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Mission and Curriculum Design - Entry-Level Programs

Occupational Therapy Department Mission
The mission of the Occupational Therapy Department at Misericordia University is to provide an environment that reflects the values and attitudes of justice, mercy, service, and hospitality. The Trinity of Learning is exemplified by experiences in core courses in the liberal arts, the occupational therapy curriculum, and a variety of service-related experiences. We strive to provide quality education through high academic standards, an emphasis on understanding human occupation, and an emphasis on evidence-based practice; aim to offer outstanding professional preparation through specialty tracks and choices of undergraduate majors and minors directly related to the profession of occupational therapy; and work to serve others through an emphasis on volunteering and service learning experiences. We strive to provide educational opportunities in formats that are accessible to both entry level and post-professional students through our weekday, weekend, and post-professional programs. Our ultimate mission is to help students become competent, responsible and involved professionals within their communities.



Three themes provide the overarching structure to the curriculum design. These themes were developed by the faculty following a full curricular review considering years of student feedback, program outcomes and consideration of the new standards and centennial vision. These themes are:

Occupation Focused Practice
Features of occupation focused practice include the ability to collaboratively determine the meaning and purpose of an individual’s occupational profile, identify needs and priorities, and construct a plan of motivating therapeutic activities. This process, infused with occupations, reflects best practice and results in a more meaningful lifestyle. Our curriculum is developed to foster an understanding and appreciation of:

  1. the role of occupation throughout the life span
  2. how occupation is used as a means and an end in occupational therapy practice
  3. the value of occupation based assessment and intervention
  4. how the focus on occupational performance improves therapeutic outcomes therapeutic outcomes


Evidence Based Practice
Evidence based practice is a collaborative process between therapist and client in which the best available research evidence, in combination with the therapist’s clinical experience, is reviewed to determine the most appropriate therapeutic options that support the client’s occupational goals. Essential to this is the therapist’s ability to recognize and respect the significance that EBP will have for the profession, as well as for the client.

Community Initiative
Community initiatives help to increase access to occupational therapy services for all individuals, groups and populations, especially those underserved. We prepare students to work in emerging practice areas and community settings as well as traditional settings. We desire to instill in out students leadership characteristics for service to the community, including an entrepreneurial spirit, skilled interdisciplinary collaboration and the ability to identify funding resources.

In addition to the three content related themes described above, we have chosen to incorporate two organizing themes, the Practice Framework, and the PEO Model. These themes serve to provide structure to the sequence of coursework, reinforce the terminology and the stated purview of the profession, and provide students with a consistent reminder to look take a holistic view at each of our clients.

Sequence I: Liberal Arts and Foundational Knowledge
Core, Cognate, OT 312, OT 313
Students establish the foundation of knowledge through the completion of all liberal arts core courses, BIO 211 & 212: Anatomy and Physiology, OT 312 Functional Anatomy and OT 313 Applied Neuroscience. The science foundation provides a basis for clinical expertise regarding knowledge of body structures and functions. The liberal arts provide a broad foundation upon which to build the student’s professional education. Required courses in psychology and psychopathology provide a further basis from which the student can begin to understand the interaction between the individual and their environment.

Sequence II: Individual Development , Environment and Occupation
(OT 205, 220, 221, 275, 320, 330, 335)
Students are introduced to the concepts of human growth and development through the two-course sequence exploring the Human Development (OT 220 and OT 221) process. They concurrently explore the theories and analysis of Occupations from the perspective of self and other (OT 205, 275). OT 335 provides a thorough investigation of the influences that the environment may have on occupational performance, and OT 330 introduces the students to the many models and frames of reference that may be used to guide the development of a comprehensive and holistic approach to the client. OT 320 promotes students understanding of impairments and disabilities and their potential influences on occupational performance. Sequence II is where the students conceptually learn to bring together the aspects of the individual, the occupation and the environment in meaningful occupational therapy context, both with the well population and those with disabilities.

Sequence III: Professional and Community Initiatives
(OT 103, OT 410, 411, 412 570, 630)
Students learn the importance of developing and applying professional behaviors to develop individual therapeutic relationships and leadership skills in the community. Professional Behaviors are introduced in OT 103, where professional issues, such as standards, ethics and vision for the future are discussed. The Community Based Practice Series (OT 410 and OT 411) provide less structured opportunities for students to create occupational opportunities in non-traditional settings, and to take an active role in the development of their learning. OT 570 assists the student in acquiring the traditional management and supervisory skills necessary in may of today’s practice environments, as well as the leadership capacities for entrepreneurial work. OT 630, as a culminating course, requires the student to investigate the Issues & Trends in the profession that will challenge and motivate them as they enter into practice.

Sequence IV: Clinical Performance, Reasoning and Application
(OT 405, 407, 510, 511 512, 601, 602, 922, 923, 924, 990)
The development of clinical skills begins in OT 405 and OT 407 where students acquire general competencies in conducting an occupation centered assessment process and attain the entry-level clinical skills that are required to progress through the intervention series in upcoming semesters. The Intervention Series, OT 510, OT 511 and OT 512, provide the students with opportunities to integrate prior levels of learning to construct intervention for a variety of clients with an occupation and evidence based approach derived from on theoretical principles. Level I Fieldwork experiences complement the developmental sequence of the Interventions series, and allow students to apply academic concepts as well as to integrate the three content themes of community, occupation and evidence. The final application of this sequence occurs during the student’s Level II FW experiences (OT 601 & OT 602).

Sequence V: Research and EBP - Strengthening our Knowledge Base
(OT 520, 433, 633)
While basic bibliographic, search and information literacy are introduced early throughout the curriculum, the essence of the research series begins in OT 520 where students learn about qualitative and quantitative research designs, grants, and the research process. OT 690 and OT 695 require them to take a research proposal from start to finish, designing a study, collecting data, and analyzing and presenting results. OT 433 begins the evidence based practice components, where students complete and individual EBP review throughout the semester. These skills are later applied at the graduate level, in OT 633, where students work individually, but collaborate online to share resources while they are on Level II fieldwork. This final EBP course results in a project to be shared with the fieldwork site.