Our combined BS/MS program allows students to enter the field as occupational therapists in five years while studying in the Flagship University of the SUNY system. In the first two years, a liberal arts education allows flexibility to meet student interests while preparing for study in the professional program. Once in the OT professional program, students design, develop, implement, analyze and present group research projects under the mentorship of seasoned faculty. OT students benefit from interprofessional activities with students across the academic health center.
We prepare students for variety of settings including medical, home care, community, vocational, educational and underserved settings that do not currently have OT. The strength of our program is evidenced by our 94%, 98%, and 100% success rate on the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy exam within one year of graduation over the past three years.
In keeping with the vision, mission, and philosophy of the University at Buffalo, School of Public Health and Health Professions, Rehabilitation Science Department, and Occupational Therapy Program, graduates of the BS/MS program will:
- Demonstrate entry-level occupational therapist clinical skills.
- Analyze trends in occupational therapy service delivery areas, anticipate changes that may have an impact on practice, and advocate for positive change.
- Demonstrate a commitment to evidence-based practice by both utilizing and contributing to the occupational therapy body of knowledge through research, writing, presentations, or other scholarly activities.
- Value the role of occupation in public health for wellness and health promotion among individuals and populations.
- Recognize the role of culture, socioeconomic status, and other contextual factors on occupational performance and participation of all members of society and promote social and occupational justice to reduce health disparities.
- Become leaders among their peers through professional service and advocacy.
- Demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning.
Our students engage in learning activities designed to meet varying learning styles. We combine classroom lecture with hands-on laboratory experiences, clinical observations, and field training to optimize student learning. Our position in the School of Public Health and Health Professions offers a unique perspective on the role of occupation in promoting health for individuals and communities. Our position in the Academic Health Center allows interprofessional learning experiences with students from other programs, promoting interaction with all members of the healthcare team. The diverse Buffalo, NY region allows opportunities to develop OT interventions for individuals from a variety of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. Our students benefit from an environment with an emphasis on research and evidence-based intervention, access to a world-class library system, and experienced faculty with a broad array of specialty areas with the field of occupational therapy.
Occupational therapy space includes large and small lecture rooms, a small lab space, and a large, multi-purpose lab space. Our large multifunctional lab allows students to experience OT evaluation and intervention techniques including plinths and mat tables for whole –body interventions, swings, scooter boards and other equipment for sensory interventions, moveable tables for table top interventions, and multiple stations for orthotic fabrication. Plans are currently underway for updated space and we anticipate our lab to change over the next few years.
We currently have 9.5 full-time core faculty dedicated to occupational therapy and approximately 9 adjunct faculty. Our dedicated core faculty have, on average, 18 years experience in teaching at the college level and bring a broad range of specializations to our program including assistive technology, adult physical disabilities, geriatric intervention, mental health intervention, and pediatric intervention. Research interests for our faculty include studying usability of a variety of assistive devices; effectiveness of falls prevention programs; telerehab constraint-induced movement therapy; modifying dental office environments for individuals with developmental disabilities; the role of occupational therapy in the development of literacy; assisting refugees to develop activities, occupations, and daily routines; effectiveness of classroom-based sensory and cognitive interventions for children with behavior problems; and development of a functional evaluation of upper extremity skills in individuals with multiple sclerosis.
Each faculty member is committed to teaching, research, and community service as part of his/her responsibilities to fulfill the mission of the department, school, and university.
Please visit the Rehabilitation Science department website for additional information about our faculty.
As described on the American Occupational Therapy Association website (www.aota.org), occupational therapy helps people live life to its fullest. It does this by helping people of all ages who have sustained an illness, injury or some form of debilitation relearn the skills of daily living. By focusing on physical, psychological and social needs, OT helps people function at the highest possible level, concentrating on what's important to them to rebuild their health, independence and self-esteem. Occupational therapists are specially trained and credentialed in the field and rely on evidence-based best practices and science-driven data to constantly improve patient outcomes. In an era where consumers want to increasingly be empowered and maximize life's potential, more and more people are recognizing the value of occupational therapy and as a result the field is expected to grow significantly over the coming years.
Employment of occupational therapists is expected to increase much faster than average for all occupations and a shortage of occupational therapists is expected in the workplace through 2024.
Work settings include:
Occupational therapists work in all types of private, nonprofit and public settings including schools, job training services, hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, and community health agencies.
Salaries vary depending on the work setting and on the region of the country. Information regarding the occupational therapy profession and current salaries is available from the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
Post Graduate Opportunities
After graduation, students may elect to pursue a post-professional degree for advanced clinical skills, teaching, or research. A post-professional OTD (Doctor of Occupational Therapy) or DHS (Doctor of Health Sciences) prepares students for advanced clinical practice and for clinical teaching at the college level. A Ph.D., Ed.D., or other research intensive degree prepares students for post-professional teaching and for research.
Additionally, many post-professional opportunities are available through the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) including the Emerging Leaders Development Program and board certification in Gerontology (BCG), Mental Health (BCMH), Pediatrics (BCP), Physical Rehabilitation (BCPR), Driving and Community Mobility (SCDCM), Environmental Modification (SCEM), Feeding, Eating, and Swallowing (SCFES), Low Vision (SCLV), and School Systems (SCSS).
Academic advising for Occupational Therapy students in the pre-professional phase of the program, is available through the Office for Academic and Student Affairs (OASA) in the School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP).
Students who are accepted into the professional portion of the Occupational Therapy program are assigned to a faculty advisor for the three years of the program.
For academic advisement during the pre-professional phase of the program (years 1 and 2), all students should contact the Office for Academic and Student Affairs (OASA) at 716-829-5000 or by email at sphhp-OASA@buffalo.edu. Upon promotion to the professional portion of the program, each student is assigned a faculty advisor from the Occupational Therapy program.
A number of scholarships and awards are available each year to occupational therapy students. Scholarship amounts range from $150 - $5,000. Within the University, awards include The Kathleen M. Shaffer Memorial Scholarship, the Jerry Flaschner Humanitarian Spirit Award, the Maureen R. L. Mussenden Scholarship, J. Warren Perry Scholarships, and Stonegraber Scholarships. Outside of the University, students can apply for the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) scholarship, and the, the AOTA E.K. Wise Scholarship. Additionally, all students are able to apply for funding from the Dr. Susan Nochajski Travel Fund to attend conferences and related events outside of the Buffalo region.
Please see a complete list of scholarships and award information.