Design & Curricular Philosophy of the OTD Program

The entry level Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program (OTD) has a fall start. Its length is 36 months and consists of nine semesters including 24 weeks of Level II fieldwork and 14 weeks of Capstone experience. Students must complete fieldwork requirements within a 12-month period after completion of required course work and successful completion of an annual competency exam. After completing, the didactic portion of the program students must complete capstone experience and project within a 24- month period. Level II fieldwork must be completed prior to starting the capstone experience and project.

Students accepted into the program must have a bachelor’s degree and then must successfully complete three years in the OTD program. This fulfills ACOTE’s requirement of the OTD degree requiring a minimum of 6 full-time equivalent academic years.

The curriculum is provided while upholding Emory & Henry’s core values of civic engagement, the vitality of faith, academic excellence, freedom of inquiry, integrity, community, diversity, place, history and tradition.

The occupational therapy program at Emory & Henry primarily subscribes to two types of learning: competency-based learning and developmental learning. Students are expected to successfully pass course competencies as well as annual competencies during the program. Competencies are provided in the form of demonstrations, presentations, case studies, and/or exams. Many topics are covered at an introductory level first and then in a more complex level at a later time in the program, during which integration of concepts, implementation, and application are promoted with active learning methods.

The curriculum design consists of four curriculum threads: Occupation Centered Practice, Occupational Therapy Process, Professional Reasoning and Civic Engagement. These four threads are provided along with four domains of learning: sciences/knowledge, assessment/intervention skills, clinical/professional application, and clinic/fieldwork education.

Occupation-Centered Practice

Occupational therapy should be based on the concept and understanding of occupation. One definition of occupation has  been described by Townsend (1997) as an active process of living: ”From the beginning to the end of life, our occupations are all the active processes of looking after ourselves and others, enjoying life, and being socially and economically productive over the lifespan and in various contexts.” Important concepts in understanding occupation include understanding history and use of occupation, contexts, sociocultural issues, theories, activity analysis, and research/evidence.

Professional Reasoning

This thread includes all types of clinical reasoning skills typically used in medical environments as well as reasoning skills used in non-medical environments. This program will promote several types of clinical reasoning, such as procedural reasoning for students learning, screening, assessment, evaluation, and intervention protocols and procedures; interactive reasoning for interviewing skills and determining what is important to the client; narrative reasoning for seeing the situation through the eyes of the client; and ethical reasoning in making healthcare delivery decisions. Professional reasoning will be promoted in other roles in which an occupational therapist may participate, such as educator, supervisor, manager, leader, clinical instructor and consultant.

Occupational Therapy Process

The occupational therapy process includes identifying, assessing/evaluating, providing interventions, and designing outcomes to meet the occupational needs of all clients from the entire lifespan continuum. Context includes many different treatment settings, including but not limited to pediatrics, mental health, rural health, health/wellness, work/industry, adults/geriatrics, hand/ upper extremity and emerging practice areas. Emerging areas of practice include areas that are not traditional or typically not covered by third-party reimbursement. Examples of emerging areas that will be covered in this program include consulting, ergonomics, older driver assessment and training, design accessibility and home modification, technology, and assistive devices, and community services.

Civic Engagement

The American Psychology Association defines civic engagement as ”individual or collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern, including individual voluntarism, organizational involvement, and advocacy.” The occupational therapy program is committed to promoting opportunities of civic engagement through collaborations with Emory & Henry’s Appalachian Center for Civic Life, the Mel Leaman Free Clinic of Smyth County, and other local, state, regional, national and international communities. Students will be equipped as social agents of change in the region and the world by having an understanding of health policy, evidence-based practice, research, advocacy and interprofessional collaboration.