Faculty of Medical Technology
Department of Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapy (OT) is a health profession providing therapy, training, guidance, and assistance for disabled people of all ages to help rebuild their lives. The therapy through its unique characteristics stresses the importance of daily life activities as a therapeutic means. Moreover, those activities must be meaningful to the clients who use OT services. This is the major difference between therapies carried out by other health professions. The clients are not directed to take part in occupations solely for their functional improvement. Rather, they are encouraged to take part in occupations willingly to make their lives more meaningful and enjoyable.
The objectives of the Occupational Therapy Department of Niigata University of Health and Welfare is to nurture competent Occupational Therapists (OTRs) who will be able to:
- respond to the rapid changes of the society promptly;
- use their knowledge and skills for the best performance of the clients;
- think based on scientific reasoning;
- make the best judgment with clients;
- maintain bias-free attitude;
- behave professionally and collaborate with other professions with respect.
Our department has been accredited by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT), the only official organization of world-wide occupational therapists since 2005. This means our quality of education meets the high standards set by international organization. Upon successful completion of all required courses, including nearly 1,000 hours of fieldwork placement in clinical settings, the students are eligible for the National Certification Examination for OT. A career will be waiting for them at general hospitals, rehabilitation institutes, mental health facilities, quality nursing care units, outpatient clinics, community health centers, sheltered workshops, school board, and many others. Of course, the graduate school is also one of their available choices.
Characteristics of the curriculum
Our curriculum is stratified to make gradual learning of professional competency possible. It is built for the students to proceed from basics to application. This concept is depicted in Fig. 1 below. In our integrated curriculum, students will learn a wide variety of relevant knowledge about natural and social sciences, as well as human sciences. Parallel to this process, they will gradually master the professional knowledge and skills. We also provide students ample opportunities to raise awareness to the clients' psychosocial difficulties.
Our curriculum is composed of layers of subjects so that the students may gain professional knowledge and skills necessary to deal with various physical or psychosocial challenges from children to elderly.
Qualifications and careers
Qualification for the national examination
Upon successful completion of our program, students are eligible for the national licensure examination for registered occupational therapist (OTR).
Our alumni work in a variety of areas including medical agencies, healthcare centers, assisted-living facilities, and domiciliary care.
Major employment facilities
- National or municipal hospitals
- Private hospitals
- Skilled nursing homes for elderly
- Institutions for challenged children
- Public health centers
- Municipal offices
- Preventive health insurance offices
In the laboratory for activities of daily living (ADL), the equipment such as a bathing unit, toilet, kitchen, and bed are set in order to help the students simulate the methods for improving clients' ADL rebuild their lives. For example, an appropriate position of the furniture is adjusted through the electronically driven motors set at the bathing unit or kitchen unit. Students may learn how the clients adapt their body movements to the environments thorough these facilities. In addition, we have laboratory rooms where various therapeutic activities, such as handicrafts, woodcrafts and potteries, can be learned.
Facilities/Equipment for both the PT and OT Departments
More than sufficient facilities and equipment help students build up the competence necessary for professional practice.
PT and OT department have state-of-the-art facilities and equipment in order to use the campus efficiently. Five buildings for laboratory/research activities are arranged in such a way as to maximize student confidence in the clinical fieldwork settings.
G Building for Research and Laboratory
This is a 4-story building full of state-of-the-art equipment. Each floor is assigned separately to each department; 1st floor: Physical Therapy, 2nd floor: Occupational Therapy, 3rd floor: Health and Nutrition, and 4th floor: Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences.
GA Building for Research and Laboratory
This building is added to G building, serving for multi purposes. The 1st floor is occupied by a large lecture room that accommodates 350 students. From 2nd to 4th floors, there are multiple labs and training rooms, such as the anatomy lab and therapeutic exercise room.
International Exchange Programs
In March 2012, a new era for international exchange began. Two faculties lead seven students to Mid-Western University at Phoenix, Arizona, to have them experience the advanced educational level (a Master's degree program) of the OT in the United States. They also visited some of the practice of the OTRs, such as a geriatric hospital, an outpatient hand therapy clinic, an OTR working in a school system, and a private practice for handicapped children. Again in September 2013, three students lead by two faculties visited Queen's University, Ontario, Canada in order to learn about Canadian OT education and to observe the practice of OTRs based on theoretical models, as well as to experience cultural exchange,. This visit was preceded by the visit from Queen's university to our university in October 2012.
Each program gave the students very rewarding experiences and we hope that those programs will positively influence the students' careers in the future. Therefore, we are now trying to make a long lasting relationship with those foreign prestigious universities. Other than the northern American universities, we are trying to connect with some Asian universities, such as in the Philippines or Singapore. We would like to develop these international relationships further in the near future.