Degree: Associate of Applied Science
Emphasis: Occupational Therapy Assistant
The Occupational Therapy Assistant A.A.S. degree program is designed for students who want to help people of all ages to regain, develop, or master everyday living skills for independent, productive, and satisfying lives. This two-year course of study includes academic and fieldwork training to prepare students for a career in occupational therapy. Students are trained to work under the supervision of an occupational therapist, designing and implementing intervention plans to enable participation in life activities for people of diverse ages, cultures, and abilities. The course of study is rigorous and demanding, but rewarding. Program graduates will be eligible to sit for the national board examination administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).
Students are encouraged to complete all General Education courses prior to beginning the Occupational Therapy Assistant program.
This program is designed for the student who does not intend to transfer to a baccalaureate degree program.
OTA General Admission Requirements
Any student desiring to pursue an associate degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant must:
- Apply, meet admission requirements, and be accepted by Walters State Community College.
- Indicate Associate of Science - Health Science OTA Path (AS-HOTA) as the desired major on the WSCC application form.
- Follow college policy for advising prior to registration.
- Complete all required Learning Support courses.
- BIOL 2010 and 2011 and BIOL 2020 and 2021 are pre-requisite courses for the OTA Program. Successfully complete BIOL 2010 and 2011, BIOL 2020 and 2021 no later than the end of spring semester of the year the student elects to participate in the selection process for fall semester OTA class. A grade of “C” or better must be achieved in each required science course, with an overall GPA of at least 2.5. Biological science courses previously taken must have been completed within the last 10 years.
- In order to graduate in five (5) semesters, students may request an accelerated BIOL 2010/2011 and BIOL 2020/2021 path from the Dean of Natural Sciences. This path allows courses to be taken concurrently or in an accelerated online format via TN eCampus.
- General education requirements are ENGL 1010, PSYC 2130, SPCH 1010, and HUMANITIES/FINE ARTS ELECTIVE. These courses may be taken after acceptance into the program, but must be completed prior to the spring semester the student intends to graduate. However, it is recommended that all general education requirements be completed no later than the end of the spring semester of the year the student makes application to the OTA program.
- The college requires all degree-seeking students to demonstrate computer competency either by passing an examination or by successfully completing a designated computer course (INFS 1010). Students are required to meet computer competency during the first 30 hours of coursework.
- Completion of a minimum of 30 hours observation in an occupational therapy practice divided between two or more settings. This observation must be under the supervision of an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant. Observation and Evaluation forms are located on the Occupational Therapy Assistant website. Observation and Evaluation forms should arrive to the Health Programs Division by the deadline posted on the online application.
- Observation hours may not be submitted for more than one application cycle. If a student is not accepted and chooses to reapply, observation hours must be repeated in full.
- Students may not audit any OTA courses without the approval of the department director and the dean of Health Programs.
- For complete admission requirements go to https://ws.edu/academics/health/occupational-therapy-assistant/ .
Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Application Requirements
- Complete prerequisites, general education requirements and required observation hours
- Maintain an overall 2.5 GPA (excluding Learning Support courses)
- ACT composite of >19 or HESI A2 score of >80% in reading, vocabulary and math are the minimum scores for ranking purposes. All test scores must be less than three years old.
- Complete the Occupational Therapy Assistant Application online.
- Ranking will not be completed until final spring grades are posted regardless of stated application date.
- Application, observation documentation, and results of designated admissions test must be received by the health programs department no later than the posted deadline of the online application the year the student elects to participate in the selection process for the fall semester OTA class.
Selection to the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program
- Selection of each class will be made by the Admissions Committee whose membership consists of:
- Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Director
- Faculty for the OTA program
- Dean of Health Programs (ex officio)
- Vice President for Academic Affairs (ex officio)
- The Admission Committee will rank each student on the basis of predetermined criteria. The criteria include:
a. Designated Admissions test
b. Overall GPA in all required general education and prerequisite courses
c. Observation experience - minimum of 30 observation hours divided between two settings
d. First grades received in required Biology courses
e. Interviews conducted by practicing occupational therapist and occupational therapy assistants
f. Writing assessment
g. Observed group interactions.
Other Admissions Information
- Transfer students who have attended another OTA program and who desire to transfer to the WSCC OTA program will be considered on an individual basis. Transfer requests should be submitted in writing to the director of the OTA program. Students must meet the same standards and criteria as others pursuing an associate of applied science degree in OTA. Additional criteria for transfer includes:
- Space available in the program
- Academic good standing
- Letter of recommendation from transferring Program director
- Basic science courses over 10 years old, or specific OTA courses over 5 years old may not be eligible for selection criteria.
- Students selected to the program for the fall semester will be notified in writing by July 15.
- Students notified of admission into the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program must return the Information Packet for New Admits by the date specified on the form: (a) sign, date and return an acknowledgment of the Drug/Alcohol Abuse Policy and Consent form; and (b) a comprehensive health examination at the student’s expense by a physician with required lab tests and immunizations or records of immunizations. Students who do not respond or who do not plan to attend will have their positions filled by other applicants based on the criteria rankings.
- Students not selected for admission may reapply for a subsequent class.
- Contact the director of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program for additional information, 423-798-8183.
- Students who have experienced an academic failure in any healthcare program must disclose this information when they make application to the OTA program.
- Students who have experienced a clinical failure in a healthcare program are not eligible for admission.
The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program accepts approximately 10 new students each fall semester. The number of students accepted into the program is limited. Programs with limited enrollment such as the OTA program cannot accept out-of-state residents if there are Tennessee residents eligible for admission. Contact the Director of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program for further information.
To remain in good standing once admitted to the OTA program, the student must:
- Adhere to all WSCC, OTA program, and clinical agencies policies.
- Earn a “C” or better in each OTA course and maintain a 2.0 GPA overall.
- Satisfactorily complete the theory, clinical and skills requirements of each OTA course, including exhibiting safe and competent clinical behavior as defined by written criteria given to each OTA student. A grade of less than 74 in any course will deny the student the ability to continue in the program.
- Demonstrate professional, ethical, and legal conduct.
- Maintain professional liability insurance.
- Maintain current Basic Life Support (BLS) or CPR/AED for Healthcare Providers.
- Successfully complete PSYC 2130 Lifespan Development Psychology by the end of the first semester of the programs.
- Successfully complete general education requirements for graduation prior to the beginning of the final semester of the OTA program, including computer competency.
- All OTA students must complete Level II Fieldwork within 18 months following completion of academic preparation.
- Submit to a drug test and criminal background check if requested at any time during the program.
- Individuals who have been convicted of crimes other than minor traffic violations could be ineligible for occupational therapy assistant licensure in the State of Tennessee, even though they have successfully completed the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program. (See Criminal Background Check Requirement in the Health Programs portion of the catalog.)
- Have a comprehensive health examination and submit the required form to the director of the OTA program by the designated date.
A student who has earned a “D” or “F” in a occupational therapy assistant course or who has withdrawn from the program may apply for readmission under the following considerations:
- To be considered for readmission to the OTA program after academic/clinical failure by the end of the first semester, a student will be required to proceed through the regular selection and acceptance procedures along with all other candidates for the following year.
- A student who is unsuccessful academically or clinically after the first semester must complete the following: (a) a written request to the OTA program director for consideration of readmission; (b) attend a readmissions committee hearing to be scheduled by the committee. The program director will respond in writing and will provide the student with date, location, and time of readmission hearing.
- Procedures for readmission hearings are as follows: (a) The student must confirm the intention to attend by telephone or regular mail a minimum of three days prior to the hearing date. If confirmation is not received, the hearing will be canceled; (b) the student should prepare an outline to be presented to the committee on reasons for failure and steps taken by the student ensure success if readmitted. The student will be informed of the committee’s decision in a timely manner.
- Readmission committee is composed of the OTA academic faculty and faculty from other Health Programs (minimum of 3 additional faculty).
- First-time students will be given priority in fieldwork rotation placement. Second-time (readmitted) students will be placed in fieldwork sites when space is available. This may mean a delayed graduation date. Every effort will be made to place all students in fieldwork sites during scheduled times.
- If a student is readmitted to the OTA program, auditing of designated OTA courses may be required.
- A student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 to be considered for readmission.
- Any student is allowed only two attempts to complete the OTA program. A student who is unsuccessful during a second attempt of the program will not be allowed to re-apply or to have a readmission hearing.
Technical Standards for the OTA Program
Students in the OTA Program at Walters State will be involved in simulated and actual clinical activities typical to the OT profession. Activities completed will require the student to use both physical and cognitive skills as well as professional behavior. Physical skills used may include gross motor strength and mobility such as that to transfer a patient; fine motor dexterity and perception are needed such as that to fabricate a piece of adaptive equipment/ Problem solving, judgment and organizational skills will be needed as the student learns to apply theoretical concepts to treatment activities. Students will need to be prepared to safely and effectively work and communicate with persons, who due to the nature of their disabilities, may be acutely ill (mentally and physically), may display inappropriate behaviors, or may lack certain physical and cognitive skills. The student is expected to maintain professional therapeutic relationships and behavior in both simulated and actual clinical situations. Specific physical requirements will vary from setting to setting and will have specific standards necessary for employment and fieldwork placement.
Any student who identifies or displays limitations with any of the above mentioned skills should work with the OTA faculty to determine realistic and acceptable accommodations or compensatory methods for the student to have potential for success in the program. Please refer to the list of essential job functions of the Occupational Therapy Assistant found in the OTA Handbook. Students applying to the OTA program at Walters State will not be discriminated against on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, age or disability.
The occupational therapy assistant program has applied for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org. The program must be granted Candidacy Status, have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates 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, all 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.
ACOTE Candidacy Application Decision: April 2017