The Washburn University School of Applied Studies occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program has received a five year accreditation by ACOTE - the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA®). AOTA’s ACOTE is recognized as the accrediting agency for occupational therapy education by both United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. ACOTE currently accredits approximately 300 occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational programs in the United States and its territories. Washburn’s OTA program is one of two accredited programs in Kansas.
To celebrate, the School of Applied Studies is hosting an Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Open House and Accreditation Celebration from 3 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 6 in Petro Allied Health Center, room 150, Washburn campus. The open house is open to the public.
The OTA Open House will feature an interactive classroom with three areas: a gym with exercise equipment; a fully mediated classroom; and a 1950’s style simulated Ranch style home. The simulated home allows students to get a hands on look at space planning, safety transfers, therapeutic equipment, and how to adapt a fully operational kitchen. The primary focus of the program is teach students how to increase an individual’s everyday functional status, such as bathing, cooking, cleaning and in places outside the home, like work, the community and public transportation.
The first occupational therapy assistant class started June 1, 2010 and the eight students are expected graduate May 2012. Now that accreditation of the program has been obtained, 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, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.
There is an overwhelming need for occupational therapy services in Northeastern Kansas. It has been difficult for health care facilities to hire and sustain occupational therapy staff for a considerable amount of time, and a health care facility may spend up to two years trying to fill a position. There is a substantial need in rural communities for a more diverse set of allied health professionals, such as occupational therapists, to provide well-rounded services. According to the Kansas Hospital Association, which only includes hospital employment data, projected 2008 employment was 325, with average annual job openings of 50-70.
Graduates of the occupational therapy assistant program will have numerous career opportunities and choices, including helping children thrive in during their childhood: learning, playing and growing. Occupational therapist work may also be found in schools working with students who have learning disabilities, behavioral problems, cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome and Autism.
Occupational therapy assistants also work with individuals in their homes, community centers, rehabilitation hospitals and nursing homes. In these settings, they help people with traumatic injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or mental health problems learn to live productive lives through the use of meaningful occupations.
For additional information regarding the Washburn occupational therapy assistant program, contact Janice Bacon at (785) 670-2439; or the allied health department at (785) 670-2170.
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Amanda Hughes, university relations, (785) 670-2153