Mayo Clinic occupational therapy students working with patient on exercise machine

Program overview

Duration: 12 weeks
Class size: Varies
Location: Rochester, Minnesota

This internship provides the high-quality educational and clinical fieldwork needed to create a well-rounded, fully competent occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant.

Throughout your internship, you are exposed to adaptive training activities, equipment, videos and resources. These prepare you for treating individuals with medical diagnoses typically seen in the rehabilitative clinical setting, such as stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cardiac conditions and neurological impairments.

To be eligible for the internship, you must be currently enrolled in an accredited occupational therapy education program. The academic fieldwork coordinator at your college or university arranges admission to the internship.

There are two levels of practice in occupational therapy:

  • Occupational therapist. To prepare for a career as an occupational therapist, you must complete a professional education program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

    You may choose:
    • A professional master's degree program
    • A professional doctorate of occupational therapy degree program
  • Occupational therapy assistant. To become an occupational therapy assistant, you must complete an educational program accredited by ACOTE.

The American Occupational Therapy Association Inc. (AOTA) provides a list of schools that offer accredited occupational therapy education programs. All courses of study require a period of supervised clinical experience and successful completion of a certification examination. Those who pass are awarded the title of occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant.

How to apply

Your application and all supporting documentation must be received at least 90 days prior to the start of the internship.

The occupational therapy fieldwork must be arranged and approved by the academic fieldwork coordinator from your college or university.

  1. Arrange internship participation. Contact your program's academic fieldwork coordinator to arrange to participate in the Occupational Therapy Internship at Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences.
  2. Begin the application process. Once your participation is approved by both your academic fieldwork coordinator and the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences Occupational Therapy Internship director, you receive an instructional email to begin the formal application process approximately six months prior to your start date.
  3. Complete the application process. Follow and complete all the steps in this application email. Approximately one to two months prior to your start date, you receive an email with additional application documents to complete from Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences.

Your complete application and supporting documentation must be returned by mail or email in a timely manner to ensure your ability to begin this internship on the scheduled date.

No interviews are held for internship positions.

Curriculum

Mayo Clinic offers occupational therapy internships in these practice areas:

You may work in a collaborative model where one clinical instructor supervises more than one student. In other areas, a one-on-one or one-on-two model of clinical instruction is provided. You have a primary staff supervisor and interact with occupational therapy staff members.

You gain experience in treating patients with special occupational therapy needs, which may include:

  • Acute care complex medical conditions
  • Amputee rehabilitation
  • Brain injury rehabilitation
  • Cardiac care
  • Cognitive and safety evaluations
  • Musculoskeletal disorders, including shoulder and knee problems
  • Orthopedic trauma and general orthopedic needs
  • Postmastectomy lymphedema management
  • Rehabilitation of disabling neurological conditions
  • Rehabilitation of neuromuscular disorders
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Stroke rehabilitation
  • Trunk or extremity bracing problems
  • Vestibular rehabilitation

Educational sessions covering current trends in occupational therapy are periodically offered with student participation welcomed. These learning experiences may include lectures, workshops, in-service training, case studies, Grand Rounds and informal discussions.

Core faculty

Melissa O. Halvorsen, M.S., OTR/L, is a 2005 graduate of the University of Minnesota Occupational Therapy program. She joined Mayo Clinic in 2008 as an outpatient staff therapist working in a variety of practice areas, including low vision, dysphagia, women's health, neurodegenerative diseases, functional movement disorders and basic ergonomics. She became involved in the acute-care practice in 2009. She has assisted in student education and program development in a variety of practice areas over the years.

Melissa became a clinical education coordinator for the Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Methodist Campus, in 2017 and assisted in developing this program. Melissa completed the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Fieldwork Educators Certificate Program Workshop in 2017 and is working toward AOTA board certification.

Donna K. Heinle, O.T.D., OTR/L, BCPR, joined Mayo Clinic in 1988 as a staff therapist. For more than 15 years, she was a clinical education coordinator on an acute rehabilitation unit. She has received the Mayo Clinic Educator of the Year Award as well as the Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association Fieldwork Educator Award.

Donna has done research involving clinical guidelines for people with spinal cord injuries and reflective learning for level II fieldwork occupational therapy students. She has experience working as an occupational therapist in a variety of settings, including physical disabilities, mental health, addiction, pediatrics, and developmentally disabled adults and children. She has presented at local, state and national conferences.

In 1981, Donna graduated from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy and she graduated from the University of St. Augustine, in 2008 with a doctoral degree in occupational therapy. Donna became board certified in physical medicine by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) in 2007. She has served on AOTA's Board for Advanced and Specialty Certification and is a regional trainer for the AOTA Fieldwork Educator Certificate course.

An adjunct educator and instructor for Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences, Donna also has an academic appointment as an instructor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. She is a Silver Level Certified Mayo Clinic Quality Fellow.

Kathleen K. Johnson, OTR/L, ATP, joined Mayo Clinic in 1985 as a staff therapist. She is the clinical educator in a collaborative model for level II fieldwork occupational therapy in the adult neurorehabilitation practice area at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus.

Kathy has experience as the spine occupational therapy lead, holding that position from 2010-2016. She was responsible for leadership and clinical development of the spine program and educating staff therapists to ensure state-of-the-art practice.

In addition, Kathy has participated in research involving clinical guidelines for people with spinal cord injuries, as well as innovation and quality projects for promotion of virtual health and wellness with spinal cord injured population and development of accessible educational formats. In addition to spine interests, she has extensive experience with acquired brain injury, traumatic brain injury, dysphagia, neurorehabilitation and use of assistive technologies.

In 1983, Kathy graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in distributive sciences and she graduated from the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) with a Certificate of Occupational Therapy in 1984. Kathy received certification in neurodevelopmental treatment in 1996 and Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) certification from Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) in 2010.

Hannah Y. Oldenburg, M.A., OTR/L, is a 2012 graduate of St. Catherine University's Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy program. Since joining Mayo Clinic in January of 2013 as a staff therapist, her primary focus has been in acute care working with patients with orthopedic, general medicine, cardiopulmonary and intensive care needs. She has provided care and completed multiple research studies specific to therapeutic interventions (strength and cognition) with patients implanted with a mechanical circulatory device, such as left ventricular assist device (LVAD) and total artificial heart (TAH).

Hannah completed the AOTA Fieldwork Educators Certificate Program in 2015. She is currently a doctoral candidate in education at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. In 2015, she became a clinical education coordinator in the acute care practice working with patients having orthopedic, general medicine, cardiopulmonary and intensive care needs. Hannah has a passion for research specific to interprofessional education and clinical reasoning.

Cherie L. Falk Philpott, O.T., is a 1988 graduate of University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Occupational Therapy Program. She has been a member of AOTA and Minnesota Occupational Therapy Association (MOTA) since 1988. She joined Mayo Clinic in December 1988 as a staff occupational therapist with a primary focus in acute care, oncology, orthopedics, organ transplant and general surgery.

Her previous areas of practice include skilled nursing facility, outpatient and inpatient hand, arthritis, neurological disorders, and industrial rehabilitation. She has specialty training and proficiency in orthotic fabrication and dysphagia. Her practice interests include acute care, orthotic fabrication, orthopedics and oncology.

Cherie has been involved with student education since 1989 and became the clinical education coordinator in the acute care inpatient practice at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Methodist Campus, in September 2017. She is a Bronze Level Certified Mayo Clinic Quality Fellow.

Tamra Trenary, O.T.D., OTR/L, BCPR, joined Mayo Clinic in 1998 as a staff therapist. She has worked as an occupational therapist in a variety of settings, including physical disabilities, mental health, pain rehabilitation, industrial rehabilitation and skilled nursing facilities.

In 2007, Tamra became the clinical education coordinator for level II fieldwork occupational therapy students in acute care at Mayo Clinic Hospital — Rochester, Saint Marys Campus. She has mentored over 100 students completing fieldwork in acute care.

Tamra graduated in 1996 from the College of St. Scholastica with a Master of Arts degree in occupational therapy. In 2008, she graduated from the University of St. Augustine with a doctoral degree in occupational therapy and became board certified in physical rehabilitation by the AOTA.

A certified trainer for the AOTA Fieldwork Educators Certificate Workshop, Tamra has served on multiple AOTA committees. She has published and presented at state and national conferences on clinical education and the collaborative clinical education model. Tamra is a Silver Level Certified Mayo Clinic Quality Fellow.

Hours

For the majority of the internship, the learning schedule includes eight-hour days, five days a week. While the regular workweek is usually 40 hours, additional projects, patient activities and homework may be assigned.

Tuition and financial aid

You pay tuition to the school that you are attending. Mayo Clinic charges no additional fees and does not offer financial aid for the internship.

You are responsible for providing your living accommodations and transportation.

You may hold outside employment during the internship if it does not conflict with your program responsibilities.

Explore health care careers: Occupational therapist

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