Technical Standards & Accomodations
Occupational therapy is a mentally, physically, and psychologically demanding profession. Throughout the OTD curriculum, students acquire the foundation of knowledge, attitudes, skills, and behaviors that are necessary for a successful career as an occupational therapist. Technical standards reflect those abilities that an occupational therapist must possess for safe and effective clinical practice.
Students are required to have a laptop computer and a mobile device and to be competent in using the device and related software. Students must have routine and reliable access to a broadband internet connection. The curriculum requires travel to campus for scheduled lab immersions and Fieldwork I experiences.
Prospective and current students must meet the following technical requirements with or without reasonable accommodation for admission, progression, and graduation in the OTD program.
Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply to the program. However, if you will need to seek support services from the Baylor University Office of Access and Learning Accommodation on the basis of diagnosed disability, you will need to submit documentation to verify eligibility under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This documentation needs to be recent, preferably within the last three years. For more information about services at Baylor, visit the Office of Access and Learning Accommodation website.
The student must demonstrate the alertness and endurance to attend hybrid-based classes 30 hours or more each week, including active participation in combinations of lectures, discussion, lab, and fieldwork/clinical activities. Preparation for class typically requires an additional 20-30 hours per week. The curriculum requires scheduled immersion lab experiences in Texas over the course of several 8-hour days. During the immersion lab experiences students must be active participants prepared for all sessions. They are required to participate as patients, therapist, and observers with a variety of people representing different physical attributes, gender, age, abilities and disabilities, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, and ethnic backgrounds to simulate the diversity expected in the practice setting. Participation in lab experiences may require exposure of body parts and palpation of body structures by faculty, students, and supervisors of both sexes in preparation for professional practice. Fieldwork/clinical experiences often require 40 hours or more per week on a schedule that corresponds to the operating hours of the facility and the fieldwork educator’s schedule.
The student is expected to possess functional use of the senses of vision, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. All data received by the senses must be integrated, analyzed, and synthesized in a consistent and accurate manner. In addition, the individual is expected to possess the ability to perceive pain, pressure, temperature, position, equilibrium, and movement.
Observation requires the functional use of vision, hearing, somatic sensations, and the use of common sense. Candidates must have visual perception which includes depth and acuity. A student must be able to observe lectures, laboratory-dissected prosections, and lecture and laboratory demonstrations. The student must be able to observe a patient accurately, observe digital and waveform readings, and other graphic images to determine a patient's condition. Students must observe patients accurately and obtain an appropriate medical history directly from the patient or guardian. A student must observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand, noting nonverbal as well as verbal signals. Appropriate visual field, acuity, and scanning for safety factors is required for emergency situations. The student must have adequate functional tactile sensations (i.e., feel vibrations, detect temperatures, feel differences in surface characteristics), and proprioceptive abilities necessary to perceive and synthesize inputs during patient/client evaluation/assessments, interventions, and interactions. Auditory capacity to receive instructions and to evaluate and provide interventions for patients/clients, involving abilities to hear normal speaking levels, faint body sounds, and auditory alarms must be present as well as olfactory abilities to detect odors and smoke.
Occupational therapy students must write, speak, hear, and observe in order to elicit information, examine, educate, and provide interventions, describe changes in mood, activity, posture, and perceive non-verbal communication. Communication includes speech (verbal and non-verbal), language, reading, writing, and computer literacy. Students must communicate effectively, sensitively, and convey a sense of compassion and empathy with patients to obtain information regarding mood and activities and perceive non-verbal communications. Occupational Therapy education presents exceptional challenges in the volume and breadth of required reading and the necessity to impart information to others. Students must be able to communicate quickly, effectively, and efficiently in oral and written English with all members of the health care team. Students must complete forms and documentation according to directions in a timely manner. Communication also includes articulation and speaking with volume which is understandable to the listener and/or audience whether in a one-to-one, small group, or large group setting. Sensitivity in communication regardless of lifestyle, age, gender, ethnic/racial, religious/spiritual background, educational level, socioeconomic status, physical, cognitive, or emotional disabilities. Communication requires the student to uphold privacy and confidentiality policies.
The student is expected to have emotional stability required to exercise sound judgment and complete assessment and intervention activities with clients. The student must establish rapport and maintain sensitive, interpersonal relationships with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds. The student is expected to have the flexibility to function effectively under stress. Concern for others, integrity, accountability, interest, and motivation are necessary personal qualities for the occupational therapy student.
Occupational therapy students must have motor function and strength to execute movements required to assess and provide interventions with patients in a therapeutically effective and safe manner. Students must possess motor function to elicit information from the patient examination. Students must be able to execute movements required to provide general and therapeutic care, such as positioning large or immobile patients for engagement in therapeutic activities, patient mobility with use of therapeutic aids and orthotics, provision of balance stability and guarding of falls during transferring of patients, performing manual mobilization techniques, and setting up/moving equipment. Students must have the physical strength to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and emergency treatment to patients. These skills require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movement, equilibrium, and the integrated use of touch, vision, vestibular, and proprioception senses. Students must be able to provide interventions to patients through a variety of mobility to include rolling, crawling, standing, walking, and sitting.
The student must have the capacity to:
- Sit for long periods
- Stand and maintain balance for up to 6-8 hours per day in classroom/fieldwork/clinical settings
- Walk or mobilize self through environment independently
- Occasionally climb stairs or navigate uneven terrain
- Carry equipment and supplies
- Reach above shoulders and to floor
- Lift/support 25 lbs
- Exertion of push-pull forces of a minimum of 25 lbs
- Coordination of verbal, manual, and gross-motor activities
- Move from place to place and position to position with safe speed, strength, coordination, and endurance for handling equipment and classmates or patients/clients
- Frequently use hands repetitively with a simple grasp and frequently use a firm grasp and manual dexterity skills
- Pinch/pick-up objects with both hands
- Grasp small objects with hands/fingers
- Twist with hands
- Write with a pen or pencil
- Manipulate computer touch screens and keyboards.
Intellectual-Conceptual Integrative and Quantitative Analysis Skills
To effectively solve problems, students must be able to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, integrate, and synthesize information in a timely fashion including ‘on the spot’ situations and under pressure situations. Students must be able to synthesize knowledge from multiple sources and integrate the relevant aspects of a patient's history, physical examination, and laboratory data, provide a reasoned explanation for likely therapy, recalling and retaining information in an efficient and timely manner. The ability to incorporate new information from peers, teachers, and the medical literature in formulating treatment and plans with increasing complexity throughout the academic program is essential. In addition, students must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand spatial relationships of structures. Students must use computers for searching, recording, storing, retrieving, and communicating information. The student must adhere to safety precautions and demonstrate self-reflection and the ability to apply feedback in order to develop proactive strategies for growth and development. Students must identify subtle cues of mood, temperament, and gestures provided by others.
Behavior/Social Attributes and Professional Skills
Occupational therapy students must have appropriate social skills for forming and maintaining mature and culturally sensitive relationships with a variety of people. Students must possess the psychological ability required for the full utilization of their intellectual abilities, to exercise good judgment, and to promptly complete responsibilities. Students must tolerate physically and mentally taxing workloads and function effectively under stress. They must adapt to a changing environment, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of patients. As a component of their professional education, students must demonstrate ethical behavior and the ability to work as a team/group member. Students will be required to deal appropriately with situations involving pain, grief, death, stress, communicable diseases, blood and body fluids, and toxic substances. Compassion, respect, courtesy, integrity, interpersonal skills, motivation, and concern for others are examples of qualities expected of occupational therapy students. Students must demonstrate the ability and willingness to modify behavior after receiving performance feedback. Students must maintain personal appearance and personal hygiene guidelines appropriate for the classroom, fieldwork, and doctoral capstone facilities.