Those who are seeking a career providing hands-on rehabilitative services to help individuals master tasks of daily living might consider earning a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) and becoming an occupational therapist. Depending on when students decide that they wish to follow this path, they might be able to seek an accelerated degree. Read on to learn more about the types of accelerated degrees in occupational therapy as well as what this type of program will entail.
Accelerated Master of Occupational Therapy Degrees
BA/MSOT 3+2 programs
Students who decide early in their academic career that they wish to become an occupational therapist may be able to take advantage of a 3+2 bachelor's to master's program, if offered by their college or an affiliated university. In these programs, students take some of their first-year graduate courses to fulfill bachelor's degree requirements. A specific major might be required. All occupational therapy prerequisites, such as human development and anatomy, must be completed before the last year of undergraduate study. Programs may differ in terms of when students must apply to these programs. Some allow application during the junior year of a student's bachelor's degree program, while others require an initial application before entry into the university. High academic performance and the completion of shadowing hours might be expected.
COTA Accelerated Programs
A second category of students who may be qualified for an accelerated program include individuals who are certified as occupational therapy assistants. Students can pursue a bridge program, which builds on occupational therapy knowledge gained while working as an assistant. Many of these programs are designed so that students can continue working while pursuing the MSOT. Applicants to bridge programs should be a COTA (certified occupational therapy assistant). Some schools require applicants to have at least 1,000 hours of practice and a bachelor's degree while others might require a year of practice and at least an associate's degree.
An occupational therapy program typically consists of a combination of academic coursework as well as practical, field-based experiences. Often, students are exposed to the practice of OT in short-term clinical settings as well as fieldwork placements. An independent research project may also be required for graduation. Some academic courses that students might be exposed to over the course of their M.S. program include:
Foundations of Occupational Therapy and Physical Rehabilitation
This type of course may provide a general introduction to occupational therapy. New students in the discipline may be introduced to functional mobility, assessment, and other common assistive practices. An overview of occupational therapy ethics might be provided, as well.
Occupational therapists will wish to have a thorough knowledge of assistive technology that can provide support to their clients. A course on this topic could provide an overview of specific devices that can improve function, such as adaptive seating, computer adaptations, and wheelchairs. Students could also be provided with information on legislation related to assistive technology.
Evaluation and Intervention of the Hand and Upper Extremities
Occupational therapy students might wish to take courses focused on specific bodily systems in which they hope to focus their practice, and hand therapy is a common specialization. A course on the hand and upper extremities is likely to introduce students to how these types of injuries are evaluated. Coursework may then move to common interventions for clients with hand difficulties.
School-Based Occupational Therapy
Those who wish to practice occupational therapy with children in the school setting may benefit from coursework focused on this population. Students may be introduced to models of occupational therapy service in the schools, the provision of screenings, and appropriate documentation. The IEP process, and how children become eligible for school-based services, is often a common component of this type of class as well.
Management of Occupational Therapy Practice
The development of an occupational therapy practice can be complex. In a course of this nature, students might be exposed to general principles of administration and management relevant to occupational therapy. They may also come to understand the U.S. health care system and how occupational therapy fits into this system.
Those who wish to become occupational therapists may be able to enroll in an accelerated program, in order to enter the profession and begin practice sooner. Those enrolled in an MSOT program can expect to take relevant courses and complete hands-on practice experiences.