The mission of the entry-level graduate occupational therapy program at the University of Central Arkansas is to educate practitioners competent and skilled in providing occupational therapy services to individuals and populations who are limited by physical or psychosocial situations that compromise independence and wellness. Graduates are prepared to practice in a variety of service delivery models, and to develop productive interpersonal and therapeutic relationships with clients, families, organizations, and other health and human service professionals. In addition, the department’s mission includes facilitating the continued professional growth of practicing occupational therapists through both graduate study and continuing education opportunities.
The program is committed to promoting student awareness and appreciation of different cultural and social value systems. Student sensitivity is cultivated through the improved awareness of self and appreciation of diversity among client populations. The program seeks to instill in students a sense of self direction, discernment, and a desire to assume active responsibility for learning, professional growth, and change.
In addition to educating competent practitioners, the program strives to have a strong positive influence on the Occupational Therapy profession throughout the state and region, by assisting in the development of new knowledge in the science of occupation and in conducting and disseminating research that establishes the efficacy of occupational therapy services.
Occupational Therapy Defined
Occupational therapy is based on the belief that the need to engage in occupation is innate and is related to survival, health, well-being, and life satisfaction. Occupational therapy, therefore, is a profession whose focus is to enable a person, group of persons, or community access and participation in activities that are meaningful, purposeful, and relevant to their lives, roles, and sense of well-being (AOTA, 2002). Occupation is both the primary form of intervention (means) and the desired goal of intervention (end) (Trombly, 1995).
Beliefs about Humans
Humans are complex beings dynamically interacting within a variety of contexts such as physical, social, temporal, cultural, psychological, spiritual, and virtual environments to evolve, change, and adapt to their highest potential. Each person possesses unique personal characteristics and experiences (e.g., genetic disposition, interests, values, beliefs, goals, abilities, skills, needs, and background/cultural environments). These characteristics and experiences may enable or interfere with a person’s ability to perform chosen occupations.
How Humans Learn
Successful learning is predicated on the learner and educator assuming joint responsibility for the educational experience. The potential for learning is enhanced through a developmental process in which the learner and the facilitator collaborate on establishing and evaluating goals, processes, and outcomes. Further, effective and progressive learning, from knowledge acquisition through synthesis, occurs via multidimensional instructional strategies that build on prior knowledge and experience. These strategies include didactic instruction, experiential learning, critical thinking and reasoning, problem-based learning and self-reflection (AOTA, 2007).
The Philosophy Personified
It is the intent of the program that graduates from the University of Central Arkansas Department of Occupational Therapy will use the power of occupation as their primary method of evaluation, intervention, and health promotion (AOTA, 2007).
Overarching Student Outcome
Graduates will have a solid foundation in the history and trends of the profession and will value the use of occupation as means and ends to improve the quality of the client’s participation in work, play/leisure, activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living and social participation.
Specifically, program graduates will:
- Demonstrate behaviors consistent with the Core Values and Attitudes of Occupational Therapy Practice within all professional relationships and comply with all aspects of the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics and jurisdictional practice requirements.
- Identify needs for occupational therapy services among individuals, groups, organizations or populations.
- Consistently utilize a client-centered and occupation-based approach in the provision of occupational therapy services.
- Implement the Occupational Therapy Process to clients across the lifespan and in a variety of practice settings utilizing evidence-based approaches, and appropriate application of occupational therapy theories and frames of reference.
- Collaborate with families and other team members to assure that interventions are holistic and relevant.
- Accurately and promptly document interventions according to organizational and regulatory policies and requirements.
- Analyze the health care system environment, identify issues that impact practice and client health and well-being, and advocate in appropriate venues for both the profession and its clients.
- Utilize technologies and other resources to support practice, research, and service.
- Understand the role of the OTA in service delivery; supervise and appropriately delegate tasks to OTAs and other support personnel.
- Maintain professional competency in relation to the scope of the occupational therapy profession as well as in their specific practice area