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Essential Skills

It is the expectation of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program that students engage in client-centered, occupation-based services in a safe, professional and compassionate manner at all times while in the program.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale (SIUC) is committed to enabling students with differing abilities, access to completing the course of study within the occupational therapy doctorate program by means of reasonable accommodations consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

If accommodations are needed by a student to perform the essential skills and requisite abilities, he or she must notify Disability Support Services. SIUC is committed to providing an inclusive and accessible experience for all students with disabilities. Disability Support Services coordinates the implementation of accommodations, if you will need to seek support services on the basis of diagnosed disability, you will need to submit documentation to verify eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. For more information regarding disability support services at SIUC, visit the Disability Support Services.

SIU occupational therapy student working with elderly female patient

Observation Skills

Individuals are expected, within the academic setting, to achieve required professional competencies, through a variety of educational experiences within the basic arts and sciences. Individuals are expected to observe lecture and laboratory demonstrations, and observe human performance while engaged in simulated and actual client interactions. Individuals must observe and discriminate between safe and unsafe environments, and identify differences between therapeutic and non-therapeutic behaviors and contexts observed, in an effort to limit barriers to health of persons, groups and populations.

  1. Individuals must perceive, assimilate, and integrate information.
  2. Individuals must demonstrate adequate functional use of visual, tactile, auditory, and other sensory and perceptual skills to enable observations in the acquiring of information.

Professional Responsibilities

The major function of an occupational therapist (OTR) is to provide evaluation, intervention planning, implementation, and review; discharge planning; outcomes assessment; and related documentation and communication associated with occupational therapy practice.

Individuals must exhibit sound judgment, adapt to changing environments, work under stress, and meet the needs of diverse populations, necessary for successful transition into the students’ role as an occupational therapist.

  1. Individuals are responsible for attending and being able to travel to and from classes and clinical and capstone experience sites. The curriculum requires travel to campus for scheduled weekend on-campus classes and fieldwork level I experiences; with an expectation that students will travel, to and from off-campus level II fieldwork and doctoral capstone experience placements assigned as part of the curriculum.
  2. Individuals are responsible for taking initiative to direct their own learning, preparing in advance, utilizing resources in preparation for seeking assistance and independently exploring additional information.
  3. Individuals are expected to take responsibility for their actions and outcomes; work cooperatively and collaboratively with others on assigned projects, and participate willingly in a supervisory process involving evaluation of their abilities and reasoning skills, giving and receiving of feedback, and ways to improve performance. Exhibiting a readiness for timely and appropriate responses to the challenges of academic, and/or professional practice situations, necessitates an ability of the individual to perform problem-solving tasks in a timely manner; prioritizing and organizing the needs of multiple workloads, within specified timeframes.
  4. Individuals are expected to adhere to policies of the university, program, fieldwork and doctoral capstone experience sites that include issues ranging from professional dress and behavior, to attending to the students’ academic schedule.
  5. Individuals are expected to demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to the occupational therapy code of ethics and behaviors that reflects the values and beliefs of the profession.

Communication Skills

Education in occupational therapy is represented by a volume and breadth of required readings and need to impart information to others, which is critical to building professional relationships in context of the individual’s role as learner, colleague, consultant, and leader in the field. Individuals are expected in the profession of occupational therapy, to communicate effectively and efficiently with all members of the care team in accordance with professional standards.

  1. Individuals must be able to gather, comprehend, utilize, and disseminate information; upholding privacy and confidentiality policies, in order to complete documentation efficiently and effectively, in a timely manner in accordance with the standards of the profession.
  2. Individuals must be able to establish rapport and communicate with others through effective and sensitive communications with clients and colleagues of varying cultural and social backgrounds.
  3. Individuals must demonstrate the ability to perceive, recognize and interpret the non-verbal behavior of others and participate in virtual and in-person, individual, group and team discussions and/or presentations in a clear, organized, and professional manner.

Intellectual/Conceptual and Analytical Skills

Problem resolution requires individuals be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate and synthesize information in a timely manner while requiring an immediate response while under pressure. The individual must be able to synthesize knowledge from various sources and integrate the relevant aspects of a professional interaction in an efficient and timely manner. Individuals are expected to demonstrate the ability to incorporate new information from multiple sources and use computers as a means to search, record, store, retrieve, and communicate information.

  1. Individuals must demonstrate critical thinking and reasoning abilities to support creative problem resolution, the mastering of abstract ideas, and ability to synthesize information presented throughout the curriculum.
  2. Individuals must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, process, integrate, synthesize, apply and retain facts, concepts, and data.

Behavioral & Social Skills

Individuals are expected to exercise sound judgment, be open and responsive to feedback, and be both strategic and creative in resolving novel, ill-defined professional problems associated with addressing the needs of persons, groups and populations served by the occupational therapy profession. Individuals are expected to establish rapport and demonstrate compassion; integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills; interest and motivation in maintaining sensitive, interpersonal relationships with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.

  1. Individuals are expected to demonstrate flexibility in their actions and function effectively under stress; and inspire trust, respect and exhibit concern for other students, health care providers, clients, caregivers and significant others.
  2. Individuals are expected to adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the clinical and academic setting.
  3. Individuals must exhibit the ability and commitment to work collaboratively and professionally with individuals and groups in meeting the needs of people of diverse cultures, age groups, socioeconomic groups and challenges without bias and in a harmonious manner.
  4. Individuals are expected to support and promote the actions and accomplishments of peers by sharing knowledge, offering constructive feedback, and acting with empathy toward others.

Motor/Psychomotor Capabilities

The practice of occupational therapy results in the performance of physical activities that require considerable use of arms and legs and moving of the individual’s whole body, such as is necessary for, lifting, lowering self to and from the floor, balancing, walking, bending, stooping, handling of equipment and people; and/or standing or sitting for long periods of time. Individuals are expected to demonstrate the physical strength and coordination to safely handle and move clients; perform procedures, and/or direct client care in accordance with practice in the discipline.

  1. Individuals require the motor functions needed to manipulate tools or handle clients in a variety of settings, under a variety of conditions.
  2. Individuals require adequate fine motor skills to be able to manipulate small objects, manage scissors, fabricate splints, and utilize tools /activities.
  3. Individuals must tolerate being in close physical proximity and in physical contact with others.

Technology Requirements

Students are required to have access to a computer and a mobile device for use while in the program, and have access to a reliable broadband internet connection. Available information on browser support for an optimal experience that offers better performance, accessibility and security for access to the D2L Learning Management System is available.