Oct 02, 2023  
2022-2023 University Catalog 
2022-2023 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Health Sciences


Through the use of the practitioner-teacher-investigator model, the Department of Occupational Therapy is committed to excellence in education, service, scholarship and health care delivery while fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion.

Occupational Therapy: Program Overview
Professional Description

The Department of Occupational Therapy offers a graduate program that prepares students for unique contributions to the field of occupational therapy. This professional-level program is designed for people with baccalaureate degrees in other fields who are seeking to become occupational therapists.

Philosophy on Education

Occupational therapists recognize humans as complex beings engaged in and organized around occupations occurring within the social, physical, temporal, cultural, personal and virtual environments (AOTA, 2014; AOTA 2017). When dysfunction or internal or external contexts limit or prevent participation, occupational therapists enable doing in a variety of ways. The practice of occupational therapy involves individuals, groups or organizations, their attributes and the multiple environmental contexts that comprise occupational performance. Occupational therapy interventions are designed to facilitate people to adapt and change in order to improve their engagement in occupational performance across the lifespan.

Rush University Department of Occupational Therapy faculty members fulfill roles as practitioner-teacher and investigator, a combination that infuses the curriculum with contemporary and scholarly perspectives to prepare students to meet the occupational needs of society. Graduate courses and clinical experiences build on students’ past knowledge and skills to encourage transformative and integrative learning. The critical self-reflection of the transformative learning process encourages examining, questioning, validating and possibly revising prior knowledge so that new perceptions and meanings may evolve (Cranton, 2006). Integrative learning expands on this process by facilitating students’ ability to connect ideas, concepts and experiences to better adapt to novel and complex issues (Huber & Hutchings, 2004). The end result is a learner who is intellectually flexible to meet the needs of complex clients in a continually changing society. A program based on transformative and integrative learning builds on a student’s past, connects it to present activities and predicts a future in which they are competent and capable to respond to the ongoing needs of the profession and the clients we serve.

The curriculum builds towards leadership in professional reasoning and meeting the needs of an increasingly dynamic profession. Self-directed learning and critical thinking using evidence-based research and practice are fostered through faculty mentorship, problem solving, collaborative activities and critical inquiry in the classroom, clinic and community to promote entry-level performance. The individualized doctoral experience establishes a trajectory that enables students to become an emerging leader in their professional practice. Rush occupational therapy graduates are prepared to work in traditional and emerging practice settings but, more importantly, are ethical, flexible, creative, autonomous and informed practitioner-teacher-investigators.

Professional Orientation

Since Rush graduate will be prepared to work in a variety of traditional and nontraditional settings, their practice base is the result of broad experiences within the many arenas of occupational therapy. Graduates have the ability to add increasing amounts of depth and validation to their intervention programs as a result of their involvement and experiences with problem-solving approaches to therapy.

Given the combination of breadth and depth of knowledge and experience related to occupational therapy intervention, the primary strength of Rush University graduates will be their ability to function as highly resourceful practitioners. As in the past, and for the foreseeable future, the role of the practitioner is the core of all occupational therapy. The practitioner who is able to base intervention on established fact, use internal and external resources and engage in professional reasoning and problem-solving is the practitioner who will contribute to the credibility and viability of the profession. It is this type of practitioner who is expected to be the product of the Rush program.

Graduates of the program are able to enter the clinical arena competently and confidently, applying their clinical skills and expanding upon those skills as situations require. This continuous process of assessment and expansion contributes to the personal and professional growth vital to occupational therapists. The role of the clinician, as it is understood in this context, incorporates other major roles of the therapist. As the Rush program is designed, the students have the opportunity to explore the functions of the therapist as an educator, researcher and manager from the practitioner’s perspective. The involvement of the student in these other roles is another major strength of the program. The additional roles of educator, manager and researcher cannot be separated from the practitioner’s role.

Accreditation and Certification

The Rush University Occupational Therapy Doctorate program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at:

6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200

North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929

Phone: (301) 652-AOTA


Graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist that is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy or NBCOT. For information regarding the OTD program’s performance on the NBCOT exam, students can go to  www.nbcot.org/en/educators/home#schoolperformance. Additional information can be obtained from:


One Bank St. Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20878  

(301) 990-7979


After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered, or OTR. In Illinois, occupational therapists must be licensed in order to practice, and state licensure is based on the results of the NBCOT certification examination. This is true in many other states, but specific requirements for licensure may be determined by contacting individual state licensing boards.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: College of Health Sciences