Jul 19, 2024  
2020 - 2021 Undergraduate Catalog 
2020 - 2021 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy

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Professor: Jeramie Silveira, Chairperson

Professor: Jean MacLachlan, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator

Assistant Professors: Maria Parker, Kathleen Schlenz, Graduate Coordinator, Jill Turcotte

Instructor: Twyla Fink

Programs Offered

There are two main programs offered in Occupational Therapy

  1. Combined BS/MS Bridge Program in Occupational Therapy for OT Assistants who have obtained an Associate’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from an accredited OTA Program.

Salem State University offers a part-time evening combined BS/MS program for occupational therapy assistants to purse a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

**Note: Only Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants with an Associate’s Degree from an accredited institution may apply to this program. 

  1. Direct-Entry MS Program in Occupational Therapy for those who have completed a Bachelor’s degree in another field of study.

Salem State University offers a direct-entry occupational therapy master’s program for those students who have obtained a bachelor’s degree in another undergraduate major from any higher education institution.

** IMPORTANT Additional Note: There is a new undergraduate major at Salem State University beginning fall 2016 called the Bachelor in Health Care Studies. This is NOT an occupational therapy degree program. Students may take this major and then apply to the direct-entry master’s in OT upon completion. The Bachelor of Science in Occupational Health Studies is only for OTA bridge students who transfer into the combined BS/MS program and are licensed OT assistants.

The Occupational Therapy Program Description

In April 1999, the Representative Assembly (RA) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) passed Resolution J (requiring entry-level education in occupational therapy at the post-baccalaureate level). As a result of this, Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) has determined that all occupational therapy educational programs transition to the post-baccalaureate level by January 1, 2007. Both OT Programs at Salem State are part-time evening programs. 

The Occupational Therapy Program at Salem State University was granted re-accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) in spring 2018.  A student interested in becoming a registered occupational therapist will be required to complete either the combined BS/MS degree in occupational therapy or the Direct Entry MS Program in occupational therapy to qualify for the OT national certification examination (NBCOT, nbcot.org). NBCOT exam performance results can be found at NBCOT Performance Exam Result.

Students meeting all academic and fieldwork requirements are eligible to sit for the National Board of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Certification examination and will be qualified to obtain a state license to practice. It is important to note that any student that has been convicted of a prior felony may be considered ineligible by NBCOT to sit for the NBCOT examination and may be unable to attain an OT license from the State License Board.

For information regarding program accreditation contact the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE, accred@aota.org, 1.301.652.6611), c/o Accreditation Department, The American Occupational Therapy Association, 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. (Telephone Number- 301.652.2682).

Both occupational therapy program tracks at Salem State University are designed to provide an educational path for occupational therapy assistants or those who have attained a bachelor’s degree in another academic field to become registered occupational therapists. Salem State University’s occupational therapy curriculum is designed to build on student’s previous knowledge and work experience to create a competent entry-level practitioner. The program is offered on a part-time evening basis to allow individuals to remain employed.

The Occupational Therapy Mission

The Mission of the Salem State University Occupational Therapy program emphasizes cultural diversity with a commitment to continuing education, civic engagement, research, and life-long learning.  The focus of the occupational therapy program is to prepare the adult learner to become registered therapists through a flexible, part-time program that encompasses a philosophy of progressive education.  The philosophy of the occupational therapy curriculum encourages both short and long-term development of professional skills and knowledge in the areas of clinical reasoning, communication and leadership, scientific inquiry, and the occupational therapy paradigm.  The curriculum also supports and develops student expertise in the areas of research, education and professional competence.

Occupational Therapy Program Outcome Objectives

The objectives for the Occupational Therapy Program at Salem State University constitutes the infrastructure of the program and represent the dynamic interrelationship that exists in conjunction with the program mission, model, and philosophy.  The objectives stated are derived from the six major themes or strands that exist throughout the occupational therapy core curriculum. The six major strands incorporated into the program include:

  • Professional Development
  • Clinical Reasoning
  • Occupational Science
  • Research
  • Civic Advancement
  • Educational Leadership

Professional Development

  1. Demonstrate proficient oral and written communication skills in a professional manner.
  2. Exhibit effective use of time management, organization, dependability, and positive engagement with peers, faculty, clients and other constituents.
  3. Display initiative, and know the differences between professional and personal boundaries.
  4. Utilize professional terminology and language while engaging in the classroom and clinical settings.
  5. Understand effects that federal and state regulatory and legislative bodies have on OT practice, documentation and reimbursement.
  6. Acknowledge national and state requirements for OT credentialing and OT professional documents that guide practice.
  7. Include reflective approaches with all work including creation of a professional development plan, auto-ethnography, professional portfolio and research project presented at student conference.
  8. Present a self-directed approach to learning while using astute observation skills and a critical eye approach to the subject matter.

Clinical Reasoning

  1. Select and utilize standardized and non-standardized screening and evaluation tools.  Incorporate information received from clients, family, consultants, other health professional and occupational therapy assistants to develop a treat plan focused on occupation.
  2. Interpret and apply models of practice and frames of reference resulting in evaluation and intervention supporting occupation-based outcomes.
  3. Develop intervention plans that reflect evidence-based and best practice guidelines that are safe and effective.
  4. Adapt assessment and treatment interventions to the context of clinical practice and unique client needs that supports occupational therapy assistant involvement when appropriate.
  5. Develop clinical documentation that reflects the above objectives, demonstrates professional value and awareness of federal, state and facility standards, policies and laws.  This includes supervision and coordination of the occupational therapy assistant documentation.

Occupational Science

  1. Demonstrate an appreciation for the individual’s perceptions of quality of life and well-being through appropriate health promotion assessment.
  2. Understand and participate in social and community service experiences to appreciate the influence of social conditions and ethical contexts from and OT framework.
  3. Utilize understanding of and appreciation for human occupation and develop culturally relevant, occupation-based, intervention plans.
  4. Develop programming and treatment plans that facilitate engagement in occupation to promote health, well-being, and quality of life across the lifespan.


  1. Demonstrate and apply information literacy skills for occupational therapy practice using national, international, and professional resources.
  2. Critique and apply quantitative and qualitative research. Integrate the research findings with professional practice.
  3. Incorporate and apply evidence-based assessment, treatment planning and intervention.
  4. Design, implement and/or present scholarly research project.

Civic Advancement

  1. Describe traditional and emerging practice arenas that may utilize and/or benefit from occupational therapy services.      
  2. Understand the complexities of cultural differences and the relationship of occupation to diversity and global societies.
  3. Represent and communicate the value of OT interventions to constituents and identify potential funding options for the establishment of new OT service delivery models in the community.
  4. Work with local and Salem State University communities to provide occupational therapy as a unique and valuable discipline.

Educational Leadership

  1. Understand multiple learning theories and teaching methods that will foster critical thinking and thoughtful presentations.
  2. Articulate the founding core principles and theoretical framework of occupation to others in oral and written format.
  3. Establish sound clinical skills and knowledge required by multiple practice settings that promotes occupational therapy and the education of others.
  4. Recognize and utilize technology as an additional tool to educate the community and others about the role of occupational therapy in health promotion, prevention and wellness.
  5. Create professional leadership development plans that acknowledge the importance of research skills, professional responsibility, education, leadership development and the commitment to life-long learning.

Professional Behavor Policy

The goal of the SSU Occupational Therapy Department is to foster students’ progress in their professional development as they enter and proceed through the professional phase of the curriculum and move on to clinical practice. We expect that all students will be successful in all parts of their education, including the development of exemplary professional behaviors within the academic and clinical settings.  

Just as there are standards and protocols established for students who require remediation for academic issues, a similar process for professional behavior issues has been established. The following procedure outlines the identification of a professional behavior issue, a plan for remediation, and the process leading to further action. Identification of targeted professional behaviors are described in the professional behaviors assessment tool. See the professional behavior assessment tool in the OT undergraduate and graduate handbook. Students are expected to behave according to these standards during academic and clinical learning experiences. Faculty assess each student’s professional behaviors in every course using the professional behavior assessment tool. If an academic or clinical faculty member identifies and documents a concern with a student’s professional behavior, then the following policies and procedures will be followed:

1. The faculty member will meet with the student to identify the behavior(s) through the Professional Behavior Assessment form and counsel the student to demonstrate behavior consistent with the professional standard.

2. If, after step 1, the unprofessional behavior(s) continue and there is a failure of the Professional Behavior Assessment, then both the student and faculty member will meet with the Academic Review Committee (consisting of the department chair, the graduate coordinator, and the academic fieldwork educator) to establish a Professional Behavior Plan in collaboration with the student.

3. The Professional Behavior Plan will include the following items:

  • A description of the specific behaviors that the student is expected to demonstrate.
  • The specific tasks that the student is expected to accomplish.
  • Timelines related to accomplishing the tasks and behaviors.
  • Repercussions for unsuccessful remediation or inability to meet the terms of the plan.
  • Who will monitor the terms of the contract.
  • How the terms of the contract will be monitored.

4. The Academic Review Committee will meet again with the student, at a time stated in the plan, to determine if the student has successfully implemented the plan.

5. Lack of compliance with program/university rules or procedures or inappropriate professional/ethical conduct according to the AOTA Code of Ethics or the University Code of Academic Conduct automatically triggers the implementation of a professional behavior plan.

6. A failed Professional Behavior Plan will result in an Academic Leave of Absence or Dismissal.

Grading Policy

Occupational Therapy students must successfully complete all Occupational therapy undergraduate and graduate courses with a grade of B- or better. Students who fail to meet this minimum grade will have to wait a year (take an academic leave of absence) until the course is offered again to repeat the course. Students are allowed to repeat no more than one course during their academic program.

Academic Standards

Good academic standing in the Occupational Therapy department is defined as:

  • Satisfactory academic performance
  • Maintaining a grade of B- or better in all Occupational therapy coursework (Students may return to good standing status by repeating the course described above and achieving grades of at least B-in repeated course)
  • Adherence to University and School policies, rules and procedures
  • Professional Behavior that leads to professional competence and positive interpersonal and professional relations (Professional behaviors as defined on Professional Behaviors Assessment)

Failure to maintain good academic standing is grounds for an academic leave of absence or dismissal to be determined by the occupational therapy academic review committee.

Academic Leave of Absence

A student is placed on an academic leave of absence for a year for any one of the following:

  • Failure to meet the terms of the Professional Behavior Plan designed as the result of a failed Professional Behavior Assessment;
  • Receiving a course grade less than B- in any of the occupational therapy courses;
  • Lack of compliance with school/university rules or procedures or inappropriate professional/ethical conduct at a level of greater magnitude than that considered to warrant a warning by the AOTA Code of Ethics.


A student may be dismissed from the program for any one of the following:

  • Having more than one Academic Leave of Absence during the occupational therapy program;
  • Failure to meet the terms of a Professional Behavior Plan designed as the result of an academic leave of absence
  • Flagrant or intentional violations of the AOTA Code of Ethics and/or the University Code of Academic Conduct.

Dismissal from the occupational therapy program does not equal dismissal from the University.

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