Clinical observation (job shadowing)

Before you apply, occupational therapy schools will expect that you have explored the profession through observing in an OT environment.  In fact, job shadowing is a requirement for admission to most occupational therapy programs. Many programs require applicants to acquire a minimum number of observation hours under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist.  

Clinical observation will also help you decide if a career in occupational therapy is the right fit for you. You can contact occupational therapy clinics, hospitals, and long-term care facilities to set up shadowing opportunities.

For more suggestions, consult the shadowing page.

The Indiana University Occupational Therapy program requires 40 hours of shadowing in three settings (such as, skilled nursing facility, rehabilitation center, hospital, school, and mental health facility). Some programs, including Indiana University, provide a form to applicants to verify hours with the OT you shadowed. Check with other programs where you plan to apply to determine if they have similar requirements. It is important to log your shadowing hours, confirm those hours with each occupational therapist you shadow, and maintain their current contact information if you need to reach them at the time you are applying.

Volunteer experience #

Occupational therapy schools are looking for applicants who have demonstrated a long-term commitment to serving others. If you plan to apply to occupational therapy school, you should gain experience serving your local community through volunteer activities. There is no list of preferred activities; however, activities through which you develop your interpersonal and communication skills and work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds are especially relevant.

When you are preparing to apply for admission, occupational therapy schools will be interested to know the following: What did you gain through volunteering? How did volunteering change you? Why was the experience important or meaningful to you?

Volunteering in Bloomington #

A central location for volunteering activities in the Bloomington Community can be found on the Bloomington Volunteer Network website. There are also a number of student organizations actively focused on community service in Bloomington, and you can locate these through beINvolved.

Consider also joining the Occupational Therapy Club, a student organization which meets several times each semester. Among other activities, a variety of professional speakers share their OT expertise with club members. To join, attend a meeting and talk to one of the club officers.

Volunteering and academics #

You are encouraged to participate actively, but not to become so involved that your academic performance suffers. An extensive list of community service activities cannot overcome a weak academic performance when you are applying.