Occupational Science Degree (BHS) - Pre-OT Program

pre-ot degreeBecome an Occupational Therapist
In 2017, GMercyU launched our Occupational Science program that can serve as a dual degree program to give qualified GMercyU students a way to earn both a Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Occupational Science and a Master of Science (MS) in Occupational Therapy* without having to apply to graduate school or take a graduate school entrance exam.
The BHS in Occupational Science and MS in Occupational Therapy can be completed in about 5 years.

The Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy majors are housed in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy within the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions.

 

Program Summary

126 undergraduate credits for BHS in Occupational Science (with 40 additional credits for MS in Occupational Therapy)
3 years of pre-professional liberal arts education, 2 1/2 years of professional Occupational Therapy education
Occupational Science program launched in the Fall of 2017
First Occupational Science graduating class was in May of 2020

 

Accreditation

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education

The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org. Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

Occupational Therapy Career Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for occupational therapists is $85,570 (May 2021). Job growth in the field of occupational therapy is expected to grow 17% through 2030, more than twice as fast than the average for all occupations. And...

Occupational Science is a science that focuses on the activities or “occupations” of everyday living. This growing field of study takes a holistic approach to better understanding the meaning, function, and abilities of healthy and disabled individuals to participate in and perform daily activities and live a satisfying life.

Courses in liberal arts with a strong foundation in the behavioral sciences, particularly psychology, coupled with courses in occupational science will expand your ability to understand how people develop, recover, manage and improve essential skills for daily living.

Courses in occupational science will expand your ability to understand the complexity of things people need to, want to and are expected to do. This type of knowledge is foundational to understanding our clients in occupational therapy as occupational beings.

Did you know that the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) has strong support for occupational science and its value to society and to occupational therapy? The program learning outcomes of Gwynedd Mercy University’s Occupational Science Program are directly connected to WFOT’s statement of occupational science's significance of position to society. To read more about this, please visit this link.

Occupational therapists focus on improving a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks and activities (occupations) – from childhood to older adulthood. 

As an occupational therapist, you might:

  • Enable young children with a developmental delay to improve their ability to play or participate in school and other social activities
  • Assist an adult with an orthopedic injury to regain use of his or her hand and arm, allowing him or her to perform daily activities more independently
  • Help older adults who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury perform self-care and household activities so they can return home safely from the hospital or skilled nursing facility
  • Provide strategies to adolescents with severe mental illness to aid them in finding and securing employment in order to live on their own

A developmental delay or other types of disability can alter one’s ability to perform meaningful daily activities.  A registered occupational therapist helps people to cope and manage their daily activities, as well as adapt to environments in a way that best supports their safety and independence.

Program Details

Don’t let the name fool you. GMercyU’s BHS in Occupational Science is less focused on mastering the physical sciences, such as biology, chemistry and physics, and more focused on the science of everyday activities that people do as individuals, in families and with communities to occupy time and bring meaning and purpose to life.

As an Occupational Science student, the bulk of your major courses will focus on the liberal arts, including human development, psychology, and occupational science. These courses will help you develop the knowledge needed to better understand the challenges faced by those with disabilities. In doing so, Occupational Science students are uniquely prepared to enter into our Occupational Therapy Program.

If you are interested in Occupational Therapy or have applied to the OT program, please reach out to Kathy Hosack by email at Hosack.K@gmercyu.edu or calling (215) 646-7300 ext. 21699.

The four-year Occupational Science major includes three years of pre-professional studies with a focus on liberal arts, occupational science, health science, and general education. The fourth year begins the professional phase of the Occupational Therapy Program (at an undergraduate tuition rate). The Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy courses that are offered in this dual degree Program are listed below:

Year 1: Fall
OSC 100: Introduction to Occupation and Occupational Science (3 credits)

Year 2: Spring
OSC 201: The Nature and Meaning of Human Occupation (3 credits)

Year 3: Spring
OSC 301: Occupational Perspective of Health (3 credits)
OSC 302: Neuroscience of Occupational Behavior (3 credits)

Year 4: Summer
OSC 410: Ethics, Values, and Responsibilities (3 credits)
OSC 415: Skills for Occupation-based Practice (3 credits)

Year 4: Fall

OSC 404: Therapeutic Use of Self (2 credits)
OSC 405: Foundations of Occupational Therapy (3 credits)
OSC 406: Creativity and Activity Analysis (2 credits)
OSC 414: Research Methods I: Evidence-based Practice (3 credits)
OSC 416: Health Care, Policy, and Advocacy (3 credits)
OSC 419: Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology for Occupational Therapy (4 credits)

Year 4: Spring

OSC 411: Health and Occupational Participation of Children and Youth (3 credits)
OSC 412: Occupational Therapy Process: Children and Youth (5 credits)
OSC 413: Occupational Therapy Fieldwork I: Children and Youth (1 credit)
OSC 417: Management and Leadership (3 credits)
OSC 4000: Research Methods II: Occupation-based Program Development (3 credits)

Please note: All professional phase Occupational Therapy students (senior year and beyond) may be required to obtain the following annually –background check, physical, current CPR certification, PPD testing, health insurance. Students will be required to have a laptop, have transportation to and from fieldwork, and expected to hold student memberships to the American Occupational Therapy Association and Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association. 

Additional Occupational Therapy course listings can be found on the MSOT degree page.

OSC 100: Introduction to Occupation and Occupational Science (3 credits)
To explore and expand the knowledge of occupation; the application of occupation to understanding of the human as an occupational being; and, to foster understanding on the relationship between occupational science and occupational therapy.

OSC 201: The Nature and Meaning of Human Occupation (3 credits)
Recognizing humans as occupational beings and understanding the meaning and significance of everyday occupation in day-to-day life.

OSC 301: Occupational Perspective of Health (3 credits)
Recognizing occupation as contributing factor to health and well-being. Considers the barriers of occupational injustice to effecting occupational participation and the health of persons and populations.

OSC 302: Neuroscience of Occupational Behavior (3 credits)
An examination of the intersection of neuroscience, cognition, and occupation across the lifespan.

OSC 404: Therapeutic Use of Self (2 credits)
Exploration of human behavioral theories and practice of therapeutic use of self within individual and group therapeutic contexts. Focus on understanding the occupational needs of individuals and groups, teaching-learning process, appraisal of effective communication, empathy, mindfulness, and building of rapport to foster effective therapeutic relationships.

OSC 405: Foundations of Occupational Therapy (3 credits)
Introduction to the foundations of the occupational therapy profession including its history, philosophical base, professional terminology, theory development, frames of reference, and the varied scope and roles of the occupational therapy practitioner.

OSC 406: Creativity and Activity Analysis (2 credits)
Exploration of the historical and contemporary use of creativity in the promotion of health through client-centered activities to promote health and recovery. Emphasis on the analysis, grading, and managing the complexity of therapeutic activities. Includes a practice lab.

OSC 410: Ethics, Values, and Responsibilities (3 credits)
Examines the ethics and values of the profession of occupational therapy including the ethical standards of occupational therapy practice and review of scenarios to solve ethical dilemmas. Includes professional development regarding the acquisition of professional membership, knowledge, and skills expected of students in a professional program while beginning to develop a plan for lifelong learning.

OSC 411: Health and Occupational Participation of Children and Youth (3 credits)
Examines the development, occupational behavior, and prevailing health needs of children and adolescents with or at risk for disabilities and occupational injustice. Focus on understanding children and youth as occupational beings with varied health conditions that can impact occupational performance and participation.

OSC 412: Occupational Therapy Process: Children and Youth (5 credits)
Integrates theories and the occupational therapy process of evaluation (including assessment), intervention, and targeted outcomes with children and adolescents. Includes a practice lab.

OSC 413: Occupational Therapy Fieldwork I: Children and Youth (1 credit)
Immersion experience into a therapeutic service delivery context with children or youth.

OSC 414: Research Methods I: Evidence-based Practice (3 credits)
Review of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, appraisal of professional literature and levels of evidence, and the influence of occupational therapy practice expertise and client values in supporting best therapeutic practices.

OSC 415: Skills for Occupation-based Practice (3 credits)
Review of health care and occupational therapy practice terminology that include infection control, safety, body mechanics, wheelchair and mobility device use, ADL training, IADL training, and ergonomics to improve work performance. Principles supporting occupation-based practice are integrated.

OSC 416: Health Care, Policy, and Advocacy (3 credits)
A focus on understanding health care, policy, and reimbursement that influence access to occupational therapy practice across multiple practice areas. Review of intra-professional and inter-professional roles, and the laws and regulations that influence occupational therapy practice. Promotion of occupational therapy to other professionals, service providers, consumers, third-party payers, regulatory bodies, and to the public.

OSC 417: Management and Leadership (3 credits)
Plan, develop, and market the management and delivery of occupational therapy that includes care coordination, case management, transition of services, consultation, management of staffing occupational therapy assistants, referral and collaboration with other inter-professional partners, and provision of fieldwork education.

OSC 419: Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology for Occupational Therapy (4 credits)
Focus on the study of the body functions and structures of the human body with a major emphasis on functional anatomy within the domain of concern for occupational therapy and analyzing typical, atypical, and compensatory human movement across the life span.

OSC 4000: Research Methods II: Occupation-based Program Development (3 credits)
Exploration of occupation and diversity factors that influence health and wellness for individuals, groups and populations. Create a scholarly IRB research proposal and occupation-based program intervention manual designed to improve the wellness, health promotion, and/or occupational participation needs of a targeted community group.

Gwynedd Mercy University’s Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) is an active and productive student organization that is primarily comprised of occupational science and occupational therapy students. SOTA serves to enhance the public understanding of the occupational therapy profession through professional development, fundraising, social media, community service, occupational justice, and social activities. To meet the current SOTA Executive Board and to learn of past and upcoming SOTA events, please visit the SOTA homepage.

Occupational Science majors are guaranteed entry into the MSOT program the summer after their junior year if the following criteria are met: cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.1 or greater, combined GPA of 3.1 or greater in prerequisite courses, (General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Sociology, Anatomy and Physiology I and II with lab, and Statistics), earn a “C” or better in all non-prerequisite courses and prerequisite courses completed at Gwynedd Mercy University, have accrued 20 hours or more of documented occupational therapy observation or completion of alternative assignment by faculty advisor, and attest to meeting the Essential Functions of Occupational Therapy Practice.

Occupational Science majors are required to complete 126 credits to earn a Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Occupational Science.

Students are eligible to re-take up to 2 courses in the Occupational Science curriculum that are not an OSC 400 level course. If a student earns less than a “C” in one or more 400 level courses, they cannot progress further in the Occupational Therapy Master’s Program their senior year until the course is retaken and earning a “B” or better in the course or courses. If a student earns less than a “C” in three or more 400 level courses, they will be disqualified from taking coursework to earn a Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy. Disqualified students can change their major and complete program and bachelor degree requirements of a different major offered at Gwynedd Mercy University.

Thomas MernarThomas Mernar, PhD, OTR/L
Position: Associate Professor and Program Director, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Did You Know? Dr. Mernar founded the OS and OT programs at GMercyU. He has been a licensed occupational therapist (OTR) for more than 20 years, with experience working clinically in acute and sub-acute traumatic brain injury units, sub-acute skilled nursing, long-term care, and assisted living facilities.
Read bio


Michele PetersonMichele Peterson, MS, OTR/L
Position: Instructor and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Occupational Therapy
Did You Know? Professor Peterson has been licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR®) for more than 20 years with experience working in pediatrics, specifically school-based, preschool age, birth to three, and pediatric in-patient and out-patient settings. She holds a specialty certification in the Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to feeding.
Read bio


Mindy MacRone-WoltonMindy MacRone-Wolton, DSc, OTR/L
Position: Assistant Professor, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Did You Know? Dr. Wojton has been a licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR®) for more than 20 years. She has spent most of her career as a school-based therapist, working with and advocating for students with attention deficit disorder, autism, cerebral palsy, emotional disturbance, genetic disorders, learning disabilities, and intellectual disabilities.
Read bio


Sharon MontgomerySharon Montgomery, OTD, OTR/L, CHT, CEAS
Position: Assistant Professor, Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Did You Know? Dr. Montgomery has been a registered and licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR®) for more than 30 years. She has spent her career working in a hospital setting providing both adult inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, and she holds a specialty certification in Hand Therapy.
Read bio

 

Sharon MontgomeryMegan R. Mueller, MOT, OTR/L
Position: Professor of Practice
Did You Know? A registered and licensed Occupational Therapist (OTR®) for more than 10 years, Mueller has worked in the acute inpatient rehabilitation setting with adults who sustained spinal cord injuries, cerebrovascular accidents, traumatic brain injuries, and numerous other
neurologic and orthopedic conditions.

Read bio

Admission

There are three paths of entry into the dual degree program in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

First, a select number of high school graduates will enter as freshmen. High school seniors must hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.1 (based on a 4.00 scale), 1080 combined Math and Verbal SAT or at least a 22 on the ACT with no subsection under 20. CLEP or AP credits are not accepted for courses in Anatomy and Physiology, General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Sociology/Anthropology or Statistics. Due to the limited number of spaces available in the BHS in Occupational Science (Pre-OT) program, first-year students are strongly encouraged to submit a completed application no later than December 1.  The Admissions team will review all completed applications for the Occupational Science program in December and begin issuing admissions decisions in January. Students who apply after the December 1 deadline will be considered for admission based on their qualifications and available spots.

Second, a select number of undergraduate students enrolled at GMercyU can apply to change their major to Occupational Science. To be eligible for a change of major to Occupational Science, GMercyU students must have completed 24 or more credits at GMercyU by the end of the spring semester, maintained a cumulative GPA of a 3.1 or greater, submit the internal student change of major application to Dr. Thomas Mernar, Program Director of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Programs at mernar.t@gmercyu.edu between April 1 and May 1, and conduct an in-person interview with Program faculty members in May/June. Having earned an overall GPA of 3.1 or greater does not guarantee acceptance of a change of major to Occupational Science. Your academic transcript will be reviewed (including spring semester grades) in order to determine your change of major eligibility. If you meet the GPA requirements after spring grades are posted, the Program Director of the Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Program will contact you for an interview.

Third, pending the current cohort size, a limited number of students from other academic institutions may be eligible to transfer directly into the Occupational Science major if they have completed an undergraduate Admissions application, completed 24 or more credits, maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.1 or greater, complete an external student transfer application that includes a written essay, and conduct an in-person interview with an Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Program faculty member. No more than 35 credits completed within the last 5 years could be transferred into the education requirements required of an Occupational Science major. 

GMercyU (Internal) Student Change of Major Application to Occupational Science Form (PDF)
External Student Transfer Application to Occupational Science Major Form (PDF)

Occupational Science majors are guaranteed entry into the Professional Phase of the Occupational Therapy Program the summer after their junior year if the following criteria are met:

  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.1 or greater.
  • Prerequisite courses (General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Sociology, Anatomy and Physiology I and II with lab, and Statistics) combined GPA of 3.1 or greater and earn a “C” or better in all prerequisite courses.
  • Completed and documented 50 hours or more of occupational therapy observation beginning in the fall of their freshman year to the spring of their junior year or completion of alternative assignment by faculty advisor.
  • Attest to being able to meet the technical standards for occupational therapy practice. Students entering into and engaged during the full course of the Occupational Therapy Master’s Program must possess essential skills (observation, communication, motor function, intellectual-conceptual abilities, integrative and quantitative abilities, and behavioral and social attributes) to perform all educational (classroom, laboratory and clinical), fieldwork, and experiential preceptorship tasks in an accurate, safe, and efficient manner, to the satisfaction of the faculty, with or without reasonable accommodation. 

Observation

  • Normal or corrected visual ability sufficient for client observation and assessment to ensure safety and accurate measurement.
  • Ability to obtain information from written documents, videotaped data, graphic images and measuring devices accurately and within a reasonable time frame. 
  • Ability to sufficiently monitor and assess health needs of clients. 

Communication

  • Interact with others in a professional, courteous, and collaborative manner while using good judgment for confidentiality.
  • Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each person.
  • Maintain integrity in word and deed with others.
  • Read, speak, and write in English effectively using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Motor Function

  • Assume a variety of body postures that can include continuous sitting, standing, walking, bending, reaching, pulling, lifting, stooping, kneeling, and crawling.
  • Demonstrate manipulation skills to effectively carry and use therapeutic equipment (i.e. assistive devices, weights). 
  • Demonstrate movement and mobility skills that are required for safe handling of persons of various sizes in order to perform safe transfers and guarding during functional mobility with and without an assistive device.
  • Pushing and pulling in order to provide resistance for the purposes of maneuvering and transitioning persons such during bed mobility, using a wheelchair, and for sitting and standing balance activities.
  • Demonstrate eye-hand coordination, postural control, strength, endurance, and integrated function of the senses (vision, hearing, smell, and touch) during the therapeutic process.

Intellectual-conceptual Abilities

  • Demonstrate verbal and written insight into one’s own academic and clinical performance.
  • Demonstrate the mental capacity to understand, problem solve, and make judgments in order to promote ethical reasoning.
  • Demonstrate ability to collect, document, and analyze evaluation data and implement client-centered and occupation-based interventions. 

Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

  • Demonstrate the mental capacity to understand, problem solve, and make judgments in order to promote safety.
  • Intellectual capacities to measure, evaluate, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize information specific to client care.
  • Demonstrate ability to apply information learned from the classroom to a therapeutic practice environment.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

  • Demonstrate mature and professional behaviors with other students, faculty, colleagues, and clients.
  • Be receptive and open to mentor feedback about academic or fieldwork performance and adherence to academic and fieldwork policies and procedures. 
  • Establish and maintain a therapeutic relationship with clients.
  • Ability to work cooperatively and collaboratively with others.

Students should review the Technical Standards for the MSOT program carefully and identify if additional supports are needed for any portion (didactic and clinical) of the MSOT program. Students are encouraged to contact the Student Accessibility Services Office to arrange an individualized consultation to discuss any support services or accommodations they may need. 

Please note: Students enrolling in this program must have the ability to obtain a U.S. background check and other clearances for placement in a U.S. clinical/school setting. U.S. citizenship or permanent residency is also a requirement for licensure within certain academic programs. International students and students who are under DACA status or are undocumented should carefully review the licensure requirements in their state before enrolling in a degree program that leads to licensure. Additional information can be found on the National Conference of State Legislatures website

At GMercyU, we strive to make a quality education accessible to all through financial aid, scholarships, and grants. As a military-friendly university, we welcome service members and participate in all VA educational benefits programs. 

Start your journey to becoming an occupational therapist. Apply to GMercyU's BHS in Occupational Science today!

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