Occupational Therapy Assistant - AAS

Program Description

St. Catherine University founded the first two-year occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program in the country more than 50 years ago and has a long history of successfully educating certified occupational therapy assistants (COTAs). The program is designed to help students master occupational therapy skills and develop and refine leadership, interpersonal, and communication skills. 

Certified occupational therapy assistants make a difference in people's lives. Occupational therapy assistants work in collaboration and cooperation with registered occupational therapists to help people engage in human occupations or "day-to-day" activities that contribute to their physical, psychological and spiritual health, well-being and overall quality of life.

Students interested in entering the OTA program typically come to the University as Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) occupational therapy assistant students one or two semesters before beginning the OTA sequence of courses. LAS occupational therapy assistant students take prerequisite requirements and complete most of their liberal arts and science core requirements before beginning OTA program courses.

Students are strongly encouraged to research and understand the profession before beginning the program. Information regarding the profession and career options can be found on the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website www.aota.org.

Didactic and Lab Experiences

Students will benefit from personal attention in their didactic, lab, and fieldwork experiences. Our associate of applied science degree program offers a 16-month (4 consecutive semesters) online track with face-to-face labs in Virginia, Texas, California, and Minnesota. Labs are an important component of the OTA program and are required to attend. The delivery of lab content has been adjusted to ensure we are following the CDC guidelines due to COVID, this continues to be monitored as needed to meet the safety requirements for all students. 

Fieldwork Experience

Students can interact with individuals and groups, including well populations and those with physical, psycho-social or developmental disabilities; work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools, rehabilitation facilities, community centers and clients' homes; and practice their profession in collaboration with other healthcare team members. Each student completes more than 700 hours of directed fieldwork experience in a variety of healthcare and community settings. Students may have fieldwork experiences within traveling distance of their homes, although travel to a site beyond that may be required to expand the opportunities due to unforeseen variables.

All St. Catherine University students enrolled in a health care program must meet minimum immunization requirements and remain compliant throughout their tenure with St. Catherine University.  These requirements are defined by the terms of our clinical/fieldwork contracts and are standardized across programs.  OTA program students must also complete Basic Life Safety for Healthcare Providers (BLS). This must be an American Heart Association or American Red Cross certification and must be completed prior to the first Level I fieldwork. Options other than these must be approved by a Compliance Administrator in the Clinical Clearance office.

Most states have regulations that require that all students going into a clinical setting have a criminal background check. Background checks are done prior to classes starting or within the first two weeks of class each year and the University provides all forms. Any identified problems on a background check may have an impact on a student's ability to attend labs or participate in fieldwork, and therefore progress in the program.

Certification

Graduates of the OTA program are able to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). NBCOT is located at One Bank Street, Suite 300, Gaithersburg, MD, 20878. The phone number for NBCOT is (301) 990-7979, email is info@nbcot.org, and the website is www.nbcot.org. After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. Many states have some form of regulation in order to practice. Generally, state regulations are based on the successful completion of the NBCOT certification examination.

When graduates apply to take the certification examination with the NBCOT, they are asked to answer questions related to felony convictions. Graduates will also be asked questions about felony convictions as they apply for state licensure. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to complete fieldwork experiences, sit for the NBCOT certification examination, or attain state licensure. For further information on these limitations, contact NBCOT or your state licensing board.

Accreditation

St. Catherine University's 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 20814-3449. ACOTE's telephone number at c/o AOTA is (301) 652-2682 and its web address is www.acoteonline.org.

Time to Complete the Program

Students complete their professional (OTA) course sequence in as few as 16 months (4 consecutive semesters). No more than two LAS courses may be taken concurrently with OTA courses. Level II Fieldwork is completed in the final semester in accordance with the curriculum design and the program policies.

Eligibility Requirements to Begin the Professional Sequence of Courses:

After admission to the University, students in both tracks must meet the following requirements to be eligible to begin the professional sequence of courses.

  • An overall GPA of 2.5
  • A cumulative prerequisite GPA of 2.5
  • No more than two liberal arts and science courses remaining to be completed
  • All prerequisite courses must be taken for a letter grade, except Medical Terminology which may be taken S/U. (All courses must be taken at an accredited school).

Curriculum

Prerequisite Requirements

At least two of the following courses must be completed at the time of application. Any remaining courses must be in process at the time of application, and must be completed with a grade of C or better (except Medical Terminology which may be taken S/U) prior to beginning the professional sequence of courses. A minimum prerequisite and cumulative GPA of 2.5 is required. These requirements apply to both online and campus-based tracks.

Any of the four courses in which a grade less than a C is earned must be repeated.

Students should strive for more than the minimum grade of C for all prerequisites; earning C in all courses will not meet the 2.5 prerequisite GPA requirement.

BIOL 2400General Anatomy and Physiology with Lab 14
IPE 1020Medical Terminology1
PSYC 1000General Psychology4
PSYC 2020Lifespan Developmental Psychology 14
Total Credits13

Academic Progression

In order to successfully complete the OTA Program, the student must meet the following requirements:
  • Earn a C or better in every Liberal Arts and Sciences, prerequisite, and OTA program course.
  • Earn a term grade point average of 2.5 every term.
  • Maintain an institutional grade point average of 2.5 throughout the program.

Failure to meet any one of these requirements will result in a student being placed on probation. Students placed on probation for a second time will be dismissed from the program. Specific and detailed progression policies are available to admitted students.

Professional Behaviors

Developing appropriate professional behaviors is important to becoming a competent practitioner. It is the goal of the OTA program to help students develop and nurture professional behaviors in the academic setting, allowing students to refine them in their clinical fieldwork settings. Upon graduation, as an entry-level OTA, students will be ready to uphold the ethical standards, values, attitudes and behaviors of the occupational therapy profession. 

See also: Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy (graduate catalog)

Curriculum

Prerequisite Requirements

At least two of the following courses must be completed at the time of application. Any remaining courses must be in process at the time of application, and must be completed with a grade of C or better (except Medical Terminology which may be taken S/U) prior to beginning the professional sequence of courses. A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 is required. These requirements apply to both online and campus-based tracks.

Any of the four courses in which a grade less than a C is earned must be repeated.

Students should strive for more than the minimum grade of C for all prerequisites; earning C in all courses will not meet the 2.5 prerequisite GPA requirement.

BIOL 2400General Anatomy and Physiology with Lab 14
IPE 1020Medical Terminology1
PSYC 1000General Psychology4
PSYC 2020Lifespan Developmental Psychology 14
Total Credits13

Required OTA Courses

A minimum grade of C is required in these courses. A major GPA of 2.5 or higher is required.
OTA 1100Foundations of Human Occupation with Lab2
OTA 1120Role of the OTA2
OTA 1140Psychosocial Approaches I with Lab2
OTA 1150Professional Growth and Engagement2
OTA 1280Level I Fieldwork1
OTA 1290Level I Fieldwork1
OTA 2240Psychosocial Approaches II2
OTA 2250Rehabilitation Practice I with Lab2
OTA 2260Rehabilitation Practice II3
OTA 2270Pediatric Practice I with Lab3
OTA 2355Level II Fieldwork6
OTA 2365Level II Fieldwork6
OTA 2370Pediatric Practice II2
OTA 2380Aging with Lab2
OTA 2390Primary Care and OT2
OTA 2420Applied Skills with Lab2
Total Credits40

Liberal Arts and Sciences Core Requirements

A minimum grade of C is required in these courses
CORE 1000WThe Reflective Woman 24
ECOL 2000Human Ecology (or any liberal arts and science course)2
ENGL 2100Prose and Poetry (or any literature course)2
or ENGL 2500 The Short Story
PHIL 2030WHealthcare Ethics3
SSCS 2040WPower, Inequality and Social Change4
THEO 2040WThe Sacramental Life3
Total Credits18

Students are strongly encouraged to research and understand the profession before beginning the program. Information regarding the profession and career options can be found on the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website www.aota.org.

Curriculum

The OTA curriculum that goes into effect in the 2022-2023 academic catalog is listed below.  In addition to the program-required courses, students must complete the LIFE general education core curriculum.

The A.A.S. OTA program requires a minimum of 63 credits.

Prerequisite Requirements

All prerequisites must be completed before starting OTA courses. Any of the four courses in which a grade less than a C is earned must be repeated. Students should strive for more than the minimum grade of C for all prerequisites; earning a C in all courses will not meet the 2.5 prerequisite GPA requirement.

BIOL 2400General Anatomy and Physiology with Lab 14
IPE 1020Medical Terminology1
PSYC 1000General Psychology4
PSYC 2020Lifespan Developmental Psychology 14
Total Credits13

Required OTA Courses

A minimum grade of C is required in these courses. A major GPA of 2.5 or higher is required.
OTA 1100Foundations of Human Occupation with Lab2
OTA 1120Role of the OTA2
OTA 1140Psychosocial Approaches I with Lab2
OTA 1150Professional Growth and Engagement2
OTA 1280Level I Fieldwork1
OTA 1290Level I Fieldwork1
OTA 2240Psychosocial Approaches II2
OTA 2250Rehabilitation Practice I with Lab2
OTA 2265Rehabilitation Practice II2
OTA 2275Pediatric Practice I with Lab2
OTA 2355Level II Fieldwork6
OTA 2365Level II Fieldwork6
OTA 2370Pediatric Practice II2
OTA 2380Aging with Lab2
OTA 2390Primary Care and OT2
OTA 2420Applied Skills with Lab2
Total Credits38

Required Supporting Course

A maximum of two courses from the supporting course and LIFE general education core lists can be taken during the first semester of OTA coursework.

A minimum grade of C is required in this course
PHIL 2440Biomedical Ethics4
Total Credits4