Mar 03, 2024  
2018-19 Catalog 
2018-19 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy Assistant

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Program Coordinator Debbie Witsken

Occupational Therapy (OT) began with growing industrialization and has continued in the wake of modern warfare. Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs) help people with disabilities in numerous ways, from work or war related injuries, to clients of all ages with every kind of disability including developmental delays, autism, cerebral palsy, chronic illness, serious physical injuries, cognitive disabilities, mental illness, and neurological disorders. The list goes on. OTAs also help people of all ages who are healthy with a focus on wellness, productive aging, and preventative issues.

OTAs are heroes to those they serve. They help people return to productivity - but in a new form. They also are advocates who educate and assist people of all ages to identify and work towards client-centered goals to maximize independence and quality of life throughout the lifespan.

Nature of Work: The fundamental purpose of occupational therapy is the development and maintenance of a person’s capacity throughout life to perform those tasks and roles essential to productive living. As an OTA, an individual will provide services to those impaired by physical illness, psychosocial disability, developmental deficits, and aging. Through occupational therapy intervention, clients are returned to their maximum level of independence, mastering life skills that include: self-care, home-management, leisure, and work.

The OTA carries out a treatment plan under the guidance and supervision of an OT. The OTA provides a variety of treatment modalities to the client such as: activities of daily living and home management training, splinting, environmental modifications, safety training during daily occupations, wheelchair positioning and modifications, sensory integration, teaching life skills to clients with mental illness, job site analysis, energy management techniques, cognitive retraining and neuromuscular retraining techniques for clients with neurological dysfunction, management of chronic illness, and health and wellness promotion. Other duties include documenting patient progress and assisting with formulation of discharge planning. The OTA also maintains clinical equipment and supervises OT aides.

OTAs work in a variety of settings that include: hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, school systems, mental health centers, rehabilitation hospitals, residential care facilities, home health settings, work hardening centers and community settings

Lewis and Clark offers an education that focuses on academic preparation and supervised clinical practice, allowing the student the opportunity to become familiar with a variety of treatment diagnoses and work in diverse settings. The program can be completed in two years. Enrollment is limited. Selection of qualified applicants will be based upon a point system and fulfillment of other admission criteria.

Employment Outlook: The employment outlook for OT personnel is excellent. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a continued growth in the number of available positions in OT. Employment opportunities in OT are expected to grow because of increased growth in rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities and a rise in long-term care services. The demand in the occupational therapy field has created more openings for OTAs than there are applicants.

Skills and Abilities: To pursue a career as an OTA, an individual must possess physical stamina, manual dexterity and be able to work with people of all ages, temperaments, and personalities. Good communication skills, self-initiation, established organizational skills, ingenuity, ability to grade and adapt activities and treatment, and a caring personality are needed for effective client care. All students must be able to fulfill certain “technical functions.” These functions are the essential requirements of the OTA program that students must master to successfully complete the program and become employable in the field of occupational therapy.

Technical functions for students in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program:

  1. Students must possess the manual dexterity, physical stamina, and visual capacity to perform all required technical procedures.
  2. Students must be able to communicate in an effectual manner. Students will be required to read and comprehend technical material, as well as write technical reports in a clear and concise manner. In addition, all students must be able to verbally communicate effectively with clients, co-workers, and other occupational therapy personnel.

Each applicant needs to assess his/her own ability to meet the above technical functions.

Accreditation: Lewis and Clark Community College’s (L&C) OTA program is accredited 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 20824-1220. AOTA’s phone number is (301) 652-AOTA. Direct access to the ACOTE website is:

Graduates will be able to sit for the national certification examination for the OTA 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). Illinois and Missouri require candidates to be licensed in order to practice once the graduate has passed the NBCOT examination. Missouri and Illinois Department of Professional Regulations, as well as NBCOT, may refuse licensure to applicants who may jeopardize the well-being of their citizens or who have a felony conviction.

Application and Admission: The application deadline is June 1 (except when falls on a weekend, then the following Monday is the deadline). A new program cycle will begin each spring semester. Because the number of applicants may exceed the number of positions available in a given class, the OTA program will employ the following admission process.

All components of application must be completed by each student and will be reviewed by the application committee using a numerical ranking system for each admission criterion.


This checklist is a tool to assist students with the application process for the OTA program. It is recommended that interested students meet with the OTA Program Coordinator to discuss the application process. Completion of application does not ensure seat in class.

Apply for Selective Admission

  • Complete the Lewis and Clark Community College Selective Admission application for the OTA program (5230A).

Follow the steps below:

  1. Go to:

  2. Scroll down to “Selective Admissions” and click on hyperlink, “fill out an online application.”

OTA Admission Test

  • Complete the Health Occupations Aptitude Exam (HOAE) Entrance Examination.  Testing dates will be during the fourth week of May.  Call the Assessment Center to register for the exam. Testing fee to be paid at time of exam.

Complete Academic Requirements and Submit to the OTA Program Office by June 1*:

Forms for additional academic requirements listed below are located in the online OTA application packet which can be found at:

  • Submit Statement of Personal Goals
  • Submit Clinical Observation Form documenting eight hours of observation in an OT department with a licensed OT practitioner (occupational therapist or a certified occupational therapy assistant).
  • Submit two Recommendation Forms - one recommendation must be from a high school or college instructor.
  • Submit proof of residency (see below).
  • Earn a Cumulative GPA of 2.5 or greater on a 4.0 scale from the last five years. If less than 15 credit hours have been completed at college level in the last five years, cumulative high school GPA will also be used.  If student has less than 15 credits within the last five years, but has previous college experience, the following will be used to determine GPA:
    • If student has college degree: final GPA for most recent degree from an accredited institution

    • If student does not have a degree: cumulative GPA from most recent 30 credit hours completed from an accredited institution

  • Submit an official high school or GED transcript**

  • Submit official transcript(s) from all colleges, universities, and schools of Occupational Therapy Assistant attended previously**

* Except when falls on a weekend, then the following Monday is the deadline.

** Mailing address:  Lewis & Clark College, Attn: OTA program office (NU 213), 5800 Godfrey Road, Godfrey, IL  62035

Meet Academic Requirements by the End of the Fall Semester Prior to the Start of the Program:

Prove Residency

Prove residency in Lewis and Clark Community College District No. 536, Southwestern Illinois College District No. 522, or East St. Louis Community College Center at the time of application. Students who are residents in other community college districts, who have a CAREER agreement with L&C, may be eligible to apply if there is not an OTA program in the student’s home district. from other community college districts within the state of IL will be eligible for admission only if positions are available after the OTA class has been selected from qualified candidates within the above districts.

Important Phone Numbers:

Enrollment Center: 618-468-2222

Financial Aid: 618-468-2223

Assessment Center: 618-468-5240

OTA Program Coordinator: 648-468-4419

OTA Program Office: 618-468-4402

Point system for admission procedures:

Maximum points possible are designated as follows:

Area Points
 Grade point average (GPA) (total points awarded based on GPA earned over last 5 years) 45
 Completion of Health Occupations Aptitude Exam (HOAE) (total points awarded based on test score) 25
 Completion of pre-requisite and general education courses* 10
 Recommendation forms 8
 Handwritten statement of personal goals and reasons for seeking admission to the OTA program 8
 Timeliness and completeness of application packet 4
Total Points 100

                     Ranking of Applicants: Students who have met all application requirements will be ranked based on the total number of points earned on the application. The twenty-six students earning the highest scores will be offered provisional acceptance in the OTA program.

For full acceptance into the OTA program, a student must complete the following by the end of the fall semester prior to the start of the program:

To continue from spring semester 1 to fall semester 2 of the OTA program, a student must:

To be eligible for graduation with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant, a student must meet the following requirements:

  • Register for all OTA and general education courses offered each semester as outlined in the OTA program curriculum.

    • A student may not progress to the next semester coursework without having successfully completed all of the current semester courses (OCTA and general education courses) with a grade of C or better.

  • Complete the didactic portion of the program within three years of initiating OTA course work.

  • Successfully complete the supervised clinical education (Fieldwork) component of the program within eighteen months following completion of the didactic portion of the program.

  • Satisfy all other requirements for an Associate of Applied Science degree specified by L&C.

In order to reduce the course load, students are strongly encouraged to have all general education courses completed prior to the start of the second semester (fall) in the program.

OTA Program Outcomes:

The total number of graduates from the L&C Occupational Therapy Assistant program during the 3-year period of 2015-2017 was 63, with an overall graduation rate of 82%.

Graduation Year Students Entering/Graduating Graduation Rate
2015 25/16 64%
2016 26/24 92%
2017 26/23 88%
Total 77/63 82%

Following the completion of the OTA program, graduates are able to sit for the National Certification Examination for the OTA 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). Illinois requires all occupational therapy practitioners to be licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulations (IDFPR) in order to practice once the individual has passed the NBCOT certification examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

For access to NBCOT examination comparison pass rates from schools across the country, including L&C OTA students, visit

Occupational Therapy Assistant - OCCUP/ASST.AAS

Associate in Applied Science Degree

Total: 16 Credit Hours

Summer Session

Total: 4 Credit Hours

Total: 16 Credit Hours

Spring Semester

Total: 15 Credit Hours

Summer Session

Total: 4 Credit Hours

Fall Semester

Total: 8 Credit Hours

Total credit hours required for the A.A.S. in Occupational Therapy Assistant: 63


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