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Ardmore Institute of Health Grant Supports Lifestyle Medicine in KGI’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program

The Ardmore Institute of Health (AIH) has awarded a grant to Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) to create a lifestyle medicine and occupational therapy integrated curriculum in support of the launch of KGI’s developing Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program.

“The AIH grant will enable us to create a premier educational experience for students to utilize lifestyle medicine-informed occupational therapy to promote health and well-being in a wide range of settings,” said Dr. Christy Billock, professor and founding program director of the occupational therapy program.

Dr. Ron Stout, president & CEO of AIH, added: “AIH is delighted to support KGI’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate program as it develops a benchmark, replicable lifestyle medicine approach to providing care.”

The grant from the Ardmore Institute of Health will provide support in several key areas:

  • It will help with innovative curriculum development as Billock integrates principles and practices of lifestyle medicine with occupational therapy models and service delivery into courses across the OTD program, preparing students to be champions for lifestyle changes to improve health and well-being.
  • It will provide funding to create an open textbook available at no cost that could be used in occupational therapy educational programs or by practicing therapists to increase visibility and integration of lifestyle medicine into occupational therapy practice.

“The goal of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine is to change healthcare systems and delivery models to move beyond symptomatic treatment to address lifestyle-based root causes of chronic disease,” Billock said.

“As experts in daily life activity, occupational therapy professionals are an ideal and natural fit for lifestyle medicine’s interdisciplinary approach.”

Billock became a certified lifestyle medicine practitioner and a diplomate of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine in November 2020. In December 2020, she presented lifestyle medicine and occupational therapy at an Occupational Therapy Association of California (OTAC) Town Hall and at the Western Regional Occupational Therapy Spring Symposium in March 2021.

She also currently teaches OCTH 650, Lifestyle Medicine, as an elective course at KGI. As the lifestyle medicine movement gains momentum across healthcare professions, Billock is excited to help lead efforts for the profession of occupational therapy.

AIH’s mission is to improve the health and vitality of people to live more meaningful lives and create a world where lifestyle modification is the preferred method to prevent and overcome chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity. As crucial funders in the development of lifestyle medicine initiatives, the organization has distributed more than $7 million in grants to support its goals since 2014. This marks the first grant that AIH has awarded to KGI.

KGI’s developing OTD program will prepare graduates as innovative leaders within the occupational therapy field. Expected to enroll in fall 2022, pending WASC and ACOTE approval, the three-year program will showcase active-learning, hands-on lab and fieldwork experiences, and team collaboration to prepare students to become resourceful, ethical, and agile problem solvers.