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Blueprint for the Future of Education

The purpose of the Blueprint for Entry-Level Education is to identify the content knowledge that occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants should receive in their educational programs. This knowledge is needed to prepare graduates to address not only the needs of people with chronic conditions and disabilities but also of those who are at risk for these conditions, as well as those who want to stay healthy and active. This approach is necessary, as the health system frequently changes, and in addition to practicing with individuals, occupational therapy practitioners will be working with organizations and populations to maximize the abilities of all persons to fully participate in society.

Educational programs can use the Blueprint as a curriculum content guide, which will continuously and dynamically ensure that their educational offerings can prepare future practitioners, educators, scientists, and entrepreneurs for the 21st century of the occupational therapy profession.

The conceptual framework used to frame the Blueprint was occupational performance. This was chosen because all of the developing models of occupational therapy and the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (American Occupational Therapy Association [AOTA], 2008) are built on the concepts of occupation, personal factors (intrinsic), and environmental factors (extrinsic). The Blueprint also identifies the professional and interpersonal concepts that are integral to occupational therapy practice. The professional and interpersonal concepts were based on the findings reported in the PEW Commission’s Twenty-one Competencies for the Twenty-First Century (PEW, 1995,1998). The concepts identified in the Blueprint describe the knowledge that occupational therapy practitioners uniquely bring to society through its interventions and professional contributions.

It is not the intent of the Blueprint to provide details about how or what to teach different levels of occupational therapy personnel. However, the Blueprint can be used as a template by all occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educators (and those planning continuing education initiatives), as its content can be used to prepare practitioners to address the future needs of society. The key concepts described in the Blueprint offer guidance to educators in designing curriculum content that will prepare students for a changing society in which occupational therapy’s unique contributions are so critical to foster the health and participation of those they serve.

The Blueprint has four sections: (1) person factors, (2) environmental factors, (3) occupation factors, and (3) professional factors. In addition to identifying major topics, key concepts are described, the science that generates the concepts is identified (which can prompt discussion about pre-requisites), and the skills that should be developed to be able to implement the concepts and the areas of practice that require this knowledge are discussed. A glossary supports the Blueprint, as there are terms that are used that exceed the terms in the current Occupational Therapy Practice Framework.

There was no intent to design the Blueprint to address specialization. Occupational therapists can practice in hundreds of areas of specialization; therefore, the Blueprint can identify key knowledge that occupational therapists must understand to address the occupational performance needs of the people they will serve. The authors believe that the Blueprint concepts provide the base for the knowledge that will allow students to develop a specialty when they choose the focus of their master’s or doctoral projects.

The Blueprint was prepared by a committee appointed by President Penny Moyers Cleveland and had feedback from over 1,200 clinicians and educators nationwide. We thank them for their input.

  • Carolyn Baum, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Washington University in St. Louis, MO, Chair
  • Cindy Barrows, MS, OTR/L, CPRP, Vinfen Corporation, MA
  • Julie D. Bass-Haugen, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, Saint Catherine University, MN
  • Debra Chasanoff, MEd, OTR/L, Manatee Community College, FL
  • Lucinda Dale, EdD, OTR, CHT, University of Indianapolis, IN
  • Gavin Jenkins, MA, OTR/L, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL
  • Paula Kramer, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, PA
  • Mary C. Moore, PhD, University of Indianapolis, IN
  • Janet Raisor, OTR, St. Mary’s Health System, IN
  • Becky Wade, OTA/L, Sundance Rehabilitation, OK
  • Neil Harvison, PhD, OTR/L, Staff Liaison, American Occupational Therapy Association, MD

Copyright © 2009, by the American Occupational Therapy Association. To be published in the American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64(January/ February).

View the entire Blueprint here.