The Program’s educational focus expanded from preparing practicing clinicians for hospital and school-based practice to also preparing practitioners to serve individuals with chronic disease and disability both in the health care environment and in their homes and communities. The Program leased space at Paraquad, Inc., a nonprofit agency that serves more than 3,000 people with disabilities annually in the St. Louis area, to expand its reach into the community.
In 2001, the Clinical Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program was approved in April and enrollment began in the fall. The post-professional master’s degree program admitted its last students that same year. The profession mandated entry-level at the master’s degree by 2007. Many baccalaureate programs around the country slated to close went on to develop master’s level degree programs. The trend increased competition among established schools for a smaller number of students. The Program deployed several strategies to increase the number of entering students. In October 2004, the Program underwent a site visit by the Accreditation Council on Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), and was the first occupational therapy education program to embark on accreditation of a clinical doctorate degree. The Program received a ten-year accreditation.
Nationwide, Medicare regulations for outpatient care expanded to support the function of the person and family at home. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) started embracing more translational research that brings knowledge to the point of effective use (expansion of rehabilitation and understanding of the factors that support independence). This provided opportunities for interdisciplinary research that integrated biomedical science with occupational science.