Thomas Jefferson UniversityJefferson College of Health Professions

Main menu:

Innovative Programs for
Jefferson Occupational Therapy Students

Community Service Opportunities

Bridging the Gaps

What: An interdisciplinary service learning program for health professions students. Students are paid to engage in a service opportunity such as camps, homeless shelters, senior programs and a variety of other populations at various locations across Philadelphia.
Client Population: Underserved groups.
Student role: Leadership, varies with placement.
Outcomes: The occupational therapy students bring a unique, creative perspective to this program and to the healthcare team. This experience helps the students build new skills interacting with community members and community agencies.
When: 7 weeks in the summer after the first year.
More information: or

Jewish Community Center (JCC) Open Hearts/Open Doors Inclusionary Summer Camp

What: An eight-week inclusionary summer day camping program. Jefferson students make a difference at this camp by collaborating with campers, counselors and parents to create a successful camping experience.
Client Population: Children ages 3 to 14 from different backgrounds.
Student role: Students work as advocates for children with challenges, to create a positive camping experience through adapting the environment. Working cooperatively with the family, students communicate through daily written documentation and a home visit. Students move with the campers throughout the day to facilitate their inclusion into the program.
Outcomes: Campers participate in community experiences in a fun environment. Students work with (paid) staff and children as they experience a typical day for a child with a disability.
When: Eight weeks each summer
More information:

Brain Awareness Week

What: Since 2005 students and researchers in the neuroscience community organize and implement brain-related learning activities for the public at the Franklin Institute. Occupational therapists provide a unique approach to neuroscience in rehabilitation by bridging the structures and systems of the brain and nervous system with participation in life activities.
Client Population Visitors to the Franklin Institute
Student role: Interact with visitors: teach reflexes, draw the lobes of the brain on swim caps, play games and view cadaver specimens in the Brain Bar. Students advocate for occupational therapy in a neuroscience background setting.
Outcomes: The public increases its awareness of occupational therapy by learning how the brain functions and ultimately impacts movement and participation in daily activities.
Two days of the second week of Brain Awareness Month(March) each year.
More information:

Unique Fieldwork Settings

Riverview Home

What: A city-operated assisted living facility in Philadelphia that provides safe, stable housing and basic health services for adults with cognitive, psychosocial and physical chronic conditions and disabilities
Client Population: Adults ages 45 to 90
Student role: Help residents to become as independent as possible in their daily living by providing individual and group occupational therapy services to enhance performance of occupations in daily living, productive, leisure and socially-based activities. Jefferson students have created groups for cooking, artistic expression, fall prevention, leisure exploration, wheelchair exercise, health promotion and community reentry planning.
Outcomes: Students find this experience in independent practice valuable in helping their skills as entry-level practitioners.
When: During Level II fieldwork
More information:

Baker Industries

What: A 501 (c) (3) non-profit work rehabilitation program.
Client Population: Adults, 18 years and older, who have either physical, intellectual and/or psychosocial needs. Program participants may also be experiencing homelessness, recovering from substance use, or, be individuals on parole or probation.
Student role: Assist program participants to become as independent as possible in their desired areas of daily functioning. Students begin by assessing and providing individual and group based occupational therapy services to facilitate engagement in occupation based activities in the areas of daily living, productive work, leisure, health and wellness as well as activities and interventions that encourage social participation. Jefferson OT students perform a needs assessment, as well as individual program participant evaluations within two Baker Industries settings (located in Malvern, PA and Northeast Philadelphia). In collaboration with a licensed occupational therapist, students create tailored, client-centered 1:1 interventions as well as group protocols in the areas of social participation, work/vocational/computer skills, health and wellness, anger and stress management, money and time management and self-advocacy. Evaluations and interventions are rooted within the available evidence.
Outcomes: Students have identified that working in a non-profit environment in two distinct practice settings provides them with a unique experience that encourages resourcefulness and innovation that is client-centered and occupation-based. Students build skill in therapeutic use of self, group processes, cultural competence and autonomy as future clinicians.
When: During Level II fieldwork
More information:

The Center for Autism

What: A community based program for children with autism
Client Population: Children with Autism ages 2-6. Focus of program is to facilitate social communication skills.
Student role: Work in classrooms with mental health therapists to assist children in reaching highest level of social competence. Occupational therapists address the sensory, motor, social, play and other foundational abilities needed for social competence. Jefferson OT students are trained to use data driven decision making to guide their clinical reasoning and practice. Students perform assessment, and in collaboration with a licensed occupational therapist, students create tailored interventions. Evaluations and interventions are rooted within the available evidence and include use of the principles from sensory integration, behavioral interventions, functional skills training, Floor time and others.
Outcomes: Students indicate that training at the center improves their knowledge and skills in the area of autism, sensory integration and other developmental interventions, and the use of evidence and data in their practice.
When: During Level II fieldwork
More information:

Resources for Human Development

What: This progressive mental health provider within the Philadelphia provides services to clients in various community-based settings. Some of these settings include group homes for adults with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and residential programs for adults who are medically fragile and have a psychiatric diagnosis.
Client Population: depends on setting
Student role: Work in pairs to help people to become better integrated into the community, live independently and apply for employment.
Outcomes: Students have found that this environment provides a distinctive experience with valuable opportunities for creativity, autonomy and occupation-based practice.
When: during Level II fieldwork
More information: or

International Opportunities

Kitasato University Partnership

What: Students from Jefferson and Kitasato University in Sagamihara, Japan, visit each other’s university programs and exchange ideas, knowledge, and fun as they learn about occupational therapy practice in a different culture.
Client Population: Depends on setting.
Student role: Depends on setting – whether students are traveling to Japan or hosting Japanese students at Jefferson.
Outcomes: Gain cross-cultural professional experience.
When: One week, usually during spring break
More information: Students apply to participate in the exchange program on a competitive basis when traveling to Japan. Jefferson students are scheduled to visit Kitasato in March 2014 and Kitasato University students will visit Jefferson in March 2015. Students serve as hosts for group activities and visits to various clinical and cultural sites when Kitasato students visit Jefferson. All students are invited to participate in hosting the Kitasato students when they visit Jefferson.

Intradepartmental Opportunities

Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA)

What: Promote the development of leadership and cooperation among student occupational therapists and to promote the profession of occupational therapy through public relations, education and social events.
Student role: The annual dues are $10.00.
When: Meetings are held monthly and events are held periodically, approximately one event per semester.
More information: Kim Mollo, MS, OTR/L at