Innovation has been a hallmark of Kettering College since its founding and that isn’t changing as the division of Kettering Medical Center approaches its 50th anniversary in 2017.

For example, last fall, the college, chartered by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, launched its first doctoral program, one of only a handful of schools offering a doctorate in occupational therapy.

“We’re one of only 21 schools in the nation to offer this type of degree,” says Jessica Beans, the college’s director of public relations and marketing.

Occupational therapy is a growing field and therapists are in short supply. Kettering’s new five-semester program allows those with a bachelor’s degree to get a deeper understanding of clinical practice and develop expertise in research.

“They’re not only learning ways to do rehabilitation in different situations but also learning how to research their own methods,” Beans says.

The advanced degree, which is offered at a new location for the college in a building shared with Kettering Health Physicians in Beavercreek, had more than 200 applications for the initial 18 slots, since expanded to 20 students.

Last May, Kettering’s physician’s assistant program, which established the first on-campus master’s degree program in 2006, marked its 40th anniversary. It is one of the first physician’s assistant programs in the country.

“Interestingly the physician’s assistant field has only been around 47 years,” she says.

A big trend in health care is that hospitals are demanding their staffs have higher-level academic credentials, Beans says. Last year, Kettering expanded its nursing program to a three-year bachelor’s degree and phased out its associate degree.

“Everything is trending to want a higher level degree for staff and we’re jumping in on the forefront of that.” 

Last fall, for example, Kettering began offering a bachelor’s degree in respiratory care. An aging population is increasing demand for respiratory therapists and Kettering last year reported a 100 percent employment rate for its respiratory therapists within two months of graduation.

Next fall, Kettering will offer a new bachelor’s degree in health care management for students interested in the business side of health care. 

Kettering’s online programs were ranked fifth best in Ohio this year by AffordableCollegesOnline.org. Beans says many of the college’s online courses are aimed at professionals in the field who need to complete more education to advance.

“Many hospitals hire at an associate level as a nurse but expect in five years that person will have a bachelor’s degree,” she says. Kettering offers online completion programs in a number of areas such as respiratory therapists, ultrasound technicians, radiologists and advanced imaging.

Recently the Bookings Institution used graduate earnings data to rank colleges based on their value added—the college’s contribution to the student’s outcome. Kettering ranked highest in Ohio and 16th out of 1,666 four-year colleges nationally.

“Families all over America are placing more importance on the impact a college degree will have on a graduate’s career prospects,” says Kettering President Nate Brandstater. “This study shows that Kettering College does best what people value most.”