Document Type (Journals)



The FOCUUS Model or Facilitating Occupational Performance on Campus: Uplifting Underrepresented Students, is a theoretically-based, evidence-centered model focused on ethnic minority (EM) students in higher education. The FOCUUS Model recognizes minority status as a determinant of health, where the experience of minority status stress (MSS) resulting from racism, stigmatization, marginalization, discrimination, microaggressions, and challenges to one’s sense of belonging largely influence one’s occupational performance, health, and overall well-being. Historical and contemporary injustices within American culture have resulted in multigenerational occurrences of disparities for EMs. Racial injustice is deeply embedded and still ever-present within practices and traditions in higher education institutions resulting in racialized experiences for EM students and contributing to further disparities in educational outcomes. The FOCUUS Model draws connections between historical and contemporary experiences of injustice by EM students in higher education on physical and mental health and various other outcomes. The FOCUUS Model illustrates the great influence and impact that these factors may have on EM students’ overall well-being, educational experiences, and academic performance. This model is intended to be utilized by program administrators and educators in higher education to support EM students including Black and/or African American, Indigenous and/or Native American, and other peoples of color including Latinx or Asian Pacific Islander Desi American. Occupational therapy (OT) programs can utilize this model to 1) gain knowledge about the EM student experience, 2) evaluate their current ideologies and practices, and 3) implement strategies suggested by the model to better support and uplift EM students.


Maribeth Clifton, OTD, OTR/L is a graduate of the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO. Her interests include community-based programming and research to support children and youth. She is dedicated to the promotion of diverse, equitable, and inclusive practices to support outcomes of minority populations.

Steven D. Taff, PhD, OTR/L, FNAP, FAOTA is Associate Professor in Occupational Therapy and Medicine and Director of the Teaching Scholars Program at Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Taff’s scholarly interests include critical learning theory, educational philosophy, and graduate student flourishing and wellbeing.

Declaration of Interest

The authors report no declarations of interest.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.