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
To achieve this mission, the program enforces policies and regulations stated in the SHP Bulletin and the UTMB Catalog. Additional policies and regulations established by the program are based on educational and clinical structures and the practical limitations of the program. It is essential that each student understand the regulations, their enforcement, and their rationale prior to beginning the Occupational Therapy program
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
Vision 2025 of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) envisions Occupational Therapy as "maximizing health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living" (AOTA, 2017).
UTMB Occupational Therapy Learning Process
The educational philosophy of the Department of Occupational Therapy supports the American Occupational Therapy (AOTA) Philosophy of Education (AOTA, 2014) and Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (AOTA, 2017). 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, 2017; 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, 2014). See the curriculum schematic for a representation of the reaching philosophy unfolding in the curriculum design.