Des Moines University and Indian Hills Community College Sign Partnership Agreement to Help Students Interested in Occupational Therapy

Des Moines University, located in West Des Moines, Iowa, and Indian Hills Community College, which has campuses in Centerville and Ottumwa, Iowa, have announced a new partnership to create enhanced pathways for IHCC students seeking careers in occupational therapy. The partnership is intended to benefit students while helping build Iowa’s health care workforce. 

Under the partnership agreement, DMU will annually reserve two seats for qualified IHCC students in its doctoral program in occupational therapy. IHCC students will be guaranteed an interview for admission to this program by meeting DMU’s admission requirements in terms of grade point average, completed coursework at the community college, program-specific admission requirements such as demonstrated hours of relevant observational or work experiences and other academic achievements. 

The agreement also allows IHCC students to begin applying to DMU’s O.T.D. program as early as June prior to their second year.  

“We are excited to partner with IHCC. As we designed our O.T.D. program, we were mindful of the financial strain that can sometimes accompany earning an advanced degree. We determined admission criteria that would prepare our students for success in a doctoral-level program while also allowing them to accelerate earning this degree, which means cost savings for our students,” says Diana Feldhacker, Ph.D., O.T.D., OTR/L, BCPR, chair and program director of DMU’s O.T.D. department. “Our agreement with IHCC allows students to apply to, interview for and potentially earn a reserved seat in our program.  

“IHCC has an occupational therapy assistant program, so we also wanted to create a bridge for occupational therapy assistant students interested in continuing their education, as this transition can sometimes feel overwhelming and daunting,” she adds.   

Doctors of occupational therapy help individuals of all ages develop, adapt, recover, improve and maintain the skills to allow them to live life to the fullest. DMU’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, which enrolled its first students this summer, is one of 10 graduate medical and health sciences programs the university offers. 

“We feel very fortunate to have this partnership available for students to have the opportunity to continue their education toward a doctoral degree in occupational therapy,” says Cindy Ripp, director of IHCC’s occupational therapy assistant program. “Up until this agreement was created, there have been very few options across the entire Midwest to bridge our program directly to an occupational therapy program without students having to receive a bachelor’s degree first. In the state of Iowa, there are no options of this kind. This opportunity will allow students to not only stay in state while completing their education but to also bring the experiences and knowledge they have of the profession to collaborate with entry-level students in the program.”  

The partnership agreement takes effect immediately. Students interested in learning more are encouraged to contact their academic advisor at Indian Hills, the IHCC admissions team or the DMU admissions team at

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