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Occupational Therapy (M.S.)

Program Director: Wendy Krupnick, Ph.D., M.B.A., B.S., OTR/L

Campus Location: Main Campus; classes held eight weekends during each semester: Between class sessions, students complete assignments and participate in online learning activities.

Students will be admitted into this program for entrance in the fall semester only.

Mission

The Occupational Therapy (OT) Program’s mission is to develop competent, reflective and ethical occupational therapists who possess a commitment to professionalism and lifelong learning. In keeping with the University mission to prepare graduates for successful careers in an evolving and interconnected world, the OT Program incorporates interdisciplinary learning and collaboration to enable graduates to practice in diverse environments and changing service-delivery contexts. The curriculum is organized around three themes that reflect the program’s philosophy: enabling participation through being client-centered and grounded in the person-environment-occupation fit; applying evidence and clinical reasoning to enhance practice; and fostering collaboration and innovation in order to contribute to our clients’ well-being and quality of life. 

Program Learning Outcomes

The Philadelphia University entry-level master’s degree in occupational therapy curriculum is designed to prepare competent, reflective and ethical occupational therapists whose practice philosophy is both client-centered and occupation-based, and who possess a commitment to professionalism and lifelong learning.

Graduates from the Occupational Therapy program will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Provide occupation-based and client-centered care by competently applying and adapting the occupational therapy process.
  • Establish effective and therapeutic relationships with clients, their caregivers and their families. 
  • Demonstrate respect for people’s beliefs around health, illness and disability.
  • Apply core theory, knowledge, skills, and critical thinking to inform practice.
  • Locate, evaluate and apply research findings to promote best practice in occupational therapy.
  • Work collaboratively with clients, caregivers and members of the professional team to implement programs and services that enable health and participation.
  • Demonstrate the attitudes, behaviors and responsibilities associated with being a health professional.
  • Develop innovative tools, programs or services to promote quality of life.

Program Description

Individuals whose lives are affected by illness, injury or developmental delay can attain their fullest measure of independence and life satisfaction through expert intervention by an occupational therapist. By helping people to build skills and enhancing how they interact in their environments, occupational therapists help people to function and live life to its fullest.

The entry-level master’s degree program is offered in a weekend-format that features in-class and online instructional methodologies to help students to become competent entry-level therapists. Coursework builds on the strengths of the University in the areas of design and health sciences to provide students with unique perspectives on the delivery of occupational therapy services.

The M.S. in Occupational Therapy prepares professionals to be skilled in the principles of environmental assessment and analysis as they apply to human occupation and adaptation. The program is grounded in client-centered values and evidence-based practice approaches. The curriculum stresses the acquisition of an in-depth understanding of health care issues; cultural perspectives; environmental demands; physical, developmental and psychosocial functions; and occupation-based interventions. Key learning activities and course assignments require student collaboration with design, architecture and fashion students as well as practicing health care professionals and community agencies.

One of the unique aspects of the master’s program is the student’s two-year involvement with a client living in the community. Each semester students complete course assignments with their clients to better understand the client’s experience and occupational adaptation issues. Students incorporate this information into the Master’s Portfolio project where they reflect on and chronicle their learning and accomplishments from classroom, fieldwork and portfolio client experiences. The Master’s Portfolio project culminates in a capstone presentation to practicing occupational therapists and representatives of other communities of interest.

Consider some of the following features of the graduate program:

  • First 22 months of program are conducted in weekend format on campus; program may be completed within 3 academic years, including Level II Fieldwork.
  • Students complete multiple Level I Fieldwork experiences in a range of practice settings.
  • Students are engaged in online clinical reasoning courses during Level II Fieldwork.
  • Students can choose to participate in the voluntary mentorship program where they are linked, through the Internet, with practicing occupational therapists who serve as their professional mentors throughout the program.
  • The program focuses on educating practitioners to use evidence to support practice decisions, to work independently and creatively; and to nurture a commitment to lifelong professional development.
  • The program is designed for adult learners who are self-directed and good time managers.
  • Students are exposed to job opportunities in a wide variety of settings: hospitals, long-term care facilities, psychiatric facilities, hand clinics, rehabilitation centers, pediatric hospitals, schools, home care agencies and other community-based settings.

The Occupational Therapy Program curriculum is based on a frame of reference that is humanistic and holistic in nature, and which emphasizes optimal functioning throughout the life span. The program is designed to prepare strong entry-level practitioners who employ an evidence-based practice approach with the capacity for creative analysis and sound critical thinking.

Unique Program Requirements

Successful students in this type of learning program are self-motivated and disciplined. The program will involve extensive reading and off-campus learning activities. Students must enjoy learning through a visual medium. In addition, students must have an ability to express themselves well in written format and a desire to increase their abilities to think and write critically.

All students must have daily access to a computer with camera or webcam and the Internet. It is highly recommended that students also have access to a headset with microphone.

Prerequisite Course Requirements

(COMPLETED WITHIN LAST TEN YEARS)

Anatomy and Physiology I (with Laboratory)  
4
Anatomy and Physiology II (with Laboratory)      
4
Science (Physics recommended)   
4
Developmental Psychology or equivalent (Lifespan)  
3
Abnormal Psychology or equivalent     
3
Statistics   
3
Sociology/Anthropology/Cultural Studies I or equivalent 
3
Other: Basic word-processing and presentation skills 3

TOTAL CREDIT HOURS: 24 Credits


Core Curriculum

The coursework is sequenced in a planned progression in order to build upon and develop knowledge and skills at increasing levels of complexity, competence and integration. Upon the completion of the second year, students must participate in two full-time, Level II Field work affiliations. 

Note: A felony conviction may affect a student’s ability to be placed at a fieldwork setting. 

OCC-610  Portfolio Seminar  1
OCC-611  Foundations for Practice  3
OCC-613  Functional Anatomy  4
OCC-616  Assistive Technology Design  1
OCC-621  Occupational Competence  3
OCC-623  Applied Neuroanatomy  4
OCC-625  Clinical Skills A  1
OCC-626  Evidence-Based Practice  3
OCC-635  Clinical Skills B  1
OCC-645  Clinical Skills C  1
OCC-735  Level I Fieldwork A  1
OCC-738  Psychosocial Interventions  5
OCC-741  Interpersonal Relations & Groups  3
OCC-745  Level I Fieldwork B  1
OCC-748  Assessment & Intervention: Adults  5
OCC-751  Professional Issues and Trends  3
OCC-754  Environmental Dimensions of Occupation  3
OCC-755  Level I Fieldwork C  1
OCC-757  Innovative Practice in OT  3
OCC-758  Assessment and Intervention: Children & Youth  4
OCC-765  Level I Fieldwork D  1
OCC-766  Older Adults: Enabling Participation  2
OCC-768  Spec Practice: Upper Extremity Rehabilitation  3
OCC-770  Practice Platform   2
OCC-771  Level II Fieldwork   3
OCC-775  Clinical Reasoning I   1.5
OCC-781  Level II Fieldwork B  3
OCC-784  Mastery  1
OCC-785  Clinical Reasoning II   1.5

TOTAL CREDIT HOURS: 72 Credits

Admissions Criteria

Any individual who has or is about to receive a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is eligible to apply. The Graduate Program in Occupational Therapy leading to the Master of Science is designed to accommodate students from all undergraduate disciplines. Students in the Occupational Therapy Program will be selected on a competitive basis from candidates submitting complete applications with all required supporting materials.

  • Academic Background: A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0, and completion of all prerequisite foundation coursework with a minimum average 3.0 GPA is required. Candidates may apply for consideration prior to completion of all prerequisite requirements as long as a reasonable plan for completion of required coursework prior to entrance into the program is delineated. All prerequisite foundation courses must be completed prior to matriculation in the program.
  • Two Letters of Reference (one academic and one professional): These letters should examine the applicant’s abilities, communication skills, motivation, interpersonal skills and emotional responsibility.
  • Personal Essay: Students should write and submit a career goals essay with their application materials (approximately 500 words). The essay will be examined for written communication skills, knowledge of the occupational therapy field, and motivation for the profession.
  • Standardized Test Score
  • Students will need to submit results of either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) with their application. Candidates’ application packets will be reviewed after the GRE or MAT scores are received by the university.
  • Professional Resume: Students must submit a resume that highlights their background and experience. Faculty believe that enrollment of students with varied cultural, geographic, academic and employment backgrounds enriches the learning experience and helps sensitize Occupational Therapy Program students to the unique characteristics of the diverse patient populations they will work with as health care providers.
  • Clinical Observation Hours: Students should submit documentation of 20 hours of clinical observation under the supervision of an occupational therapist before beginning the professional program. Applicants are encouraged to complete clinical observation hours as early as possible. 

Acceptance Classifications

Students may be admitted to this program under one of the following acceptance classifications:

  • Full Acceptance: Students who have met all admissions requirements with satisfactory performance as judged by the OT Program’s Admission Committee are granted full acceptance. Full acceptance is granted only when the student’s file is complete, and all the program-specific requirements for entry have been met. A complete file includes official copies of standardized test scores, official copies of academic transcripts, two recommendations, a completed application, a personal essay and a resume.
  • Conditional Acceptance: Students may be offered a conditional acceptance classification when a student’s file is missing evidence that s/he has successfully completed all prerequisite coursework. Prior to admission under this category, students must show evidence of registration for all outstanding prerequisite courses. Students will not be allowed to take any courses in the program prior to completion of all prerequisite coursework. Upon successful completion of all prerequisite course requirements, students must apply to the Office of Graduate Admissions for a change in admission status.

All students must be fully accepted into the Occupational Therapy Program before they can enroll in any Occupational Therapy courses.

Accepted Student Requirements

Students in the Occupational Therapy Program are expected to fulfill the following requirements during their student experience at Philadelphia University. 

Participation in clinical and fieldwork experiences is a required part of the curriculum and a requirement for graduation. Many settings require students to be fingerprinted, undergo a drug screening and/or gain clearance from the PA Sex Offender Registry. Students are responsible for the costs of these processes, as well as for transportation arrangements and costs associated with fieldwork experiences. Information regarding how to meet these requirements is provided by the program. 

Note: Clinical and fieldwork sites may deny a student's participation in the clinical or fieldwork experience because of a felony or misdemeanor conviction, failure of a required drug test or inability to produce an appropriate health clearance, all of which would result in delayed graduation or, in the inability to graduate from the program.

Students are expected to obtain materials and/or complete documentation required for Fieldwork:

  •  Health Clearance (by August, New Student Orientation)
  •  Annual physical examination (use PhilaU Student Health Medical Record Form)
  •  Annual update of immunizations according to fieldwork site requirements
  •  Annual proof of active health insurance coverage
  •  Legal Clearance: Annual criminal background check (www.CertifiedBackground.com) and annual child abuse history clearance
  •  CPR certification (required prior to Level II Fieldwork)

Students are expected to maintain professional organization memberships (highly recommended):

  •  Philadelphia University Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA)
  •  American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
  •  Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA) (or other state OT association)

Accreditation and Certification

The Occupational Therapy Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, P.O. Box 31220, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220. ACOTE’s phone number is 301.652. 2682. 

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. It should be noted that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

Occupational Therapy Program Academic Standards

The Occupational Therapy Program admission criteria are designed to select candidates who are most likely to succeed both in the University academic environment as well as in OT professional practice. While the Program faculty is dedicated to assisting students in their professional education, the student also has responsibilities. Students enrolled in the program must demonstrate achievement in academic and clinical competencies necessary for professional practice, and meet academic standards consistent with graduate school criteria. Students must also demonstrate effective professional behavior as detailed in the Standards of Professional Behavior (see OT Student Handbook). In order to remain in good academic standing, students must meet the following standards. These academic standards are in addition to the university academic standards as described in the Graduate Catalog and on the Philadelphia University website.

Retention and Progression

Students must complete all Level II Fieldwork within 15 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program. The maximum time for completion of the degree program is 4.5 years from the date of first enrollment. Students who have not earned the graduate degree during this period will have their academic records reviewed and may be asked to meet additional requirements in order to graduate.

1. Grade Point Average

  • A minimum overall 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in Occupational Therapy coursework must be maintained each semester. A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in probation for the following semester.
  •  If the semester GPA is below 3.0 for two consecutive semesters, the student will be dismissed from the full-time program.
  •  A student must attain a minimum overall 3.0 GPA prior to enrolling in Level II fieldwork courses.
  •  A student must achieve a minimum overall 3.0 GPA to be eligible to graduate.
  •  A student may not receive more than two grades below “B-” while in the OT Program.
  •  A grade below “C” (2.0) is considered failing. While the grade of “C” is regarded as a minimum passing grade, it is considered unsatisfactory performance. Students who earn a “C” grade in a core course must decelerate, and repeat the course before proceeding in the full-time program (see Deceleration below). Students who are unable to earn a minimum “B” (3.0) in a repeat course will be dismissed from the program. A course can be repeated only once, and the student must achieve a “B” (3.0) grade on the second attempt.
  •  If a grade of “F” or “NC” is obtained in a non-fieldwork course, the student will be dismissed from the program.

 

Competency Grading

  1. Each student is expected to pass every competency on the first attempt with a minimum passing grade of 80%. If unsuccessful, the student will be allowed one retake of the competency; the highest grade that can be earned will be 80%.
  2. Students must earn a competency grade average of 80% or higher within each course. Students who are unable to earn the minimum 80% average must enter into a remediation program defined by the course faculty.
  3. Each student is expected to demonstrate proficiency in all safety items in order to successfully pass the competency.

 

Fieldwork

Students must receive satisfactory reports and evaluations from all fieldwork educators to receive fieldwork credit (“CR”).

 

If a grade of “NC” (no credit) is obtained in a fieldwork, the student must develop a written plan of self-correction prior to being placed in another fieldwork. A fieldwork may be repeated only once, and the student must achieve a “CR” (credit) grade on the second attempt. If a student receives a grade of “NC” in two fieldwork courses, the student will be dismissed from the program. The decision to permit a student to repeat fieldwork is dependent on fieldwork educator verbal or written reports about student behavior with respect to adherence to site regulations, site schedule, ethical standards of conduct, or engagement in behavior that puts patient/client safety at risk.

 

Students receiving a “NC” grade, including “W” (withdrawal”) in fieldwork will be placed on probation. The student must re-register and repeat the fieldwork in order to progress in the program. Repetition of a fieldwork could delay graduation. Withdrawal for medical or personal reasons—and approved by program faculty—will not result in probation.

 

A student must earn a grade of “CR” in all fieldwork in order to graduate.

 

Probation, Suspension and Dismissal

1. Probation—Students whose academic records include one or more of the following will be placed on academic probation:

  •  A student who has a cumulative grade point average below 3.0. for one semester.
  •  A student who receives a grade of “C+” or “C“ in any course will be placed on probation for the next semester. Probation for two consecutive semesters will result in dismissal. Probation for any three semesters will result in dismissal.
  •  A student who receives verbal or written reports from fieldwork educators indicating non-adherence to site regulations, site schedule, ethical standards of conduct or engagement in behavior that puts patient/client safety at risk.
  •  A student who violates the OT Program’s Standards of Professional Behavior or AOTA Code of Ethics and Ethical Standards.

 

2. Deceleration—Deceleration means that the student may not progress in the full-time program. 

  •  Students decelerate when they receive a “C” (2.0) or “NC” in core courses (Functional Anatomy, Applied Neuroanatomy, Clinical Skills A, B, & C, Evidence-Based Practice Assessment & Intervention courses (Adult, Children & Youth, and Psychosocial Interventions) or their equivalent. Students must repeat courses and earn a minimum “B” (3.0) or “CR” in order to proceed in the program. Students can decelerate once.
  •  Since the program is a lock-step curriculum, courses that were not successfully completed cannot be repeated until the following year. A second deceleration results in dismissal.
  •  Repeated violations of the OT Program’s Standards of Professional Behavior or AOTA Code of Ethics and Ethical Standards are also grounds for suspension.

 

3. Dismissal—Students whose academic records include one or more of the following will be dismissed:

  • Student fails to meet minimum academic standards listed above.
  • Student receives a grade of “F” or “NC” in a non-fieldwork course.
  • Student fails or receives “NC” in two fieldwork courses.
  • Student decelerates once and receives a “C” in a subsequent semester.
  • Student placed on probation for two consecutive semesters or any three semesters. 
  • Student repeats a course and does not earn a minimum “B” (3.0) grade.
  • Student displays egregious conduct that violates professional and/or legal standards, and/or University regulations regarding academic and professional conduct. 

 

4. Re-entry—Students who are dismissed from the OT Program for academic conduct or any other reason are not typically readmitted. In special circumstances, dismissed students may be considered for re-entry. A student who is academically dismissed from the OT Program may apply for readmission only after a period of at least one year. To be considered for re-entry students must have developed and implemented an action plan that would facilitate successful academic performance. Refer to the re-entry policy in the OT Program Student Handbook for further information.

 

5. Withdrawal—Students who withdraw from the OT Program may have their records reviewed for possible readmission by program faculty. Readmission will be determined by the faculty based on this review and any additional criteria required at the discretion of the faculty. Refer to the University catalog for further information regarding procedures.

Level II Fieldwork

Certification for Level II Fieldwork

Students must have demonstrated: 

1) The ability to meet the academic and program standards outlined in the OT Student Handbook, and 

2) Effective interpersonal communication, professional behavior and judgment necessary for the field setting to be recommended by the faculty for fieldwork.

 

By the terms of the University’s contractual agreement with fieldwork sites, only students who have satisfactorily completed the requisite professional courses and demonstrate safety and proficiency in all competencies will be placed in fieldwork.

 

Faculty will formally review all students’ progress at the end of the spring semester of the second year of professional coursework (or equivalent) to ensure that students are demonstrating mastery of material and are ready for Level II fieldwork. This appraisal includes a review of students’ grades, clinical skills and professional behavior. Faculty retains the final decision to approve students for fieldwork placements.

 

Students who frequently display unprofessional behavior and/or judgment, or who are unable to address professional behavior concerns that have been identified by faculty, will be required to appear before a sub-group of the OT Program faculty that includes at a minimum the fieldwork coordinator, program director and faculty advisor. This faculty group may impose sanctions which can include probation, suspension or dismissal from the program, and/or delay the student from engaging in the fieldwork portion of the curriculum.

Students must successfully complete Level II fieldwork within 15 months beyond the date of completion of the didactic portion of the program. 

Failure to complete a fieldwork or having to be removed from a placement may result in a student’s dismissal from the program. Students who need to repeat more than one Level II fieldwork due to unsatisfactory performance will be dismissed from the program.