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.
Students are admitted provisionally the fall semester. At the end of this first semester, applications are completed for full acceptance. At this time, students are granted full acceptance to the program, if requirements are met. The coursework is primarily laboratory experience designed to accommodate 12 students. The top 12 students in the admission process will be admitted. If more than 12 students are prepared to enter the program, they may be placed on a waiting list. A student must maintain at least a 2.3 GPA in each of the behavioral and biological sciences, English composition, and all occupational therapy course work. (Check with Program Director, many years two sections are admitted allowing the program to accommodate 24 students.)
The occupational therapy assistant curriculum includes basic human sciences, the human development process, analysis of specific life tasks and activities, understanding of health and illness, and occupational therapy theory and practice. The degree includes supervised fieldwork experiences.
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, P.O. Box 31220, Bethesda, MD, 20824-1220. AOTA’s phone number is 301- 652-AOTA. 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, 800 S. Frederick Avenue, Suite 200, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20877-4150.
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 efect 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;
- 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 si completed.
For information contact:
Marla J. Wonser, OTR/L, MSOT
Director, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program