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Occupational Therapy (OTD)

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Curriculum Requirements

Framework for Curriculum Design

The Department of Occupational Therapy views occupation and occupational performance as core for organizing curriculum, community interactions, teaching/learning processes, and student outcomes for successful practice as occupational therapists. Occupation is a core construct of the curriculum. In Aristotle’s words, “anything that we have to learn to do, we learn by the actual doing of it….. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate ones, brave by doing brave ones” (1074/2006). Occupation is a complex process of doing, being and/or becoming; it is a medium for learning by doing and for developing roles of habit and reason. It provides a foundation, and primary focus for all matters associated with departmental functioning. The courses in the OTD curriculum promote clinical decision-making, problem-solving, and reflective practice at all levels of interaction with clients and populations, from initial examination to outcomes assessment. Students' clinical competency must measure up to both the basic sciences and reflective clinical skills prior to their assignment to any full-time fieldwork education and doctoral residency.

The Person-Environment-Occupation-Performance (PEOP) model by Christiansen and Baum (2005) provides a unifying concept for the overall curriculum. We define occupational performance as a process that includes the "doing of activities, tasks, and roles" and serves as a way of integrating an individual with their particular societal roles in various environments (Christiansen & Baum, 2005, p. 244). Occupational performance is a result of the person and environment interaction, or, in which roles and task are carried out, i.e., a human being in place while knowing and doing (Rowles, 1991). Likewise, the curriculum wraps itself around the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework (OTPF) to reiterate the profession's core beliefs in the relationship between occupation and health and its view of people as occupational beings, (AOTA, 2008).

Each course intentionally considers and applies the PEOP - OTPF relationship with all course content and objectives as the major unifying curricular thread. Courses are logically sequenced to facilitate students' comprehensive knowledge and application of this relationship and its application to occupational therapy practice. The following course sequences weave into the curriculum for the entry level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program designed to meet current standards for doctoral occupational therapy education, and provide consistency throughout the curriculum. These curriculum sequences are:

  • Basic Sciences
  • Foundations in Occupation
  • Occupation Science & Technology
  • Occupational Interventions
  • Evidence Base & Exploration
  • Leadership & Globalization
  • Clinical Competence
  • Doctoral Transformation

OTD Curriculum Model

The OTD curriculum model illustrates didactic-to-clinical experiences designed for the Nova Southeastern University Tampa doctoral student. The inner circle features the eight clusters of course sequences within the hybrid entry level professional program. The concentric rings, shown starting from the inner layer comprise: 1) teaching exemplar; 2) learning threads; and 3) practice areas consistent with the profession's Centennial Vision.

The eight curriculum sequences provide opportunities for student experiences for lifelong learning applying the PEOP model and the OTPF. The sequences provide activities to learn the structure and function of the human body as it relates to occupations; theoretical and philosophical foundations of occupational therapy practice; expressions and use of occupations and technology for teaching and learning across the lifespan; identification and treatment of developmental and acquired occupational dysfunctions using occupation based interventions; evidence basis and scholarly explorations for accountable practice; leadership and advocacy for responsible collaborative, global practice; clinical competence in all areas of practice, and beginning specialization as a reflective doctorally prepared professional.

A subject centered approach described by Palmer (1998), creates a community of learning that is centered on a central subject for aligning faculty and students.  The core subjects, occupation and occupational performance, form the focus of learning and general processes within a hybrid of face to face and distance academic environment.  Subject centered education promotes dynamic involvement of the learner with peers, faculty, and the core subject, as knowledge is constructed, or built together in context with teacher-student virtual and real time interaction, allowing for richness, recursion, relations, rigor and reiterative reflection (Doll, 1933). 

  • Richness refers to the depth of the curriculum, and a process that facilitates multiple layers of meaning and possibilities of interpretation.
  • Recursion is the reflective interaction of the student with the environment, others, culture and with one's own knowledge.
  • Relations allows for making connections with the understanding that individual perceptions are part of a larger cultural, economic and global milieu.
  • Rigor refers to fostering understanding of the complexity of uncertainty and critical interpretation of what comes out of occupational chaos.
  • Reiterative reflection is the ultimate process of looking at revisiting richness, recursion, relations, and rigor of information as they apply in the didactic and clinical aspects of each experience during the doctoral transformation.

Curriculum Requirements

course # course title credit hours
Summer Semester    
ANAT 5420 Anatomy 5
OTD 8101 Introduction to Didactic, Clinical and Capstone Experiences 3
OTD 8102 Foundations of Occupational Therapy 3
TOTAL   11
Fall Semester    
OTD 8103 Kinesiology in Occupations 4
OTD 8141 Development of Occupation Across the Lifespan 3
OTD 8142 Occupational and Contextual Analysis 3
OTD 8151 Human Conditions and Occupations I 3
TOTAL   13
Winter Semester    
ANAT 5423 Neuroanatomy 3
OTD 8152 Human Conditions and Occupations II 3
OTD 8143 Therapeutic Use of Self 3
OTD 8161 Evidence in Occupational Therapy Practice 3
TOTAL   12
course # course title credit hours
Summer Semester    
OTD 8244 Innovations and Technology in Occupational Therapy 3
OTD 8262 Research Design, Quantitative Methods (Proposal/IRB) 3
OTD 8271 Occupational Therapy Interventions I 6
OTD 8291 Level I Fieldwork Experience, Occupational Therapy Interventions I, Psychosocial and Community 2
TOTAL   14
Fall Semester    
OTD 8272 Occupational Therapy Interventions II 8
OTD 8262-L Research Design--Lab (IRB) 1
OTD 8281 Business of Practice and Management 3
OTD 8292 Level I Fieldwork Experience, Occupational Therapy Interventions II, Children and Youth 2
TOTAL   14
Winter Semester    
OTD 8263 Research Project I--Implementation 1
OTD 8273 Occupational Therapy Interventions III 8
OTD 8282 Professional Leadership 3
OTD 8293 Level I Fieldwork Experience, Occupational Therapy Interventions III, Physical Disabilities 2
TOTAL   14
course # course title credit hours
Summer Semester    
OTD 8391 Fieldwork Experience II 9
Fall Semester    

OTD 8311


OTD 8312

Occupational Science


Wellness in Occupational Therapy


OTD 8313


OTD 8314

Applying Measurement Theory to Evaluation


Sensory Processing Basisof Occupational Performance

OTD 8315 Topics in Contemporary and Emerging Practice 3
OTD 8363 Research Project I, Lab-Data Analysis and Interpretation 1
OTD 8392 Doctoral Certification and Introduction to Residency Program  2
TOTAL   12
Winter Semester    
OTD 8493 Fieldwork Experience II 9
course # course title credit hours
Winter/Summer Semester    
OTD 8464 Research Project II - Dissemination, Reflections and Exit Colloquium 2
OTD 8494 Doctoral Residency 12
TOTAL   14
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