Faculty180 – Vita and Individual Profile Data Sheet

Heather Thomas

Fall 1980 - Fall 2120

Occupational Therapy Program



Dr. Heather Thomas is a professor at Southern California University in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. Prior to this appointment, she was the founding Program Director of an OTD program in Oregon. She has been working in occupational therapy education for over 18 years. She has presented at international, national, and state conferences, and was involved in providing OT services in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010. She has served in a variety of leadership positions within the California state OT association, Los Angeles OT Leadership Forum, Los Angeles City Council, and the American Occupational Therapy Association. She currently serves as a Regional Director for the Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon and on the Board of Directors for Rebuilding Together. She is the author of the top selling activity analysis textbook “Occupation-Based Activity Analysis” which is used across the world.  Her practice background includes working in acute rehabilitation and acute settings, with those who have sustained traumatic and progressive neurological disorders.



Ph.D., Health Care Management, Touro University International, Cypress, California, United StatesDissertation: The Influence of Personal and Physical Contexts on Occupational Therapists’ Intervention Choices for Addressing Contractures

Professional Licensures (Healthcare)

OT, California, United States, 3610, Active, 2004, November 2024

OT, Oregon, United States, 1029258, Active, 2021, May 2023

Work Experience

2020 - 2022

Program Director, Western University of Health Sciences, Lebanon, Oregon, United States

2020 - 2020

Professor, University of St. Augustine, San Marcos, California, United States

2017 - 2020

Professor & Curriculum Coordinator, West Coast University, Los Angeles, California, United States

2016 - 2017

Program Director, American Career College, Anaheim, California, United States

2013 - 2016

Associate Professor/Curriculum Development Coordinator, West Coast University, Los Angeles, California, United States

2009 - 2020

Occupational Therapist, Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, Pomona, California, United States

2007 - 2008

Director of Occupational Therapy, Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, Pomona, California, United States

2004 - 2013

Assistant & Associate Professor, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California, United States

2000 - 2001

Program Director, Assistive Technology Center, Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, Pomona, California, United States

1998 - 2000

Occupational Therapist, Casa Colina Centers for Rehabilitation, Pomona, California, United States

Scholarly Contributions and Creative Productions



Thomas, H. Occupational and Activity Analysis; SLACK, Inc: Thorofare, NJ, 2022.
Thomas, H. Occupation-Based Activity Analysis; SLACK, Inc: Thorofare, NJ, 2015.
Thomas, H. Occupation-Based Activity Analysis; SLACK Incorporated: Thorofare, NJ, 2011.



Thomas, H. Working with the Occupational Therapy Assistant. In The occupational therapy manager; AOTA press: Bethesda, MD, 2019.
Thomas, H. Using the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework in Mental Health. In Psychosocial Occupational Therapy; Elsevier: New York, NY, 2020.

Journal Article


Thomas, H.; Sheth, M. Managing Sleep Deprivation in Older Adults: A Role for Occupational Therapy. OT Practice 2019, March, CE1–CE9.
Thomas, H. Sexual Function after Stroke: A Case Report on Rehabilitation Intervention with a Geriatric Survivor. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation 2016, 32 (3), 204–209.
Thomas, H.; Javaherian, H. OT Education SIS and the AOTA Centennial Vision. AOTA Education Special Interest Section 2008, 1, 3.
Thomas, H. How Can You Contribute to Future Clients’ Lives?. OTAC Newsletter 2007, 32 (1), 2.
Thomas, H.; Whitney, R. Staying Current with Your Practice in the Fast Current of Changing Practice: CBOT, OTAC, NBCOT and PDU’s. OTAC Newsletter 2007, 32 (3), 2.



Thomas, H.
Thomas, H.
Thomas, H.
Thomas, H.; Bianco, K.; Hickey, C.; Deoghare, H.; Zarrinkhameh, L.
Thomas, H.; Kokesh, S.; Mele, J. . American Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference, 2021.
Thomas, H. . Occupational Therapy Association of California Annual Conference, 2020.
Thomas, H.; Kokesh, S.; Mele, J.
Thomas, H.



AAA Carfit Grant, Funded by AAA (January 2, 2018) ($500.00), Completed, Fall 2022, PI Heather Thomas

California Foundation of Occupational Therapy Research Award, Funded by California Foundation of Occupational Therapy (October 4, 2022) ($500.00), Completed, Fall 2022, PI Heather Thomas

Funded - In Progress

Establishment of Protocols for Incorporation of Lifestyle Medicine into Occupational Therapy Fieldwork and Capstone Projects, Funded by Ardmore Institute (October 11, 2022) ($99,839.00), Funded - In Progress, Fall 2022, PI Heather Thomas

Honors and Awards

Fall 2022 - Ongoing

Teacher of the Year, 2018, West Coast University

AOTA Service Commendation, 2017, American Occupational Therapy Association

Award of Excellence, 2016, Occupational Therapy Association of California

Outstanding Service Award, 2015, West Coast University

Professional Membership

Fall 2021 - Ongoing

Occupational Therapy Association of Oregon, September 2021

Summer 1996 - Ongoing

American Occupational Therapy Association, December 1996

Fall 1998 - Fall 2020

Occupational Therapy Association of California , October 1998, October 2020

Fall 2007 - Ongoing

World Federation of Occupational Therapists, February 2007

Hear from the Students Who’ve Been in Your Shoes

I chose SCU when looking for a PA program because of their Integrative Medicine approach. I am from Michigan, and not many programs focus on this Integrative, Holistic approach when it comes to patient care in the Midwest, and I felt that was very important for me to learn as a future provider. My transition to semi-virtual learning has been very smooth and quite enjoyable. My favorite part about attending SCU is how tight-knit and diverse the community is. Coming from a large undergrad university and moving so far, it was very important for me to have a PA program that made me feel valued and invested in my success. At SCU, they do a great job of making you feel that.


Brianna Hadley

Student, Master of Science: Physician Assistant

One of the great things about SCU is we do have a campus layout, so all your classes aren't in a single room. We have our cadaver lab. We have different specialty rooms for physical assessment classes vs. acupuncture classes. All our acupuncture-specific classes have all the herbs in the room. You can pull out the herbs and look at them, whether in class or in between classes to get that extra studying in.

My favorite part of SCU is the collaboration from our beginning terms. We were working alongside chiropractor students, PA students, and ayurvedic students. It's a unique community where we get to learn about these different fields and sit in classrooms with them and work with them in the clinic. It allows you to get an understanding of all the different fields and how they can work together, and what is unique about your field. I think that is a wonderful aspect that I didn't think was going to be as prominent as it is here; even now, in my upper term classes and I am not in class with chiropractic students, I can still reach out to them about a certain aspect I may not understand or if I am working on a case. I want another perspective I know I have them to reach out to, so that has been a great networking community to have resources for.

Jamie Kuljis

Student, Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine

"There are a lot of things that I love about the program at SCU. The first one is that the faculty come from a long line of Ayurvedic knowledge deeply rooted in ancient classical text. They studied Ayurveda, but they also lived it. When you learn from people who embody this wisdom, it's much easier to grasp this knowledge. The second thing I love is the camaraderie within the cohort. The combination of the training, supportive faculty, and the support of my peers and classmates has given me the confidence I need to start my own practice."

Portia Harris

Student, Ayurveda Program

Some of my favorite courses at SCU have to be the chiropractic procedure classes; those are the classes you get to hone in on your chiro skills, your palpation skills and ultimately work on the adjustments that make you a chiropractor. Those are the classes I feel enhance my knowledge the most and are some of the reasons I chose to become a chiropractor here are SCU.

On top of chiropractic procedures classes, my favorite is the cadaver lab experience. The cadaver classes opened up my perception of what the human body is made up of. It allowed me to get an in-person perspective of how the body works and looks on the inside. I am genuinely thankful for those experiences because they opened and broadened my horizons to the human body and anatomy in general.

Jordan Vega

Student, Doctor of Chiropractic

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