May 24, 2020  
Fall 2013 Catalog 
Fall 2013 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy Assistant, A.A.S.

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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 for College Students, completion of developmental English and Math or Placement Test waiver
Recommended High School Courses and/or Experiences: HS Biology, HS Math Level II or MT 006 Level on ECC Math Placement Test
Career Opportunities/Further Education: Hospitals, Long Term Care, Rehabilitation Centers,School-Based Settings, Day TX Settings, Developmental/Physical Disability,Psychosocial Rehab


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

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

OTA Program Mission

Guided and complemented by the mission and core values of Erie Community College, the Department of Occupational Therapy at ECC strives to provide the highest quality occupational therapy assistant education and career preparation to students from our diverse regional community. Our mission is to serve our customers: our students, our profession and our community.

Commitment to Our Students

In a context of respect, caring and trust, we seek to guide students in the holistic learning process to become competent and caring entry-level occupational therapy assistant practitioners who demonstrate the clinical and interpersonal skills, knowledge, cultural sensitivity, experience, maturity and values necessary for success in the dynamic health care, human service, wellness and rehabilitation sectors in Western New York.

We are also committed to equipping students to be lifelong learners by teaching them the skills to be self-learners, and providing them with the resources and access to quality, relevant, continuing education and higher education transfer opportunities.

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 AOTA:

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.
  • ECC OTA graduates interested in the practice area of psychiatric rehabilitation may meet eligibility criteria to sit for the Certification in Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP) exam after completing post graduate paid experience working within in a psychiatric rehabilitation setting. Students interested in pursuing CPRP certification should speak with their OTA advisor. Additional information can be obtained at United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association ( 
  • Results of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Exam: 

Number of Program Gaduates

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
2010 18 15 12 80%
2011 8 8 6 75%
2012 20 14 11 79%
Total 3-year 46 37 29 78%


Special Admission Requirements/Prerequisites

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.
  • Applicants should have an 80 percent or above high school average.
  • Inter-curriculum or college transfer students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.8.
  • 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.
  • Submit a formal, typed document addressing the following: Describe your research of the field of O.T. by describing the roles and responsibilities of an OT assistant in two areas of practice; describe your plan for balancing your personal life and academic responsibilities to optimize your ability to be successful in this rigorous program of study; describe your personal attributes, accomplishments, and experiences you believe will contribute most to your effectiveness and success as an OTA; and explain your reasons for entering the field at the OTA level.
  • Complete 15 hours of observation or volunteering or shadowing or working in an OT clinic. Provide a signed certificate of completion in a sealed facility envelope, or a signed letter of completion on facility letterhead in a sealed envelope.

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 these courses.
  • General Psychology, Intro to Sociology, Anatomy and Physiology I and II Lecture and Lab, must have been taken in the last five years. English Writing, Public Speaking, and Abnormal Psychology must have been taken in the last 10 years. Students must acquire computer literacy skills prior to enrollment in OT 101.
  • 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 is responsible for providing transportation to off-campus community agencies utilized for clinical activities.
  • A physical exam and current immunization report are required prior to start of fieldwork. Immunization against Hepatitis B is required.
  • 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 student manual.

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: 69.5

First Year, Fall Semester

First Year, Winter Intersession

Summer Session

Second Year, Spring Semester


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

NOTE: This is a recommended sequence. Coursework can best be accommodated for the student by completion in three years due to heavy curriculum requirements. Student should consult his/her academic advisor prior to registering.

*CS 101 Computer Literacy must be completed before enrolling in OT 101 Introduction to OT.  Students must demonstrate competency in computer use including ability to use databases and search engines to access information, word process for writing, and power point.

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