Occupational Therapy Technical Standards

The Department of Occupational Therapy is committed to the admission and matriculation of all qualified students and does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, age, gender orientation/identification, national origin, religion, sexual preference, or disability. The college does not discriminate against persons with a disability who are otherwise qualified. The college does expect that minimal technical standards are met by all applicants and students as set forth herein. These standards reflect what has been determined to be reasonable expectations for occupational therapy students in performing common and important functions, considering the safety and welfare of patients. These standards may not reflect what may be required for employment of the graduate occupational therapist.

Technical Standards for Admission and Matriculation in the Occupational Therapy Program

An occupational therapist must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical settings and to render a wide spectrum of therapeutic interventions. In order to perform the activities required of a professional, an occupational therapy student must be able to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data quickly, accurately, and consistently. This is the process of critical thinking. Multiple skills and abilities that are required include observation, communication, sensory/motor, behavioral, and social attributes. Reasonable accommodation can be made for persons with disabilities in some of these areas, but an occupational therapy student must be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.

Students must have the ability and/or commitment to:

  • Work in an intense setting that challenges the individual to meet the needs of people of diverse cultures and age groups who are ill, severely injured, limited by cognitive, emotional, and functional deficits, and whose behavior may create, at times, an adverse reaction. The ability to interact with these individuals without being judgmental or prejudiced is critical in establishing a therapeutic relationship.
  • Communicate verbally and in writing, using appropriate grammar and vocabulary, in order to build relationships with faculty, advisors, fellow students, coworkers, clients, and their significant others. Proficiency in communication includes transactions with individuals and groups in learner, collegial, consultative, leadership, and task roles. Students must be able to elicit information, gather information, describe findings, and understand nonverbal behavior. This includes the ability to read and communicate, both verbally and in writing, in English, using appropriate grammar and vocabulary.
  • Travel independently to and from classes and fieldwork assignments on time, as well as possess the organizational skills and stamina for performing required tasks and assignments within allotted time frames. (This travel is at the student's expense.) A driver's license and a car are needed for on- and off-campus travel.
  • Adhere to the policies of the school, of the occupational therapy program, and of the fieldwork sites. These rules include matters relating to professional dress, behavior, and confidentiality.
  • Demonstrate professional competence and moral character that meet state licensure guidelines.
  • Show emotional health for full utilization of intellect, the exercise of good judgment, prompt completion of responsibilities, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with others. Working with people in need often requires taxing workloads and adaptation to changing and challenging environments, requiring flexibility and a spirit of cooperation.
  • Use critical-thinking skills in order to be able to solve problems creatively, to master abstract ideas, and to synthesize information in order to handle the challenges of the academic, laboratory, and fieldwork settings.
  • Exhibit physical coordination and strength to handle moving clients and to direct clients in varied practice settings. Visual acuity and independent mobility, fine and gross movements, equilibrium, and the use of touch (touching and being touched) are essential to assure safety of clients, significant others, and staff.
  • Abide by the Code of Ethics of the profession and behavior which reflects a sense of right and wrong.

Program Format
The master's degree program in occupational therapy is 78 credits, covered in five semesters of academic coursework followed by two semesters of fieldwork experience. Students may opt to participate in an additional specialty fieldwork placement. The curriculum follows a specific sequence where courses build upon each other as the program progresses, and as such, the sequence must be followed. The program is taught in a full-time day format, with possible evening and weekend coursework requirements. Attendance at all class sessions is mandatory. Occupational therapy academic coursework is taught at the Long Island campus.

Clinical/Fieldwork Education
Students must have successfully completed all prior academic coursework in order to be placed in fieldwork education. Students are required to complete 24 weeks of full-time fieldwork at selected sites and may opt into a third, specialty fieldwork placement. The specialty fieldwork can range in duration from 8 to 12 weeks depending on the requirement of the fieldwork site. While doing fieldwork, students are required to assimilate to the host site work schedule. Students are discouraged from outside employment. Students may have to travel or relocate during the fieldwork phase of the program. Transportation and housing are the responsibility of the student.

Prior to entering fieldwork courses, students must show evidence of:*

  • Required immunizations and health clearance (including medical history and physical examination)
  • Current PPD: 2-step, QuantiFERON or chest x-ray with negative signs and symptoms (within one year)
  • Health insurance
  • CPR certification for the Healthcare Professional with AED
  • HIPAA training certification
  • Infection Control certification
  • Fingerprinting and/or background checks are site specific

* Students are required to maintain current student membership in the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). It is also highly recommended that students join the following professional associations as student members:

Expenses incurred in fulfilling these and other requirements are the student's responsibility.

Academic Standards

Students are discouraged from full-time employment due to the rigorous nature of the program.

Academic Criteria
The following criteria must be met throughout the professional phase of the occupational therapy program.

  1. Maintain a 3.0 GPA each semester.
  2. A minimum of a C or greater is required in all courses.
  3. Students may repeat a failed course only once.
  4. Students receiving more than one F in a semester may be dismissed from the program.
  5. Professional behaviors are considered in all decisions regarding academic and professional performance.

Academic Probation
Automatic academic probation is imposed under the following circumstances:

  1. Semester GPA falls below 3.0
  2. Cumulative GPA falls below 3.0
  3. Incomplete or failure in fieldwork

A student on academic probation during the previous semester may be dismissed from the occupational therapy program after review by the Department Academic Review Committee for the following reasons:

  1. Semester GPA falls below 3.0 in two consecutive semesters
  2. Overall GPA falls below 3.0 in two consecutive semesters
  3. Student receives a grade of F in any course, including fieldwork
  4. Unprofessional behaviors have not been corrected after intervention by the instructional staff. Aspects of professional conduct are defined in the Student Handbook.

Graduation Requirements
Students are recommended for graduation upon satisfactory completion of all academic and clinical/fieldwork education requirements. The following are required:

  1. Satisfactory completion of all required courses
  2. Overall GPA of 3.0
  3. Filing of a completed application for graduation
  4. Bursar account clearance
  5. Recommendation of the occupational therapy faculty and the Academic Review Committee

Grade Appeal Policy
The School of Health Professions' grade appeal policy can be found on Facilities and Resources.