WSC Rural Health Opportunities Program Expands

WAYNE – With the recent addition of a path to a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), Wayne State College RHOP now offers a total of 10 occupational therapy pathways.

According to a release, these medical fields are eligible for WSC’s marquee pre-professional collaboration with UNMC.

Dr. Ron Loggins, dean of the School of Science, Health, and Criminal Justice at WSC states occupational therapy is an exciting and diverse field for students seeking a career helping others.

Occupational therapists might assist a person recovering from a stroke regain movement and activity or they might work with children with sensory issues. Adding OT to the RHOP offerings is going to help recruit and keep these professionals here in rural Nebraska.

The OT program requires four years of study at WSC, then three years at UNMC. Upon successful completion of the four-year undergraduate program in biology or applied human and sport physiology at Wayne State, students will enter UNMC’s occupational therapy education program in Omaha or Kearney, Nebraska.

Professor of physics and astronomy and coordinator of the Rural Health Opportunities Program at WSC, Dr. Todd Young adds they are excited to partner with UNMC to offer occupational therapy as a new career track for RHOP. This new career track increases their ability to help students from rural Nebraska achieve their health professional goals and return to rural Nebraska to provide needed health care.

“UNMC Division of Occupational Therapy Education is elated to partner with Wayne State to bring outstanding students to our new OTD program in order to produce competent, entry level practitioners passionate about rural health,” said Dr. Leah Stade, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy.

The program consists of fieldwork education, which provides a broad exposure to practice in a variety of settings and geographic locations including hospitals and medical centers, schools, home health care, private clinics and community settings as well as a doctoral capstone experience and project to provide an in-depth exposure to one or more of the following: clinical practice skills, research skills, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education, and theory development. Upon successful completion of the three-year program at UNMC, students will receive a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree and be eligible to take the national certification examination.

Wayne State’s RHOP has been a fixture in health care education for more than 30 years. The program serves rural Nebraska by recruiting rural students for health professions education, who then return to rural Nebraska to practice, supplying critically needed medical professionals for areas of the state that often face shortages of qualified practitioners. The program provides a full tuition scholarship at WSC and guaranteed admission to UNMC to those students who successfully maintain and complete the program requirements.

Eligible fields of study for RHOP at Wayne State include dental hygiene, dentistry, medical lab science, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant and radiography. Students interested in the program can learn more at The deadline for applications is December 1.

For WSC pre-OT information, contact Dr. Kris Fox at 402-375-7160 or

For UNMC pre-OT information, contact Leah M. Stade, OTD, OTR/L at 308-865-1144 or