OTD Academics

The curriculum design metaphorically resembles the complexity and dynamic essence of the information translation system of a double helix (Cru, 2010). Systems thinking presents a means to consider complex systems as continuously breaking down and rebuilding to adapt and maintain function (Stroh, 2015). Success in implementing a new educational model to drive curricular achievement is predicted by a range of complex and interdependent factors (Plack, et.al., 2019). Among these factors are communication of the new program’s mission, vision, values, and strategic directions.

The curricular themes are consistent with the mission and philosophy of Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Department of Occupational Therapy. The complexity and iterative essence of the double helix are created by the centrality of occupational science and occupational therapy: the person (an individual, family, or community), the occupation (everyday activities occupying our time such as care for self and other, work, education, and leisure) and the context (space, place, time, or situation).

Curriculum Framework

The Framework, which emerges from the curricular design, underscores three major trajectories:



OCCUPATIONAL SCIENCE serves as the foundation for the curriculum and our understanding of occupational therapy practice. In this iteration, the program offers six courses that examine POC.

The POC also defines how we structure the content of the foundational sciences and competencies. 

Anatomy and Kinesiology, Neuroscience of Daily Living, Neurorehabilitation, Occupational Science, System Theory, & Sustainability Development in Health Sciences, Health Literacy, Justice & Occupation, Social Determinants of Health, Interprofessional Collaborative Practice and Interprofessional Healthcare Engagement.


The OT Framework informs the larger content iterations emphasizing POC.

OT Theory and History, Professional Formation, Ethics & Advocacy, Movement and Adaptation, Cognition Across the life span, Health Conditions & Epidemiology, all Immersive Courses: Mental Health, Adults/Geriatrics (Physical Disabilities), Youth/Pediatrics, UE Eval & Intervention, and OT Management & Leadership


Scholarship and Research are essential for graduate level occupational therapy education and is the emphasis of this iteration. Students critically examine evidence related to -POC- in occupational therapy practice. Ten courses shape this iteration.

Rehab Engineering and Assistive Technology, Physical Agent Modalities & Tech, Research I, Research II, Capstone 1, II, III, & IV; OT Doctorate Seminar, and Healthcare Leadership and Change

CURRICULAR THREADS and their respective student learning outcomes

  1. Rehabilitation and Wellness Knowledge promote rehabilitation and wellness within an occupation-based practice framework; occupational therapists can reduce health risk factors and prevent illnesses by educating their clients, prescribing occupation-based activities and exercises, and performing hands-on interventions consistent with neuro-psychosocial models.
    • Demonstrate foundational knowledge about established and evolving bio-psychosocial and medical sciences and their applications to individuals and populations’ care.
    • Demonstrate an investigative and analytic thinking approach to clinical
    • Correlate, integrate, and apply the following to common emergent and non-emergent rehabilitation and behavioral scenarios across the lifespan:
      1. Occupational Profile and Clinical History findings to formulate the best rehabilitation outcomes in OT.
      2. Interventions for surveillance targeted to prevention of disease and health promotion/maintenance.
      3. Management of rehabilitation conditions to include medical and wellness approaches, and treatment modalities.
  2. Client-Centered Care and Quality Improvement providing high-quality care through the understanding of client’s habits, occupational roles, needs, attitudes, and interests. The client’s perceptions are affected by personal and cultural factors and their social, environmental, and economic conditions. Clients’ perspectives on quality also affect their behavior both before and during the time of service. Evidence highlights the benefits of addressing client perspectives on quality of care, demonstrating how it leads to improved client satisfaction, continued and sustained use of services, and improved health outcomes (Kols and Sherman 1998; Smith, Saunders, & Stuckhardt, et al., 2013
    • Accurately formulate and develop client-centered treatment plans.
    • Obtain an accurate occupation-based history and perform a comprehensive occupational therapy assessment.
    • Demonstrate an understanding of how practice decisions regarding allocation of resources impact the finances of health organizations, while safeguarding the practice of cost-effective health care that does not compromise quality of care.
    • Provide health care services and education aimed at disease prevention and health maintenance.
  3. Professionalism and Ethics– Demonstrate respect for the occupational therapy profession’s values and behaviors, grounded in seven longstanding Core Values: Altruism, Equality, Freedom, Justice, Dignity, Truth, and Prudence (AOTA, 1993).
    • Demonstrate a commitment to ethical principles pertaining to provision or withholding of care, confidentiality, patient autonomy, informed consent, and business practices, including compliance with relevant laws, policies, and regulations.
    • Demonstrate sensitivity to a diverse patient population by identifying the socio-cultural, familial, psychological, economic, environmental, and spiritual factors impacting health care and health care delivery; and responding to these factors by planning and advocating the appropriate course of action at both the individual and the community level.
  4. Systems-Based Practice and Practice-Based Learning – require occupational therapists to demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the larger context and healthcare system to call effectively on other resources within the system to provide optimal health care. It requires interprofessional teamwork while learning through clinical practice demonstrating awareness of services cost, knowledge of risks, and benefits of rehabilitation interventions, and proficiency in service coordination.
    • Critically appraise the scientific literature to use current practice guidelines and apply evidence-based practice principles to client/patient care.
    • Understands, accesses, utilizes, and evaluates effectiveness of resource providers, and systems to provide optimal occupational therapy care.
    • Demonstrate an awareness of and responsiveness to the more extensive healthcare system to provide patient care that balances quality and cost while maintaining the person’s sense of agency.
  5. Interprofessional Collaboration and Leadership promoting and leading interprofessional practices to benefit communities with identified needs by facilitating sustainable, equitable, culturally sensitive, and effective healthcare services.
    • Develop an interdisciplinary plan of advocacy for effective health policy changes that will facilitate health and social equity.
    • Contribute to the creation, dissemination, application, and translation of new health care knowledge and practices in an interprofessional team.
  6. Interpersonal Communication Skills and  Health Literacy –implement effective interpersonal communication strategies to increase global health awareness, alleviate stress, and promote wellness for improved mental and physical health in both personal and professional settings.
    • Demonstrate interpersonal and communication (verbal, nonverbal, written, and electronic) skills that result in effective information exchange with clients, caregivers, interprofessional team members, and other individuals within the health care system.
    • Provide effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs and practices, preferred languages, health literacy, and other communication needs, adhering to the culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) standards.