The Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program provides students with opportunities to develop interpersonal/clinical skills, and promotes lifelong learning within an environment of excellence to ensure a successful career in healthcare.
Occupational Therapy is a vital healthcare service whose practitioners use occupation (purposeful activity) as a means of preventing, reducing, or overcoming physical, social, and emotional disabilities in people of all ages. Some of the responsibilities of occupational therapy assistants include carrying out treatment interventions designed by an occupational therapist, adapting the environment for individuals with psychosocial and physical dysfunctions to maximize independent function, teaching the use of adaptive equipment, and teaching compensatory techniques to facilitate performance of daily activities.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is a limited admission, 70-credit hour, AS or AAS degree program. Each OTA applicant must first be admitted to the College and meet pre-admission requirements. Then, twenty-four applicants are selected each year by the selection committee for the spring semester. The College reserves the right to change the requirements of the OTA program as needed.
The program is offered on the Winter Haven Campus. OTA courses are offered from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., typically 2 to 3 days a week (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday; or Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, depending on the term). The program requires full-time commitment throughout the year, including the summer. It contains 14 credit hours of clinical fieldwork (Level I and II), which are completed at local facilities.
The OTA Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) 4720 Montgomery Lane, P. O. Box 31220, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220; 301-652-2682.
Qualifications for Admission
- A student must submit her/his complete and accurate application form directly to the OTA Program staff or an academic advisor at any of the College's campuses no later than October 31 in order to be considered for admission into the class starting in January of each year.
- No application is considered until all necessary College admission documentation has been received and processed by the Registrar's Office.
- Seats are assigned on a first-come, first-qualified basis to the first 24 applicants meeting the following admission criteria by the time of application:
- Admission to Polk State College as a degree-seeking student, with all required admission documents received by the Registrar's Office.
- Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 upon application.
- Completion of developmental courses.
- Completion of prerequisite courses with a C or higher, including:
BSC 2085C - Human Anatomy and Physiology I
PSY 2012 - General Psychology
ENC 1101 - College Composition I
- Completion of 20 hours of observation of occupational therapy services. Hours must be documented on the OTA Program Observation Hours Form.
Please note that prerequisites to a program and courses that can be taken prior to admission to a program can change students not yet admitted to the program may be required to take additional or alternate prerequisites prior to admission to the program.
Students may apply for admission into the OTA Program at any time during the Academic Year (rolling admission). Admission is on a first-come, first-qualified basis for applicants who meet all admission criteria.
Additional Program Requirements
The following requirements are to be completed by students admitted into the program before the first day of class:
- Submission of a physical examination.
- Completion of all immunizations and communicable disease screenings, including Tuberculosis PPD, Tetanus vaccination or booster within the last 5 years, MMR vaccination (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) or titer, Varicella titer, and Hepatitis B vaccination (optional, but recommended).
- Certification in CPR (current).
- Certification in AIDS/HIV precautions (4 hours).
The following requirements are to be completed by a designated date in April, and before the summer fieldwork rotations:
- Submission of a Level II Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) background check.
- Completion of a drug screening (10 panel).
These admission requirements need to be updated by the student every year. Information regarding the completion of these additional admission requirements is provided by the faculty during the orientation meeting held in November.
NOTE: ANTICIPATED REVISED ADMISSION PROCESS FOR CLASS OF JANUARY 2014 AND SUBSEQUENT CLASSES:
1. The student must submit a complete and accurate application form directly to the OTA Program Director or an academic advisor at any of the college's campuses from September 1 through October 31 in order to be considered for admission into the class starting in January of each year.
2. Twenty-four seats are allocated to qualified applicants.
3. The date and time of receipt are posted on the application form.
4. No application is considered if submitted before or after the admission window.
5. No application is considered until all necessary Polk State College admission documentation (application to Polk State College, high school transcripts, college transcripts if applicable, residency paperwork, etc.) has been received and processed by the Registrar's Office.
6. If the number of qualified applicants is less than or equal to the number of available seats, all applicants will automatically be accepted into the upcoming class on a first-come-first-qualified basis.
7. If the number of qualified applicants exceeds the number of available seats, selection of applicants will be conducted by lottery. The OTA Program Admission Committee draws the names of qualified applicants randomly from the available pool. Additionally, ten other applicants are designated as alternates.
8. Selected applicants and alternates are notified by mail by the second week of November.
Additional changes for the 2014 Class:
- Completion of 20 hours of observation of occupational therapy services. Hours must be documented on the OTA Program Observation Hours Form. Note: Ensure to make a copy of the completed form and submit a clear copy (not the original) with your application form. Keep the original form in your files. Observation hours are valid for up to three years from date of completion.
- Applicants are recommended to submit a resume along with the application form. A template is available at www.polk.edu/ota under the “Forms” link.
Typical work sites for OTAs are rehabilitation units/centers, nursing homes, psychiatric units, mental health agencies, forensic facilities, community-based agencies, developmental disabilities agencies, pediatric agencies, schools, higher education institutions (community colleges), and industrial settings.
The program’s cost is approximately $9,800. This cost estimate includes tuition, books, lab fees, uniforms, name tag, certification exam, Florida licensure, and CPR/AIDS certification.
OTA positions may be salaried or hourly (usually 40 hours per week). In Polk County, a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) may earn an average of $43,000 a year with benefits if employed full time.
Graduates of the program are able to sit for the National Certification Examination for the Occupational Therapy Assistant, administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), 800 S. Frederick Ave., Suite 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150; 301-990-7979. The examination is offered throughout the year, with a cost of $520 if taken within the United States. After successful completion of this exam, the graduate becomes a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT exam and the ability to obtain a state license.
Graduates need to apply for Florida licensure upon successful completion of the certification exam. Graduates must contact the Florida Board of Occupational Therapy licensing board to obtain the application documents for licensure. The current fee for Florida licensure is $180. A felony conviction may affect graduate’s ability to attain state licensure. Prospective students should be aware that a Social Security Number (SSN) is required to be issued a certificate or license by the Florida Department of Health, which is the licensing authority for healthcare licenses in Florida.