Essential Functions of Occupational Therapy Students
Essential functions are those physical, mental, and psychological characteristics that are needed to meet the clinical, practice, and fieldwork expectations for the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program. Becoming a healthcare professional requires the completion of an educational program that is both intellectually and physically challenging. The purpose of this statement is to articulate the essential function requirements of the program in a way that allows students to compare their own capabilities against these demands.
Motor Skills (able to direct other or perform)
Ability to safely guide weights up to 50 pounds
Ability to move about freely and maneuver in small places
Tolerate regular changes of physical position, both stationary and mobile, for extended periods of time (8-12 hours shifts)
Possess skills to independently handle and operate a range of items, devices, or equipment
Maintain a stable physical position
Ability to respond in an emergency
Process, comprehend, and communicate information effectively, clearly, in a timely manner, in the English language, and with individuals from various social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds
Including both verbal and nonverbal communication related to speech, reading, writing, and computer literacy
Cognitive and Critical Thinking Skills
Collect, measure, calculate, analyze, interpret, and apply information
Exercise good judgment in a variety of settings
Ability to set priorities and manage time effectively
Interpersonal and Behavioral Skills
Establish and maintain professional working relationships
Apply conflict management and problem-solving strategies
Demonstrate professional, ethical, and legal behavior
Demonstrate appropriate maturity, stability, and empathy to establish effective and harmonious relationships in diverse settings
Demonstrate flexibility and the ability to adapt to change
Maintain self-control in potentially stressful environments
Commonly with professional standards regardless of circumstance
Uses all available senses to collect data regarding client status and to provide client care
Occupational Therapy practice reflects a contemporary rapidly changing and dynamic system of today’s health and human services. Current health and human services system require occupational therapy practitioners to process basic skills as a direct care provider, consultant, educator, manager, researcher, and advocate for the profession and the consumer.
According to the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (AOTA, 2018), graduates must:
Have acquired, as a foundation for professional study, a breadth and depth of knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences and an understanding of issues related to diversity.
Be educated as a generalist with a broad exposure to the delivery models and systems used in settings where occupational therapy is currently practiced and where it is emerging as a service.
Have achieved entry-level competence through a combination of didactic and fieldwork experiences.
Be prepared to choose appropriate theory to inform practice.
Be prepared to articulate and apply occupational therapy theory through evidence-based evaluations and interventions to achieve expected outcomes as related to occupation.
Be prepared to articulate and apply therapeutic use of occupations with persons, groups, and populations for the purpose of facilitating performance and participation in activities, occupations, and roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings, as informed by the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (2020).
Be able to plan and apply evidence-based occupational therapy interventions to address the physical, cognitive, functional cognitive, psychosocial, sensory, and other aspects of performance in a variety of contexts and environments to support engagement in everyday life activities that affect health, well-being, and quality of life, as informed by the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (AOTA, 2020).
Be prepared to be a lifelong learner to keep current with evidence-based professional practice.
Uphold the ethical standards, values, and attitudes of the occupational therapy profession.
Understand the distinct roles and responsibilities of the occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistant in the supervisory process for service delivery.
Be prepared to effectively collaborate with and supervise occupational therapy assistants in service delivery.
Be prepared to effectively communicate and work interprofessionally with all who provide services and programs for persons, groups, and populations.
Be prepared to advocate as a professional for access to occupational therapy services offered for the recipient of those services.
Be prepared to be an effective consumer of the latest research and knowledge bases that support occupational therapy practice and contribute to the growth and dissemination of research and knowledge.
Demonstrate active involvement in professional development, leadership, and advocacy.