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USD OT Assistant Professor McHugh Gains Prestigious Pediatric Certification

Jessica McHugh OT Professor Jessica McHugh, Ph.D., faculty member in USD's occupational therapy department, has earned certification in pediatrics, a distinction shared by less than one percent of occupational therapists in the US.

Vermillion, S.D. – Jessica McHugh, PhD, OTR/L, assistant professor in occupational therapy (OT) at the University of South Dakota, has been certified in pediatrics by the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Only one percent of all occupational therapists in the nation hold certifications, and there are only three certified occupational therapists in the state of South Dakota. All three –including McHugh- are on the OT faculty at USD.

OT certifications are earned and issued not only in pediatrics, but also in gerontology, mental health and physical rehabilitation. McHugh is the second USD OT faculty member to be certified in pediatrics. A third USD OT faculty member is certified in gerontology.

USD occupational therapy department chair Barbara Brockevelt, Ph.D., applauded McHugh’s accomplishment, and similar accomplishments by faculty in her department.

“Board certification reflects advanced knowledge and proficiency in a particular area of occupational therapy practice,” said Brockevelt. “We are proud of Dr. McHugh’s accomplishment and honored to have three members of our faculty who hold this rare distinction."

McHugh has worked at USD since 2012, and has been full-time on the OT faculty since 2017.


USD’s School of Health Sciences is a national leader in interprofessional health sciences education. South Dakota’s comprehensive School of Health Sciences develops scholars, practitioners and leaders in health and human services, including addiction counselors, dental hygienists, health science practitioners, medical laboratory scientists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, public health practitioners and social workers.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 84 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.


Hanna DeLange
USD News