Shenandoah University Division of Occupational Therapy
ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS and PROFESSIONAL BEHAVIORS
for Admissions, Continuance, and Graduation
The Shenandoah University Division of Occupational Therapy promotes the broad preparation of students for clinical practice. Applicants, and students, will be judged not only on their scholastic achievement and ability, but also on their intellectual, physical, social and emotional capacities to meet the full requirements of the curriculum of the professional program.
The development of a broad array of basic knowledge, skills, and behaviors, appropriate to enabling self-directed learning to further professional development, and delivery of competent client care, is expected of each student. The basic and applied science component of the professional curriculum is designed to establish a core of knowledge necessary for clinical training. The clinical experience courses are designed to develop the ability to practice at the level of a new graduate, without regard for future choice of specialty.
The major function of an Occupational Therapist with registered certification is to provide occupational therapy services including evaluation, intervention planning, implementation, and review; discharge planning; outcomes assessment; and related documentation and communication. Occupational Therapists must possess the knowledge, skills and personal capacities to work with diverse populations, including individuals with physical and mental disabilities, in a variety of settings including: hospitals, long term care facilities, schools, supported employment environments, homes, community programs, assisted living, adult day programs, and community settings.
Certain chronic or recurrent physical or mental illnesses, and/or personal practices, that may lead to a high likelihood of student absenteeism, or that interfere with client care or safety may be incompatible with the training standards of a healthcare professional. Deficiencies in knowledge, judgment, integrity, character, professional attitude or demeanor that may jeopardize client care may be grounds for course failure and possible dismissal from the program.
Applicants to the Division of Occupational Therapy who demonstrate the ability to perform, or learn to perform, the skills specified in this document, will be considered for admission. Applicants are not required to disclose the nature of any disabilities to the Admissions Committee; however, any applicant with questions about these requirements is strongly encouraged to discuss the issue with the Shenandoah University Office of Student Support Services (540-665-4928) prior to the interview process.
Once matriculated, and if appropriate, upon request of the student, reasonable accommodations may be provided. Accommodations, including technological compensations, may be feasible for some disabilities, and the student is expected to be independent, with the accommodations. Some accommodations cannot be made because they are not reasonable for the profession. For example, the use of a trained intermediary is not acceptable. Such use would imply that a student’s judgment must be mediated by someone else’s power of selection and observation; this is incompatible with independent professional practice. The need for personal aids, assistance, caregivers, and readers, therefore, may not be acceptable in certain phases of the curriculum, particularly during the clinical experiences and laboratory-based classes.
It is the policy of Shenandoah University Division of Occupational Therapy to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with a disability so they can meet these required tasks and essential functions. Whether or not a requested accommodation is reasonable will be determined on an individual basis. Determining what is reasonable accommodation is an interactive process that the applicant/student must initiate with Shenandoah University Office of Student Support Services, (540) 665-4928.
Essential Functions and Professional Behaviors:
The Essential Functions and Professional Behaviors standards describe the essential skills and behaviors students must demonstrate to fulfill the requirements of a general professional education, and thus, are prerequisites for entrance, continuation, and graduation. The student must successfully complete each required course, comprehensive examinations, and fieldwork experiences to graduate. The following specify those attributes the faculty in the Shenandoah University Division of Occupational Therapy consider necessary for completing the professional education program and enabling graduates to subsequently enter clinical practice. Students must be able to independently, with or without accommodation, perform the described functions.
Essential Functions (are defined as follows):
A student must be able to acquire the information presented through demonstrations and experiences in the classroom and clinic, be able to observe clients accurately, at a distance and close at hand, observe and respond appropriately to non- verbal communication, and observe signs and symptoms of disease, illness and behavior. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation.
The student must have the ability to move their self and the client in three-dimensional space to perform motor function tests and treatments. Students must have sufficient motor function to execute movements required to provide general care and treatment to clients in all healthcare settings, in didactic labs and cadaver lab. (For example: for the safety and protection of the clients, the student must be able to perform basic life support, including CPR, and function in an emergency situation. The student must have the ability, within reasonable limits, to safely assist a client in moving.) Students must be able to tolerate physically taxing workloads. The student must be able to ensure the physical safety of a client at all times. Additionally, the student must be able to perform expected skills in didactic laboratory classes and clinical settings.
Communication includes speech, reading and writing. The student must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in English, in oral and written form with all members of the health care team as well as with clients and families. A student must be able to understand communication, communicate effectively, interpret auditory information in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A student must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with clients, other students, faculty, staff, families, and other professionals. The student must express their ideas and feelings clearly and demonstrate a willingness and ability to give and receive feedback. A student must be able to convey or exchange information at an appropriate level to obtain information necessary for client management. The student must be able to process and communicate information on the client’s status with accuracy, in a timely manner to the health care team. Appropriate communication may also rely on the student’s ability to make a correct judgment in seeking supervision and consultation in a timely manner.
These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis, integration, and synthesis in the context of the occupational therapy program of study. The student must be able to quickly read and comprehend extensive written material. The student must be able to evaluate and apply information and engage in critical thinking in the classroom, labs, and clinical settings. In addition, the student must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.
A student must possess the emotional health and stability required for full utilization of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, and prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to client management. The student must possess the ability to develop mature, sensitive and effective relationships with clients, healthcare workers, peers, faculty, staff and others under all circumstances, including highly stressful situations. Students must have the emotional stability to be able to function effectively under stress and to adapt to an environment that may change rapidly without warning and/or in unpredictable ways. Flexibility and the ability to adjust to changing situations and uncertainty in clinical situations is expected and required. Students must be able to experience empathy for the situations and circumstances of others and effectively communicate that empathy. Mindfulness, compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, cultural competence, interest, and motivation are all personal qualities that are assessed during the admissions and education processes. The student must be able and willing to accept constructive feedback in a professional manner and examine and change their behavior when it interferes with productive individual or team relationships. The student must possess skills and experience necessary for effective and harmonious relationships in diverse academic and working environments.
As a student at Shenandoah University’s Division of Occupational Therapy the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Behavior are to be integrated throughout the student’s academic and clinical applications (AOTA, 2015) at all times. Embarking on a career in occupational therapy involves developing and mastering skills beyond professional knowledge and technology. Occupational therapists are expected to engage with a wide variety of persons in many different capacities. In order to develop the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains and appreciate the dynamics of human interactions, the Division of Occupational Therapy has established five primary areas. Knowledge, critical reasoning, interpersonal abilities, performance skills, and ethical reasoning are the primary bases for attaining competency as an emerging occupational therapist.
The ability to demonstrate understanding and comprehension of didactic content required to perform multiple roles an occupational therapy student assumes.
- Demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning, including self-directed learning to include the identification of needs and sources of learning; and to continually seek and apply new knowledge, behaviors, and skills.
- Demonstrate an understanding of current literature related to primary roles and the populations service.
- Integrate application of the core of occupational therapy in all roles assumed.
The ability to employ reasoning processes to make sound judgments and decisions.
- Apply deductive and inductive reasoning in making decisions specific to roles and functions.
- Demonstrate problem-solving skills required to complete assignments, group projects, and service learning.
- Assess contextual factors that influence performance and responses to interactions both personally and professionally at all times.
- Integrate information from a variety of sources to formulate actions and make sound decisions.
- Reflect on one’s actions to develop strategies for action, revise when necessary for future, and guide academic and professional needs.
The ability to develop and maintain professional relationships with all stakeholders.
- Demonstrate effective communication skills (including oral, written, non-verbal, and listening skills)
- Demonstrate professional behaviors that adhere to the standards of occupational therapy and represent the profession while promoting the growth of Occupational Therapy.
- Demonstrate an ability to seek, integrate, identify, and reflect on quality sources of feedback to modify one’s professional behaviors.
- Collaborate with all stakeholders and provide timely and meaningful feedback.
- Demonstrate an ability to interact with all stakeholders in a culturally meaningful manner.
The ability to demonstrate aptitudes, proficiencies, and personal responsibility to fulfill the role as an occupational therapy student.
- Demonstrate behaviors grounded in the core of occupational therapy.
- Demonstrate accountability for the outcomes of personal and professional actions.
- Demonstrate an academic and personal responsibility and follow through on commitments that encompass work, community, and social responsibilities.
- Demonstrate problem-solving through the ability to recognize and define problems, analyze data, develop and implement solutions, and evaluate outcomes.
The ability to identify, analyze, and clarify ethical issues in order to make responsible decision within the changing context of one’s roles.
- Adhere to the profession’s Code of Ethics (AOTA, 2020)
- Accept responsibility for self-directed learning to include the identification of needs and sources for learning; evaluate progress.
- Continually seek and apply new knowledge, behaviors, and skills.
- Identify ethical principles and core values and attitudes that are applicable to changing situations and use these principles to resolve ethical dilemmas.
- Reflect on the results of ethical decision making.
Effective Use of Time and Resources:
The ability to manage time and resources effectively to obtain the ultimate possible result/benefit.
- Identify and apply available resources.
- Preparation for class is demonstrated through insightful questions that deepen the learning objectives.
- Manages time and materials to meet program requirements.
- Uses organizational skill to contribute to the development of others.
The ability to identify sources of stress and to develop and implement effective coping behaviors.
- Identify own stressors or triggers.
- Demonstrate an effective work/life balance.
- Identify own strengths in solving problems.
- Apply identified stress management strategies in order to effectively interact with all stakeholders, regardless of conditions placed on student.
To facilitate development of competency in the professional behaviors, the instructors will provide formal and informal feedback to the student throughout the semester. Each student will complete a self-assessment and the faculty will complete an assessment of the student’s professional behaviors. These assessments will take place at a minimum of 2 times in the curriculum. The faculty may also request additional assessments based on observed deficiencies in professional behaviors. Faculty and student assessments are reviewed by the student’s academic advisor. If the advisor identifies discrepancies between the faculty and self-assessment and/or student performance below the level expected for the year of the program, the advisor will contact the student affairs committee so that a remediation plan can be developed in collaboration with the student. The remediation plan will identify specific goals and objectives for the student to complete. If the student meets the stated goals and objectives in the defined time frame the student will progress in the program. If the student fails to make adequate progress toward the stated goals and objectives the student may be dismissed from the program.
Any student who demonstrates inappropriate affective behavior (including, but not limited to the following: poor attendance of required classes, missed examinations, lack of participation in required school activities, inappropriate dress in the classroom or clinical setting, poor personal hygiene, violation of student handbook policies, unsafe behavior or lack of respect for the dignity and rights of others) may receive disciplinary action. Particularly egregious behavior may result in immediate dismissal from the program. The Program Director in consultation with the faculty and student will determine the appropriate disciplinary action. Appropriate actions may include consultation with the advisor/student affairs committee or other appropriate party, disciplinary suspension from the program, and/or dismissal from the program. All offenses will be documented, and a copy will be placed in the student’s file.
Based on the assessment, a remediation plan will be initiated including specific goals and objectives. Failure to meet the stated goals and objectives in the stated time–frame or further incidents of a similar nature may be grounds for dismissal from the program.
In addition to the skills and behaviors specified above, students must successfully complete, with or without reasonable accommodation, all required components of the curriculum. See the student handbooks for specific requirements. Compliance with the curricular requirements, the program’s Essential Functions and Professional Behaviors does not guarantee successful completion of the licensing examination.
Demonstration of clinical competence is fundamental to the career of the student. The process of evaluation of the clinical performance of the student is an integral and essential component of the curriculum. Written clinical assessment documents and Professional Behaviors assessments are evaluation tools used on all clinical experiences to assess clinical competence. Participation in clinical experiences, evaluation, and performance that meets the program’s expected standard of knowledge, skill, and behavior, is required.
Reasonable Accommodations for Disabilities:
Upon admission, a candidate who discloses a disability and requests accommodation must provide documentation of their disability to the Office of Student Support Services for the purposes of determining appropriate accommodations, including modifications to the program. The program will provide reasonable accommodations, but is not required to make modifications that would substantially alter the nature or requirements of the program, or provide personal use aids that present an undue burden to the program. To matriculate, or continue in the curriculum, the student must be able to perform all Essential Functions and Professional Behaviors with or without accommodation.
I certify, by my signature below, that I have read and understand the Essential Functions and Professional Behaviors of Shenandoah University Division of Occupational Therapy as listed above.
- I believe to the best of my knowledge that I meet each of these standards with or without reasonable accommodation.
- If accommodations are needed, it is my responsibility to contact the Office of Student Support Services.
- I understand there are some accommodations that are not considered reasonable and would preclude me from completing program requirements.
Signature of Applicant Date
Compiled from Technical Standards and Essential Functions documents from the following institutions: Samuel Merritt College, Physical Therapy Program; Shenandoah University Division of Athletic Training; University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Physical Therapy Program; University of Indianapolis, Krannert School of Physical Therapy; University of Kentucky, College of Allied Health Professions; University of Miami School of Medicine, Division of Physical Therapy; University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse; University of Wisconsin-Madison Medical School, Physical Therapy Program; University of Washington Division of Physical Therapy, University of Washington School of Nursing; Weill Cornell Medical College; Drexel School of Medicine, Creighton University School of Pharmacy; Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center; St. Catherine University, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.
Update: July 5, 2013, September 2016, June 2017, May 2022