Frequently Asked Questions
- What is an occupational therapist?
- How does occupational therapy differ from other health professions?
- What is satisfying about this career?
- What opportunities are available to become specialized in occupational therapy or to work with different populations?
- What is the job outlook for occupational therapy?
- What salary can I expect as a new graduate?
Applying to the Program
- Do applicants have to volunteer or work in an occupational therapy setting prior to applying?
- How many references do I need to send with my application?
- What GPA do I need to enter the program?
- What Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores do I need to enter the program?
- Do I need a degree before I enter the program?
- Do all the prerequisites need to be completed before I apply to the occupational therapy program, or before I enter the occupational therapy program?
About the Program
- The program is described as having interprofessional course work. What does this mean?
- When does the program start and end?
- What is the clinical component of the program?
- What is fieldwork education?
- Do I decide where I will complete my fieldwork?
- Are there costs associated with completing fieldwork?
- What is the success rate of the MUSC graduates on the national certification examination?
- Are there any factors that would prohibit me from taking the certification exam?
- Is it possible to work while in the occupational therapy program?
- Download the latest student handbook
- Are there workout facilities available at MUSC?
- Is there help available if I happen to struggle in any of the assigned classes?
- Is there housing on-campus for MUSC students?
What is an occupational therapist?
Occupational therapists help people to develop or adapt the skills they need for everyday living. A homemaker with rheumatoid arthritis learns to become more self-reliant using energy conservation and work simplification techniques. A high-school student with a spinal cord injury learns to navigate life from a wheelchair and to use technology to participate in the classroom. A child born with a developmental disability learns to play with other children. Occupational therapists work in many traditional and emerging settings. They may work as members of a health care team to provide needed rehabilitation services, or they may work with school systems or local agencies to help those in need to participate more fully in life.
How does occupational therapy differ from other health professions?
Occupational therapy is a health profession dedicated to helping people participate fully in life. When people are faced with overcoming the effects of delay, deprivation, trauma, or stress, occupational therapists help them engage in occupations or everyday activities that are personally meaningful, socially satisfying, and culturally relevant. When occupational therapists focus on the pattern of occupations and the ways in which occupations shape people's lives, they act as agents of prevention, education, and restoration.
The most satisfying aspect of an occupational therapy career is making a positive impact on the way people live their lives. Occupational therapists must be excellent observers of human behavior, good problem-solvers, great listeners, and persistent advocates for their clients. They 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.
What opportunities are available to become specialized in occupational therapy or to work with different populations?
There are many opportunities for specialization in occupational therapy once you have graduated, passed the certification exam, and begun entry level practice in the field. Probably the most frequently pursued specializations are in the area of adult rehabilitation, pediatrics, and hand therapy. Emerging areas of practice include ergonomics, vision rehabilitation, community consultation, driver rehabilitation, and working with elders in assisted living. Occupational therapists may also work in Native American health centers, prisons and detention centers, industrial and corporate settings, rural communities, and in school systems. The possibilities for working in different settings with unusual populations also abound. The education you receive as an occupational therapy student provides you with the professional skills and attitudes, and critical thinking tools to make a significant contribution in many settings for many people who have not traditionally been served by occupational therapy.
What is the job outlook for occupational therapy?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor lists occupational therapy in the top 20 professions for projected job growth. The uniqueness of occupational therapy, its focus, habilitation and rehabilitation, its contribution to wellness and its ability to serve a wide variety of clients/patients in multiple settings, all bring a variety of employment opportunities to graduates. The Department of Labor expects occupational therapy to grow much faster than average, which means a projected growth rate of over 29% between 2012-2022.
What salary can I expect as a new graduate?
Salaries vary according to geographic region. In South Carolina, the average starting salary is currently $55,000. The average salary for an occupational therapist in the United States is $75,400 per year.
Applying to the Program
Do applicants have to volunteer or work in an occupational therapy setting prior to applying?
Volunteering or working in an occupational therapy setting is compulsory to ensure that you find out whether you are selecting the right career. Applicants must volunteer or work in an occupational therapy setting for at least 30 hours. Upon completion of your volunteer or work experience, you need to complete one of the occupational therapy program Reference Forms found within the university application.
How many references do I need to send with my application?
Send three reference forms, one from the occupational therapy practitioner who supervised volunteer or work experience. The second and third references should be provided by major advisors or professors.
About the Program
What GPA do I need to enter the program?
The minimum undergraduate GPA for entry into the program is 3.0. Recent incoming average cumulative GPA’s have been in the 3.6 range. The majority of successful applicants have a GPA between a 3.2 and a 4.0.
Do I need a degree before I enter the program?
Yes, you need to have a bachelor's degree and complete the specific course prerequisites from an accredited college or university before you enter the program.
Do all the prerequisites need to be completed before I apply to the occupational therapy program, or before I enter the occupational therapy program?
You do not have to complete all courses prior to application; however, all prerequisites must be completed prior to entering the program. See the form, "Plans for Remaining Academic Year", in the application supplemental forms section online. List courses currently in progress and ones you plan to complete prior to admission into the program.
The program is described as having interprofessional course work. What does this mean?
The occupational therapy division is based in the College of Health Professions. Interprofessional course work is built into the curriculum of all colleges at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). This ensures interaction between the variety of health professions, and awareness of the roles of each discipline so they work together to provide quality health care to the client.
What is the clinical component of the program?
Clinical and practical experiences take place throughout the program. During the first year, there are many opportunities to gain experience working in community-based organizations. These experiences are designed for you to engage in service learning with a variety of clients and health care professionals. During the second year, one-week intensive clinical experiences are arranged in a variety of health care facilities in and around Charleston. Finally, during the last two semesters of the program, two full-time clinical experiences, spanning almost seven months, are arranged throughout the state and region.
What is fieldwork education?
Fieldwork education is an integral component of the occupational therapy course of study that provides students with opportunities to integrate didactic learning with clinical experience. The purpose of fieldwork education is to develop a cadre of competent, entry-level occupational therapy practitioners through guided observations and clinical interactions that combine critical thinking and the performance of clinical skills.
Do I decide where I will complete my fieldwork?
The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator consults with students for selecting appropriate fieldwork sites. Selecting sites requires careful consideration of many factors including personal preferences for geographic location, areas of practice, housing availability, and financial resources. Due to limited availability of fieldwork sites and fieldwork educators qualified to supervise students, there is no guarantee that students will receive their preferred choice of fieldwork placements, particularly in the state of South Carolina; therefore, students should be prepared to complete fieldwork in geographic locations other than South Carolina. Fieldwork away from Charleston may occur during both the didactic coursework and clinical practicum portion of the curriculum.
Are there costs associated with fieldwork?
Yes, students should anticipate incurring costs beyond tuition, fees, and books for fieldwork. Costs related to fieldwork include but are not limited to clinical education compliance and credentialing (CPR, drug screening, vaccinations, and other facility requirements), clothing/uniforms, food, housing, transportation, etc. because students may need to travel beyond the Charleston area or even away from SC for Level I and Level II Fieldwork experiences. For instance, two weeklong clinical correlates (Level I Pediatric Fieldwork - Spring, Year 1 & Level I Physical Dysfunction Fieldwork – Fall, Year 2) and two 12-week clinical practicums (Level II Fieldwork - CP 1: Spring Year 2 & CP 2: Spring & Summer, Year 2) are requirements for the successful completion of the program.
What is the success rate of the MUSC graduates on the national certification examination?
Our students consistently score above the mean on the national certification examination.
Program graduates are eligible to take the certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. | 12 South Summit Ave, Suite 100, Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150 | Phone: (301) 990-7979 | Fax: (301) 869-8492 | Website: www.nbcot.org
The total number of graduates from our program during the 3-year period of 2013-2015 was 132.
The total number of program graduates who passed the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification examination as first-time new graduate test takers in 2013–2015 was 130 out of 132, which is a pass rate of 98.5%. The pass rate for all first and second-time test takers (134 total) in 2013-2015 was 100%.
|Year||# of first-time test takers||# of first-time test takers passing the exam||% of first-time test takers who passed the exam||% of all attempting the exam who passed|
Are there any factors that would prohibit me from taking the certification exam?
If you have a felony conviction on your record, this may affect your ability to sit for the certification examination administered by NBCOT after you graduate; this can subsequently affect your ability to attain state licensure. Before applying to the OT program, you can contact NBCOT for information on their early determination program to assess examination eligibility. Go to www.nbcot.org and read the Early Review section for further details.
Is it possible to work while in the occupational therapy program?
Most students do not work during their first semester, which is a very busy short semester. Many students work part-time as their schedules permit and some students may qualify for work-study on campus.
Are there workout facilities available at MUSC?
Yes. For enrolled full-time students, the Wellness Center provides a weight room, aerobic gymnasium, racquetball and squash courts, swimming pool, indoor and outdoor track, and tennis courts.
Is there help available if I happen to struggle in any of the assigned classes?
Faculty teaching your classes will always help you. Individual and group tutoring sessions are available on campus through the Center of Academic Excellence at no additional cost to the student.
There is no student housing on-campus. The MUSC housing office can assist students looking for accommodations. Call (843) 792-0394 for more information and there is a very good housing website at http://www.musc.edu/housing.