Upon completion of the occupational therapy assistant program, the associate degree graduate will be educationally prepared to provide service to individuals having difficulties in living due to developmental deficits, physical injury and illness, psychological and social disabilities, and the aging process. The occupational therapy assistant works with, and under the direction of, an occupational therapist, and assists with the processes of client evaluation, goal setting, implementation of care, and documentation of occupational therapy services.
The coursework includes a series of general education courses with an emphasis on the biological and psychological sciences. Professional studies focus on how human occupational development is affected by illness and injury, and how function can be facilitated.
What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy provides services to individuals whose abilities to perform their occupations or life roles are threatened or impaired by developmental deficits, the aging process, poverty and cultural differences, physical injury or illness, or psychological and social disability. The goal of occupational therapy is to help people of all ages regain, develop, or master everyday skills in order to live independent, productive, and satisfying lives. The skills of an occupational therapy practitioner can be used in a variety of traditional and emergent areas of practice.
- Hospitals and clinics
- Rehabilitation facilities
- Long-term and extended care facilities
- Schools and camps
- Private homes and community agencies
- Aquatic therapy
- Therapeutic horseback riding
- Activities director
- Job coaching
- Driver rehabilitation and training
- Technical and assistive device development and consulting
- Health and wellness program consultant
- Consultant for contractors and families for home modifications
- Sheltered workshops
- Work-related injuries
- Impairments due to a stroke or heart attack
- Arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or other serious illnesses
- Birth injuries, learning problems, or developmental disabilities
- Mental health problems
- Substance abuse problems and eating disorders
- Burns, spinal cord injuries, or amputations
- Broken bones or other injuries from sports, falls, or accidents
- Registered Occupational Therapists (OTR): earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational therapy at an accredited institution and have passed the national registration exam.
- Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA): earned an associate degree at an accredited institution and have passed the national certification exam. In traditional settings, the COTA is under the supervision of an OTR.
- Occupational Therapy Aides: trained, on the job, to support other occupational therapy practitioners.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant program supports the mission of Jamestown Community College in its goal of contributing to the education, economic, and social fabric of the community. The program strives to provide students with the professionalism, clinical reasoning, and ethics to meet the occupational needs of the individuals that they treat, and to be strong representatives of the profession. Faculty will serve as a resource to area practitioners and assist in fostering lifelong learning and advancement of the occupational therapy field.
JCC’s OTA faculty recognize that learners come from diverse backgrounds with varying degrees of life experience that they bring to the classroom. JCC’s goal is to teach so that all learners have the opportunity to be successful.
A variety of teaching methods are utilized in the classroom to address various learning styles and to promote learning. These include, but are not limited to, group work, discussions, case studies, hands-on lab work, presentations, and clinical fieldwork experiences.
The focus of the program is on developing critical thinking skills and concept understanding so learners can easily take the knowledge they have gained and apply it in both personal and career endeavors. Courses are organized developmentally. Layering of concepts and material allows for increased complexity throughout the coursework.
JCC’s occupational therapy assistant program prepares the learner to:
- recognize and demonstrate appropriate professional behavior skills;
- collaborate with the OTR and other team members in providing occupational therapy services with appropriate supervision to prevent deficits and to maintain or improve function in life roles;
- participate in managing occupational therapy service;
- direct activity programs;
- incorporate values and attitudes congruent with the profession’s standards and ethics;
- customize treatment programs aimed at improving abilities to carry out daily living activities;
- assist in the evaluation of home and job environments and make recommendations on necessary adaptations;
- assist in the assessment process;
- recommend adaptive equipment devices and provide training in their use;
- instruct family members and attendants in safe and effective methods of caring for individuals with disabilities;
- examine and utilize appropriate resources in the delivery of occupational therapy services;
- understand the importance of lifelong learning; and
- attain an entry level position in OT or other related profession through the guided development of a professional portfolio and resume.
Note: Technical (OTA) and professional (OT) occupational therapy programs are two distinct paths of study leading to complementary, but different practice roles. Any OTA student contemplating application to an OT program at another institution is subject to that institution’s individual requirements and articulation policies. Transfer options are available at JCC.
The intended student outcomes for the OTA program are:
1. Students will be encouraged to take the NBCOT certification exam within one year of graduating.
- 85% of those who take the certification exam within one year of graduating will pass.
2. Students will be adequately prepared for employment and continuing education options.
- 75% of students choosing employment will find jobs in OT or a related healthcare career as determined by JCC’s Graduate Followup Survey.
- 90% of employers will be “highly satisfied” with graduates of the OTA program as determined by the Employer Satisfaction Survey.
- 25% of the OTA graduates will evidence a beginning commitment to lifelong learning as measured by the Graduate Followup Survey.
3. Graduates will express a high level of satisfaction with their academic program experiences.
- 90% of graduates choosing to pursue employment will be “highly satisfied” with their ability to function in an entry level position as an OTA or in a related healthcare profession, as demonstrated by the Graduate Followup Survey.
Intended Student Learning Outcomes
After successful completion of this program, students will be able to:
- Develop and exhibit professional, desirable workplace behaviors which reflect occupational therapy standards of practice.
- Apply occupation-based, client-centered interventions to treat the varying needs of their clients.
- Demonstrate the ability to research evidence-based practices through technology and to educate their communities about occupational therapy.
- Demonstrate clinical reasoning skills while discovering community resources, solving problems, and offering innovative occupational therapy treatments to use in challenging healthcare environments.
- Design and implement programming to engage consumers and/or caregivers in opportunities to improve their quality of life and well-being.