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Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Announced

Villa Maria College has added an Occupational Therapy Assistant program, becoming the first private institution in Western New York to offer the area of study. The New York State Education Department approved the program during a meeting on Thursday, June 4.

Students can immediately begin enrolling in the program, with classes scheduled to start in the fall 2015 semester.

Occupational therapy assistants help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working, and are directly involved in providing therapy to patients, under the direction of registered occupational therapists.

According to the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Therapy is one of the top 20 growing occupations in the nation with a 41% projected growth rate between 2012 and 2022. This translates into additional opportunities for interested students to enter a job market hungry for their skills after graduation or continue on to graduate studies.

“The Occupational Therapy Assistant associate’s degree has a lot of synergies with our new and traditional program offerings,” said Dr. Ryan Hartnett, assistant vice president for academic affairs. “Villa’s strong history in the arts and music makes this program a good fit for the college and prospective students.”

Naturally the popular Physical Therapist Assistant program will work well with the new Occupational Therapy Assistant program. While the recently developed Psychology program provides opportunity for broader collaborations with its arts and music therapy minors, allowing students to apply their skills in sciences and the arts towards the same therapeutic goals.

Professor Paula Santacroce-Velarde was hired as Director of the program, bringing years of occupational therapy experience, including direction of training and education programs, and a specialization in pediatric occupational therapy.

Several spaces in Felician Hall have been designated for the program, including a shared multi-functional lab space with the PTA program, a pediatric lab, kitchen, “hospital rooms”, and dedicated faculty space.

A private, co-educational, Catholic college, Villa Maria provides the premiere student-centered experience in Western New York. Students learn and grow with a culturally diverse population and a culture that lives its ideals of truth, charity, and unity.

For more information call 716.896.0700 or visit