Occupational therapy is a vital health care service that uses ”occupation,” meaning purposeful activity, as the basis for treatment of people with a wide variety of physical, developmental, and emotional disabilities.
Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help disabled people of all ages acquire or regain the skills they need to live independent, productive, and satisfying lives. They work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, public and private schools, and home health agencies.
Occupational therapy assistants work under the guidance of occupational therapists. They may choose or construct equipment that helps people to function more independently; they may carry out treatment activities for individuals or groups of patients; and they work closely with families of patients who are preparing to return home.
To become an occupational therapy assistant, you must complete an educational program. The majority of these are two-year associate degree programs like the one at Shawnee State University. Studies include basic academic subjects, human growth and development, the functioning of the human body, and occupational therapy principles and techniques. The OTA program requires two, eight-week rotations of supervised practical experience in a variety of health care settings.
After successfully completing the educational program, you are eligible to take the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant. Many states, including Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia, also require licensing by their respective states to practice occupational therapy.
The occupational therapy assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, P.O. Box 31220, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220. AOTA’s phone number is (301) 652-AOTA. Graduates of the program are able to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT); however, the NBCOT sets its own criteria for taking the exam, which may include questions on the applicant’s criminal history. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT Certification examination or attain state licensure. For more information on these limitations, you can contact NBCOT at 301.990.7979. After successful completion of this exam, you are a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA). Most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.
To remain enrolled in the occupational therapy assistant program, you must:
- Not receive below a C in any course with the OTAT prefix.
- Maintain a 2.50 GPA in all courses with the OTAT prefix.
- Obtain an overall GPA of no less than 2.50.
- Successfully complete (with a grade of “C” or higher) BIOL 1130 by the end of the second semester (spring) of the first year.
If any of these criteria are not met, you are dismissed from the OTA program. Conditions for readmission to the OTA program are specified by the Program Leader at the time of dismissal.
Clinical placements for the OTA program in the Portsmouth area are limited. OTAT 2190 and 2290 (Fieldwork 1) are clinical courses requiring four to seven hours, one day per week at the assigned facility. These placements may be up to, and sometimes at distances greater than, 70 miles away from Shawnee State University. You are responsible for your own transportation to and from these facilities.
OTAT 2390 and 2490 (Fieldwork 2) consist of two rotations of eight weeks each. You are required to be at that facility during normal working hours (usually 40 hours per week). The OTA program assigns each student two placements. You are responsible for all expenses incurred to complete the Fieldwork 2 requirements of the OTA program. Requirements for graduation and to remain in the program are listed in the OTA Student Handbook.
You are required to have successfully completed all OTAT and other courses in the curriculum (as indicated by a minimum 2.5 GPA) prior to participating in OTAT 2390 and 2490. OTAT 2390 and 2490 must be completed within 18 months following completion of other OTA courses