1. Do you require a set number of hours of volunteer/observation in OT settings as part of the application process?
We do not require a minimum number of volunteer hours in an OT setting. The application to Puget Sound Occupational Therapy Program does require that you submit a letter of reference from a registered occupational therapist who has observed you in a health care setting long enough to make a fair appraisal about your promise as a future OT. This reference should be uploaded via your OTCAS application by 8.59 p.m. PST December 1.
2. Do all the pre-requisites need to be completed before I apply to the OT program or before I enter the OT program?
The more pre-requisite courses you have completed at the time of application the better. Strong showing in these courses is a plus for you in our selection process. They do not all need to be finished at that time; however, they must be finished before the start of the fall semester when you begin OT courses.
3. Can I get a specific pre-requisite course waived?
No. Only in very exceptional circumstances would we accept demonstrated expertise in the pre-requisite topic in lieu of the course itself. This expertise would have to include both theoretical and practical aspects of the subject.
4. What are ways of improving my chances of acceptance into the occupational therapy program?
This may sound simple but it is important: follow the directions on the essay portion of the application. It is an important piece. Be sure to answer all questions, proofread, and show us your best writing. Make sure your essay communicates who you are as a person by being creative, unique, or humorous. Your essay will likely be stronger if you get exposure to the breadth of the profession by observing or talking to occupational therapists in diverse treatment areas. Your essay should be uploaded via your OTCAS applicationby 8:59 p.m. PST December 1.
Follow the directions for the letter of reference carefully. You must submit one letter from a registered occupational therapist who has observed you long enough to be able to speak to your potential as a future therapist. Select this person carefully. They should be someone who knows you well enough to complete an honest and persuasive reference for you. We will only review one letter of reference, so if you submit more than one we will read the first one submitted unless told otherwise. Your letter of reference should to be submitted via OTCAS by 8.59 p.m. PST December 1.
5. Are there any OT scholarships, fellowships, or teaching assistant positions available to OT students at Puget Sound?
In addition to the regular financial aid available to any graduate student there are a small number of fellowships given by the department to first year master students whose applications were exceptionally strong. These fellowships are renewable for the second year of study if you are making satisfactory progress in your courses. For second year students who are taking courses full time there are a few OT departmental scholarships available which are granted to students on the basis of their academic performance and contributions to the program, including to the learning of peers. There are also a few special work study positions within the department for teaching assistants in the functional anatomy, neuroscience, pediatric/adult neuro and performance adaptation courses. These are usually held by second year students. There is also a course assistant assigned to the technology lab who is either a first or second year OT student.
6. What are the amount and types of hands-on clinical experiences of OT students during the academic portion of the curriculum?
Beginning with the first semester you will do clinic visits, client interviews, and possibly some hands-on interactions, over about twelve hours. In the third semester you will perform a job analysis outside the OT department that requires observation, measurements, and communication with clients and supervisors. During this same semester you will also participate in a community-based clinical treatment course covering mental health issues. The theory/lab treatment courses of the second, third and fourth semesters include several laboratory assignments that include client contact (about 24 hours) and you will provide consultation to ongoing physical therapy clinics. In your final semester you will be enrolled in two applied clinical treatment courses covering both pediatric and adult conditions, where you will evaluate and treat clients in the on-campus clinic.
7. Can I attend the OT program part-time?
Part-time study is not recommended, although it is possible, with the approval of the OT faculty. You must fill out a petition, including the exact planned course of study over (usually) three academic years.
8. What is the attendance policy?
Faculty members of School of Occupational Therapy reserve the right to require attendance in any course that they teach. Refer to individual course syllabi for specific policies. The faculty does expect students to be present in all courses when guest speakers or clients are present, barring extraordinary circumstances. Students who are sick should not attend clinic and must notify the appropriate agency, the client, and the faculty clinical instructor in time for alternate plans to be made. All missed clinics will be made up.
Regular class attendance is essential for students’ learning in the School of Occupational Therapy and is expected of all students at the University of Puget Sound. For more details about expectations, please refer to the university’s policy in the academic handbook (under “registration”). See an electronic version of the handbook.
9. How many hours a week do you recommend a student work (paid work outside academic responsibilities) while going to OT school?
What would be best will vary considerably according to the student and the type of work. During the first semester we strongly recommend that students not commit themselves to working more than 10 hours per week.
10. What is the size of each OT class? What is the faculty/student ratio?
Each OT class consists of 36 to 40 students, with two classes attending the program on campus at any one time. With the equivalent of 9 full-time faculty, the faculty/student ratio is currently about 1 to 8.
In OT courses the number of students in the classroom at a given time ranges from 15 to 36.
11. What type of jobs are available?
Occupational therapy is one of the most diverse of health care professions. Jobs are available in hospitals, public school systems, rehabilitation facilities, home health agencies, hand therapy clinics, assisted living facilities, residential treatment facilities, injured worker clinics, community-based early intervention programs, and in corporations and communities performing preventative health care and wellness programs. Part-time, full-time, traveling, and on-call work is available.
NOTE: A a felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination, attain state licensure, or find jobs.
12. What is satisfying about this career?
The most satisfying aspect of an OT career is making a positive impact in the lives of clients served. Occupational therapists work closely with persons experiencing occupational limitations in the broadest possible sense- for medical, physical, cognitive, emotional, experiential, and spiritual reasons- to maximize their participation in daily life through the pursuit of meaningful, purposeful activities. Therapists must be excellent observers of human behavior, good problem-solvers, great listeners, and persistent advocates for their clients, in order to diagnose the causes of their clients' limitations and to find the most effective means of collaborating with their clients to achieve meaningful solutions. Effective occupational therapists display a combination of creative and pragmatic approaches, along with excellent interpersonal communication skills, in working with people.
13. What opportunities are available to become specialized in OT or to work with different populations?
There are still an abundance of opportunities for specialization in OT once you have graduated, passed the certification exam, and begun entry level practice in the field. Probably the most frequently pursued specializations are in techniques of adult rehabilitation, pediatric assessment and treatment, and hand therapy. In addition, there are hundreds of topics that therapists study through continuing education that span the gamut from biofeedback and myofascial release to advanced cognitive rehabilitation and driver training.
The possibilities for working in different settings with unusual populations also abound. There continue to be unmet occupational needs of people in assisted living communities, Native American health centers, prisons and detention centers, industrial and corporate settings, in rural communities, and in school systems. The education you will receive as an occupational therapy student will provide you with the physical skills, professional attitudes, and critical thinking tools to make a significant contribution in many settings for many people who have not traditionally been served by OT.