E&H Graduates First Master’s-Level Occupational Therapy Class

Posted by Rachael Wilbur

The 28 students hail from six states and plan to practice in various areas of the country. They started together in August 2016 and were a close-knit cohort of students who all successfully completed the program.  

“We are thrilled to graduate this talented class of future occupational therapists,” said Lou Fincher, Vice President of the School of Health Sciences at Emory & Henry College. “There is a huge demand for rural healthcare practitioners and we know that many of our students will practice in mid-Appalachia and other rural areas in our country.”

Eight students have already accepted jobs in Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina and West Virginia. Others are looking for specific locations to relocate. A parent shared that her daughter had three interviews and received three job offers.

“These students have been a phenomenal first class. Their professionalism and hard work have really helped pave the way for future students to succeed in the same capacity,” said Dr. John Jackson, Chair of the Occupational Therapy Department. He noted that the students’ fieldwork supervisors continuously reported how impressed they were with this inaugural class and their patient care skills, professionalism, and commitment to the OT profession.

During their 27 short months at the College, students have worked on community service projects that demonstrate the significant level of engagement in the community.  Projects included: Children’s Assistive Technology Services (CATS); WASPS Foster Mentoring; Mental Health First Aid; Plogging; VFW Open House; Smyth County Special Games; 5k Race for J; First United Methodist Church Food Pantry; Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry (Chilhowie); Parent’s Night Out - Kidz At Play Therapy; After School Program - First Baptist Church; Senior Social - Francis Marion Manor; Wellness Center Swimming; Community Health and Wellness Day; and Summer Enrichment Camp.

“I am extremely proud of the MOT faculty and staff,” said Fincher. “The quality of the program they have built and the difference they are making in the lives of our students, which in turn results in our students making a real difference in the lives of their patients - both in this region and beyond. The MOT students’ level of community engagement in Marion and Smyth County is a great example of the E&H mission in action.”

Gary Peacock, who currently serves on the Ballad Health Board of Directors and as Chair of the Smyth County Community Hospital Health Trust, was the commencement speaker.

“Gary is a true friend of the College and has always been a staunch supporter of E&H and the School of Health Sciences helping to secure the $6 million to launch the partnership in Marion through his leadership,” said Fincher.

With the graduation of the 28 inaugural students, the MOT program will start the spring 2019 semester with 66 students (two cohorts). The MOT Program will begin interviewing students in January for the next cohort of students that will start in August 2019. This will be the last MOT cohort as the program plans to transition to the doctoral level starting with the fall 2020 class.

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  • Class of 2018 Master's of Occupational Therapy
    Class of 2018 Master's of Occupational Therapy
The quality of the program they have built and the difference they are making in the lives of our students, which in turn results in our students making a real difference in the lives of their patients - both in this region and beyond. The MOT students’ level of community engagement in Marion and Smyth County is a great example of the E&H mission in action.
-Lou Fincher, Vice President of the School of Health Sciences

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