Under the supervision of an occupational therapist, the baccalaureate occupational therapy assistant (OTA) contributes with the evaluation, implementation of treatment, and documentation of progress towards treatment goals of individuals who are experiencing difficulties engaging in their daily activities due to emotional, developmental, and/or physical disabilities. “Occupations” (meaningful and purposeful activities) are used as a means of preventing, reducing, and/or overcoming physical, social, and emotional disabilities. The OTA modifies and adapts the environment, and/or “occupations” to maximize independent functioning for clients of all ages and diverse cultural backgrounds. Additionally, the baccalaureate OTA is prepared to assist with the managerial aspects of the OT practice and assume leadership roles within the profession.
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA, 2011) defines occupational therapy practice as the “use of occupations, including everyday life activities with individuals, groups, populations, or organizations to support participation, performance, and function in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings. Occupational therapy services are provided for habilitation, rehabilitation, and the promotion of health and wellness to those who have or are at risk for developing an illness, injury, disease, disorder, condition, impairment, disability, activity limitation, or participation restriction. Occupational therapy addresses the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory-perceptual, and other aspects of performance in a variety of contexts and environments to support engagement in occupations that affect physical and mental health, well-being, and quality of life.”
The Baccalaureate Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is a 120 credit-hour degree program, with a minor in Health Services Administration (HSA), which trains and qualifies graduates to work in the occupational therapy field. The first two years of the program sequence prepare students with foundational knowledge and skills in general education and health services administration that will be integrated and applied in the occupational therapy assisting courses offered during the last two years of the program.
The baccalaureate occupational therapy assistant program has applied for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA, and its Web the address is www.acoteonline.org. The program must be granted Candidacy Status, have a pre accreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates are eligible 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 graduate will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). In addition, the State of Florida requires licensure in order to practice. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.