Skill Sets Expected of Students in the OTA Program

Jamestown Community College provides the following list of expected skills to inform prospective students of the performance abilities required to complete lab and fieldwork in the OTA program. Students admitted to the OTA program are expected to be able to perform/complete curriculum requirements which include these cognitive, physical/ motor, sensory, and behavioral core competencies, with or without accommodation. Fieldwork settings vary, but students could encounter the need for any or all of these skills in a given placement.

Students who are unsure if they can meet these criteria because of disability, or know they will need help in meeting them, must contact Accessibility Services to discuss the use of reasonable accommodations and/or auxiliary aids. The college will provide reasonable accommodations but is not required to substantially alter the requirements or nature of the program.


  1. Measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize data.
  2. Problem-solve and think critically in order to apply knowledge and skill.
  3. Communicate with individuals from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds, in the manner that is most accessible to them.
  4. Exchange information in oral, written, and electronic form effectively, accurately, reliably, and intelligibly.

Learning activities found in the OTA curriculum:

  • Process information thoroughly and quickly to prioritize and implement occupational therapy interventions.
  • Report client data verbally and in writing to members of the treatment team.

Physical/ Motor

  1. Transfer, support, and maneuver clients and objects.
  2. Bend, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, reach, and manipulate.
  3. Move efficiently enough to meet the needs of clients in a timely fashion.
  4. Maintain balance from any position.
  5. Maneuver in small areas.
  6. Attend to cognitive and psychomotor tasks for extended periods of time.

Learning activities found in the OTA curriculum:

  • Fully/partially support weight of client during transfers to and from various surfaces (bed, chair, wheelchair, mat, toilet, tub, car, etc.) and when assisting client in functional tasks/ activities.
  • Support, turn, and position clients.
  • Control a fall by slowly lowering client to the floor.
  • Engage in mat activities with clients.
  • Manipulate, maneuver, and adjust equipment and devices (e.g. wheelchairs, hospital beds, swings, balls, splint pans, tub seats, portable commodes).
  • Attain CPR certification.


  1. Perceive, interpret, and use information via observation, listening, touching, and smelling.

Learning activities found in the OTA curriculum:

  • Observe and attend to behaviors and needs, including non-verbal communication, of clients.
  • Detect changes in skin color or condition (pale, ashen, grey, sweat, swelling, inflammation, atrophy, etc.).
  • Observe and collect data from recording equipment and measurement devices used in client care.
  • Detect alarms generated by mechanical systems such as those that monitor vital signs, fire alarms, etc.


  1. Exhibit emotional stability and composure to function safely under stress and adapt to changing environments.
  2. Exhibit social skills necessary to interact effectively with clients, families, supervisors, co-workers, and community members of the same or different cultures with respect, compassion, tact, collaboration, teamwork, responsibility, and discretion.
  3. Display attitudes and actions consistent with the core values and ethical standards of the occupational therapy profession.
  4. Maintain personal hygiene and appearance (including skin and piercing practices) consistent with close personal contact in client care.
  5. Establish therapeutic relationships and communicate in a supportive manner.

Criminal Background Check, Drug Testing, and Fingerprinting

Requests by health care agencies for criminal background checks, drug testing, and fingerprinting for OTA students are becoming more common. OTA students may be required, at their own expense, to complete a child abuse and/or a state or federal background check, drug testing, and fingerprinting before beginning a field placement. Inability to obtain a satisfactory clearance can jeopardize a student’s ability to attend his or her fieldwork at specific agencies and meet program outcomes.

Students enrolled in the program are expected to develop and demonstrate these functions, with or without accommodations. If you have questions about your ability to complete these essential skills prior to enrolling, please feel free to contact Accessibility Services at 716.338.1251.

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