Mission and Philosophy

The mission of Virginia Commonwealth University is multi-layered. There is emphasis on the teaching/learning process, scholarship, and public service. "The University is dedicated to excellence in instruction in an atmosphere of free inquiry and scholarship so that its students may realize their full potential as informed, productive citizens with a lifelong commitment to learning and service. The University serves the local, state, national and international communities with excellence through its scholarly activities, its diverse educational programs and its public service activities. The University also contributes its intellectual and creative expertise in the development of innovative approaches to meet the changing needs of our society." (Virginia Commonwealth University, 2006)

The philosophical base for the College of Health Professions parallels this mission of the institution in its goal to serves as an "international leader in the education of excellent, innovative and responsible allied health professionals... [be] responsive to the needs of society, promote[s] excellence in healthcare service, and encourage[s] collaborative research that generates state-of-the-art and specialized knowledge" (Virginia Commonwealth University, College of Health Professions, 1999). The College embraces the values of accountability, excellence, cooperation, fulfillment of potential, dignity of the individual, innovation, enjoyment, and integrity in its pursuit of this vision.

The mission of the Department of Occupational Therapy represents an integration of the University mission and College of Health Professions philosophy.

The primary mission of the Department of Occupational Therapy is the preparation of excellent, innovative, adaptable, and responsible occupational therapists as professional leaders for the state and the nation.


The Philosophy of Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Occupational Therapy embraces the Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy stated by the American Occupational Therapy Association (2011):

  Occupations are activities that bring meaning to the daily lives of individuals, families, and communities and enable them to participate in society. All individuals have an innate need and right to engage in meaningful occupations throughout their lives. Participation in these occupations influences their development, health and well-being across the lifespan. As such, participation in meaningful occupation is a determinant of health. Occupations occur within diverse social, physical, cultural, personal, temporal, or virtual contexts. The quality of occupational performance and the experience of each occupation are unique in each situation due to the dynamic relationship between factors intrinsic to the individual, the contexts in which the occupation occurs, and the characteristics of the activity. The focus and outcome of occupational therapy are individuals´┐Ż engagement in meaningful occupations that support their participation in life situations. Occupational therapy practitioners conceptualize occupations as both a means and an end to therapy. That is, there is therapeutic value in occupational engagement as a change agent, and engagement in occupations is also the ultimate goal of therapy. Occupational therapy is based on the belief that occupations may be used for health promotion and wellness, remediation or restoration, health maintenance, disease and injury prevention, and compensation/adaptation. The use of occupation to promote individual, community, and population health is the core of occupational therapy practice, education, research, and advocacy.  

Embedded within this mission and philosophy is our own commitment to learning, teaching, and research, and our belief and support of lifelong learning and service. Our educational goals are encompassed within our mission.

In pursuit of this mission, the Department:
- Fosters student commitment to scientific inquiry and professional competence, and promotes growth, balance, and dedication to lifelong learning;
- Promotes faculty excellence and collaboration in teaching, scholarship, research and service that models integrity and competence;
- Collaborates with the community through education, consultation, and the development of strong linkages with clinical educators and the community;
- Interacts dynamically with the OT profession and stakeholders, contributing proactively to the evolution of the profession.

Being consistent with the guidance provided by these statements requires a curriculum design that reflects current and cutting edge conceptualizations of the profession, dedication in teaching, and commitment to both research and community service. We have developed a curriculum that establishes rigorous standards of excellence, with an eye towards preparing our students for their futures in occupational therapy. In concert with our philosophy and that of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), and in keeping with the current trends in our field, our curriculum emphasizes occupational performance as it emerges across the lifespan. In doing so we embrace three organizing principles: 1) a bio-psychosocial framework in which are embedded courses that are foundational, fundamental, and core to our profession; 2) a central core that embodies the increasing consisting of clinical reasoning and scientific thinking; and 3) a focus on increasing synthesis and application of knowledge.