Jun 28, 2022  
2016-2017 University Catalog 
2016-2017 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy

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The mission of the Department of Occupational Therapy is to serve the health needs of the community through the preparation of occupational therapy graduates who will practice in a broad range of institutional, home, school, and community settings. Graduates will use goal-directed occupations or activities to promote an individual’s adaptation to biological, psychological, and/or contextual factors that have interrupted the person’s life course. The program is committed to improving healthcare by expanding the knowledge base and skills of occupational therapists. Further, the doctoral program will develop therapists who can become leaders in occupational therapy and in healthcare. Graduates will have advanced competencies in areas of community-based practice or leadership.

The occupational therapy department is dedicated to developing therapists who will provide service to others, both in healthcare and in the community, in response to current societal needs. Toward this end, service learning will be included in the curriculum to give students a model for initiating interventions in the community setting and providing occupational therapy outside of the boundaries of traditional reimbursable service.

Finally, the doctoral program in occupational therapy is committed to expanding the knowledge of the profession through scholarship, clinical research, and innovative practice models. Graduates will be prepared to take on these varied roles, serving the health needs of the community and advancing the profession of occupational therapy.

Overview of Profession

Occupational therapy is a health profession focused on helping clients develop the functional capacity to live independently, care for personal needs, and participate in work, school, or community activities. Occupational therapists provide services to individuals with impaired physical, cognitive, developmental, sensory, or emotional abilities and to individuals or groups who have or are at risk for dysfunction due to developmental changes or environmental factors. Some of the most common disabling conditions treated by occupational therapists are stroke, spinal cord injuries, and other neurological conditions, arthritis, developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, autism, hand injuries, depression, and mental illness.

Occupational therapists help clients to engage in desired activities more safely and independently. For example, occupational therapists may assist clients to gain/regain the ability to dress, safely prepare a meal, play in an age-appropriate manner, navigate throughout the community, or drive safely. Occupational therapists may help clients improve their motor skills, self-esteem, or social interaction skills. Adaptive equipment and modifications to the home or work environment may also be incorporated into treatment to enhance performance in personal care, home management, job requirements, and leisure activities.

Occupational therapists work with clients of all ages, from infants to older adults. They use a variety of activities to foster feelings of mastery in their clients, such as preparing a meal using adapted recipes and kitchen tools or setting up a play experience so a child with sensory abnormalities can feel his/her body movements without being overwhelmed.

The work environment of occupational therapists is as varied as the kinds of clients they treat. Treatment may take place in a hospital, school, community, work, or home environment.

These are just a few examples of the types of settings where occupational therapists work:

  • In a school situation, an occupational therapist may help a child develop the skills needed to integrate and organize perceptual, motor, and sensory information for learning.
  • In a community setting, the therapist may focus on wellness and establish a gardening group for elders or a game group for adults with developmental disabilities that will be led by volunteers.
  • Therapists may teach a shelter resident with limited cognitive abilities how to use public transportation so he/she can find employment or work with nurses in developing teaching materials to give to cognitively impaired teenagers who need to learn health promotion skills.
  • Therapists working in home care enter the homes of clients and may teach strategies for dressing, cooking, bathing, and social activities that lead to increased independence.

Occupational therapy is a fast-growing profession. The need for occupational therapists is sure to increase as medical science discoveries continue to save and prolong lives. These advances will result in greater numbers of individuals who have functional limitations. The increased recognition of developmental and learning disabilities in children and the increase in the aging population have also increased the demand for occupational therapists.

Primary areas of employment include public or private schools, early intervention programs, facilities for the elderly, rehabilitation and general hospitals, and psychiatric or mental health institutions. Others work for home health agencies, wellness centers, private practices, and colleges and universities.

Curriculum Overview

The occupational therapy curriculum is based on active learning. Students will integrate knowledge, skills, and attitudes by experiential learning or “doing.” The biopsychosocial foundation of the professional program will encourage graduates to view the occupational nature of humans from four perspectives: the individual, with biological, psychological, and sociological abilities and limitations, is central to treatment and must determine the meaning and purpose of care; the family and caregivers provide the vital link between the individual and health services; the home and community provide a context for treatment and the development of values, beliefs, and interests; and, finally, the social system in which care is offered establishes boundaries for delivery, use of resources, available roles and opportunities, and norms and rewards for behavior. Curricular threads include clinical reasoning, innovations in practice, engagement, and critical thinking.

Students who successfully complete the curriculum will be able to:

  • View consumers of occupational therapy services as individuals with unique values, beliefs, and concerns that impact on occupational performance.
  • Design and deliver humanistic, ethical, and high-quality occupational therapy services to individual clients and their family/caregivers.
  • Design occupation-based programs that address unmet and emerging societal needs.
  • Design population-based programs that reflect unmet and emerging community needs.
  • Integrate community, technological, and educational resources into treatment and program planning, design, and management.
  • Successfully work in partnership with individuals from diverse cultures.
  • Collaborate skillfully with clients, professional and nonprofessional colleagues, families, and community members.
  • Effectively communicate ideas, concerns, goals, and plans to colleagues, supervisors, and managers, as well as clients, families, and care providers, using written and spoken language.
  • Demonstrate the ability to effectively engage in the supervisory process.
  • Demonstrate the ability to be a reflective individual.
  • Understand the influence of the social, political, and environmental climate on the client and practice.
  • Understand and successfully practice in complex environments where occupational therapy services are provided.
  • Advance the knowledge base of occupational therapy through participation in scholarly activities.
  • Provide service to the community. The community includes the University; national, state, and local occupational therapy organizations; and other institutions and organizations of interest.
  • Recognize the need to pursue continual professional development and display the ability to seek out appropriate resources.

The Department of Occupational Therapy offers four degree options in occupational therapy: 3 doctoral level and 1 master level.  The accelerated pathway to the Doctor in Occupational Therapy is a six-year program leading to a Bachelor of Science in Health Science and Doctor in Occupational Therapy.  The Doctor of Occupational Therapy is also available as a four-year program for students who have already completed a baccalaureate degree. A Doctor of Occupational Therapy is available as a 33-credit, 100% online program for current occupational therapists with a masters degree. The Master of Occupational Therapy program is available as a 2 1/2-year program for students who have already completed a baccalaureate degree.


Judith A. Parker Kent 
BA (Adelphi University); MS (Columbia University); OTD (Creighton University); EdS (Nova Southeastern University)
Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy
Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy
Director, Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program 
Phone: 215-596-8690
E-mail: j.parkerkent@usciences.edu

Sara E. Benham
BS (Purdue University); MOT (University of the Sciences); OTD (Thomas Jefferson University)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215-596-7341
E-mail: s.benham@usciences.edu

Adele Breen-Franklin
BA (Barnard College); JD (Yeshiva University); MSOT (Philadelphia University); OTD (Chatham University)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215-596-7346
E-mail: a.breen-franklin@usciences.edu

Michelle E. Cohen
BA (Beaver College); MEd, PhD (Temple University)
Professor of Occupational and Physical Therapy
Dean, Samson College of Health Sciences
Phone: 215-596-8540
E-mail: m.cohen@usciences.edu

Theresa Rhett-Davis
BS (Kean University); MS (St. Joseph’s University)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Vice Chair, Department of Occupational Therapy 
Phone: 215-596-8499
E-mail: t.rhett-davis@usciences.edu

Nabila S. Enam
BS, MOT (University of the Sciences)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215-596-8690
E-mail: n.enam@usciences.edu

Wendy W. Fox
BA (Beaver College); BS, MOT (University of the Sciences)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215-596-7343
E-mail: w.fox@usciences.edu

Gabrielle Giannetti
BS, MSOT (Elizabethtown College)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215-596-7172
E-mail: g.giannetti@usciences.edu

Paula Kramer
BS, MA, PhD (New York University)
Professor of Occupational and Physical Therapy
Director, Online Doctor of Occupational Therapy 
Phone: 215-596-8767
E-mail: p.kramer@usciences.edu

Colleen Maher
BS (Temple University); MS (Columbia University); OTD (University of St. Augustine)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Director, Masters of Occupational Therapy Program 
Phone: 215-596-7342
E-mail: c.maher@usciences.edu

David S. Pallister 
BS (Wagner College); MA (New York University); JD (Rutgers University School of Law)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215-596-7349
E-mail: d.pallister@usciences.edu

Supria Sen
BS, MOT (University of Queensland, Australia); OTD (University of Illinois)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Phone: 215-596-8694
E-mail: s.sen@usciences.edu

Megan Strauss
BS, MSOT (Elizabethtown College)
Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy
Coordinator, Academic Fieldwork
Phone: 215-895-1172
E-mail: m.strauss@usciences.edu

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