Three Schools That Are Innovating the OT Field


Interested in becoming an OT, but don't know which school will give you the most bang for your buck? Check out these three schools who stand out above the rest.

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While most schools that offer an occupational therapy program are doing their best to innovate in the field, we have selected three that we think are doing a little more. Read on to see why we feel the way we do, and hopefully you’ll agree!

The first school to make our list is the Dominican University of California. This school is devoted to being involved with the community and spreading the word about OT in California, nationwide, and internationally. Several research projects are underway, and presentations are being given at a variety of conferences in California, around the nation, and around the world. These conferences include the OTAC Spring Symposium in Anaheim, Ca., the 33rd Annual International Listening Association Convention in Bremerton, Wa., the 36th Annual OTAC Conference in San Diego, Ca., the State Conference of Occupational Therapy Association of California, and the Sixth Annual International Conference of Positive Aging in Los Angeles, Ca.

Students who attend the OT program at DUOC travel to countries such as South Africa, Uganda, and Sweden, learning the cultures of each place they visit and working with local authorities and OT professionals. They provide health and sanitation resources to communities, and they work with high school students who are at risk. In South Africa, DUOC students work side by side with students from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University to promote occupational therapy throughout the community.

Recently, the school launched a new center for health aging, where students study the normal physical and psychological processes of aging and connect with community-based wellness programs. The center also hosts an eight-week “Healthy Seniors” program twice a year that is free of charge to all seniors who want to participate.

In 2013, students won first place at the Marin County Senior Information Fair. They also provided information for independent living support and restoration of life. They gave seniors a chance to use new tools such as sock-aids, a reacher, jar and can openers, and adaptive cutlery and cutting boards.

If you are a prospective occupational therapy student looking to get involved with your community, travel to far away places to teach occupational therapy, and present research at conventions, the Dominican University of California may be the school for you.

The next school on our list is Colorado State University, Fort Collins. Besides offering students with an undergraduate degree in OT, it offers graduate programs to the country’s top students.  The school features five research centers to enable students to connect with the community through research, volunteer work, and field work.

The Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) offers computing services to students and employees with disabilities. The Brainwaves Research Laboratory includes several active research projects that address brain maturation and function in children with disabilities. The Center for Community Partnerships provides employment services and teaches students case management skills and educational support for individuals with disabilities and people who face barriers to employment and full community participation.

The fourth research center, the Center for Occupational Therapy Education, focuses on evidence-based practice, faculty development, and consultation. The last research center, the Children’s Participation and Environment Research Laboratory, teaches students about the quality of life for children with various health conditions and backgrounds, with emphasis on children under five years of age.

CSU Fort Collins students may also participate in over 80 different conferences to present their findings. Some of these conferences include the Occupational Therapy Association of Colorado Annual Conference in Golden, Co., the Annual Society for Psychophysiological Research Conference in New Orleans, La., the SPD Scientific Work Group Summit in Boston, Ma., the American Occupational Therapy Association Conference in Philadelphia, Pa., the Annual Society for the Study of Occupation: USA Conference in Portland, Or., and the Colorado Learning and Teaching with Technology Conference in Boulder, Co.

The OT program at CSU Fort Collins is also ranked in the Top ten according to US News and World Report. Current projects include the Transitions Project: Opportunities for Postsecondary Success, which is being funded by the US Department of Education. This project is due to receive over 1.8 million dollars, and will be funded until 2015. Another project funded by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation is titled “Determining How the Construct of Occupation is Addressed in Curricula.” This project has received over $15,000 in funding.

Colorado State University, Fort Collins is a great example of a school that is determined to revolutionize the OT field through its various research projects and centers. This school only recruits students with top honors who want to make a difference.

The third school on our list is University of Illinois at Chicago. We chose this school for the real-world impact it has on people’s lives worldwide. Students here create software that enhances the practice of occupational therapists and enables them to address the fear of falling in people with disabilities such as multiple sclerosis. This school also focuses on helping people with AIDS learn how to live independently and on helping elderly people in nursing homes function independently in their everyday lives.

This school is home to the renowned Model of Human Occupation Clearinghouse, which is a thriving publishing and research center that supports occupational therapy practitioners worldwide. The UIC Department of Occupational Therapy is also heavily involved with its community and agencies within the community that provide consultative services, staff development, and educational activities. The agencies work mainly with underserved populations in the city of Chicago, including people with disabilities, senior citizens, low-income children, and survivors of domestic violence.

Applying to and attending the University of Illinois, Chicago means you will learn to work with a variety of people other universities typically do not consider when creating a curriculum. UIC offers students a chance to further their educations by receiving a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, or a PhD in Disability Studies.