Design of MSOT program
The manner in which the Occupational Therapy curriculum is delivered is complex. The Occupational Therapy curriculum is designed in such a way as to reflect the values and intent of the profession. The program integrates the profession’s philosophy, the University and Program mission, and the educational outcome goals of the curriculum, including didactic, fieldwork and experiential components.
Within the Occupational Therapy curriculum, students learn to analyze situations critically, think logically, employ scientific methodology, and appreciate the arts to use them in their work. Graduates will express themselves clearly and persuasively, considering the numerous dimensions of the person, context, and occupations.
Our curriculum promotes the application of ethical standards and active participation in professional organizations, advocacy for consumers and commitment to lifelong learning.
This curriculum is designed on beliefs that the Occupational Therapy faculty hold in regard to professional education. We hold these beliefs in accordance with our philosophy, and the program mission and beliefs about learning are well incorporated into program goals. These include the following concepts:
- The development of transformational knowledge occurs in a sequential process beginning with basic concepts/techniques and progressing to increasingly more complex constructs and application of these concepts and constructs in practice.
- Individuals construct knowledge based on their unique interpretation of meaningful experiences with an emphasis on occupation.
- Skills of inquiry, critical reasoning, and problem solving are essential professional behaviors for practicing occupational therapists.
- Continuous examination and definition of one’s own values and attitudes are critical steps in the growth and development of professional behaviors and ethical practice.
- Development of interpersonal skills and an appreciation of the value of collaboration must be integral to all learning experiences.
MSOT Curriculum Themes
Four themes provide the overarching structure to the curriculum design. These themes were developed in consideration of ACOTE Standards, graduate education and rapidly changing educational and clinical environments. These themes serve to provide structure to the sequence of coursework, emphasize the values of the profession, the institution and the faculty, and to provide students with a consistent reminder to view each client in a holistic manner. These themes are:
Occupation Focused Practice
Features of occupation focused practice include the ability to collaboratively determine the meaning and purpose of an individual’s occupational profile, identify needs and priorities, and construct a plan of motivating therapeutic activities. This process, infused with occupations, reflects best practice and results in a more meaningful lifestyle. Our curriculum is developed to foster an understanding and appreciation of:
- the role of occupation throughout the lifespan
- how occupation is used as a means and an end in occupational therapy practice
- the value of occupation based assessment and intervention
- how the focus on occupational performance improves therapeutic outcomes
Evidence Based Practice
Evidence based practice is a collaborative process between therapist and client in which the best available research evidence, in combination with the therapist’s clinical experience, is reviewed to determine the most appropriate therapeutic options that support the client’s occupational goals. Essential to this is the therapist’s ability to develop and apply data collection and analysis processes throughout the intervention sequence that support the attainment of documented outcomes.
Community initiatives help to increase access to occupational therapy services for all individuals, groups and populations, especially those underserved. We prepare students to work in emerging practice areas, community settings, and traditional settings. We desire to instill in our students leadership characteristics for advocacy in the community, including an entrepreneurial spirit, skilled interprofessional collaboration and the ability to identify and attain funding resources to support effective programming.
Dynamic Clinical Reasoning
In addition to the three content related themes described above, we have chosen to incorporate an organizing theme, Dynamic Clinical Reasoning. This theme emphasizes the necessity to apply a systematic clinical reasoning process when considering the interactions of the individual, the context and the environment in the context of the therapeutic relationship.
These themes serve to provide structure to the sequence of coursework, reinforce the terminology and the stated purview of the profession, and provide students with a consistent reminder to take a holistic view with each of our clients.
MSOT Curriculum Sequence
In order to meet our curricular goals, the sequence of coursework is delivered using a progressive approach. This sequence covers six areas: Liberal Arts & Foundational Knowledge, Individual Development and Occupation, Professional & Community Initiatives, Clinical Performance, Reasoning & Application, Research & EBP: Strengthening our Knowledge Base. The five interwoven sequences of education are described in more detail below.
Sequence I Liberal Arts and Foundational Knowledge
Students establish the foundation of knowledge through the completion of all liberal arts core courses such as prerequisite courses Physics Introduction I (PHY 117), Anatomy and Physiology I (BIO 211) & II (BIO 212), and Basic Statistics (MTH 115) followed by Applied Functional Anatomy (OS 301) and Applied Neuroscience (OS 302). The science foundation provides a basis for clinical expertise regarding knowledge of body structures and functions. The liberal arts provide a broad foundation upon which to build the student’s professional education. Required courses in Psychology (PSY 123), Psychopathology (PSY 290), and Sociology (SOC 101) provide a further basis from which the student can begin to understand the interaction between the individual, their environment, and occupation.
Sequence II Individual Development and Occupation
Introduction to Occupational Science (OS 305) and Conceptual Foundations (OS 304) introduces the students to the many models and frames of reference that may be used to guide the development of a comprehensive and holistic approach to the client. Students are introduced to the concepts of human growth and development in Occupational Development through the Lifespan (OS 303) where the students review the theories and analysis of occupations from the perspective of self and others.
Sequence III Professional and Community Initiatives
Students learn the importance of developing professional behaviors and the application of these behaviors to develop individual therapeutic relationships and leadership skills in the community in the Seminar Series (I Professional Behaviors (OS 104), II Occupations (OS 201), III Professional Writing (OS 202), IV Pre fieldwork and Cultural Competence (OS 310).
Professional Behaviors are introduced in Introduction to Occupational Science (OS 305), including ethical principles. Standards of practice are introduced in Conceptual Foundations (OS 304). The Community Based Practice (OS 405) and Contemporary and Emerging Intervention (OT 539) courses provides less structured opportunities for students to create occupational opportunities and to take an active role in the development of their learning. Management and Supervision (OT 538) assists the student in acquiring the ethical management and supervisor skills necessary in many of today’s practice environments, as well as the leadership capacities for entrepreneurial work. Occupational Therapy Issues and Trends (OT 543), as a culminating course, requires students to investigate professional concepts and ideals in the profession that will challenge and motivate them as they enter into practice as entry level therapists. Exam Prep (OT 544) allows students to prepare for the NBCOT professional examination through clinical reasoning simulations, testing scenarios, and generation of skill and topic specific studying plans.
Sequence IV Clinical Performance, Reasoning and Application
The development of clinical skills begins in Clinical Reasoning and Conditions (OS 407) and Occupational Performance Analysis (OS 401) where students acquire general competencies in conducting an occupation centered evaluation and assessment process and attain the entry-level clinical skills that are required to progress through the intervention series in upcoming semesters. Within the Environment and Context (OS 307) course, students learn how to assess the client’s environment and to change the context to enhance the occupational performance of the individual. The Intervention Series (Psychosocial, Behavioral and Interpersonal Processes Across the Lifespan (OS 308), Adult Occupational Performance Intervention (OT 534), Geriatric Occupational Performance Intervention (OT 535), Pediatric Occupational Performance Intervention (OT 540)) provide the students with opportunities to integrate prior levels of learning to construct intervention for a variety of clients with an occupation and evidence based approach derived from theoretical principles. The final application of this sequence occurs during the student’s Level I Fieldwork Experience (OS 461; OS OT 536) / Level II Fieldwork Experience (OT 537; OT 542).
Sequence V Research and EBP – Strengthening our Knowledge Base
While basic bibliographic, search and information literacy are introduced early throughout the curriculum, the essence of the research series begins in Research Design (OS 306) where students learn about qualitative and quantitative research designs, grants, and the research process. Evidence Based Practice (OS 403) addresses the evidence based practice component, where students complete an individual EBP review throughout the semester. Masters Research Applications (OT 541) requires students to develop a research proposal from start to finish, design a study, collect data, and analyze and present results.
MS in OT Program and Student Learning Outcomes
Program Learning Outcome 1: Students will demonstrate dynamic clinical reasoning.
Student Learning Outcomes (SLO):
SLO 1: Students will apply the foundational knowledge from anatomy and physiology, occupational science, sociology, human development, neurology, and psychology.
SLO 2: Students will apply clinical reasoning using the OT Practice Framework as a guide to establish individual, group, and population focused intervention programs which are client-centered and occupation-based, as entry level generalists.
Program Learning Outcome 2: Students will design and implement occupation-focused practice.
Student Learning Outcomes (SLO):
SLO 1: Students will analyze the complexity of humans as occupational beings whose lives are sustained and enhanced by engagement in meaningful goal-directed occupations.
SLO 2: In generalized area of practice, students will evaluate, design, and implement theoretically sound and evidence-based occupational therapy services in traditional, nontraditional and emerging areas.
Program Learning Outcome 3: Students will utilize evidence-based practice.
Student Learning Outcomes (SLO):
SLO 1: Students will participate in aspects of the research process to substantiate clinical outcomes, advance the profession of occupational therapy, and support evidenced based practice.
Program Learning Outcome 4: Students will demonstrate community leadership skills.
Student Learning Outcomes (SLO):
SLO 1: Students will integrate culturally relevant content into the interpersonal, interprofessional, and occupational therapy process when working with diverse communities and their members.
SLO 2: Students will utilize leadership, policy, educational, and advocacy skills that will provide a framework for the 21st century generalized practitioner that upholds ethical and current professional standards.
Admissions – Non-traditional Weekend Professional Entry-Level Master’s Degree Program
Students with a diverse background of extracurricular activity, leadership positions, and appreciation for the relevance that occupation plays in their individual lives and who meet the following criteria will be considered for admission. The requirements are:
- A baccalaureate or associate degree in another discipline from an accredited program with a minimum of a 3.0 Cumulative Grade Point Average
Candidates for admission ton the Nontraditional Weekend Program Professional Entry-Level Master’s Degree Program must provide the following:
- Two letters of reference (at least one from an occupational therapist is highly recommended)
- A full day (6-8 hours) of documented service in a health care setting with an occupational therapist by the beginning of studies.
- Submission of a 500 word, typed statement of personal and professional goals.
- Additionally, all designated candidates must have a successful interview with an occupational therapy faculty member. All applications are competitively review prior to this phase.
- Prospective students must have a baccalaureate or associate degree in another discipline. Students should not apply if they have not completed a degree. Official transcripts must note that the degree has been conferred.
- Students must have the following pre-requisites: BIO 211 Anatomy and Physiology I with lab component; BIO 212 Anatomy and Physiology II with lab component; Math 115 Statistics; Physics 117 with lab component; PSY 290 Psychopathology or Abnormal Psychology. For those who are entering the program with an AS degree, those students will take the above pre-requisite courses and remaining core courses to fulfill the requirements of BS in Occupational Science degree at Misericordia University. Students may transfer in credits from another college/university, but this must comply with Misericordia University transfer policy.
- ONLY for Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) - if a prospective student is a COTA, he/she must submit a copy of his/her NBCOT certification.
- English Language Proficiency: If English is not your first language, or if English is not the primary language spoken in your home, you must submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The following are the minimum score requirements:
Internet-based TOEFL exam (iBT): The Internet-based TOEFL has four subsections, with a grading scale for each section from 1 to 30 (30 being the highest score). Misericordia University will look closely at the score for each section rather than the total score. The minimum scores for each section are as follows:
- Writing: 22
- Speaking: 22
- Reading: 22
- Listening: 22
Students should indicate on the registration form that they wish the test results to be sent directly to Misericordia University. The TOEFL code for Misericordia University is 2087.
Fieldwork education is designed to provide occupational therapy students with opportunities to integrate academically acquired education with practice. It is during the students’ experiences in fieldwork that they can learn, practice and refine skills of observation, evaluation, treatment planning and implementation, documentation and communication. In the fieldwork setting, the students begin to define their future role as practicing occupational therapists and can develop the necessary personal and professional skills essential in meeting the demands of this challenging profession.
Fieldwork is an essential part of an occupational therapy program’s curriculum as established by the American Occupational Therapy Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. At Misericordia University, fieldwork education begins in the fourth year of the curriculum for a weekday student and ends in the spring semester of the fifth year. For weekend college students, fieldwork education begins in the fall semester of the second year of the program and ends in the summer semester of the third year.
Level I Fieldwork is an integral component of the occupational therapy curriculum and includes experiences to enrich didactic coursework through directed observation and participation in multiple aspects of the occupational therapy process. Level I fieldwork will enhance student learning with a variety of potential experiences including but not limited to: simulated environments, standardized patient role plays, case-based clinical reasoning assignments, traditional fieldwork experiences, as well as faculty led experiences; all of which will have integrated assignments that draw upon prior learning in the OT curriculum.The experiential nature of the learning is a hallmark of Level I Fieldwork and carries the expectation of engagement with people in occupation across the life span continuum in a variety of settings. Students are supervised by licensed occupational therapists, certified occupational therapy assistants, and a variety of other qualified health care professionals.
Level II Fieldwork begins in the summer of the fourth year for weekday students and the spring of the third year for weekend students. It is the cumulative educational experience in which students have the opportunity to apply academically acquired knowledge in assessing, planning and implementing occupational therapy intervention programs for consumers in a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional service settings. Students must complete a total of twenty-four weeks of Level II Fieldwork experience and be supervised by a licensed occupational therapist with at least one year of practice experience. Upon successful completion of all coursework and Level I and Level II Fieldwork experiences, the student will qualify to take the NBCOT (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy) examination. Students are responsible for all costs incurred that are associated with fieldwork (both Level I and Level II experiences) including but not limited to living arrangements, transportation, meals, and dress requirements. Fieldwork Education is managed by the Occupational Therapy Program’s Academic Fieldwork Coordinator.
Additional expenses for occupational therapy students typically include lab fees, which cover lab/splinting supplies, AOTA membership, HIPPA training, medical record hosting site, etc. As a fieldwork requirement, students must complete all measures for clearances to participate in fieldwork experiences, which are dependent on the site. Costs to complete these health clearances are the responsibility of the student. All students in the final year have the opportunity to complete an additional certification examination preparation course for which there is a fee. As part of professional development, students are encouraged to become members of the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA has reduced student rates; details are available in the occupational therapy office). Attendance at professional conferences is encouraged as students may have the opportunity to disseminate scholarly projects and continue their lifelong commitment to learning. Students should plan on regular use of a computer for course communications and assignments. There are several state-of-the-art computer laboratories on campus.
Retention requirements for the occupational therapy program can be found in the MUOT student handbook. Retention criteria for overall GPA and individual course grade minimums vary at different levels of the program. Refer to the MUOT student handbook for further details.
Specific policies related to grades for pre-requisite courses are as follows:
POLICY: Required “C-” or better in BIO 211/212, PHY 117, MTH 115, and PSY 290
All traditional BS in OS students must obtain a grade of “C-” or better in the above-named courses (as required by their respective weekday or weekend programs) in order to progress through the OS/OT program. (Please note: A grade of C- or better in these prerequisite courses does not guarantee admission to the weekend program). Students may grade replace up to two of these courses one time (one grade replacement per course) in order to obtain the required “C-” or better. Students who do not successfully grade replace and obtain the required “C-” in the course within one year will be dismissed from the Occupational Therapy program. It should be noted that some of these courses may be a prerequisite to other courses and the catalogue should be reviewed to determine the proper course sequence for progression in the program. For those who are entering the non-traditional program with an AS degree, those students will take the above pre-requisite courses and remaining core courses to fulfill the requirements of BS in Occupational Science degree at Misericordia University. Students may transfer in credits from another college/university (must comply with Misericordia University transfer policy).
Specific policies related to grades for OS/OT courses are as follows:
POLICY: Retention and Grade replacement regarding a “D” or an “F” in an OS/OT Course.
All OS/OT courses must be completed with a grade of “C-” or better. The student who fails an OS/OT course or obtains a “D” in an OS/OT course may retake the course for a grade replacement if the student has not exhausted the grade replacements allowed by the respective university undergraduate and graduate policies. A student who gets below a C- may need to fall back a year, if the class is a prerequisite for a course in the following semesters. If a student is in a situation where they have received an F in more than two OS/OT courses during the same semester, then they may request permission from the OT Chair to grade replace up to five of those OS/OT courses from that semester only. They may only be granted this exception if they have not had any prior OS/OT grade replacements and if there are extenuating circumstances. The OT Program Chair will determine student eligibility for this opportunity. The same course, per university policy, can be repeated only one time. Prior to such grade replacement, the student may continue with other required courses so long as the course is not a prerequisite of such studies. Courses may only be grade replaced if they are retaken at Misericordia University. Students who are planning grade replacement should contact Student Financial Services well ahead of time to determine how it may affect their financial aid.
There is no re-admission to the Occupational Therapy Entry Level Master’s Program. Students who are dismissed from the program may not re-enter the occupational therapy curriculum or be readmitted into a different format of the program (e.g., Weekday versus Weekend format).
Students in the MUOT entry level program must complete all requirements of their degree track and all requirements established by the University. All weekday and weekend program occupational therapy students are required to successfully complete the university-offered certification examination preparation course (OT 544).