Oct 22, 2020  
Fall 2017 Catalog 
Fall 2017 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy Assistant, A.A.S.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Degree & Certificate Programs

Degree: Associate in Applied Science
HEGIS Code: 5210
Curriculum Code: 0665
Campus Location: North

Health Sciences Division

Pre-Admission Recommendations: 80% HS Avg., 2.80 GPA within 5 years of prospective admission for Undergraduate College Students, Placement test waiver or completion of developmental English and Math courses.  See admission requirements listed below.
Recommended High School Courses and/or Experiences: HS Biology, HS Psychology, HS Anatomy & Physiology, HS Math-Algebra, Geometry, Statistics & Probability, HS Physics, HS English & Writing Courses, Volunteer experience in health care settings
Career Opportunities/Further Education: Hospitals, Rehabilitation Centers/Outpatient Clinics, Home Health, Long Term Care, Early Intervention, School-Based Settings, Academia, Day Treatment Settings/Developmental/Physical Disabilities, Psychosocial Rehab/Mental Health, Community-Based Wellness & Prevention Programs


Program Description

There have been dramatic shifts in U.S. population as a result of an increased average life span. This phenomenon, along with advances in science, technology and medicine has brought occupational therapy into the forefront of the health care field.  The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment of occupational therapists to increase by 27% and of occupational therapy assistants to increase by 40% between 2014 and 2024.  United Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports a 2015 median annual income of $54,520 for occupational therapy assistants.

The Occupational Therapy Assistant curriculum prepares entry-level occupational therapy assistants to work in community and institutional health care programs, providing direct occupational therapy services to individuals.

The Occupational Therapy Assistant curriculum combines Occupational Therapy Assistant and general education courses with selected laboratory experiences.  Program courses cover theory and application of theory, development across the lifespan (birth to death), therapeutic use of self, pediatric/adult/and geriatric patient/client treatment, physical disabilities/mental health, research, evidence-based practice, technology and documentation.  The Occupational Therapy specific classes are complemented with general studies in anatomy, physiology, psychology, sociology, and English composition.  Although the Occupational Therapy Assistant curriculum is designed to be completed in two academic years, students may take a longer time to fulfill their degree requirements, depending on individual circumstances.

In the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, students receive instruction in theory and develop practical skills relating to occupational therapy through classroom, laboratory and clinical settings. Through second year course work, students participate in clinical practice settings to include general physical medicine and psychiatric centers, developmental disabilities, schools, nursing homes and community agencies. In these experiences, students gain experience in working with and teaching patients and clients methods for engagement in self-care, work, play/leisure, education, social skills and home/community living skills.

Technical Ability Standards do exist for the OTA Program and they are a reality of the profession.  However, due to the diversity of occupational therapy practice areas, OTA Education lends itself toward attracting students of diverse abilities.  The Erie Community College OTA Program is committed to the notion of dis-ABILITY as diversity.  Provided a student has the capacity to successfully navigate the program, graduate, and pass their certification exam, it is our goal to provide reasonable accommodations to facilitate every student's success.  Please read, "Special Admission Requirements/Pre-requisites:  Technical Ability Standards," as listed below for more information. 


Mission of Erie Community College

Erie Community College meets the needs of a diverse student body and contributes to regional economic vitality by providing excellent, flexible, affordable and accessible educational programs in a multi-campus environment committed to continuous improvement.

Core Values

Student Focused - Service to students is the primary reason for ECC's existence. The student is at the center of all SUNY ECC programs and services.

Accessibility - SUNY ECC serves the needs and wants of all students, including those not having educational opportunity elsewhere. Access means inclusion by overcoming financial, location, physical, language or other impediments.

Academic Excellence - We expect academic rigor in all curricula and from all students. We believe that quality teaching with comprehensive support results in positive learning outcomes and student achievement.

Openness and Respect - A broad range of cultures, attitudes, and viewpoints creates an environment of respect, caring, and trust. Everyone, no matter their limitations, should be recognized for their intrinsic dignity and unique capabilities.

Commitment to Our Profession - With integrity and accountability, we are committed to providing a high-quality, multifaceted, state-of-the-art curriculum and learning resources that reflect current, applied and emerging areas of occupational therapy practice, and exceed the standards of our profession's accrediting body. We are also committed to playing a visible and active role in our regional occupational therapy professional community.

Commitment to Our Community - Through our relationships with employers, clinical fieldwork affiliates and the community-at-large, we are committed to serving our community by promoting occupational therapy as an important contributor to health, function and well-being, and by graduating highly qualified occupational therapy assistants who will meet the dynamic health care, human service, wellness and rehabilitation employment demands in Western New York.

Program Philosophy

Our program philosophy reflects the following overarching values of occupational therapy. It includes our belief about how adult students learn.


Humans, intrinsically motivated by personal values and aspirations, and extrinsically directed by environmental demands, inherently engage in a variety of occupations. We place value on the volition of individuals we work with. Therefore, volition must be encouraged and supported through therapeutic relationship, emphasis on patient/client choice and involvement, and respect for the values, culture and beliefs of patients/clients.


Occupations are "Activities...of everyday life, named, organized and given value and meaning by individuals and a culture" (Law, Polatajko, Baptiste and Townsend, 1997). Through self-selected occupations that are relevant, meaningful and therapeutic, humans have the capacity to influence their physical and mental health, their social and physical environments. In occupational therapy, we use occupations which have intrinsic and extrinsic value; occupations that have immediate and long-term therapeutic benefits.


Adaptation is a change in function that promotes survival and self-actualization. By engaging in meaningful occupations, humans adapt to a variety of contexts. The capability or capacity to adapt is characteristic of health and wellness. Our focus is on finding ways to help individuals adapt to changing social, physical, cultural, personal, spiritual, temporal and virtual contexts.


Occupations, and consequently, adaptation, may be interrupted at any time during the lifespan by biological, psychological and environmental barriers, resulting in dysfunction. The focus of occupational therapy personnel, process and technology is to enable humans, in spite of biological, psychological or environmental barriers, to gain, maintain or regain the capacity and volition to adapt by engaging in meaningful occupations. We enable adaptation through remediation, compensation, education and encouragement. In addition to enabling adaptation, occupational therapy faculty maintains core values of the profession to include: beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy/confidentiality, autonomy/confidentiality, duty, procedural justice, veracity and fidelity (AOTA, 2005).

Mary Reilly, an early leader in the occupational therapy profession, reflects the values of the profession in the simple, yet profound statement: "Man, through the use of his hands, as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health" (1962).

Our department has the following beliefs about learning. Learning is a dynamic process which develops over a time continuum. Learning promotes cognitive and affective maturation.

Cognitive maturation is the "development of an internal process by which learners select ways of attending, learning, remembering, or thinking to develop creative problem solving and thinking" (Gagne 1992). We promote problem solving and critical thinking by building complex learning on the simple and abstract learning on the concrete. Learning develops within a hierarchy from general information acquisition to concept formation to problem solving. For cognitive strategies to be learned the students must engage in developing solutions to problems, learning new attitudes and be exposed to role models.

Students have the potential to discover meaning and connect that meaning to their career and their lives. They bring with them a set of acquired attitudes and behaviors. We believe that attitudes and behaviors can be changed; or a new set of behaviors can be learned. Behavioral development encompasses the promotion of receiving, responding, valuing, organizing, and acting consistently with values one has internalized (Krathwohl's affective taxonomy, 1964).

We believe behavioral growth and cognitive maturation of students are equally important. Through confidence building, feedback and self-reflective assessment activities, we are able to progress the student through the cognitive and behavioral learning continuums.


The program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The address is 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-3449. ACOTE's telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 352-AOTA. Website for ACOTE: www.acoteonline.org.  Website for AOTA:  www.aota.org.

Graduates of the program will be 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 individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.


  • An Associate in Applied Science degree is granted to each student who successfully completes all coursework and all fieldwork. The student must also demonstrate proficiency in algebra at the level of MT 006.
  • New York State certification is required for employment in New York State. Upon graduation from the program, an individual is eligible to apply for certification. Many states in the U.S. require state licensure. Separate applications for state licensure must be filed within that state.
  • New York State DOES require passing of the National Certification Exam (NBCOT) for employment in New York State. A final, official transcript indicating confirmation for an Associate in Applied Science degree (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant must be submitted to NBCOT as part of the application process for the national exam.
  • Results of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Exam:



Number of Program Graduates

Graduation Rate

Number of first-time test takers

Number of first-time test takers who passed the exam

Percentage of first-time test takers who passed the exam



















2016 14/24 58.33% 11 11 100%










Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx.

Website for NBCOT:  www.nbcot.org

Website for NYSED-Office of the Professions regarding licensure/authorization/permit to practice:  http://www.op.nysed.gov/

Special Admission Requirements/Prerequisites

"Technical Ability Standards"

  1. "Technical ability standards" for the Erie Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant Student are essential functions or abilities required to meet the physical and intellectual demands of an OTA student while participating in the program.  Technical ability standards can be met with or without reasonable accommodations.  Students must demonstrate good physical endurance and good health. Sufficient physical strength is required for lifting and moving the human patient in a clinical setting.  Additional required skills for a clinical setting include: visual observation of patients and clients in treatment sessions; manipulation and handling of therapy equipment; and ability to demonstrate cognitive skills relative to problem solving, clinical reasoning and handling stress.  If you have any concerns that you might not meet these standards, please contact the OTA Department to set up an appointment for advisement.  Additionally, as a student of the ECC OTA Program, students must conduct themselves in a professional manner adhering to the American Occupational Therapy Association Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, client rights, and confidentiality.
  • Introduction of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that no qualified individual with a disability shall, by reason of such disability, be excluded from participation in or denied the benefits of SUNY Erie Community College's services, programs or activities or be subjected to discrimination by SUNY ECC.  The term "qualified individual with a disability" means an individual with a disability who, with or without reasonable modifications to rules, policies, or practices, the removal of architectural, communication or transportation barriers, or the provision of auxilary aids and services, meets the essential eligibility requirements for the receipt of services or for participation in programs or activities.  Students must be able to perform the essential functions of the program in order to meet certain minimum academic and technical standards.   


  • Essential Functions as needed for typical program success:



Motor Capability

Move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces.

Transfer patients who may require physical assistance.

Guard and assist patients with ambulation.

Perform exercise techniques, including applying resistance during exercise.  Therapeutically handle patients.

Lift and carry up to 50 pounds, and exert up to 100 pounds force for push/pull.

Squat, crawl, bend/stoop, reach above shoulder level, kneel, use standing balance, and climb stairs.

Use hands repetitively; use manual dexterity.  Ability to use fine skilled movements such as finger dexterity and eye-hand coordination, for effective tool use, dressing, personal hygiene, grooming, cooking, and communicating.

Adjust, apply, and clean therapeutic equipment.

Perform CPR.

Travel to and from academic and clinical sites.

In the average clinical day, students sit 1-2 hours, stand 6-7 hours, travel 1-3 hours.

Sensory Capability

Coordinate verbal and manual instruction.

Assess a patient from a distance that allows visual observation of patient posture, response to treatment, and interpretation/assessment of the environment.

Respond to a timer, alarm, or cries for help.

Monitor vital signs.

Auditory, visual, and tactile abilities sufficient to assess patient status and perform treatment (including seeing skin color changes, seeing facial expressions and non-verbal communication, hearing heart/lung sounds, and feeling for muscle contractions/to discriminate hot vs. cold/to fabricate splints).

Ability to effectively attend to multiple features of a task, personal interaction, and/or group to include ability to selectively focus and attend to key features, use divided and alternating attention between two or more features in a quick and safe manner.

Communication Ability

Communicate effectively in English with patients, families, and other health care providers, both in person and through documentation (including explaining treatment procedures, teaching patients and families, documenting in charts).

Effectively adapt communication for intended audience.

Interact, and establish rapport with individuals, families, and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.

Assume the role of a health care team member.

Function effectively under supervision and effectively communicate with supervisor.

Problem Solving Ability

Function effectively under stress.

Respond appropriately to emergencies.

Adhere to infection control procedures.

Demonstrate problem-solving skills in patient care (including reasoning, prioritizing, and synthesizing data or information).

Use sound judgement and safety precautions.

Address problems or questions to the appropriate person at the appropriate time.

Organize and prioritize job tasks, materials, and schedule.

Follow policies and procedures required by clinical and academic settings.

Social-Emotional Capability and Professionalism

Ability to use effective work ethic skills to include attendance, punctuality, positive work attitude, respect, cooperation, teamwork, professional manners, productivity appropriate to course and job role requirements and to work with persons of diverse backgrounds.

Computer/Technological/Information Literacy

Ability to use basic computer (word processing/PowerPoint/Excel), electronic communication and on-line course skills on a regular basis.

Ability to access, evaluate, and use a variety of information resources such as library services, electronic catalogs, and databases in an efficient, ethical, and legal manner.

  • ECC OTA seeks to create an inclusive learning environment.  If there are aspects of the curriculum that result in barriers to a student's inclusion, they are strongly encouraged and invited to notify the Department Head.  Our program mission involves serving our students which means making course materials accessible and fostering student success.  Students taking classes in the Occupational Therapy Department at Erie Community College who are considering requesting reasonable accommodations or academic adjustments are encouraged to contact Students Access Center at 716-851-1487.
  • The need for adaptations within the typical OTA program as determined by essential functions may preclude specific OT practice areas for fieldwork placement.  For example, an individual who cannot lift and carry up to 50 pounds or exert up to 100 pounds of push/pull force would not be best suited for a traditional clinic-based adult physical disabilities fieldwork placement.  For another example, an individual who does not possess the sensori-motor skills to fabricate an arm/hand splint would not be eligible for fieldwork placement in hand therapy/orthotics.  Due to the diverse practice areas of occupational therapy, placement is possible in mental health settings, as well as emerging practice areas.

Other Relevant Admission Requirements/Prerequisites

In addition to the requirements of the ECC Admissions Department which includes an application indicating OTA as the program of choice for the semester of interest, transcripts, and Placement Testing or waiver, OTA applicants must also meet special admission requirements.  All applicants are encouraged to contact the Admissions Department to check the status of their application and verify receipt of all required documents (transcripts, entrance essay, proof of shadow hours).  All intended majors are encouraged to make sure that their program/major of choice is listed as 250 OT.

  • Applicants should have an 80 percent or above high school average within five years of prospective admission for applicants without any college credit.  Should an individual only have high school GPA information older than 5 years, they need to establish an undergraduate college GPA with at least some of the OTA general education courses.
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8 is required for all undergraduate colleges attended within five years of prospective admission.  Should an individual only have undergraduate college GPA information older than 5 years, overall undergraduate college GPA will be considered.
  • Applicants will comply with the college's math and English competency requirement, as well as complete developmental course-work prior to admission into the program.
    • Applicants must pass the ECC Math Placement Test at a higher level than MT 006 unless waived from taking the test.  (If not successful, applicant must complete and pass MT 006.  Any math developmental course must be successfully completed with a minimum passing grade of "C".  Developmental courses may be repeated only once, including grades of "W" (withdrawal).
    • Applicants must pass the ECC English Placement Test at the EN 110 level or above unless waived from taking the test.  Any English developmental course must be successfully completed with a minimum passing grade of "C".  Developmental courses may be repeated only once, including grades of "W" (withdrawal).
  • Submission of an entrance essay (formal, typed document, with a title page) addressing all of the following (name typed on all pages of your document):
    • Demonstrate research into the field of Occupational Therapy by describing the roles and responsibilities of an Occupational Therapy Assistant in two diverse areas of practice.  Identify, compare, and contrast the roles and responsibilities of the OTA and OT.
    • Describe plan for balancing personal life and academic responsibilities to optimize ability to be successful in this rigorous program of study.
    • Describe personal attributes, accomplishments, and experiences that will contribute most to effectiveness and success as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.
    • Explain reasons for entering the field at the Occupational Therapy Assistant level.  Entry point degrees for the field of Occupational Therapy are as an Occupational Therapist and as an Occupational Therapy Assistant.  Provide reasons for pursing the OTA degree.
  • Complete 15 hours (minimally) of observation, volunteering or shadowing in an occupational therapy area of practice. Provide a signed certificate of completion or a signed letter of completion, on facility letterhead, in a sealed envelope.  Applicants may distribute observation/shadowing hours across two areas of practice.
  • It is strongly recommended that interested students meet with a Health Sciences Admission Counselor as admission into the program is based on academic qualifications and space availability.  Students on the OTA track (250 OT) should meet with OTA Department Head for advisement and for consideration of transfer credit.  Acceptance into General Studies does not guarantee future entrance into the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.
  • Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is housed at North Campus and admits students in the Fall Semester only. Application deadline is February 15. All pieces of the application packet must be submitted by the deadline of February 15 (online application, high school and all college transcripts, entrance essay, and proof of volunteer hours as specified above).

  • Meeting program admission requirements does NOT guarantee acceptance into the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. Viable candidates are invited for group interviews to help determine final selection for admission. Admission is based on the academic qualifications of the student (transcript rubric, entrance essay rubric) as well as soft skills of the candidate (as determined through interview rubric). Admission is also based on space availability.

  • If an applicant is not selected for admission, they must submit another application packet for the following Admission term to be reconsidered. Applicants re-applying must submit an entrance essay and proof of volunteer hours for each time that they apply to the Program. Volunteer hours are good for up to 1 year from the application deadline.

  • ECC does not have a waiting list. If an accepted applicant declines their seat, the Department will contact the next most qualified candidate based on rubric scores.

Department Notes

Level II students, enrolled in the last semester in field work, are not permitted to officially withdraw if they fail in fieldwork. The failing grade will be submitted to the Registrar's Office by the OTA Department.

  • The student must maintain a minimum grade of a "C+" in all OT courses and a "C" in all general education courses required for the degree. A grade of "C" is not passing in OT courses and a grade of "C-" is not passing in general education courses required for degree completion.  General education courses may only be re-taken once within a five year period.
  • General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Anatomy and Physiology I and II, lecture and lab, must have been taken in the last five years.Introduction to Sociology and College Composition (English Writing) may have been taken in the last 10 years with a student earning either an A or a B.Students must acquire computer literacy skills prior to enrolling in OT 101, either through life skills or as a remedial course.Expiration of credit is a reality, as retention of knowledge is an issue.However, expiration of credit exceptions for English, general psychology, and sociology do exist in the event of continuing competency established by supplemental coursework in these fields of study.

  • A curriculum required course may be repeated only once. If approval to repeat a course is given, enrollment in the course is dependent on space availability.
  • The curriculum is designed in a sequence of courses to be completed in that manner. Refer to course description section for sequence of courses and prerequisites.
  • Each student will receive, "The OTA Student Manual" upon admission into the Program.  A signature acknowledging receipt and understanding of requirements and responsibilities is required by the first day of OTA classes.
  • Students are required to attend OTA Orientation (first year students) and OTA Re-Orientation (second and any third year students).  Orientation and Re-Orientation are housed in the OTA Department and take place over the summer months.
  • Each student is responsible for providing transportation to off-campus community agencies utilized for clinical activities.
  • A physical exam and current immunization report are required annually within the Program. Immunization against Hepatitis B is required.  Flu vaccination and documentation as proof is required annually.  Two part PPD testing and related documentation is required annually.
  • Because of the nature of the profession, deviation from professional conduct may adversely affect patient/client well-being. Therefore, the department reserves the right to immediately remove a student from didactic, laboratory, or clinical course-work and/or dismiss that student from the program if the department has determined the student has displayed inappropriate behavior or acted in an unprofessional manner. Appropriate professional conduct and department policies relative to fieldwork are outlined in the OTA Student Manual.
  • Additional fee requirements may include professional membership fees (AOTA and NYSOTA are required), OTKE Exam, NBCOT Exam Prep Course and others.
  • Student are responsible to meet all requirements and/or costs associated with Fieldwork experience requirements.

Program Competencies

Upon graduation with an Associate in Applied Science degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant, the graduate will be able to:

  1. Identify factors that suggest or hinder occupational performance by gathering relevant information utilizing available resources: EMR/HER, screenings and evaluations, clinical observations, team and family members.
  2. Establish service competency in assessment methods such as interviews, observation, assessment tools, and chart reviews within the context of the service delivery system.
  3. Develop client-centered and occupation-based goals in collaboration with the occupational therapist.
  4. Plan, select, and implement client-centered and occupation-based interventions effectively in collaboration with client, family/significant other, occupational therapist, and service provider.
  5. Grade and adapt activities and/or the environment to support engagement in occupations.
  6. Utilize effective and appropriate verbal, nonverbal, and written communication with client, families, colleagues, and the public.
  7. Produce clear and accurate written documentation according to site requirements to include assessments, progress reports, and discharge summaries, attendance records, statistical reports, and third party payment.
  8. Conduct oneself in a professional manner adhering to the American Occupational Therapy Association Code of Ethics, Standards of Practice, client rights, and confidentiality.
  9. Maintain a therapeutic environment within a clinical setting to maintain order, prevent accidents, promote adherence to safety regulations of self and others.
  10. Develop appropriate professional behaviors related to self-responsibility, constructive feedback, work behaviors, time management, interpersonal skills, and cultural competence.
  11. Clearly communicate the values and beliefs of occupational therapy, the role of the occupational therapist, and the occupational therapy assistant to clients, families/significant others, and service providers.
  12. Students are eligible and required to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.


Total Degree Credits: 63.5


First Year, Fall Semester


Note:  The program is designed to be completed in two (2) years for full-time students.  The curriculum above is a recommended two-year course sequence.  Due to heavy curricular requirements, coursework can best be accommodated by the full-time student, completing the program in three (3) years.  Students should consult their academic advisor prior to registering.

For students attending part time, the program can be completed within no more than four (4) years.

*Computer Literacy is required prior to admission in the OTA Program.  This can be through life experience or as a remedial course such as CS 101.  Each OTA Program applicant is responsible for assessing his or her own computer literacy based on the following information:

  • Students must demonstrate competency in computer use, including ability to use databases and search engines to access information, word processing for writing, and Power Point for presentations.Students will be expected to navigate websites (ECC, AOTA, NBCOT, NYSED).Students will be expected to efficiently use e-mail, attaching files as needed, and are expected to utilize their ECC e-mail account, checking it at least one time daily.Students are expected to navigate Blackboard for various OT courses.Students will post to and utilize "you tube", as well as "facebook" (a closed group entitled, "ECC SOTA").

**Students must complete AED/CPR Certification for adults and children/infants prior to their Level 1B Fieldwork experience.  Students can do this by taking the ECC classes HT 201 or EG 009.  This requirement can also be met by attending a Saturday class at the American Red Cross.  Proof of certification must be provided to the Department after course completion.  Upon admission into the Program, the Department will assess the need for a group Saturday one day class housed in the Department.  AED/CPR Certification is good for two years.  If a student needs to repeat any OT courses, re-certification may be required. 

***Each Level II fieldwork is eight weeks in length and supervision by an OTR, COTA, or both is provided. Fieldwork must be completed within 20 months of the didactic coursework for the OTA program.






Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Degree & Certificate Programs