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Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Technical Standards

It is the policy of UMMC that qualified individuals be given equal educational opportunities regardless of disability.  The OTD program is equally committed to enabling all admitted students to be successful, including those with disabilities. At the same time, graduation from this program implies eligibility to sit for the NBCOT exam, which assumes that the graduate possesses the qualifications to practice the OT profession in a range of settings and situations with diverse client populations.

In addition, the OTD program has a commitment to the welfare of all clients treated or otherwise affected by students in the program.  For these reasons, the program has established minimum technical standards for participation and progression, requiring the applicant to possess certain specific capabilities necessary to complete all academic, laboratory, and clinical aspects of the program – with or without accommodations. 

Students are not required to disclose a disability unless they are requesting accommodations, but it is vital that students do so if they cannot meet the described technical standards without them.  Reasonable accommodations are determined through a collaborative process between the Office for Student Success, faculty members, and the student. Please refer to the Support Services and Student Responsibilities section which follows the list of technical standards should you determine the academic accommodation process may be of interest to you.

General Student Expectations

Occupational therapy education and practice is mentally, physically, and psychologically demanding. Students should expect a rigorous academic environment and clearly demonstrate a commitment to academic achievement, self-improvement and professional behavior. Graduates are also expected to have a strong commitment to serve the community, adhere to high ethical standards, and serve their clients equally regardless of individual, cultural, or ethnic differences.

Students must possess endurance and alertness to attend 30+ hours per week in the classroom as well as 20-30 hours of preparation weekly outside of class time.  Students are expected to participate in active lab or other experiences, including but not limited to presentations, small group work, role-playing, and a variety of hands on activities. In addition, required tasks must be completed in a safe, efficient, consistent, and accurate manner to the satisfaction of the faculty. Students must also be able to palpate anatomical structures on classmates and should expect to expose relevant body parts themselves for the same regardless of gender.

Technical Standards

All accepted applicants must possess the attributes described in the following technical standards. 

Sensorimotor skills

Students must:

  • Demonstrate gross motor skills or other means of mobility to move freely and safely about the Medical Center campus, buildings, and fieldwork sites.
  • Obtain information from clients through palpation and other tactile diagnostic tests
  • Participate in anatomic dissections and other hands on classroom, laboratory and clinical activities which require upper extremity coordination, varying postures, and the use of assorted tools
  • Demonstrate coordination and speed of motor reactions necessary to respond to emergency situations quickly and appropriately to maximize client safety, including performance of CPR.
  • Be able to perform client transfers and other client mobility needs;
  • Sit for 6 to 8 hours a day in a classroom, move about easily during laboratory activities, and move from class to class and in a timely manner
  • Stand or remain in upright posture for 6-8 hours per day in a clinical or lab setting.
  • Grasp, lift, hold and utilize other necessary fine motor and manual dexterity skills needed to manipulate various tools, materials and objects used in classroom, laboratory or clinical settings for administering assessments, and preparing and/or implementing interventions
  • Be able to record data through handwritten notes or electronic means as required
  • Write with a pen or pencil and/or manipulate keyboard, mouse, and/or computer touch screens
  • Perceive, process, and utilize sensory information (visual, auditory, tactile, vestibular) as necessary to accomplish observational, cognitive, motor, communication, and inter/intrapersonal skills described within these standards, as well as manage tasks safely and efficiently in multi-sensory environment

Intrapersonal and Interpersonal skills

The student must:

  • Possess the emotional stability and mental health required to fully access intellectual capacity and exercise good judgment, and to develop mature reciprocal, empathetic relationships.
  • Be flexible and able to quickly adapt to changing and uncertain situations
  • Be able to tolerate physically and mentally taxing workloads, and be able to work effectively under stress
  • Demonstrate motivation, accountability, and the ability to engage in self-directed learning
  • Demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate their own performance and be willing to modify behavior after receiving performance feedback
  • Exhibit compassion, respect, courtesy, integrity, and concern for others, regardless of social, cultural, or intellectual background.
  • Demonstrate ethical and honest behavior in all situations
  • Be able to work collaboratively and respectfully with others as a member of a team or group in a variety of settings

Communication skills

Communication includes speech (verbal and non-verbal), language, reading, writing and computer literacy.

The student must:

  • Be able to produce, convey, clarify and transmit information effectively and accurately in writing and in speech, in English
  • Be able to effectively and efficiently participate in both one-to-one and group discussions
  • Be able to communicate with others with compassion and sensitivity regardless of lifestyle, age, gender, religious or spiritual background, educational level, socioeconomic or cognitive status
  • Maintain confidentiality and privacy of information

Observation skills

Students must:

  • Perceive, recognize, integrate and assimilate information that is presented through a variety of educational methods including face-to-face, online, simulation experiences, or a combination thereof. Students need conceptual awareness when observing both human or non-human elements;  recognition of possible safety concerns is paramount.
  • Observe and discriminate between safe and unsafe procedures for the practitioner, client/patient and caregiver.
  • Observe and accurately perceive the effects of stimuli on another individual, whether tangible or intangible

Cognitive skills

Students must:

  • Attend to, retain, and apply knowledge provided through didactic, mentored or experiential instruction.
  • Form concepts from various forms of information, exhibit cognitive flexibility and insight, and consistently utilize appropriate judgment.
  • Demonstrate skills of comprehension, synthesis and reasoning, including recognizing and categorizing information to form conclusions.
  • Demonstrate organizational and time management skills necessary to complete multiple tasks from multiple classes within appropriate time frames.
  • Discriminate between a safe and an unsafe environment and between therapeutic and non-therapeutic behavior and contexts.


UMMC is committed to ensuring equal access to a quality education for qualified students through the provision of reasonable academic accommodations which support UMMC standards and academic integrity. UMMC policy provides for reasonable academic accommodations to be made for students with verified disabilities on an individualized and flexible basis as specified under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).

UMMC provides reasonable academic accommodations to students on campus who request accommodations and who meet eligibility criteria. For more information or to request academic accommodations, individuals should go to the Office for Student Success webpage and complete the Request Academic Accommodations online form.

Office for Student Success
University of Mississippi Medical Center
Office of Student Affairs
Norman C. Nelson Student Union
2500 N. State St.
Jackson, MS 39216
(601) 815-5064; fax: (601) 815-5828

Students with disabilities are strongly encouraged to advocate for themselves and utilize the support services offered; however, students are not required to disclose a disability unless they desire accommodations. All disability-related information is confidential. UMMC follows the specific guidelines set forth by the ADA related to access to this information in the post-secondary education setting.