Our students are a diverse group of adults who come to Sacred Heart from all around the country. In our classes we have had students from as far as Bermuda, Florida and Delaware and as near as Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts. Our students are males and females, young and old, living at home with their family and living in their own home with their children. They have ranged in age from 22 to 47 and approximately 12% have children of their own. Our students come from varied ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds and our program prides itself in being accommodating for the adult learners who enroll.
Sacred Heart University's Graduate Occupational Therapy students must each complete an original research project with a small group of students under the supervision and mentorship of two faculty members. These projects are presented to all of the current students and faculty each summer at a day long Capstone presentation. In addition to these projects, throughout the program students are required to completed Critically Appraised Topics (CATs) and Evidence Based Practice Tables (EBP). The EBP Tables are a compilation of peer reviewed research publications that focus on a specific clinical assessment or intervention topic. Selection of articles is based on criteria of clinical utility and quality of research.
Each of Sacred Heart University's Graduate Occupational Therapy Program students design community programs in small groups. In order to create the programs, they first conduct a thorough needs assessment with the program's population, service providers and important stakeholders. Students then collaborate with all important stakeholders to review the findings of the needs assessment, establish goals and objectives to address needs and design a wellness or prevention program to address un-met needs. Students then implement the programs and conduct program evacuations on program outcomes.
Our students become involved in a variety of activities throughout their time here at Sacred Heart. In addition to their needs assessment and community intervention project, they also complete a research project in connection with a primary faculty member's research interest. An additional integral part of the educational experience are local field trips. These "off-site laboratories" occur frequently as learning opportunities for specialty areas such as assistive technology, splinting, child development and environmental accessibility. Lastly, a variety of special events occur throughout the program that allow for socialization, celebration, professionalization and charity work.
Students in the occupational therapy program often go on fieldtrips to enhance their learning. Fieldtrips include visits to local day care facilities where the students run groups for preschoolers, visits to a hand therapy clinic for practice in splinting and visits to centers for assistive technology where students are exposed to the most up to date technology to assist those with disabilities to be as independent as possible. Fieldtrips have also been taken to facilities for assistive living, senior centers, Hospice and sites for driving evaluations. Fieldtrips occur for volunteer work as well. Students have volunteered at a local fundraising walk for autism, and have visited and raised money for the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
Student events include fundraisers in order to attend the national conference each spring, annual Student Conclave, ConnOTA Conferences, events to raise funds for local charities and social events that allow students and faculty to get to know one another. Fundraisers have included car washes, pie and cookie dough sales and a variety of other sales and services. Annual holiday parties with students and faculty such as our annual Thanksgiving feast and Christmas party are a good way to relax before final exams and showcase the cooking skills of our students and faculty. Attendance at national conference and/or state conference is often a highlight during the student's spring or early semester, which the Student Conclave is held during the fall semester. An awards night and reception for students and their families is held prior to graduation.