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. Twenty-four applicants are selected each year by the Selection Committee for program enrollment in 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 two to three 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.
Qualifications for Admission:
The application period for the OTA program is September 1 through October 31. Applicants must have met the following admission criteria by the time of application:
1. Admission to Polk State College as a degree-seeking student with all required admission documents
received by the Registrar’s Office.
2. Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 upon application.
Note: GPA only includes courses that are completed, graded, and that appear on the
student’s college transcripts.
3. Completion of developmental education courses.
4. Completion of the following prerequisites with a C or higher:
BSC 2085C Human Anatomy and Physiology I
PSY 2012 General Psychology
ENC 1101 College Composition I
5. Completion of 20 hours of observation of occupational therapy services. Hours must be documented on the
OTA Program Observation Hours Form.
Note: Observation hours are valid for up to three years from the date of completion.
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 may be required to take additional or alternate prerequisites prior to admission to the program.
Additional Program Requirements:
A. The following must be completed no later than the first day of class by students admitted into the program, and documentation is to be submitted directly to the
Academic Fieldwork Coordinator:
- Completion of a physical examination.
- Completion of all immunizations and communicable disease screenings, including a Tuberculosis PPD, Tetanus vaccination or booster (must have been done within the last 5 years), MMR vaccine (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) or an MMR titer, a Varicella titer, and a Hepatitis B vaccination (optional, but recommended).
- Certification in CPR.
- Certification in AIDS/HIV precautions (1 hour).
B. The following must be be completed by a designated date in April, in preparation for the summer
- Submission of a Level II Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) background check.
- Completion of 10-panel drug screening.
- Completion of finger printing for documentation.
Students need to update the above admission requirements every year. Information regarding the completion of these additional admission requirements is provided by the faculty during the orientation meeting scheduled in November.
NEW ONLINE APPLICATION PROCEDURES:
1. Paper applications are no longer be used to apply to the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.
The application form is available only via electronic format effective September 1, 2013.
2. The electronic Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Application Form and instructions are
accessible under the “Admission and Selection Process” link on the OTA webpage only during the designated
application window mentioned above. The application must be completed and submitted electronically between
September 1-October 31.
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 is received and
processed by the Registrar’s Office (e.g., application to Polk State College, high school transcripts, college
transcripts if applicable, residency paperwork, etc.).
1. The OTA Program determines the number of available seats for the entering class (usually 21-24 students).
If there are more qualified candidates than available seats, selection of candidates is conducted by lottery:
a. The OTA Program Admission Committee randomly draws the names of qualified applicants from the available
pool until all seats are filled.
b. The names of ten additional qualified applicants are selected as alternates.
2. Selected candidates and alternates are notified via electronic mail during the first week of November.
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.