Doctoral Capstone

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The Doctoral Capstone consists of a capstone experience and capstone project, which will provide you with in-depth exposure to one of these concentrated areas of study:

  • Clinical practice skills
  • Research skills
  • Administration
  • Leadership
  • Program and policy development
  • Advocacy
  • Education

You may choose a secondary concentration area if it fits with the design of your doctoral capstone.

about the capstone

Capstone experience 

The doctoral capstone experience occurs over 14 weeks (560 hours) and 80% of the hours must be completed on-site. You will complete the capstone experience during the spring semester of your third year, after the completion of all coursework and fieldwork. It is the culminating experiential component of the OTD program.

The capstone coordinator, site mentor and faculty advisor (if applicable) will complete a formal evaluation to objectively assess student performance during the capstone experience.

Capstone project

The doctoral capstone project directly relates to your capstone experience and demonstrates in-depth knowledge in your concentrated area of study. 

You will present your work to the capstone team and site representatives at your experience site and at WMU's Capstone Dissemination Day. Your scholarly paper wll be published on WMU Scholarworks and on the WMU OTD Capstones YouTube channel.

Capstone highlights

Im'Peck'able Innovations:

Recent WMU OTD graduate Dr. Alex Field centered his capstone project and experience around improving accessibility to the occupation of birding.

Read more

OTeeth:

Dr. Mallory Fox, a 2023 OTD graduate, used sensory and behavioral strategies to improve dental care visits for kids with sensory processing challenges and autism.

Read more

Doctoral capstone preparation

Doctoral capstone preparation occurs throughout your OTD program. You'll take two capstone preparation courses in the spring and summer I session of your second year. During your preparation, you'll complete a literature review and needs assessment, establish goals and objectives, and develop a supervision and evaluation plan for your capstone. You will collaborate with members of the capstone team throughout your preparation:

  • Capstone coordinator - a full-time core faculty member, responsible for compliance with the doctoral capstone ACOTE standards
  • Site mentor - an individual (not necessarily an OT) who has expertise in your concentrated area of study and who can provide mentorship throughout your capstone
  • Faculty advisor - will work with you to develop objectives and a timetable for your capstone, and will provide guidance, perspective, feedback and other resources

As part of the process, you will develop an official memorandum of understanding, which will detail the plan for your doctoral capstone. You will sign the memo, along with the chair of the OT department, the dean of the College of Health and Human Services, and WMU's provost.

WMU is required to track some student information as part of the capstone process. WMU uses CastleBranch to track information like background checks, immunization and titers (MMR, varicella, Hepatitis B), drug screens, training and certifications.

Student resources

Capstone coordinator

 

Holly Grieves, OTD, OTRL, Capstone Coordinator Department of Occupational Therapy 

200 Ionia Ave SW

Grand Rapids MI 49503

holly.grieves@wmich.edu

Phone: (517) 388-1652

Fax: (616) 771-4200

Frequently asked questions

  • FAQ

    WHO DOES A SITE MENTOR TALK TO ABOUT MAKING ARRANGEMENTS TO MENTOR A CAPSTONE STUDENT? 

    Please contact the WMU OT capstone coordinator, Holly Grieves, at holly.grieves@wmich.edu to make arrangements to mentor an OTD student. 

    WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HOSTING A DOCTORAL CAPSTONE STUDENT?

    There are numerous benefits for hosting a doctoral capstone student. A few of the benefits include scholarly collaboration including access to university resources (IRB, databases, outcome measures, etc.) and potential publication opportunities. Program development “products” including clinical guidelines, patient education materials, evidence-based practice resources. Doctoral capstone student hosts are provided with the opportunity to develop a mutually beneficial mentoring relationship and will earn PDUs for their service.

    HOW MANY HOURS ARE REQUIRED FOR THE CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE? 

    The Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) requires the length of the doctoral capstone experience to be a minimum of 14 weeks (560 hours). No more than 20% of the 560 hours can be completed off site from the mentored practice setting(s), to ensure a concentrated experience in the designated area of interest. Time spent off site may include independent study activities such as research and writing (ACOTE Standard D.1.5).

    WHEN DO STUDENTS COMPLETE THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE DURING WMU’S ACADEMIC PROGRAM?

    Students will collaborate with the capstone coordinator, faculty advisor and site mentor throughout the curriculum to prepare for the doctoral capstone (ACOTE Standard D.1.2). By the beginning of the Summer II semester of the second year, the capstone coordinator will match the student to a faculty advisor based on student’s selection of concentration area and topic as well as areas and faculty advisor’s expertise and workload availability. During Fall semester of the second year, the capstone coordinator, faculty advisor and student will work together to coordinate a match with a site mentor. The students’ doctoral capstone preparation course will take place in Summer I semester following the match, and the capstone experience/project takes place during the following Spring semester, in the third year.

    With guidance from capstone coordinator, student will:

    YEAR I 

    YEAR II

    YEAR III

    Summer II 

    Spring

    Summer I

    Fall

    Spring

    Orient to Capstone Program 

    Match with Faculty Advisor 

    Complete OT 7201
    Capstone Prep Course
    (2 credits)

    Finalize and sign
    Memorandum of Understanding
    (MOU)

    Complete OT 7202
    Capstone Experience
    (6 credits)

    ---- Match with Site Mentor ----

       

    WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?

    Students are required to submit evidence of a physical assessment, immunizations record, criminal background check, drug screen, TB test, flu shot, HIPAA training and CPR certification and other site-specific documents as requested. Additional requirements may be necessary for doctoral capstones taking place internationally.

    WHAT ARE THE TRACKS A STUDENT CAN PURSUE FOR THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE? 

    Students will pursue one of the following tracks for their doctoral capstone experience/project: Clinical practice skills, research skills, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education, theory development 

    HOW DOES A FIELDWORK EXPERIENCE DIFFER FROM A DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?

     Fieldwork:Doctoral Capstone (Experience/Project):
    Supervisor term usedFieldwork EducatorSite Mentor
    DisciplineRequired to be an OTCan be an OT, but not required
    DurationTwo full-time 12-week experiencesOne 14 week (560 hour) minimum experience
    Location100% on-site80% onsite, 20% allowed off-site
    ObjectiveEntry-level practitioner Acquire in-depth knowledge in a focused concentration area
    WhenAfter coursework is completeAfter fieldwork is complete 
    Evaluation ToolAOTA FWPENo standardized evaluation tool, however, WMU has developed a customized evaluation tool. 
    NBCOT PDUs offered One PDU per week of supervisionOne PDU for every two hours spent mentoring, up to a maximum of 18 PDU per renewal period 

     WHAT IS WMU’S ATTENDANCE POLICY FOR THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE? 

    The site mentor, capstone coordinator and student will collaborate to decide how time will be used during the capstone experience. The student is responsible to track and provide verification of the time usage during the placement using a log. ACOTE Standard D.1.5 states that “no more than 20% of the 560 hours can be completed off site from the mentored practice setting(s), to ensure a concentrated experience in the designated area of interest.” 

    DOES THE SITE MENTOR NEED TO BE ON-SITE ALL OF THE TIME AND/OR EVERY DAY? 

    The student is expected to complete a minimum of 80% (448 hours) on-site under the supervision of the site mentor. The role of the site mentor is to guide the student in the development and implementation of the capstone project proposal, implementation and dissemination. Specific plans for supervision including intensity (direct vs. indirect), frequency and method of interaction will be established between the site mentor and student prior to the start of the doctoral capstone experience.  

    CAN A SITE MENTOR EARN CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDIT FOR TAKING A DOCTORAL CAPSTONE STUDENT? 

    Yes. Site mentors who are OTs can earn one PDU for every two hours spent mentoring, up to a maximum of 18 PDU per NBCOT renewal period. A certificate verifying hours spent mentoring will be provided upon completion of the student’s doctoral capstone.

    HOW MUCH EXPERIENCE DOES ONE NEED TO BECOME A SITE MENTOR FOR THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?  

    The site mentor must have documented expertise consistent with the student’s area of focus prior to the onset of the doctoral capstone experience, however, the site mentor does not have to be an occupational therapist (ACOTE D.1.6). 

    CAN A STUDENT HAVE MULTIPLE SITE MENTORS AT ONE LOCATION? 

    Yes. A student can have multiple site mentors at one location. The site mentors will collaborate with the capstone coordinator to develop the best plan for split supervision.  

    WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU THINK A STUDENT IS AT RISK FOR NOT COMPLETING THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE? 

    The first step is for the site mentor to notify the student that he/she is at risk of not successfully completing their capstone experience/project. Then the site should let the student know that the site will now notify the capstone coordinator and encourage the student to contact the capstone coordinator as well. One of the roles of the capstone coordinator is to serve as a mediator between student and site mentor concerns. The capstone coordinator can provide the site and student with a different perspective, can advise on possible solutions, and can guide all parties through the necessary next steps. 

    HOW MANY TIMES CAN A STUDENT FAIL THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE? 

    Each academic program establishes their own policy on doctoral capstone failure. WMU allows students to receive “no credit” grade on one capstone experience. If a student receives a “no credit” for a second capstone experience, they are dismissed from the OT academic program. Please refer to the WMU remediation and dismissal policy.

    DOES THE ACADEMIC PROGRAM HAVE TO TELL THE SITE MENTOR THAT THE STUDENT HAS A DISABILITY?

    The academic program is not required to inform the site mentor of a student's disability without the student's permission. It is the student's decision whether or not to disclose a disability. The capstone coordinator will counsel students on the pros and cons of sharing this type of information prior to beginning fieldwork. If a student decides not to disclose, the capstone coordinator is legally not allowed to share that information with the site, in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws.

     A site mentor cannot refuse to place a student with a disability unless that student is unable to perform the essential job functions with or without reasonable accommodations. To refuse placement solely on the student's disability is discriminatory and illegal.

    CAN A STUDENT COMPLETE THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE INTERNATIONALLY? 

    Yes, students will have the option to complete their students internationally. Additional requirements and documentation will likely be necessary.

    CAN A STUDENT JOB SHADOW AT THE SITE WHERE THEY WOULD LIKE TO COMPLETE THEIR DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?

    We discourage students from requesting a job shadow at a potential capstone site that is also used for level II fieldwork in an effort to reduce burden on our community partners. For potential capstone sites not used for level II fieldwork experience, at the request of the capstone site, it is acceptable for students shadow or volunteer.

    WHAT IS A PASSING GRADE FOR THE DOCTORAL CAPSTONE?

    Students will earn a credit/no credit grade for the doctoral capstone. This grade is determined based upon a student’s score on the capstone evaluation tool which is provided by your site mentor and faculty advisor. Scores are determined as satisfactory or unsatisfactory at halfway or midterm point of fieldwork (six weeks). Final evaluation scores are provided near the end of 12 weeks. This score indicates whether a student has passed or not passed their doctoral capstone.

Site mentors

Become a site mentor

Are you interested in becoming a site monitor for one of our OTD students? Contact our capstone coordinator to learn more about what site mentors do. We would be happy to have a virtual or in-person conversation about being a site mentor and how that might work for you.

Alternatively, you can submit your capstone idea for consideration by completing a capstone idea submission form. Our capstone coordinator will follow up with you.

These short videos may help you to better understand the doctoral capstone process and the responsibilities associated with the site mentor role

Site mentor support

Michigan Occupational Therapy Education Consortium (MOTEC) is a group of academic fieldwork coordinators, assistant fieldwork coordinators, and capstone coordinators from all of the OT and OTA programs in the state of Michigan.

MOTEC offers educational opportunities to provide tools and resources to support best practice in fieldwork and capstone education and to share developments in Michigan occupational therapy programs.