Essential Skills And Aptitudes

Guided by its Catholic and Lasallian heritage, Lewis University is firmly committed to fostering a campus atmosphere that is permeated by its Mission-based values of Fidelity, Wisdom, Knowledge, Justice and Association. As such, we seek to be “A Place and a People Committed to Diversity.” Accordingly, we have declared the University campus to be a Sanctified Zone, a place where people are committed to working to end racism, bias and all types of prejudice by valuing diversity in a safe and nurturing environment.

Lewis University recognizes and supports the standards set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008, and similar state laws, which are designed to eliminate discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.

Lewis University’s MS Occupational Therapy Program is committed to preparing high quality occupational therapists who act ethically, responsibly, and safely in practice. The practice of occupational therapy requires a complex set of essential skills and aptitudes.

An offer of admission to the MS Occupational Therapy Program should not be interpreted as evidence that the MS Occupational Therapy Program has independently verified an applicant’s skills and attributes in the domains described below. These essential skills and attributes, however, must be demonstrated through the program of study if students are to be successful in achieving the competency standards of entry-level practice in the profession.

The following section describes the skills and attributes required of MSOT students for their success in our educational program and in the profession of occupational therapy. Some specific examples of the physical, mental, and emotional requirements are included, however these examples are not exhaustive. This description of skills and attributes is not intended to preclude individuals with disabilities or special needs who may require reasonable accommodations.


Students who anticipate that reasonable accommodations will enable them to meet the required standards for the listed skills and attributes are responsible for articulating their requirements. Requests for accommodation should be made as early as possible. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis and are reviewed in collaboration with the student and the Center for Academic Success & Enrichment. Any information shared will remain confidential and any records generated in this regard shall be retained independently from a student’s file.


All students must have the required skills and attributes, with or without reasonable accommodations. The skills and abilities are grouped in five broad areas:

  • Psychomotor/physical skills   
  • Cognitive/critical thinking skills
  • Communication skills
  • Aptitudes and attitudes
  • Coping and resilience


Students must consistently demonstrate the physical health/skills required to provide safe, effective and efficient service (assessment and intervention) for their clients, subject to any reasonable accommodation that may be required.

Examples of these skills include:

  • Tolerating periods of light to moderate physical activity for up to 8-10 consecutive hours a day
  • Sitting up to 2 hours at a time, over 8-10 consecutive hours a day
  • Traveling within environments while carrying materials
  • Effectively maneuvering within and around tight spaces (e.g., around a hospital bed)
  • Lifting up to 10 lbs frequently and up to 50 lbs occasionally
  • Coordinating the manipulation of commonly used occupational therapy equipment, devices, materials, and tools
  • Bending for short periods of time and while lifting or carrying
  • Squatting for short periods of time and while lifting
  • Kneeling for short periods of time and while carrying
  • Producing written documentation in a timely and efficient manner


Students must demonstrate the cognitive skills necessary to remember, understand and apply knowledge/skills and to analyze, integrate and synthesize information quickly and in emergency situations. In addition, the student must be able to comprehend multidimensional and spatial relationships. Effective problem solving, conceptual thinking and judgment are necessary to address client needs, and to engage the client during occupational therapy in a safe and efficient manner.

Examples of these skills include:

  • Maintaining focus for 2-4 hours for up to 8-10 consecutive hours a day
  • Demonstrating problem-solving skills and judgment to modify environments, tasks, interventions, or evaluation methods as necessary to meet the specific needs of individuals and populations.
  • Using safety and ethical judgment in all situations.
  • Reading, interpreting, analyzing, and synthesizing large amounts of information provided verbally and in written form.
  • Responding quickly and efficiently to unexpected situations


Students must be able to speak, hear and observe in order to efficiently elicit information, and observe non-verbal communication and behavior. Students will be required to communicate effectively and sensitively with fellow students, faculty, clients and families and all members of the health care team. They must be able to summarize coherently a client’s condition, assessment and intervention plan verbally and in text (handwriting and /or electronically) to maintain clear, accurate and appropriate records of client encounters and action plans that comply with regulatory and organizational record keeping standards. Students should note that the level of communication fluency required is often higher than is generally assessed in standard testing of language fluency; students are responsible for achieving the high level of communication that may be required in the program. In particular, students require the level of communication necessary to facilitate client safety, informed decision-making and fully independent and ethical interaction with clients.

Examples of these skills include:

  • Producing organized written documentation in standard English and in compliance with facility’s standards for documentation (e.g., use of appropriate abbreviations).
  • Utilizing a computer and various software programs
  • Communicating effectively verbally and nonverbally to a variety of audiences (e.g., physicians, family members, consumers, teams).
  • Asserting self and establishing limits as needed for the safety of self and clients and establish professional identity within complex systems.
  • Using therapeutic communication skills such as attending and active listening during therapeutic interactions; and motivating and facilitating client behaviors in order to maximize client performance.


Students seeking to enter the MS Occupational Therapy Program must have an interest in promoting health and well-being through occupation and best practice. Students in the program must demonstrate integrity, sensitivity, compassion, and concern for others. They must be reflective and respectful of individuality and diversity and be able to build trusting relationships with people from various backgrounds and walks of life. Students must exemplify the University’s mission by striving for lifelong learning, affirming the equal dignity of every person, promoting personal and social responsibility, and demonstrating collaboration and collegiality with fellow students, faculty members, clinical supervisors, consumers, and inter-professional team members.

Examples of these skills include:

  • Collaborating to develop a project
  • Advocating for a client’s needs
  • Including individuals who have been marginalized
  • Following through on commitments
  • Using the best evidence available to guide interventions
  • Seeking and accepting feedback to improve performance
  • Demonstrating a professional demeanor


Students must consistently demonstrate the coping skills required to deal with the physical, emotional, and psychological demands of the MS OT Program and occupational therapy practice. They must perform effectively under stress. It is critical that students be able to adapt to changing demands, including those encountered during fieldwork experiences, and function well in the face of uncertainties that are inherent in working with clients. Students must consistently demonstrate resilience and the balance required to enable them to manage difficult or ethically challenging scenarios that frequently arise in all OT practice settings.

Examples of these skills include:

  • Prioritizing tasks
  • Seeking and using support and assistance
  • Using time effectively
  • Taking care of one’s physical and mental health
  • Reflecting on decisions
  • Accepting and integrating feedback
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