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Transitioning from Student to Employee

Student Volunteer

Occupational Therapy Student Blog Post

Feb 2, 2021

Christina Medwid, Mercy College

Jessica Strohmeyer, Dominican College

Occupational therapists (OTs) are trained in areas which help individuals with disabilities transition from being a student to employed. Unfortunately, people with intellectual, developmental, and specific learning disabilities have the lowest employment rate. In the United States only 18.7% of individuals with disabilities are employed (Trujillo, Poach, & Carr, 2019).

Employment provides a person with a feeling of self-worth through income, social engagement, and purpose. To become employed people need to have specific skills. Some disabled individuals need help to gain/ improve these skills. Afya works to help pinpoint and improve the skills these individuals struggle with.

In occupational therapy (OT), skills are defined as an individual gaining a functional ability through training and practice. According to Abaoğlu, Cesim, Kars, & Celik (2017), there are specific life skills, which help individuals be productive and feel a sense of worth in the community. Skills include cognitive, emotional, and communication/interpersonal skills.

Afya works with volunteers to improve the skills listed above and also vocational, time management, interaction skills, etc. Afya is able to do this through the help of physical therapists, OTs, and OT students who work at this facility.

Rosner, Grasso, Scott-Cole, Villalobos, & Mulcahey (2020), studied 35 research articles based on individuals with intellectual disabilities transitioning out of school. Rosner et al. found that many OTs are not involved in the transition from student to employment, despite OTs being trained in the skills listed above.

Trujillo, Poach, & Carr, 2019, conducted a study with 71 OTs, which explored how OTs can be primary transition evaluators and help individuals with disabilities transition from students to employees based on OT assessments and other assessments. Trujillo, Poach, & Carr, 2019, found over 90% of therapists agreed that OTs provide information on individuals interests, preferences, strengths, deficits, and goals for employment or housing.

OTs are therefore one of the professions that should be considered when aiding individuals with disabilities in transitioning to the workforce. In a study conducted by Verhoef, Roebroeck,Van Schaardenburgh, Floothius, and Miedema, (2014), an intervention program was set up in which information on work-related topics and role models were utilized to improve communication, interaction skills, vocational skills and work routines to improve management skills of the participants with physical disabilities. Results demonstrated improvement occurred in work performance, satisfaction, showed a 16% to 67% increase of employment (Verhoef et. al., 2014).

At Afya, individuals with disabilities improve skills including; vocational, communication, time management, interaction, etc.. Afya’s OT students help volunteers gain these skills to increase their chances of employment, continued education, or future volunteer options. OT has come a long way to improve individuals’ transition from school to work. Here at Afya, OTs, physical therapists and OT students continue to help make this transition possible.


Abaoğlu, H., Cesim, O. B., Kars, S., & Celik, Z. (2017). Life skills in occupational therapy. IntechOpen. doi:10.5772/intechopen.68462.

Cobb, R. B., Lipscomb, S., Wolgemuth, J., Schulte, T., & National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (ED). (2013). Improving post-high school  outcomes for transition-age students with disabilities: An evidence review. NCEE 2013-4011. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.

Rosner, T., Grasso, A., Scott-Cole, L., Villalobos, A., & Mulcahey, M. J. (2020). Scoping review of school-to-work transition for youth with intellectual disabilities: A practice gap. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy : Official Publication of the American Occupational Therapy Association, 74(2), 7402205020p1-7402205020p23.

Trujillo, C., Poach, M., & Carr, M. (2019). Exploring the applicability of occupational therapy transition assessments for students with disabilities. WFOT Bulletin75(1), 71–77.

Verhoef, A. C., Roebroeck, M. E., Van Schaardenburgh, N., Floothius, M. C. S. G., and Miedema, H. S. (2014). Improved occupational performance of young adults with a physical disability after vocational rehabilitation program. Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation24(1), 42-51.