Kettering College is expanding into Greene County, where it plans to offer health science education classes, including a new occupational therapy doctoral program.
The college, a division of Kettering Medical Center, plans to begin offering classes at the Ollie Davis Medical Arts and Education Center on Darst Road in Beavercreek as early as this fall.
The doctoral program — which is awaiting approval from the Higher Learning Commission, the Ohio Board of regents and the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education — would be a first for the nearly 50-year-old institution.
“This program requires a lot of space and resources and so we have really outgrown the space we can use in our main campus,” said Nate Brandstater, president of Kettering College.
The college proposed the new program amid changing standards for certified, registered or licensed health care practitioners, otherwise known as allied health professionals, Brandstater said.
“Increasingly, allied health professions are moving toward higher educational levels and higher levels of certification,” he said, noting that requirements for entry-level positions are changing from master’s degrees to doctorates. “Kettering College is moving in anticipation of that direction the profession is heading.”
The Ollie Davis center is maintained by the Greene Medical Foundation and has been empty since the end of 2013.
“This is set up perfectly for them because it’s set up as an educational facility with therapy areas,” said Jeff Brock, president of the Greene Medical Foundation. “They need a variety of therapy settings that probably are not feasible in just an office setting.”
Kettering College, which has enrollment of about 1,000, would be one of six colleges in the United States to offer an entry-level doctoral program for occupational therapy, according to the school. The Ollie Davis building will allow students to treat patients as they learn.
“It offers our students the latest in facilities and technology,” Brandstater said.
Occupational therapists are in high demand, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. They project the field to grow 29 percent before 2022, adding 32,800 jobs nationwide. The median pay was $75,400 in 2012.
“The hiring trends are very strong,” Brandstater said. “Occupational therapy is certainly one of the leading areas of allied health.”
The school already has a highly educated community to draw from. Greene County is the second-most educated county in the region where nearly 48 percent of residents hold at least an associate’s degree, according to the Lumina Foundation