The Program in Occupational Therapy has developed a curriculum that bridges biomedical, public health and sociocultural perspectives. Within the coursework itself are many opportunities to provide community service to organizations and individuals and experiential learning to students.
For the Directed Master's Scholarship or Directed Doctoral Scholarship project, students can select to be placed with a local community agency or clinic to assist the agency in developing programs for those the agency serves. The course sequence is jointly guided by an occupational therapy faculty member and the community partner, and assists in building the agency’s capacity to serve.
Course-based Community Service
Several courses provide the opportunity for students to interact with specific populations in the community and provide information and services. Below are some examples of how students have interacted with organizations and individuals in the context of coursework.
- Accessibility of schools in St. Louis: Students assessed the environments of two schools in St. Louis, completed site visits and provided feedback to school administration.
- Community building usability: Students were trained to administer the Community Health Environment Checklists (CHECs) at sites within Kirkwood, Mo. The information will be added to a Google Map area to inform people with disabilities about sites they can visit in the community.
- Chronic disease self-management for Parkinson Disease: Students under faculty supervision taught a six-week course for caregivers and patients to help them cope with chronic disease. The students conducted research to assess the effects of the program.
- Fall prevention workshops: Students under faculty supervision provided workshops and day-long awareness programs for fall prevention in partnership with area agencies and senior centers.
- Friendly Village Senior Apartments: Students visited residents at Friendly Village Senior Apartments to practice administering the In-Home Occupational Performance Evaluation (I-HOPE). The I-HOPE measures in-home activity performance of the older adult and his or her environment before and after home modification interventions.
- Living Life with Low Vision: Students in this scholarly experience designed and administered a six-week curriculum for older adults to learn how to problem-solve and advocate for resources and their health.
- Paraquad’s Home Accessibility Program: Students worked with the home accessibility manager and his team at Paraquad. They created handouts to be given to participants to describe easy and low cost solutions to common home barriers.
- Parkinson Disease Caregiver Education Series: Faculty and students developed this curriculum of two classes supporting the knowledge, skills and emotional health of caregivers of patients with Parkinson’s disease.
- Playground accessibility: Students conducted assessments and made recommendations to improve the accessibility of playgrounds in the city of St. Louis. The information is available to be shared with community agencies including the Family Participation Program at Paraquad.
- St. Louis Area Agency on Aging Database: Students conducted home visits with older adults to capture how they were served by the St. Louis Area Agency on Aging (SLAAA) in the last year. They updated the agency’s database to help better determine current needs.
Fieldwork is an integral part of the educational experience. It is during this time that students have the opportunity to “operationalize” their knowledge and be mentored in the process. During fieldwork, students spend 12-weeks in a real-world setting, such as a hospital, clinic or community organization, where they provide care for actual clients under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. They deliver a variety of OT services including evaluation, treatment and intervention.
The Program has more than 500 fieldwork sites throughout the U.S. in a variety of clinical and community-based settings across the lifespan. Through our students' fieldwork experiences, we provide nearly 80,000 hours of community service each year.