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Consistent with the mission and vision of our parent institution and school, the mission for the Master of Occupational Therapy Program is to serve the residents of Mississippi through the provision of competent occupational therapists who exemplify professionalism. These therapists shall be committed to lifelong learning in order to meet expanding work force demands required in dynamic and diverse practice settings. In addition, the faculty is dedicated to scholarly pursuits, service activities, and clinical practice that enhance teaching effectiveness and promote the profession of occupational therapy to students and in the broader community.
The philosophy for the Master of Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, as articulated by the faculty, is consistent with philosophical statements and position papers adopted by the American Occupational Therapy Association. In addition, the mission and vision of our parent institution and school also provide core concepts which guide our philosophical foundation. Our philosophy has three major components: beliefs about human beings, beliefs about occupational therapy, and beliefs about learning. Beliefs about Human Beings The faculty embraces the belief that occupations, or meaningful activities, are a central and organizing component at each developmental stage throughout the lifespan.1 Thus, we believe that humans are active beings with an innate desire to satisfy not only their personal needs for self-care, work, play, and rest through occupational performance, but that individuals also satisfy their need to be productive in a broader societal context through occupational performance. We view individuals as occupational beings due to the integral nature of occupations in everyday life. We support the belief that competence in occupation involves a life-long adaptation process guided by internal and external demands; and, at any time, a person may be overwhelmed by impairment, physical or emotional disability, and/or stressful life events. Consequently, the result may be dysfunction or disability that could be lessened or remediated by outside intervention, i.e. occupational therapy. Beliefs about Occupational Therapy Occupational therapy is the profession which adopts a holistic approach when caring for others by celebrating participation in occupations and embracing diversity among individuals, families, and communities. Our expertise is founded in an extensive knowledge of human behavior and function, occupations and occupational performance as applied across diverse service delivery settings. Occupations are our primary intervention tool used to facilitate independence among those we serve. We include physical, cognitive, psychosocial and contextual elements specific to the individual’s occupational performance during service provision. We adopt the belief that “occupations may be used for health promotion and wellness, remediation or restoration, health maintenance, disease and injury prevention, and compensation/adaptation.”1 In essence, occupational therapy facilitates “health and participation of people, organizations, and populations through engagement in occupation”.2 As a renowned historical figure in occupational therapy Mary Reilly summarized, “Man, through the use of his hands, as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health.”3Beliefs about Learning We ascribe to John Dewey’s philosophical underpinnings that successful education should have both a societal purpose and a purpose for the individual student.4 For the individual student, we view the pursuit of an education as a self-directed choice for intellectual and personal growth to master the self and environment. Each learner is regarded as a unique, autonomous, and responsible individual. We assert that learning is best accomplished by guided doing which is consistent with our beliefs of humans as occupational beings5. Cannon and Feinstein explain that there is “an immense gulf between remembering or understanding facts” and the ability to utilize or perform in real world circumstances.6 As a faculty, we believe it is our duty to assist students in navigating this “gulf” between information acquisition and application competence as entry level occupational therapists and lifelong learners. We assert that a successful student learner of occupational therapy may be described as follows: • Is proficient in technical skills unique to the profession • Utilizes sound clinical reasoning for best practice • Is eager to embrace opportunities for lifelong learning and growth • Demonstrates professionalism including leadership and advocacy skills • Values collaboration to facilitate knowledge expansion
In closing, our philosophy embraces the vision set forth by our national organization’s Centennial Vision which states “occupational therapy is a powerful, widely-recognized, science-driven and evidence-based profession, with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society’s occupational needs.”6 This is congruent with the our institutional and departmental philosophical stance that society is a beneficiary of successful student learning through the provision of competent health care professionals, the contribution of health sciences research, and the enhancement of economic development. References: 1. American Occupational Therapy Association. (2011). The philosophical base of occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65 (6 Suppl.) 2. American Occupational Therapy Association. (2008). Occupational therapy practice framework: Domain & process (2nd ed.). American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 62, 625-683. 3. Reilly, M. (1962). Occupational therapy can be one of the great ideas of 20th century medicine. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 16, 300-308. 4. Dewey, J. (1997). Experience & education. (Reprint edition.) New York: Free Press. 5. AOTA, (2007). Philosophy of Occupational Therapy Education, American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 61, 6. 6. Cannon, H. M. & Feinstein, A. H. (2005). Bloom beyond Bloom: Using the revised taxonomy to develop experiential learning strategies. Developments in Business Simulations and Experiential Learning, 32, 348-356. 7. AOTA Centennial Vision (2006). AOTA’s centennial vision. Retrieved December 5, 2012 from http://www.aota.org/News/Centennial/Background/36516.aspx?FT=.pdf
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