The Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program provides students with opportunities to develop interpersonal and 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, and teaching the use of adaptive equipment, and compensatory techniques to facilitate performance of daily activities.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is a limited-admission, 74-credit hour, AS 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. Two seats are reserved for the Linkage Program for students enrolled at Hillsborough Community College or Pasco-Hernando State College. Prospective students should contact an advisor to learn more about the Linkage Program. Two seats are reserved for eligible veterans through the College's Veteran Services program. There are 20 seats open to the general public.
The program is offered on the Winter Haven Campus. OTA courses are offered usually from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., typically two to three days a week (Monday and Wednesday during the first term, followed by Tuesday and Thursday in the second term. Guest speakers and lectures will be offered on alternative dates as needed). 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 various sites in Polk County and adjacent counties. During fieldwork, students will be expected to participate on a full-time basis.
The application period for the OTA program is September 1 through September 30. The following are the minimum requirements for admission to the Occupational Therapy Program:
1. Prospective students must gain acceptance to Polk State College as degree-seeking students with all required admission documents received by the Registrar's Office.
2. Students must complete any required Developmental Education courses.
3. Students must have an overall GPA of 2.0 upon application to the program.
4. The following prerequisite courses must be completed (prior to admission to the program) with a grade of C or higher:
- BSC 2085C - Human Anatomy and Physiology I
- PSY 2012 - General Psychology
- ENC 1101 - College Composition I
5. Students must complete 20 hours of observation of occupational therapy services and answer questions based on the experience. Hours must be documented on the OTA Program Observation Hours Form, which is available on the program website, at www.polk.edu/OTA.
6. Students must submit a resume. A template is available in the OTA "Forms" webpage, under https://www.polk.edu/occupational-therapy-assistant/forms/
Note: Observation hours are valid for up to three years from the date of completion.
Prerequisites to a program and courses that can be taken prior to admission can change. Students not yet admitted may be required to take additional or alternate prerequisites prior to admission to the program. It is suggested, but not required, for students to complete pre-requisites within five (5) years of the application date.
Additional Program Requirements
A. The following must be completed no later than the first day of class by each student 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).
- Background check and drug screening conducted through www.castlebranch.com. Specific requirements will be communicated to students at the orientation upon acceptance to the program. Note: The Program Director will alert students to any changes in this requirement by November as this must be completed before the first day of classes in January. The program may also request an additional drug test by random selection of a student at any time while he or she is active in the program.
B. The following must be completed by a designated date in April, in preparation for the summer fieldwork rotations:
- 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.
General Admission Process
1. The electronic application for the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is available online between September 1 and September 30. The application link is activated at 9:00 a.m. on September 1.
2. The electronic Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Application Form and instructions are accessible under the "How to Apply" link on the OTA webpage.
3. The date and time of receipt are posted on the application form.
4. No application is considered if it is 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 (i.e., application to Polk State College, transcripts, and residency paperwork).
6. Applicants should be aware that the OTA program accepts students in its general admission process on a first-come, first-qualified basis; therefore, they should apply by September 1 for optimal chance of selection.
- The OTA Program determines the number of available seats for each entering class (up to 24 students).
- Linkage Program:
- A total of two seats are allocated to prospective candidates from Hillsborough Community College and Pasco-Hernando Community College who apply via the Linkage Program.
- Prospective linkage applicants may find detailed instructions in the Linkage Handbook available from the academic advisors at their respective colleges.
- Linkage applicants may submit the electronic application and required documents between September 1 and September 15 only after meeting with an academic advisor at their respective colleges in order to initiate the Linkage Transmittal Form. The Linkage Transmittal Form must be submitted to the linkage administrator at Polk State College by August 15. Applicants who neglect to follow this process are not considered for admission and their applications are not acknowledged.
- Preference is given to the student with the highest GPA if more than one qualified applicant from the same institution applies for the same seat.
- Selected candidates are notified via electronic mail the week after September 15.
- Veteran Agreement:
Two seats are allocated on a first-come, first-qualified basis to prospective qualified veteran students enrolled at Polk State College. Students must meet with the Coordinator of Veteran Services to determine eligibility before initiating the following process.
- After establishing Veteran eligibility, Veteran students need to meet with an academic advisor to determine if admission criteria for the program are met.
- Academic advisors will forward qualified applications and related documents (Transmittal Form, Observation Hours Form, resume, transcripts) directly to the OTA Program Director from July 15 to August 15.
- If more than two qualified applicants apply for the seats, preference will be given to the student with the higher GPA. In the event of applicants having the same GPA, seats will be assigned to the student/s who applied first (based on the date and time posted on the application form).
- The two selected Veteran applicants will be notified via electronic mail shortly after August 15.
- Between September 1 and September 15, the two selected Veteran applicants must complete the online application for the OTA program, which is available on the program website www.polk.edu/ota, under "How to Apply."
- Veteran students who were not selected will have the opportunity to apply again through the general admission process from September 1 through September 30.
- Unassigned seats will revert to general admission students.
- General Admission:
- The remaining 20 seats are allocated to qualified students.
- Ten additional applicants are designated as alternates.
- Candidates and alternates are selected on a first-come, first-qualified basis.
- The application window for qualified applicants is available from 12:00 a.m. (midnight) September 1 through 11:59 p.m. September 30.
- Selected candidates and alternates are notified via electronic mail during the first week of October.
Typical work sites for OTAs are traditional hospital and rehabilitation units as well as outpatient orthopedic centers, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, home health care agencies, psychiatric units, mental health agencies, community-based agencies, developmental disabilities agencies, pediatric agencies, schools, higher education institutions (community colleges), and industrial settings.
The program's cost is approximately $10,573.28. This estimate takes into account the cost of tuition, books, lab fees, uniforms, name tag, certification exam, Florida licensure, CPR and AIDS certification, physical exam, background checks, drug screening, and fingerprinting.
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; telephone: 301.990.7979. The examination is offered online throughout the year, with a cost of $515 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 a 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.