The Department of Occupational Therapy is committed to teach, investigate, and provide the very best quality health care using a unique Practitioner-Teacher-Investigator model. The department promotes excellence in service and addressing diversity in our communities.
Occupational Therapy: Program Overview
The Department of Occupational Therapy offers a graduate program that prepares the student for unique contributions to the field of occupational therapy. This professional level program is designed for individuals with baccalaureate degrees in other fields who are seeking to become occupational therapists.
The professional graduate program at Rush University is designed for the student who has acquired a variety of life experiences through previous educational, vocational and avocational activities. The program values the incorporation of these life experiences into the educational activities of the program. The educational approach utilized in the program that best addresses these spheres is based on theories of adult learning. By basing the program on adult learning theories, it is possible to build on the students’ past, connect it to their activities of the present and predict a future of competent, capable responses to the needs of the profession. The program is designed to enable the student to learn not only the content and theories of occupational therapy, but also the process of utilizing the multiple resources of the learning environment, including teachers and peers. A series of carefully designed learning experiences, occurring within and outside the classroom, promote independence in conjunction with collegial interaction, problem solving and clinical reasoning, and analysis and synthesis of information. The graduate emerges as a competent therapist who has maintained initial curiosity and added to it through increased ability for creative thinking. Because of experiences in self-directed learning and self-identification of needs, the graduate is able to be responsible and responsive to the needs of the profession. The graduate is expected to be a life-long learner capable of maintaining professional integrity when faced with challenges and complexities of contemporary health care.
Since the 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. The graduates have the ability to add increasing amounts of depth and validation to their treatment 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 treatment, 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 treatment on established fact, use internal and external resources, and engage in clinical 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.
The graduates of the program are able to enter the clinical arena competently and confidently, applying their clinical skills and expanding upon those skills as individual 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 Occupational Therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association. Additional information can be obtained by contacting:
Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)
c/o Accreditation Department
American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814-3449
Graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT). Additional information can be obtained by contacting:
One Bank Street, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150
After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (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.
Occupational therapists recognize humans as persons engaged in and organized around occupations. When dysfunction prevents doing, occupational therapists enable doing in a variety of ways. The practice of occupational therapy involves individuals, their attributes, and the multiple environmental components that comprise the performance of occupations. Occupational therapy interventions are directed at these variables to ameliorate and enable occupational performance.
The faculty members are practitioners-teachers and researchers, a combination that infuses the curriculum with a contemporary and scholarly perspective. Graduate courses are designed to build on past knowledge and experience as well as encourage transformative learning. The critical self-reflection of the transformative learning process encourages the examining, questioning, validating and possible revision of prior knowledge so that new perceptions and meanings may be constructed. It results in the learner being able to wholly and freely participate in critical dialogue and the resulting action, thus empowering the learner (Cranston, 1994). By basing the program on transformative learning, it is possible to build on the student’s past, connect it to their activities of the present, and predict a future in which they are competent and capable to respond to the needs of the profession.
These learning experiences, occurring within and outside the classroom, promote independence in conjunction with faculty mentorship, problem solving, and critical thinking. Because of the graduate’s experience in self-directed learning, he or she is able to be responsible and responsive to the needs of the increasingly dynamic profession. The graduate is a potential learner in the field who is able to work in the traditional and diverse occupational therapy settings, but more importantly, the graduate is flexible, autonomous, and informed so as to adapt to the changing demands of practice.