LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- UNLV launched new Occupational Therapy program that trains students in a home instead of a classroom or lab.

Located off Shadow Lane in the Las Vegas Medical District, the home features a kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and laundry room. Students get to learn in a simulated natural environment.

OT student Jina Jitt thinks the house is one the most beneficial things in their program.

“The fact that our administrators tried to come up with an at-home environment is definitely where occupational therapy shines," Jitt said.

UNLV originally rolled out the program in the summer of 2020, during the pandemic when students were online. Now the start of the fall school year gives students an opportunity to learn in-person, and get hands on experience for a very hands on profession.

Donna Costa, founding program director, said their tag line a few years ago was "skills for the job of living."

"We help restore function to people, we enable people what they need and want to do in their everyday life and it sounds simple but it’s so important," Costa said.

Currently the state has a shortage of occupational therapists. There are approximately 1,200 licensed OT's for about 3.2 million residents. 

“There is a need. Occupational Therapy is not as well known as some other professions. But we are the profession that makes a difference in people’s lives," Costa said. 

Several students said they were inspired to get into the profession after seeing similar care of their grandparents.

“My grandpa he got a stroke around ten years ago and from there on I saw him being taken care of by us and my grandmother especially and that motivated me pursue occupational therapy for the patient and their families," Cynthia Lee said.

Jerome Amigo saw the care of an OT with his grandmother.

“How they changed her mood, her behavior and her quality of life. Her whole spirit was basically uplifted and that basically drew me," Amigo said.

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