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Statement of Mission

Department of Occupational Therapy
School of Health Professions
University of Texas Medical Branch

The University of Texas Medical Branch

The mission of UTMB is to provide scholarly teaching, innovative scientific investigation, and state-of-the-art patient care in a learning environment to better the health of society. UTMB's education programs enable the state's talented individuals to become outstanding practitioners, teachers, and investigators in the health care sciences, thereby meeting the needs of the people of Texas and its national and international neighbors. UTMB's research programs are committed to the discovery of new innovative biomedical and health services knowledge leading to increasingly effective and accessible health care for the citizens of Texas. UTMB's comprehensive primary, specialty, and sub-specialty care clinical programs support the educational mission and are committed to the health and well-being of all Texans through the delivery of state-of-the-art preventive, diagnostic, and treatment services.

The School of Health Professions

The mission of SHP is to provide and promote quality education, research, and service in an environment that fosters collaboration and mutual respect. SHP provides multi-level educational programs for a diverse group of students, colleagues, and members of the community; facilitates student and faculty involvement in scientific investigation and scholarly activities that advance health care; and promotes service through active participation in professional and community activities.

The Department of Occupational Therapy

The mission of the Department of Occupational Therapy is to foster a community of educators, scholars, evidence based practitioners, and community leaders in the profession of occupational therapy who will generate, apply, and disseminate knowledge about living life to the fullest for the enhancement of individuals, groups, and populations.

The Department is committed to the following aims:

  • educate occupational therapists who function as evidence based practitioners, community leaders, educators, and scholars.
  • engage in scholarly work and participating in scientific inquiry that will discover, generate, develop, refine, test, and evaluate new knowledge as well as applications of knowledge in occupational therapy (Abreu, Peloquin, & Ottenbacher, 1998).
  • disseminate new knowledge and applied knowledge about occupation and health to the academic and broader community


Statement of Philosophy

Masters of Occupational Therapy Program
School of Health Professions
University of Texas Medical Branch

Human Beings

Humans are active beings whose development is influenced by their participation in meaningful occupations and the context in which these occupations are performed (Law & King, 2000). Human beings are able to influence their health, well-being, and life satisfaction through active engagement in meaningful occupations (Wilcock, 2006). Occupations are daily activities that have purpose, meaning and perceived utility to the client and are central to the client's identity and sense of competence (AOTA, 2008). All individuals have an innate need and right to engage in meaningful occupations throughout their lives (AOTA, 2011). Occupations have intrinsic and therapeutic value and may be used to increase life satisfaction and to support health, well-being, and participation in social and daily life activities and occur within contexts unique to the individual. A transactive view of person, context, and occupation acknowledges that occupational behavior and contextual influences are integrally related and influence each other (AOTA, 2011; Law et al., 1996).

Scope of Occupational Therapy

The Centennial Vision of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) envisions occupational therapy as a "powerful, widely recognized, science-driven, and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society's occupational needs" (AOTA, 2007, p. 614). The understanding and use of occupations shall be at the central core of occupational therapy practice, education, and research. Occupational engagement has a therapeutic value as a change agent, and engagement in occupations to support an individual's participation in daily life activities is the focus and ultimate goal of occupational therapy intervention (AOTA, 2011).

UTMB Occupational Therapy Learning Process

The educational philosophy of the Department of Occupational Therapy supports the American Occupational Therapy (AOTA) Philosophy of Education (AOTA, 2007), Purpose and Value of Fieldwork Education (AOTA, 2009), and Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (AOTA, 2011). The goal of our program is to graduate outstanding generalist occupational therapists who use critical thinking to make evidence-based decisions. Throughout the educational process, students are facilitated to become life-long learners and agents of change for improvement in quality of life. Another essential outcome of the curriculum is to graduate therapists who exhibit respect for others and appreciation of interdependence, and demonstrate collaborative skills required in interprofessional practice. The curriculum is based on a transactive view of person, context, and occupation and acknowledges that occupational behavior and environmental influences are integrally related and influence each other (AOTA, 2011; Law et al., 1996).

Throughout the educational process, students' use of occupation is developed to facilitate health that promotes growth, change, and/or adaptation with the goal of participation in meaningful occupations that support survival, self-actualization, occupational balance, and quality of life (AOTA, 2007). We realize the need to prepare lifelong learners who consistently utilize new knowledge supporting the use of occupation.

Learning that changes the way individuals think about themselves and their worlds involves a shift of consciousness and is accomplished through the transformative learning model (TL) (Messerow, 1997; Santalucia & Johnson, 2010; Taylor, 1998). Our students engage in reflective discourse throughout the course sequence that challenges their assumptions and fosters regular investigation of best evidence. TL is accomplished by creating a supportive classroom with a focus on student-centered education. Students are provided with experiences and feedback that help them to explore alternative perspectives and engage in problem-solving and reflection, promote autonomy, participation, and collaboration.

Students are able to integrate philosophical and theoretical knowledge to demonstrate clinical competencies. These competencies (knowledge and skills) are further established through opportunities to use the person, environment, occupation frame of reference in developing services for real and simulated clients, ultimately solidifying professional reasoning. Simultaneously, active learning, collaboration, leadership opportunities and self-reflection prepare the students to establish their professional identities as occupational therapists (AOTA, 2007, 2009). See the curriculum schematic for a representation of the reaching philosophy unfolding in the curriculum design.


Abreu, B. C., Peloquin, S. M., Ottenbacher, K. (1998). Competence in scientific inquiry and research. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 52, 751-9.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2007). AOTA's Centennial Vision and executive summary. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 613-614. doi: 10.5014/ajot.61.6.613

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2007). Philosophy of occupational therapy education. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 678.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2008). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain and process (2nd edition). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 625-688.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2009). Occupational therapy fieldwork education: Value and purpose. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63, 821-22.

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2011). The philosophical base of occupational therapy, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65(6 Suppl.), S65.

Law, M., Cooper, B., Strong, S., Stewart, D., Rigby, P., & Letts, L. (1996). The person- environment-occupation model: A transactive approach to occupational performance. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 63(1), 9-23.

Law, M., & King, G. (2000). Participation! Every child's goal. Today's Kids in Motion, 1, 10-12.

Messerow, J..(1997). Transformative learning: Theory to practice. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 74, 5-12.

Santalucia, S. & Johnson, C. R. (2010). Transformative learning: Facilitating growth and change through fieldwork. AOTA Continuing Education Article. OT Practice, 15(19), CE-1-CE-8.

Taylor, E. (1998). The theory and practice of transformative learning: A critical review. Columbus, OH: Center on Education and Training for Employment. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED423422).

Wilcock, A. A. (2006). An occupational perspective of health (2nd ed.). Thorofare, NJ: SLACK Incorporated.