sen. Zaffirini authored legislation to transform the UT Center at Laredo, empowering the UT System – the largest public university system in Texas – to establish an education model that effectively meets and anticipates the increasing demand for frontline health care, training, and research and allows the opportunity for participation from multiple UT institutions.