An occupational therapy assistant works under the supervision
of a registered occupational therapist to help individuals with physical, psychiatric,
developmental, and other disabilities to participate in daily life to the greatest
The Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program is coordinated by the Health Sciences Department and leads to an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree. Occupational therapy assistants choose and adapt tasks, activities and therapeutic media to improve the functioning of their clients. They instruct individuals and groups, contribute to evaluation and assessment, and communicate reports of patient progress to the health care team. The OTA program at LaGuardia is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Graduates of the OTA program are eligible to sit for national certification for occupational therapy assistant, administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). ACOTE Contact Information 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200 Bethesda, Maryland 20814-3449 Telephone No. - (301) 652-AOTA http://www.acoteonline.org NBCOT Contact Information 800 S. Frederick Ave. Suite 200 Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877-4150 Telephone No. - (301) 990-7979 www.nbcot.org
Students interested in applying to LaGuardia Community College should contact the Admissions Office. New students selecting OTA as their major are considered to be in the pre-clinical phase.Progression to the clinical phase of the program is competitive and is by acceptance into candidacy. Students must apply for candidacy and be accepted in order to enter the clinical phase.Day and Evening OptionsStudents intending to pursue clinical courses as a Day student should apply for candidacy in the Fall I session preceding the Spring entry to the OTA Clinical Phase.Students intending to pursue clinical courses as an Evening student should apply for candidacy in the Spring I session preceding the Fall entry to the OTA Clinical Phase.Pre-Clinical PhaseThe pre-clinical phase of the OTA program consists of all required general education and elective courses, including Key Courses. Pre-clinical students are considered candidates for the clinical phase.
Students must first complete, or be in the process of completing, the four key courses in the 12-week semester in which they are applying for candidacy.Eligible students are then ranked according to a scoring system of grades in Key Courses. Learn more about the scoring system and additional candidacy requirements in the OTA Handbook.
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Review the Occupational Therapy Assistant Curriculum and the recommended course sequence below.
Recommended Course Sequence
Pre-Clinical and General Education Courses
In support of the LaGuardia’s mission to educate and graduate its students to become critical thinkers and socially responsible citizens, the College has undertaken a team approach toward advising, designed to support you in your major from orientation through graduation.
Your advisement team, made up of faculty and professional advisors, will guide you at every step during your college career.
Visit the Advising page to learn more about when to get advised and how to prepare for an advising appointment, and check out the Advising Calendar for information sessions, events and more.
Please feel free to reach out to these advisors if you have any questions or need assistance, and visit laguardia.edu/visit for directions to campus.
therapy assistants choose and adapt tasks, activities and therapeutic media to
improve the functioning of their clients. According to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics (BLS), the projected change in employment from 2012- 2022 is 41% for
occupational therapy assistants, whereas the national average is just 11%. This
increase is expected to add nearly 16,000 new occupational therapy assistants
across the country. BLS has indicated that the 2012 annual median pay for
occupational therapy assistants is $48,940. The New York State Occupational Therapy Association (NYSOTA) is the only professional organization for Occupational Therapy in New York State. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the national professional association established in 1917 to represent the interests and concerns of occupational therapy practitioners and students of occupational therapy and to improve the quality of occupational therapy services.
Advisement for the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is available during faculty office hours, orientation events, and Information Sessions during the academic year. The Health Sciences Department will hold Advising Events during the academic year as well. You can find more information about OTA Information Sessions and Advising events by contacting the Program Assistant or the OTA Program faculty.
Occupational therapy assistant students desiring seats in SCO courses MUST participate in occupational therapy advisement. Advisement is generally scheduled in prerequisites courses. Students not in SCO courses should see an occupational therapy faculty member prior to applying for candidacy. Only students who have met the prerequisites will be considered for admission to an SCO course.
All faculty advisors have posted office hours when they are available to meet with students. Times other than those posted may be arranged by appointment. It is the student’s responsibility to make and keep the appointment. If unable to keep an appointment, the student is expected to call or e-mail to cancel the appointment. Regular contact should be maintained with a faculty advisor until graduation.
Attendance policies for class and campus laboratory sessions are those stated in the LaGuardia Community College Catalog. During clinical affiliations students are expected to meet the attendance requirements of the fieldwork site. Students who are too ill to report for clinical assignments must notify the clinical supervisor as well as the college fieldwork coordinator. Students may subsequently be required to submit a doctor’s note in order to return to the clinical setting. All time missed from clinical fieldwork must be made up per the requirements of the facility and the OTA Program ACOTE accreditation standards.
Students are encouraged participate in the Student Occupational Therapy Assistant Club (SOTA). There is no separate charge for membership as student activity fees paid at the time of registration cover all costs for the SOTA Club. The SOTA Club supports advocacy for the program and the profession through special events and activities both at the college and in the community. Student activity funds have provided support for occupational therapy student attendance at conferences, for pinning ceremonies for graduating students and other activities planned by students. SOTA serves as the hub for the NYSOTA + LAGCC OTA Student Service Learning Initiative. OTA Program Curriculum Design
Education of the occupational therapy assistant student must lead toward increased mastery of a body of knowledge. To achieve this goal, education starts from the student’s capacities. For students whose basic skills are deficient, remedial courses are required before occupational therapy coursework begins. Since many students who previously have attained mastery of basic written and oral language and mathematics skills lose mastery without frequent practice, these skills are reinforced during occupational therapy coursework.
A knowledge base in the biological and social sciences enables the student to utilize career-specific material and integrate it for application in a variety of settings. Instruction and practice in occupation, goal-oriented activity, activity analysis and communication skills prepare the student to teach, motivate and respond to patients.
Values and skills central to the practice of occupational therapy are promoted through group experiences, fieldwork and role modeling by academic clinical faculty. These include awareness of self, appreciation of different life experiences and socio-cultural backgrounds, and empathy towards others. Ethical principles and legal aspects of practice are introduced. Graded educational activities encourage development of independence, self-expression, flexibility, creativity and problem solving.
The curriculum design provides for students to experience an intensive (but brief) introduction to health care in general in SCN195 and to occupational therapy in particular in SCO101 and SCO110 early in the first clinical year. Through exposure to basic concepts and activity processes, and to clinical experience through fieldwork observations, students acquire a beginning understanding of the field of occupational therapy. The remainder of the first clinical year is devoted to foundation courses in communication skills, social and natural sciences. All of these courses are prerequisite to the upper level occupational therapy courses of the second year.
Building on the foundation courses and on the basics established in SCN195, and SCO101 and SCO110, the second year student engages in four interrelated and mutually reinforcing courses focused on the practice areas of mental health and geriatrics. Content includes the independent living/daily living skills and the process and communication skills related to all areas of occupational performance, as well as the fundamentals of documentation. Particular attention is given to the occupational roles of individuals from adolescence through later life, including death and dying. A theory course (SCO204) is paired with a part time fieldwork with seminar (SCO284). Concurrently, students take a functional skills course (SCO214) and a documentation course (SCO114); these may be taken separately by students in the part-time extended day program. The grouping of geriatrics and mental health together encourages the student’s appreciation of the psychosocial aspects of aging, and presents activity programming and planning for populations in the contexts commonly applied in the New York metropolitan area.
In the next term, many students take SCO200 Human Growth and Development and SCO230 Functional Pathology, courses that introduce normal physical development (SCO200) and medical conditions commonly referred to occupational therapy (SCO230). These two courses may be taken during the first or second year, and must be completed before the physical and developmental disabilities courses.
Upon completion of the four courses associated with mental health and geriatric practice, students are expected to enter the first Level II fieldwork and seminar (SCO294); we recognize that personal and financial realities may prevent some students from following this pattern. These students may defer this fieldwork until completion of all academic coursework the following semester.
In the next semester, the student enters a group of four courses, this time focused on the practice areas of physical and developmental disabilities. Here the emphasis is on the motor skills and physical body structures and functions, with particular attention on their effects on independent living/daily living skills and on occupational roles. The occupational roles of children are covered in this triad. The grouping of physical and developmental disabilities together is designed to maximize student understanding of physical modalities, and in particular the developmental basis of many techniques of physical rehabilitation.
Academic coursework now completed, students engage in the second Level II fieldwork and seminar (SCO295). As noted above, some students will schedule the two Level II fieldwork and seminar units sequentially at this point.
This design provides the framework for content selection, scope, and placement. Although the practice areas of mental health and geriatrics, and physical and developmental disabilities are separated into pairs in two academic terms, they are seen and taught by the faculty as interrelated rather than discrete areas. Mental health is placed before physical disabilities in the sequence so that students in the physical and developmental disabilities courses are prepared to anticipate, understand and work with the psychosocial aspects of these disabilities. Occupational Therapy Assistant Handbook Be sure to review the OTA Program Handbook for additional information