The forthcoming crisis in health manpower is well documented internationally. Increasing demand for highly trained specialized healthcare workers is expected in the very near future, especially in the rehabilitation field. Occupational therapy is considered as one of the main discipline that plays an integral part in delivering high quality services to clients of all ages whose normal lives have been interrupted by physical injury, disease, learning disabilities, mental illness or aging.
In Palestine, rehabilitation services are regarded as a need resulted from the increasing number of individuals with disabilities with chronic conditions due to many factors including increasing average age and ongoing wars. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) records, persons with disabilities in Palestine constitute 2.1% of the total population. Serving this divers group requires the availability of highly trained occupational therapists having competence to deal innovatively with complex cases and rehabilitation situations.
According to the Palestinian Association of Occupational Therapy, there are approximately 100 occupational therapists working in different settings with majority holding bachelor degree and few master prepared therapists in other related field. These records indicate clearly that Palestinian occupational therapists lack specialization to provide cutting edge services to their clients. Therefore, preparing specialized occupational therapists through this proposed program is expected to bridge this gap.
Many Palestinian institutions expressed their appreciation to offering this program at the Arab American University including but not limited to, Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation, Lifegate Association and the Palestinian Association of Occupational Therapy (PAOT). In their letter, the PAOT revealed that the establishment of the master program at AAUP will produce professionals who will lead the development in occupational therapy profession. In addition, the PAOT believes that the proposed master will allow Occupational Therapists to pursue their higher education locally, avoid unbearable expenses when travelling abroad and develop research especially in occupational therapy field.
The new master program in occupational therapy at AAUP will be delivered in collaboration with Jacksonville University – School of Applied Health Sciences in the United States. The impacts of joined academic and practical efforts by both AAUP staff and Jacksonville University staff are expected to promote the academic curriculum, to enhance the learning outcomes and to develop the practical competencies of the students.
The master’s program in occupational therapy will prepare students to:
The student will have the opportunity to develop the following knowledge, skills, and professional behaviors: At the end of the program students will be able to:
Occupational therapy profession is growing rapidly and receiving great attention as part of the development and improvement of the delivery of health care services worldwide. The Occupational Therapy Master Program aims to prepare professionals to pursue careers in variety of settings including but not limited to the following: