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Occupational Therapy


Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational Therapy (OT) is a skilled intervention that enables people of all ages to live life to the fullest by promoting health and minimizing the functional effects of illness, injury, disease, and disability.

It is said that OT "transforms lives and builds independence." Many activities, or 'occupations' make up daily life. While people go about their day, they are learning, growing, playing, working, managing their homes, or many other things. Occupational therapists (OTs) perform assessments of the individual, their home or work, provide interventions, make adaptive equipment recommendations, and work with caregivers in order to help someone with an injury or illness live with as much independence as possible. Health and wellness of the individual, and also the larger community, can be improved when participation in meaningful occupation is supported.
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Where do OTs work?
OTs work in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, out-patient facilities, home health agencies, mental health agencies, assisted living facilities, day care facilities for children or older adults, and private practices just to name a few!
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Who do OTs work with?
OTs work with people of all ages, from newborns to older adults. Those people may be at risk for or may have a physical or mental health illness, injury, or debilitation that is new, ongoing, or even occurred at birth. OTs often work with a team of other professionals to help people live as meaningful and independent lives as possible. Some other professionals may include Physical Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, Doctors, Nurses, Teachers, and Social Workers.
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What is the timetable and process for applying to the OT program?
To gain admittance to the program, a student must complete an online application through; pass the pre-requisite courses with at least a "C" and maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in those courses; obtain three letters of reference with one from an occupational therapist; provide documentation of 50 hours of observation with an occupational therapist in at least two different treatment settings; and complete an on-campus interview.

Admission to our program is competitive, meaning that we receive more applications than spots available. All students must complete a bachelor's degree before beginning the OTD program coursework. The OTD Application Guide (pdf) is a useful check-off tool to help a student prepare to apply.
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What are the prerequisite courses I need before I can begin the program?
Students must complete Human Anatomy and Physiology I with Lab (BIOL 202), Advanced Human Anatomy and Physiology II with Lab (BIOL 204), Medical Terminology (HS 250) or competency, Ethics or BioMedical Ethics (PHIL 207/PHIL 310), Life-span Developmental Psychology (PSYC 212), Research Methods (PSYC 215), Applied Statistical Reasoning for the Sciences (STAT 213), and a 300 Level Social Science course (3 credits). The OT faculty and staff are happy to meet with you as you register and prepare for each semester to ensure that you are taking the necessary coursework and ready to begin the program.
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What are the tuition costs and other fees associated with the program?
Students in the OTD program will be included under the SAU One Price Tuition Plan. This tuition plan is higher than the tuition rate for other SAU students but eliminates all course fees and includes some other costs incurred by OT students. The one price plan also ensures that the tuition costs remain at one rate throughout the normal course of full time graduate study making financial planning easier and giving OT students the chance to take elective courses at no additional cost. This tuition plan does not include textbooks, certain Fieldwork expenses or room and board. Contact the OTD Program for the current One Price Tuition Plan rate and details.
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Are there any scholarships or graduate assistantships available?
OT students are eligible to be one of three graduate assistants in the OT program during their second year in the program. Additionally, many other departments on campus have graduate assistant positions. Scholarships are available through many community agencies and philanthropic groups.
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What is the curriculum like?
The OTD program curriculum emphasizes occupational justice and occupational participation. Students enter the program and learn about the history of the OT profession, our domain of practice, and the scientific foundational knowledge in movement and neuroscience that supports assessment of individuals needs. Students then learn about the "client factors" (including physical, cognitive, and psychosocial) and "environmental factors" that impact how children, adults, and older adults engage in their chosen occupations. When there is a risk or presence of a health concern, student's master the process of assessment, intervention, and application of evidence to support intervention. Hands-on experience is critical to learning and the OT student has multiple Level I Fieldwork experiences to see OTs in action, as well as a lot of lab time and service learning experiences built into coursework. Students will identify an area of interest, work with a faculty mentor, and study at greater depth in order to complete research, a doctoral project, and an experiential component at the end of the program. The academic portion of the program must be completed within 60 months from first beginning coursework in the OTD program.
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Can I customize any courses to form an area of interest?
Students will identify an area of interest and develop a path of in-depth study that allows them to gain knowledge linking theory to practice at an advanced level. Students will work with a faculty mentor on the devleopment of their doctoral project, implement reseach related to that topic area, and also perform a 16-week Experiential Component that allows an opportunity to impact practice as informed by their area of study. The area of advanced study will be in one of the following areas: practice, research and scholarship, service, administration, leadership, advocacy, education, or theory development.
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Are there internships for OT?
Level I Fieldwork experiences occur in three different semesters while the student completes coursework. Level II Fieldwork is completed in the third year of the program typically. This is 24 weeks of full-time field experience. The final semester of the program includes the 16 week Experiential Component that allows students to put elements of their Doctoral Project into action. Students are responsible for their own transportation, travel and housing costs and any other expenses for these experiences. Tuition is also paid while completing fieldwork and the experiential component as part of the third year one-price plan tuition expense. Level Two Fieldwork and the Experiential Component must be completed within 24 months of finishing the academic coursework.
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What do I need to do after graduation to be able to work as an OT?
Following graduation, students sit for the national certification exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Initially passing this exam is required to practice as an OT in any state. Most states also require a license to practice and passing your exam ensures you are eligible for a license. The NBCOT exam typically serves as the licensing exam but students will need to apply separately for licensure. Please note that students will be asked to answer questions related to felony convictions. A previous felony conviction may affect a students ability to sit for the NBCOT certification exam or attain state licensure.

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What is the job placement rate like?
The demand for occupational therapy services is very strong and employment of OTs is expected to increase by 33 percent between 2010-2020 according to the Department of Labor.

Recent surveys of practitioners reveal that in May 2014, the median annual income for a practicing OT was $74,970. The lowest 10 percent earned about $49,980, and the highest 10 percent earned about $104,350. Reports from 2011 show that metropolitan areas, such as Las Vegas, Elizabethtown, Ky., Coeur d'Alene, Id., Beaumont-Port Arthur, Tex., and Stockton, Calif., had the highest salaries ranging from $93,050 to $98,920 mean annual income. In 2014 the majority of OTs were employed in the health practioner offices and hospitals, with others working in nursing facilities, schools, and home health facilities.

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