Skip to Main Content
Spalding University Library Logo

ASOT OTD Program Student Handbook

The Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT), Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) Program Student Handbook is the policy and procedure resource specific to this program. This handbook aligns with the Spalding University Student Handbook and Catalog.


ASOT has threaded AOTA’s Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics (2015) throughout this Statement of Professionalism and the OTD curriculum for educating and preparing OTD students to be ethical student practitioners during this program and after graduation. This program’s Statement of Professionalism will provide direction for students and faculty by identifying valued ideals and behaviors that are responsible, accountable, ethical, and compassionate. Faculty and leadership within ASOT and Spalding University recognize that these guidelines cannot encompass all desired components of professionalism or potential issues of conduct that may arise. However, ASOT OTD students are expected to hold themselves and their peers to highest professional standards at all times throughout the curriculum as described by this Statement of Professionalism and the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics (2015).

ASOT has idenditifed two books about professionalism and accountability that are referenced and utilized throughout this program. The primary book ASOT has selected is The Oz Principle (Connors, Smith, & Hickman, 2004), which will be used throughout the program and heavily referenced during Level I and Level II fieldwork experiences. By reading, understanding, and implementing concepts from this book, students will learn key principles about “above and below the line” behavior and how to “see, own, solve, and do” accountable, professional actions. Additionally, the textbook, Professionalism Across Occupational Therapy Practice (DeIuliis, 2017), serves as a secondary resource for ASOT’s Statement of Professionalism. Students may purchase this book for their reference, if interested. 

Four components of professionalism within theses books were identified by this program as generally accepted “ingredients” of professional attributes. These general components are professional ethics, professional responsibility, professional behavior, and professional competency. The Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics (2015) is imbedded in each of these professionalism guidelines. Please refer to the Code of Ethics on AOTA’s website to view this document.

To guide professional and academic behavior development, ASOT has a self-assessment of professionalism that students may complete during this program. Additionaly, OTD students may be requested to complete self-assessments as needed during their enrollment in this professional program. Please see the attached document that contains the Professional Behavior Self-Assessment. This document aligns with the themes described on this page.

In conclusion, professionalism can be thought of the way in which occupational therapy professionals and students strive to always do the right thing and to do the right thing well (DeIuliis, 2017, p. 13). The following sections contain direct, original concepts from DeIuliis (2017) and define and describe academic and professional behaviors for which ASOT will hold each OTD student responsible and accountable.

Professional Ethics

Ethics is a code of morality and a system of principles governing the appropriate conduct for a person or group. All social and health care professionals are required to understand and practice the ethics of care because they aim to serve the public, and members of the public have great personal needs that they give over to professionals in their time of need. Integrity, honesty, diligence, loyalty, respect, and commitment are all part of an ethical character, which, in turn, exemplifies professionalism. The Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics (2015) provides this profession with its rules to ensure clients’ best interests and to protect the profession and its position in the public mind.

Examples of professional ethics may include the following OTD student-specific scenarios:

  • Following University Academic Integrity policy

  • Reporting unethical behavior

  • Ensuring client safety during fieldwork

Professional Responsibility

This component requires that a professional displays morality and accountability for their actions, upholds the principles of the profession and federal/state stipulations, and demonstrates high standards of quality care. Professionals embody a strong sense of empathy, a desire to do good, a responsible attitude, and adherence to governing law. Additionally, professionals are responsible for a commitment to excellence and lifelong learning.

Examples of professional responsibility may include the following OTD student-specific scenarios:

  • Participating in student, state, and national level organizations

  • Completing all required reading and research before class

  • Having ownership of mistakes

Professional Behavior

Behavior refers to one’s actions or reactions, which may or may not be observable. Professional behavior is an appropriate reflection of or conformity to the standards of a profession. Therefore, professional behavior, as a component of professionalism, is manifested by a combination of physical, observable behaviors (extrinsic) and an individual’s personal mindset, values, and knowledge (intrinsic). Some examples of these behaviors or mentality include appropriate professional presentation, timeliness, interpersonal skills, reliability, dependability, and self-motivation.

Other OTD student-specific examples of professional behavior may include the following scenarios:

  • Arriving to class or fieldwork on-time or earlier

  • Following through with tasks according to a group role/assignment

  • Giving and receiving positive and constructive feedback

Professional Competency

Professionals have high levels of expectations both of themselves and of others and engage in professional growth to maintain the knowledge and skills necessary to provide services safely and competently. Therefore, professional competence indicates a continuing commitment to learning and professional improvement to maintain the knowledge and skill for providing services in a safe and competent manner; this includes understanding one’s strengths and limitations and knowing when to consult with or refer to other professionals.

Examples of professional competency may include the following OTD student-specific scenarios:

  • Practicing previously learned skills or new knowledge before and during fieldwork

  • Consulting with Spalding University’s Writing lab to enhance written communication skills

  • Performing extra research to find additional resources for learning new or challenging concepts from class