New Occupational Therapy Building at Drake Is More Than Classroom Space

Jun 14, 2017

Drake University is officially opening a renovated building to house its occupational therapy doctorate program. It will be a place where students learn and patients are helped to recover.

A street scene makes up part of the building that now houses the occupational therapy doctorate program at Drake University.
Credit Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

A former bookstore has been converted into the home of Drake’s year-old doctorate program in occupational therapy. In addition to classrooms, it features a four-room apartment and a streetscape, complete with an automobile. A member of the first class of students in the program, Maddy Nave, says the caregivers of people with ALS recently came to the building for training.

“Taught them how to safely use their own body to transfer people," she says. "It can be really dangerous for someone who’s a caregiver to transfer their loved one if they’re not using their body correctly.”

Faculty and administrators at Drake say occupational therapy is one of the nation’s fastest growing fields. An assistant professor of occupational therapy at Drake, Jayna Fischbach, says there is an obvious need for more OTs in Iowa.

“We have somewhere between nine and twelve counties that don’t have an occupational therapist or an occupational therapy assistant living in them," she says. "So, then you’re having to travel across counties to provide care.”

A bathroom in the occupational therapy doctorate program at Drake is equipped with adaptive devices to help patients learn to maneuver.
Credit Rob Dillard / Iowa Public Radio

Fischbach expects the field of occupational therapy to grow by between 20-and-30 percent over the next seven years. The first class of OT doctorate students at Drake are on track to graduate in 2019.