Occupational therapy (OT) is the use of purposeful activity with individuals who are limited by physical injury or illness, psychosocial dysfunction, developmental or learning disabilities, poverty and cultural differences or the aging process, in order to maximize independence, prevent disability, and maintain health. Specific OT services include: teaching daily living skills; developing motor skills and sensory functioning; developing play/leisure skills and work capacities; designing, fabricating, or applying selected devices or adaptive equipment; using specifically designed crafts and exercises to enhance functional performance; administering assessments; and adapting environments for the handicapped. These services are provided individually, in groups, or through social systems. (Adopted from the American Occupational Therapy Association.)
The occupational therapy assistant program is an associate of science degree major designed to prepare students to obtain employment as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA); or a related field. The occupational therapy assistant program at Casper College is six semesters in length in which students complete five consecutive semesters of required academic course work, plus two eight-week fieldwork placements. The sequence begins with the fall semester and progresses through two years including one summer session. The courses build on information from previous semesters. After completion of academic course work, fieldwork is completed.
The OTA program is not a distance education program. Two prerequisite courses are offered completely online, face to face, or hybrid, a combination of the two, including OCTH 2000 OCTH 2000 - Introduction to Occupational Therapy (2CR) and COTA 2300 COTA 2300 - Fieldwork Integration I (2CR) . This gives students flexibility to explore the OTA program. Once a student is admitted into the OTA program, there are several hybrid classes including; COTA 2020 COTA 2020 - Human Occupations and Life Roles (2CR) , COTA 2100 COTA 2100 - Psychosocial Aspects (3CR) , and COTA 2160 COTA 2160 - Leadership Skills (2CR) . Distance Education courses are also offered to include COTA 2420 and COTA 2450 courses. Upon academic completion students will complete COTA 2500 COTA 2500 - Fieldwork A (3CR) , COTA 2550 COTA 2550 - Fieldwork B (3CR) and COTA 2600 COTA 2600 - Fieldwork Options , using Moodle, the Learning Management System, in conjunction with the field work assignments to facilitate communication between the academic fieldwork coordinator and students. The faculty also utilizes Moodle to house learning materials for students and enhance classroom instruction. Technical support and training are available to any student using Moodle.
Students are admitted provisionally the fall semester. During October applicants who meet the program admission requirements can apply for full acceptance. Applicants to the OTA program must have a GPA of 2.5 and receive a “C” or higher in all required classes for Occupational Therapy Assistant A.S. degree upon completion of the first fall semester. The top 24 canidates that meet program requirements are fully admitted to the program and placed in a 12 student cohart. These coharts are established as the OTA laboratory coursework is designed to accommodate 12 students. If more than 24 students have met the requirments to enter the program they may be placed on a waiting list. Upon acceptance and for the duration of the OTA program the students must maintain a “C” or higher in all required classes in the OTA degree.
The developmental themes of the curriculum are sequenced in a simple to complex continuum. These themes are developed over the course of the program through experiential, graded exploration of a variety of environments, collaboration with others, and creative thinking. These themes are also identified in levels of development one through four with one being introduction to knowledge, two beginning application of knowledge, three being advanced application of skills, and the fourth being the implementation of levels one through three with clients in a fieldwork setting. The fourth level, learning is the active development of knowledge through experience, practice, and interaction.
The Casper College 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, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD, 20824-1220. AOTA’s phone number is 301- 652-AOTA and website is www.acoteonline.org. Graduates of the program will be able to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be 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.
Background check and drug/alcohol policy
Students enrolled in any of the health science programs will participate in clinical experiences in a variety of agencies. Prior to participating in the clinical experiences, students will be subject to that agency’s requirements for a background check, drug testing and/or drug abuse prevention policies. Students are then subject to the random drug testing policy of that agency. Due to most sites requiring background checks, all occupational therapy assistant students are required to complete background checks.
NOTE: To ensure that occupational therapy practitioners meet ethical and professional standards prior to entering the professions, all applicants for initial certification are required to provide information and documentation related to any illegal, unethical or incompetent behavior. Persons with a felony history may not be eligible to sit for the certification examination. When you apply to write the certification examination with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, you will be asked to answer questions related to the topic of felonies. For further information on these limitations, you can contact NBCOT at: Nation Board of Certification of Occupation Therapy, One Bank Street, Suite 300, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20878.
Clinical accessibility policy
The occupational therapy assistant program utilizes a variety of health care agencies in the community for clinical experience for the students. If you have been employed in one or more of the agencies and are not eligible for rehire as an employee, the agency may not permit you to participate in the essential clinical component of the program.
Please contact the human resources department of the affected agency and request documentation that states the agency position on your participation in the clinical component of the program. If you receive a negative response from the agency, you may be ineligible to apply. A response indicating you will be permitted to attend clinicals in the agency will be given to the program director prior to the selection process for admission to the program. If you are unable to fulfill clinical requirements due to a previous employer issue and have not complied with the above, you could be dismissed from the program.
Core performance standards for admission and progression
Critical thinking: Critical thinking ability to exercise non-clinical and clinical judgment in a timely manner.
Interpersonal: Interpersonal abilities sufficient to interact professionally and therapeutically with peers, faculty, staff, administrators, patients/clients, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.
Communication: Communication skills sufficient for interaction with peers, faculty, staff, administrators, patients/clients, families, and groups in verbal, nonverbal and written form.
Mobility: Physical abilities sufficient to move from room to room, safely perform treatments/procedures, and assist patients/clients; lift and transfer patients/clients; manipulate equipment; walk and/or stand for extended periods of time.
Motor skills: Gross and fine motor skills sufficient to provide safe and effective patient/client care.
Hearing: Auditory ability sufficient to monitor and safely assess health needs.
Visual: Visual ability with or without corrective lenses sufficient for observation and assessment necessary in safe patient/client care.
Tactile: Tactile ability sufficient for physical assessment of patient/ client care.
Professionalism: The ability to understand and demonstrate sufficient respect for others in non-verbal, verbal, and written communications in the classroom, laboratory, clinical settings, in the Casper College community, and in related public settings. The ability to demonstrate sufficient understanding of the cumulative effect that behavior, appearance, and communication has on the health science professional image.
Fieldwork is an important part of the occupational therapy assistant program curriculum and is required to complete the program. There are two levels of fieldwork, plus the initial community experiences;
- Have evidence of American Heart Association BLS for the Provider Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification beginning the first semester of classes, and maintain current certification throughout the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. This requirement may be met by successfully completing HLTK 1625 .
- Community Experiences: These placements provide the students exposure to a variety of service programs and clientele within the community. The student is required to complete 20 hours each of the first two semesters.
- Level I fieldwork is completed as an integrated part of course work. These placements are completed the fall and spring semesters of the second year. During this time, the students will spend consecutive days in an assigned facility, which has agreed to work with the occupational therapy assistant program as a training site. Placements will include psychosocial, physical disabilities, geriatric, pediatric, and developmental disability facilities.
- Level II fieldwork consists of two eight-week clinical experiences. During this time the student will spend 40 hours per week at a contracted facility. Additional hours are frequently required to complete assignments at the various contracted fieldwork sites. Level II fieldwork is completed after all academic course work is completed.
For information contact:
Cassady Hoff, OTR/L, MSOT
Director, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program