Katz School Hires Program Director for Occupational Therapy

Dr. Nicolaas van den Heever Will Lead Academic Initiatives in New Program

Dr. Nicholaas van den HeeverDr. Nicolaas van den Heever, an international expert in clinical practice, administration and education of occupational therapy, officially joined the faculty at the Katz School of Science and Health after a national search as a clinical professor and founding director of its academic initiatives in occupational therapy.

For the past seven years, Dr. van den Heever served as the director for the School of Occupational Therapy at Brenau University and as founding dean and program director for the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and Occupational Therapy Doctorate programs at West Coast University (WCU).

A native of South Africa, Dr. van den Heever earned his bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Stellenbosch near Cape Town and his doctorate from the University of Saint Augustine in Florida. The first male occupational therapy graduate in his native South Africa, Dr. van den Heever has more than 35 years of experience in a variety of practice areas including mental health, wellness, neuromuscular and cognitive rehabilitation, aging in place, sensory integration and driving rehabilitation in a wide range of public and private practice settings. He also served as administrative director of business development and operations for Alvarado Hospital in San Diego. In addition, he was director of hospital education, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services and the arthritis, bone and joint clinics for Tenet Healthcare.

“I have experienced the entire scope of health care and have fulfilled every role in the health care sector, from being a staff therapist to a hospital administrator. In terms of experience and skill, I have a lot to share with future occupational therapists as students learn best from sharing stories and experiences. I have a very strong vision of what occupational therapy education should look like, and I’ve had the opportunity to start a program from the ground up at WCU and will do it again here at the Katz School.”

Dr. van den Heever has been a national and international speaker on the topics of neuromuscular, cognitive, driving rehabilitation, academic program effectiveness and outcomes and interprofessional education. He presents at local and national conferences each year, and in 2014 he presented at the 16th International Congress of the World Federation of Occupational Therapy in Yokohama, Japan.

In 2014, Dr. van den Heever won a prestigious award in California recognizing the “significant contributions to the advancement of occupational therapy in the areas of therapeutic practice, education, communication and/or community service.”

“I am honored to join the Katz School and excited about the prospect of starting a program that can ultimately benefit the education and wellness of the community,” noted Dr. van den Heever.