The university’s department of biokinesiology and physical therapy and the department of occupational science and occupational therapy � each ranked No. 1 in the nation according to U.S. News & World Report � became aligned with the USC School of Dentistry, effective July 1.
“USC has a long tradition of innovations that improve the lives of people. This new alignment among three of our outstanding academic programs offers unique and distinctive interdisciplinary directions in education, research and community programs,” said USC Provost C. L. Max Nikias.
Biokinesiology and physical therapy, occupational sciences and occupational therapy and the School of Dentistry will continue to pursue independent academic agendas while advancing opportunities to collaborate in health promotion, health literacy, risk assessment, disease prevention and quality of life in order to improve wellness in the United States and around the world.
A common theme in the teaching, research and clinical outreach activities will be a focus on underserved populations.
“There are enormous opportunities to reduce health disparities and to foster early diagnosis and treatment of numerous chronic diseases and disorders that plague Americans,” said Harold Slavkin, dean of the School of Dentistry.
The unique alignment of the three academic programs will combine talent to promote five key competencies the Institute of Medicine has declared essential for health professionals in the 21st century: patient-centered care, working in interdisciplinary teams, employing evidence-based clinical practice, applying quality improvements and using informatics.
“This alliance has stimulated our faculty to think in new and complex ways about how health-care practice and research can be better integrated, have greater impact and address important issues such as prevention and culturally sensitive patient care practices,” said Florence Clark, associate dean of the new division of occupational science and occupational therapy.
The linkage will facilitate the pursuit of interdisciplinary collaboration and the enhancement of each of the respective professions, she said.
“Dean Slavkin deserves our gratitude for his work in helping the university to realign these academic units,” Nikias said. “They now will collaborate in a manner that allows each one to shine even more brightly than before.”