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Occupational Therapy Doctorate

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Occupational therapists help clients improve their quality of life, health and wellness, and connection to community. Through clinical practice, education and research, as well as program and policy development, OTs help clients advocate for themselves. The Katz School’s entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate will prepare you for a lifetime of helping people. The Occupational Therapy Doctorate program integrates theory, research and practice, combining interactive courses with hands-on, state-of-the-art labs and fieldwork in a variety of clinical settings.

Through a student-practitioner approach, you’ll work alongside faculty and learn to translate research into evidence-based interventions and new diagnostics and protocols, all with a focus on client-centered care: health prevention, promotion and wellness, community health and cross-cultural competency. And you’ll develop the professional competencies and an ethical code to engage in policy development, leadership and advocacy, and occupational justice.

Demand for qualified occupational therapists is growing fast. With YU’s hands-on entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate, you’ll graduate in under three years with the expertise to help clients gain greater independence and confidence in performing the tasks of everyday living. Occupational therapist is ranked 10th in U.S. News & World Report's Top Health Care Jobs of 2021 and ranked 19th in U.S. News' Top 100 Jobs of 2021. Occupational therapy assistant is ranked 12th in the Top Health Care Support Jobs of 2021. Occupational therapists make on average $85,000 and occupational therapist assistants make $61,500.

Program Highlights

  • Master the OT therapeutic process of evaluation, intervention and assessment
  • Design assistive and adaptive technologies to help clients adapt to their environment and improve functional independence
  • Develop community programs and improve engagement in a variety of nontraditional and emerging practice settings
  • Integrate OT into an interprofessional health care team
  • Build relationships with top clinical directors throughout New York and across the United States in competitive fieldwork placements
  • Practice in state-of-the-art OT labs, including activities of daily living, modalities and neurosensory integration

Events and Webinars

Full Program Breakdown

Occupational therapists help clients improve their quality of life, health and wellness, and connection to community. Through clinical practice, education and research, as well as program and policy development, OTs help clients advocate for themselves. The Katz School’s entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate will prepare you for a lifetime of helping people. The Occupational Therapy Doctorate program integrates theory, research and practice, combining interactive courses with hands-on, state-of-the-art labs and fieldwork in a variety of clinical settings.

Through a student-practitioner approach, you’ll work alongside faculty and learn to translate research into evidence-based interventions and new diagnostics and protocols, all with a focus on client-centered care: health prevention, promotion and wellness, community health and cross-cultural competency. And you’ll develop the professional competencies and an ethical code to engage in policy development, leadership and advocacy, and occupational justice.

Demand for qualified occupational therapists is growing fast. With YU’s hands-on entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate, you’ll graduate in under three years with the expertise to help clients gain greater independence and confidence in performing the tasks of everyday living. Occupational therapist is ranked 10th in U.S. News & World Report's Top Health Care Jobs of 2021 and ranked 19th in U.S. News' Top 100 Jobs of 2021. Occupational therapy assistant is ranked 12th in the Top Health Care Support Jobs of 2021. Occupational therapists make on average $85,000 and occupational therapist assistants make $61,500.

Program Highlights

  • Master the OT therapeutic process of evaluation, intervention and assessment
  • Design assistive and adaptive technologies to help clients adapt to their environment and improve functional independence
  • Develop community programs and improve engagement in a variety of nontraditional and emerging practice settings
  • Integrate OT into an interprofessional health care team
  • Build relationships with top clinical directors throughout New York and across the United States in competitive fieldwork placements
  • Practice in state-of-the-art OT labs, including activities of daily living, modalities and neurosensory integration

Events and Webinars

Swipe to learn more!

Occupational therapists help clients improve their quality of life, health and wellness, and connection to community. Through clinical practice, education and research, as well as program and policy development, OTs help clients advocate for themselves. The Katz School’s entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate will prepare you for a lifetime of helping people. The Occupational Therapy Doctorate program integrates theory, research and practice, combining interactive courses with hands-on, state-of-the-art labs and fieldwork in a variety of clinical settings.

Through a student-practitioner approach, you’ll work alongside faculty and learn to translate research into evidence-based interventions and new diagnostics and protocols, all with a focus on client-centered care: health prevention, promotion and wellness, community health and cross-cultural competency. And you’ll develop the professional competencies and an ethical code to engage in policy development, leadership and advocacy, and occupational justice.

Demand for qualified occupational therapists is growing fast. With YU’s hands-on entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate, you’ll graduate in under three years with the expertise to help clients gain greater independence and confidence in performing the tasks of everyday living. Occupational therapist is ranked 10th in U.S. News & World Report's Top Health Care Jobs of 2021 and ranked 19th in U.S. News' Top 100 Jobs of 2021. Occupational therapy assistant is ranked 12th in the Top Health Care Support Jobs of 2021. Occupational therapists make on average $85,000 and occupational therapist assistants make $61,500.

Program Highlights

  • Master the OT therapeutic process of evaluation, intervention and assessment
  • Design assistive and adaptive technologies to help clients adapt to their environment and improve functional independence
  • Develop community programs and improve engagement in a variety of nontraditional and emerging practice settings
  • Integrate OT into an interprofessional health care team
  • Build relationships with top clinical directors throughout New York and across the United States in competitive fieldwork placements
  • Practice in state-of-the-art OT labs, including activities of daily living, modalities and neurosensory integration

Interested in this program? Apply Now!

At a Glance

115-credit doctorate

Full-time, on-campus program in New York City where you'll get the individual attention you deserve

Leading clinical and research faculty

Competitive fieldwork placements in the New York City metropolitan area and beyond

Career support and professional networking opportunities

Helpful Links

Webinars

Join Our Community

Contact Us

Jared Hakimi 
Director of Graduate Admissions
jared.hakimi@yu.edu
646-592-4722
Schedule an Appointment 

Shayna Matzner
Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions
shayna.matzner@yu.edu
646-592-4726
Schedule an Appointment

Xavier Velasquez
Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions
xavier.velasquez@yu.edu
646-592-4737
Schedule an Appointment

Candidates for the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program must have completed a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and have all prerequisite coursework outlined below. The last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework must meet a minimum 3.0 GPA

Application Requirements

Applicants applying to the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program can use either the University’s application system or the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). Either application portal will have specific admissions requirements including: 

  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended within the last 10 years.
  • Résumé
  • 2 letters of recommendation: at least 1 from a licensed occupational therapist; 1 letter may be from a faculty member/advisor. Letters from friends or family members will not be accepted.
  • Personal statement demonstrating a commitment to contribute to and complete the program
  • Verification of 40+ volunteer or observation hours from OT setting(s) of choice.
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores (for candidates whose bachelor's degrees were earned at a non-English-speaking institution)
    • NACES course-by-course evaluation (for degrees completed outside of the US and English-speaking Canada) 
    • Minimum TOEFL score on tests taken within the last two years: 100 (internet-based test)
    • Minimum IELTS score on tests taken within the last two years: 7

Prerequisite Coursework 

  • Two courses in the humanities or social sciences (anthropology, philosophy, religion, ethics, cultural studies, group dynamics) (3 credits each)
  • One course in statistics (3 credits)
  • One course in human anatomy, plus lab (3 credits)
  • One course in physiology, plus lab (3 credits)
  • One course in human development or lifespan (3 credits)
  • One course in abnormal or behavioral psychology (3 credits)
  • One course in medical terminology (1 credit)

Applicants must have obtained an overall 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in program prerequisite courses (from accredited universities) within the last 10 years. Applications may be submitted during enrollment in an undergraduate degree program or during completion of prerequisite coursework. The last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework must meet a minimum 3.0 GPA. 

Financial Aid

All applicants are automatically considered for scholarships. You do not need to submit any additional information. Awards are determined during the application review process.  

Please schedule an appointment with an admissions director if you have questions about financial aid opportunities and financing your graduate degree. We can do a preliminary transcript review and discuss your admissions and financing options with the Katz School. 

Tuition & Fees

The Office of Student Finance maintains current tuition and fees and refund policies and procedures for all graduate programs.

COVID-19 Vaccination

Please note that the University requires its students to be fully-vaccinated against COVID-19. Students attending a program with a clinical training component are subject to this policy. Medical and religious exemptions generally are not available for students in a University clinical training program due to the requirements of external clinical sites and other circumstances which would place an undue burden on the University to provide the accommodation. You should bear this in mind when applying to the program. The University will not refund any fees or other payments if you are unable to enroll or otherwise complete the program.

Background Checks

Please note that a felony conviction or previous criminal record could affect eligibility for clinical training placement and, as a result, ability to complete the program requirements.  Clinical training sites often require a background check prior to placement. Additionally, a felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the national certification examination, as well impact eligibility to obtain state licensure.

Learn More

Helpful Links

Webinars

Join Our Community

Contact Us

Jared Hakimi 
Director of Graduate Admissions
jared.hakimi@yu.edu
646-592-4722
Schedule an Appointment 

Shayna Matzner
Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions
shayna.matzner@yu.edu
646-592-4726
Schedule an Appointment

Xavier Velasquez
Assistant Director of Graduate Admissions
xavier.velasquez@yu.edu
646-592-4737
Schedule an Appointment

Admissions & Financial Aid

Candidates for the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program must have completed a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and have all prerequisite coursework outlined below. The last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework must meet a minimum 3.0 GPA

Application Requirements

Applicants applying to the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program can use either the University’s application system or the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). Either application portal will have specific admissions requirements including: 

  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended within the last 10 years.
  • Résumé
  • 2 letters of recommendation: at least 1 from a licensed occupational therapist; 1 letter may be from a faculty member/advisor. Letters from friends or family members will not be accepted.
  • Personal statement demonstrating a commitment to contribute to and complete the program
  • Verification of 40+ volunteer or observation hours from OT setting(s) of choice.
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores (for candidates whose bachelor's degrees were earned at a non-English-speaking institution)
    • NACES course-by-course evaluation (for degrees completed outside of the US and English-speaking Canada) 
    • Minimum TOEFL score on tests taken within the last two years: 100 (internet-based test)
    • Minimum IELTS score on tests taken within the last two years: 7

Prerequisite Coursework 

  • Two courses in the humanities or social sciences (anthropology, philosophy, religion, ethics, cultural studies, group dynamics) (3 credits each)
  • One course in statistics (3 credits)
  • One course in human anatomy, plus lab (3 credits)
  • One course in physiology, plus lab (3 credits)
  • One course in human development or lifespan (3 credits)
  • One course in abnormal or behavioral psychology (3 credits)
  • One course in medical terminology (1 credit)

Applicants must have obtained an overall 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in program prerequisite courses (from accredited universities) within the last 10 years. Applications may be submitted during enrollment in an undergraduate degree program or during completion of prerequisite coursework. The last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework must meet a minimum 3.0 GPA. 

Financial Aid

All applicants are automatically considered for scholarships. You do not need to submit any additional information. Awards are determined during the application review process.  

Please schedule an appointment with an admissions director if you have questions about financial aid opportunities and financing your graduate degree. We can do a preliminary transcript review and discuss your admissions and financing options with the Katz School. 

Tuition & Fees

The Office of Student Finance maintains current tuition and fees and refund policies and procedures for all graduate programs.

COVID-19 Vaccination

Please note that the University requires its students to be fully-vaccinated against COVID-19. Students attending a program with a clinical training component are subject to this policy. Medical and religious exemptions generally are not available for students in a University clinical training program due to the requirements of external clinical sites and other circumstances which would place an undue burden on the University to provide the accommodation. You should bear this in mind when applying to the program. The University will not refund any fees or other payments if you are unable to enroll or otherwise complete the program.

Background Checks

Please note that a felony conviction or previous criminal record could affect eligibility for clinical training placement and, as a result, ability to complete the program requirements.  Clinical training sites often require a background check prior to placement. Additionally, a felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the national certification examination, as well impact eligibility to obtain state licensure.

Program News

Amiya Wadman-Levi

OT Specialists Using Play to Help Child Development

Read more about the study supported by YU provost fund

OT Specialists Using Play to Help Child Development

As the COVID-19 pandemic and poverty-related stress increase the need for social-emotional support for children and families, a team of specialists led by Katz School professor Amiya Waldman-Levi has created a strength-based intervention program that aims to improve children’s development through playful interactions with their parents.

Read the entire story on the Katz blog.

Dr. Julie Kardachi

Program Innovator Named OT Doctorate Director

Read more about Dr. Julie Kardachi

Program Innovator Named OT Doctorate Director

Dr. Julie Kardachi, who has decades of experience in a variety of clinical practice areas, was named director of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program.

“Dr. Kardachi’s first-rate clinical skills and her exceptional ability to relate to and work with clients and students makes her the perfect choice for leading our entry-level doctorate program,” said Dr. Paul Russo, dean of the Katz School and vice provost at Yeshiva. “She understands that putting her clients at the center of their own rehabilitation can be the difference between living and having a life.”

Before joining the Katz School, Dr. Kardachi was the academic coordinator for the occupational therapy program at Touro College in Manhattan, where she was twice named Teacher of the Year.

Over her career, Dr. Kardachi has worked primarily with adults with neurological and orthopedic conditions, as well as with adults with profound developmental disabilities. She has helped clients of every age increase their mobility, maintain their functional independence at home, and recover from neurological and workplace injuries.

Dr. Kardachi co-developed and is a consultant to Fall Stop…Move Strong, a New York-based fitness and education fall-prevention program where each week hundreds of older adults throughout the nation participate in choreographed exercises, informed by her research, that keep them active and safe in their homes and communities.

She has published and presented widely. She is the co-author of a textbook in press at AOTA Press on adapted methods for everyday activities and has made numerous presentations on her ongoing research into community-based, fall-prevention programs.

As director of the Katz School program, she plans to apply her years of experience supervising students in clinical practice and clinical education to the development of students’ research, clinical reasoning and creative skills.

“The program at Yeshiva has the perfect philosophical emphasis on occupation, wellness, evidence and community,” said Dr. Kardachi, who took over in April 2021. “The advantage of the entry-level doctorate is that it equips students to develop occupational therapy services in a way that broadens the populations we serve and expands the profession’s intellectual boundaries.”

Dr. Zesarae Bodie

Students Take on Aging and Disability in Courses

Read more about Dr. Bodie and her OT program courses

Students Take on Aging and Disability in Courses

Assignments in Dr. Zesarae Bodie’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate courses not only teach students what it’s like to live with a disability in a world built for the able-bodied, they show how disability can test their strength, build empathy and shape the quality of their relationships with others.

“Part of the purpose of my classes is to increase their awareness of the potential struggles, nervousness and fears their patients may experience when being issued a wheelchair for the first time,” said Dr. Bodie, a clinical assistant professor in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program. “The job of the occupational therapist is to assist patients with achieving maximum independence, so it is helpful for them to have an idea of how it feels to use one.”

In the courses “Clinical Skills and Procedures” and “Occupational Performance and the Older Adult,” students issued wheelchairs paired up with a classmate assigned the role of occupational therapist to guide them through activities of everyday living.

For example, Dr. Bodie’s students went to a CVS to experience what it’s like to shop in a store designed for an able-bodied person. Occupational Therapy Doctorate student Bredin Kamsi Kom had to prop open a self-closing door with his wheelchair while his partner, Julietta Gurgova, stood ready to assist with strategies for how to gather items out of reach.

To get to the store, the students in wheelchairs had to navigate across streets, through parking lots, over curbs and up ramps, testing their upper-body strength and sharpening their instincts for negligent drivers and other challenges to their safety.

In other assignments, students stuffed cotton balls in their ears to approximate hearing loss, wore thick gloves with the digits taped together to mimic arthritic hands while typing and writing, donned special sunglasses that decreased brightness and occluded central vision requiring them to use their peripheral vision to see in front of them, and walked with dried chickpeas in their shoes to feel what it’s like to have neuropathy, or numbness caused by nerve damage.

“Dr. Bodie thought of creative ways to ‘feel’ the symptoms of aging,” said Occupational Therapy Doctorate student Yoheved Zion. “Cultivating a sensitivity to a client’s challenges will make us better practitioners and clinicians who are more aware and client-centered, and, above all, more compassionate human beings.”

Dr. Alex Wagner

Disability Studies Integral to Occupational Therapy Practice

Read about why Dr. Alex Wagner joined the field

Disability Studies Integral to Occupational Therapy Practice

One of the things that drew me to occupational therapy is getting the opportunity to work with a variety of people, including those with disabilities. We seek to promote their independence, quality of life and engagement in valued occupations; however, to effectively work with this group of people, we need to be appropriately informed about living with a disability and the disabled person’s experience.

To be a competent occupational therapist in this area, we need to understand their strengths, their challenges and the barriers they face throughout life. To be fully informed in these areas, occupational therapists should be learning from and engaging with the field of disability studies.

Disability studies seeks to integrate people with disabilities in all areas of life and ensure they are equal members of society, in spite of the oppression, social exclusion and stigma they face today and have throughout history. 

Disability studies addresses these sources of oppression and marginalization through research and activism, and it places the stories and experiences that people with disabilities face at the forefront of research because they are the experts in their own lives.

In my experience of working with people with disabilities, I learned that the notion of independence, of being able to do everything by yourself, is not always the most important aspect of a person’s life. I also believe that listening to people’s stories before they start receiving treatment is important because the experience of having a disability is different for everyone.

Although this seems obvious, people with disabilities were not always thought in this way. Their experiences were not sought out or used by professionals to spur change in society and the way living with a disability was viewed. Disability studies and occupational therapy seek to promote inclusion—one of the many reasons that integrating the field of disability studies into occupational therapy education is valuable.

Occupational therapists can learn valuable knowledge from disabilities studies that can and should be integrated into practice. As a professor in the program, I hold an advanced certificate in disability studies and I integrate disabilities literature and the personal experiences of the disabled into the classroom. Someone is only disabled by structural or attitudinal barriers in society; the disability doesn’t reside in the individual. That perspective informs the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at the Katz School of Science and Health, and it guarantees that the students in our program will receive an education grounded in the timeless values of respect, empathy and compassion that are the hallmark of a professional occupational therapist.

Dr. Alex Wagner is a clinical assistant professor in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at the Katz School of Science and Health. She conducts research on a variety of topics, including aging in place, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, disability studies, human geography and occupational engagement. She currently is an occupational therapist with St. James Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in St. James, N.Y., and the Momentum at South Bay for Rehabilitation and Nursing in East Islip, N.Y. Dr. Wagner holds a doctoral degree in health and rehabilitation sciences from SUNY Stony Brook, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in occupational therapy and health studies, respectively, from Utica College.

Amiya Wadman-Levi

OT Specialists Using Play to Help Child Development

Read more about the study supported by YU provost fund

OT Specialists Using Play to Help Child Development

As the COVID-19 pandemic and poverty-related stress increase the need for social-emotional support for children and families, a team of specialists led by Katz School professor Amiya Waldman-Levi has created a strength-based intervention program that aims to improve children’s development through playful interactions with their parents.

Read the entire story on the Katz blog.

Dr. Julie Kardachi

Program Innovator Named OT Doctorate Director

Read more about Dr. Julie Kardachi

Program Innovator Named OT Doctorate Director

Dr. Julie Kardachi, who has decades of experience in a variety of clinical practice areas, was named director of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program.

“Dr. Kardachi’s first-rate clinical skills and her exceptional ability to relate to and work with clients and students makes her the perfect choice for leading our entry-level doctorate program,” said Dr. Paul Russo, dean of the Katz School and vice provost at Yeshiva. “She understands that putting her clients at the center of their own rehabilitation can be the difference between living and having a life.”

Before joining the Katz School, Dr. Kardachi was the academic coordinator for the occupational therapy program at Touro College in Manhattan, where she was twice named Teacher of the Year.

Over her career, Dr. Kardachi has worked primarily with adults with neurological and orthopedic conditions, as well as with adults with profound developmental disabilities. She has helped clients of every age increase their mobility, maintain their functional independence at home, and recover from neurological and workplace injuries.

Dr. Kardachi co-developed and is a consultant to Fall Stop…Move Strong, a New York-based fitness and education fall-prevention program where each week hundreds of older adults throughout the nation participate in choreographed exercises, informed by her research, that keep them active and safe in their homes and communities.

She has published and presented widely. She is the co-author of a textbook in press at AOTA Press on adapted methods for everyday activities and has made numerous presentations on her ongoing research into community-based, fall-prevention programs.

As director of the Katz School program, she plans to apply her years of experience supervising students in clinical practice and clinical education to the development of students’ research, clinical reasoning and creative skills.

“The program at Yeshiva has the perfect philosophical emphasis on occupation, wellness, evidence and community,” said Dr. Kardachi, who took over in April 2021. “The advantage of the entry-level doctorate is that it equips students to develop occupational therapy services in a way that broadens the populations we serve and expands the profession’s intellectual boundaries.”

Dr. Zesarae Bodie

Students Take on Aging and Disability in Courses

Read more about Dr. Bodie and her OT program courses

Students Take on Aging and Disability in Courses

Assignments in Dr. Zesarae Bodie’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate courses not only teach students what it’s like to live with a disability in a world built for the able-bodied, they show how disability can test their strength, build empathy and shape the quality of their relationships with others.

“Part of the purpose of my classes is to increase their awareness of the potential struggles, nervousness and fears their patients may experience when being issued a wheelchair for the first time,” said Dr. Bodie, a clinical assistant professor in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program. “The job of the occupational therapist is to assist patients with achieving maximum independence, so it is helpful for them to have an idea of how it feels to use one.”

In the courses “Clinical Skills and Procedures” and “Occupational Performance and the Older Adult,” students issued wheelchairs paired up with a classmate assigned the role of occupational therapist to guide them through activities of everyday living.

For example, Dr. Bodie’s students went to a CVS to experience what it’s like to shop in a store designed for an able-bodied person. Occupational Therapy Doctorate student Bredin Kamsi Kom had to prop open a self-closing door with his wheelchair while his partner, Julietta Gurgova, stood ready to assist with strategies for how to gather items out of reach.

To get to the store, the students in wheelchairs had to navigate across streets, through parking lots, over curbs and up ramps, testing their upper-body strength and sharpening their instincts for negligent drivers and other challenges to their safety.

In other assignments, students stuffed cotton balls in their ears to approximate hearing loss, wore thick gloves with the digits taped together to mimic arthritic hands while typing and writing, donned special sunglasses that decreased brightness and occluded central vision requiring them to use their peripheral vision to see in front of them, and walked with dried chickpeas in their shoes to feel what it’s like to have neuropathy, or numbness caused by nerve damage.

“Dr. Bodie thought of creative ways to ‘feel’ the symptoms of aging,” said Occupational Therapy Doctorate student Yoheved Zion. “Cultivating a sensitivity to a client’s challenges will make us better practitioners and clinicians who are more aware and client-centered, and, above all, more compassionate human beings.”

Dr. Alex Wagner

Disability Studies Integral to Occupational Therapy Practice

Read about why Dr. Alex Wagner joined the field

Disability Studies Integral to Occupational Therapy Practice

One of the things that drew me to occupational therapy is getting the opportunity to work with a variety of people, including those with disabilities. We seek to promote their independence, quality of life and engagement in valued occupations; however, to effectively work with this group of people, we need to be appropriately informed about living with a disability and the disabled person’s experience.

To be a competent occupational therapist in this area, we need to understand their strengths, their challenges and the barriers they face throughout life. To be fully informed in these areas, occupational therapists should be learning from and engaging with the field of disability studies.

Disability studies seeks to integrate people with disabilities in all areas of life and ensure they are equal members of society, in spite of the oppression, social exclusion and stigma they face today and have throughout history. 

Disability studies addresses these sources of oppression and marginalization through research and activism, and it places the stories and experiences that people with disabilities face at the forefront of research because they are the experts in their own lives.

In my experience of working with people with disabilities, I learned that the notion of independence, of being able to do everything by yourself, is not always the most important aspect of a person’s life. I also believe that listening to people’s stories before they start receiving treatment is important because the experience of having a disability is different for everyone.

Although this seems obvious, people with disabilities were not always thought in this way. Their experiences were not sought out or used by professionals to spur change in society and the way living with a disability was viewed. Disability studies and occupational therapy seek to promote inclusion—one of the many reasons that integrating the field of disability studies into occupational therapy education is valuable.

Occupational therapists can learn valuable knowledge from disabilities studies that can and should be integrated into practice. As a professor in the program, I hold an advanced certificate in disability studies and I integrate disabilities literature and the personal experiences of the disabled into the classroom. Someone is only disabled by structural or attitudinal barriers in society; the disability doesn’t reside in the individual. That perspective informs the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at the Katz School of Science and Health, and it guarantees that the students in our program will receive an education grounded in the timeless values of respect, empathy and compassion that are the hallmark of a professional occupational therapist.

Dr. Alex Wagner is a clinical assistant professor in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at the Katz School of Science and Health. She conducts research on a variety of topics, including aging in place, dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, disability studies, human geography and occupational engagement. She currently is an occupational therapist with St. James Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in St. James, N.Y., and the Momentum at South Bay for Rehabilitation and Nursing in East Islip, N.Y. Dr. Wagner holds a doctoral degree in health and rehabilitation sciences from SUNY Stony Brook, and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in occupational therapy and health studies, respectively, from Utica College.

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