Discipline of Occupational Therapy celebrates 50 years

Posted on: 16 December 2013

The Discipline of Occupational Therapy (OT) at Trinity College Dublin, recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with an event attended by over 250 people including graduates across the 50 years of the programme and some from the very first enrolment of students. Other attendees included current and former staff of the Discipline, staff from other OT programmes in Ireland, representatives of the Association of Occupational Therapists in Ireland (AOTI), staff from other departments in Trinity, and senior members of Trinity.

The event reflected the many changes which the Discipline of Occupational Therapy has undergone over the past 50 years. Starting in St. Joseph’s College of Occupational Therapy in 1963 the programme awarded a diploma qualification but changed to an honours degree in 1986 when it joined the Faculty of Health Sciences, Trinity College. The first cohort of degree students graduated in 1990.

In the mid-nineties, in response to the need for occupational therapists to have higher level degrees, staff in the Discipline developed a taught Master’s programme. This programme was, and is, designed for clinicians working full-time to undertake part-time studies. Additionally, options for full-time and part-time Masters’ studies through research were developed with increasing numbers of therapists now opting for these alternatives.

The recent establishment of a one-year degree course for graduates of the 3-year diploma programme in Singapore is the latest exciting development for the Discipline. The course is mainly delivered in Singapore, however students spend six-weeks in Trinity during which time they have opportunities to observe occupational therapy practice in Ireland.  The first cohort of students graduated from the programme in November, 2013.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Deirdre Connolly, Head of Discipline of Occupational Therapy, Trinity College Dublin, outlined the need for Irish occupational therapists to “engage in doctoral level research to enhance the existing evidence base of OT practice in Ireland and to meet international standards in occupational therapy research.” She also highlighted governmental funding opportunities open to practitioners and emphasised the support available from the Discipline in this level of research.