Occupational therapy is a health and rehabilitation profession that helps people function independently. You will work with people who, because of illness, injury, or developmental or psychological impairment, need help to learn, or re-learn, life skills. You will help them lead independent, productive, and satisfying lives.
Occupational therapy can prevent injury or the worsening of existing conditions or disabilities. It promotes independent functioning in individuals who may otherwise need institutionalization or long-term care. Occupational therapy keeps health care costs down and maximizes the quality of life for the individual, their family, and other caregivers.
You can practice Occupational therapy as a licensed Occupational Therapist (Master's degree) or an Occupational Therapist Assistant (two-year associates degree).
If you have questions, contact the William & Mary Pre-OT advisor, [[enburnet, Prof. Evie Burnet]].
The major types of work are: clinical work (direct patient care), research, teaching, administration, and consultation. The employment settings include: schools (K-12), hospitals (emergency, acute, and inpatient rehabilitation), outpatient rehabilitation facilities, community clinics, residential and custodial or long-term care facilities, early intervention programs, home health programs, hospice programs, university clinics, private practice, and community outreach programs.
Preparing for Graduate School
As a college student preparing for graduate work in occupational therapy, you should be aware of several steps necessary for admission into an accredited physical therapy program:
- Contact OT education programs to learn prerequisites are required (see the list below)
- Volunteer in a department of occupational therapy for a minimum of 40 observation hours in two different settings
- Find an occupational therapist mentor to meet members of the field the field
- Complete the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) before your senior year
Prerequisite Courses for OT graduate school
Since the exact prerequisite courses vary slightly for some graduate schools it is important for the student to examine the graduate schools they are interested in attending during their freshman or sophomore year to allow time to complete these courses. The list below contains the most common prerequisite courses:
12 credits - Biological Sciences
- 4 credits - College Biology with labs
- 4 credits of Human Anatomy and lab
- 4 credits of Human Physiology and lab
- Or, 8 credits of A&P I and A&P II
- Exercise physiology in not an acceptable course for these 12 credits
Exercise physiology courses do not fulfill this requirement.
3 credits - Statistics
15 credits - Social Sciences
- Developmental Psychology or Life Span Development course(s)
- Abnormal psychology
- Other Psychology, Sociology, or Anthropology courses
William and Mary courses that fulfill these requirements include:
KINE 303, Human Anatomy
KINE 314 or 315, Human Anatomy Laboratory
KINE 304, Human Physiology
KINE 305, Human Physiology Laboratory
KINE 240, Medical Terminology
BIOL 203 and lab
PSYC 202, Introduction to Psychology as a social science
PSYC 310, Developmental Psychology
PSYC 318, Abnormal Psychology
KINE 394, Statistics and Evaluation, or
PSYC 301 and 302, Elementary Statistics and Experimental Methods, or
MATH 106, Elementary Probability and Statistics
Graduate schools have accepted substitute courses for many of the prerequisite courses so it may a good idea to talk directly with the admissions personnel about satisfying the prerequisite courses.
- American Occupational Therapy Association - Nationally recognized professional association for occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students of occupational therapy.
- Virginia Occupational Therapy Association