Occupational Therapy Assistant

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The Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech), uses a “hands on” teaching approach while grounding the instruction in solid theory and academic foundations.

Each class has a laboratory component wherein students can practice the skills learned in lecture. Occupational Therapy clinicians are experts in the adaptation, rehabilitation, and organization of skills for the “job” of living, such as dressing, grooming, eating, bathing, and home management. The coursework, while demanding, is interesting and engaging.

The OTA program is a full-time, daytime curriculum with both morning and afternoon courses and labs. All lecture and laboratory classes are held on the Kirkland Campus. Clinical affiliations, also known as fieldwork experiences, are held at various off-campus settings, such as schools, hospitals, nursing homes, out-patient clinics, and adult day health programs.

Because occupational therapy focuses on “living life to its fullest” coursework includes:

  • Functional anatomy and kinesiology
  • Therapeutic activities or occupations
  • Teamwork between the Occupational Therapist and the OT Assistant
  • Working with older adults and children
  • Working with persons with different challenges and disabilities
  • Conducting therapeutic groups

Graduates of the program will be eligible to take the national certification examination of the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of the exam, the graduate will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Most states also 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.

Students must complete all Level II Fieldwork within 18 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program.

Occupational Therapy is a fast growing health profession. The OTA creatively works with persons who have limitations, disabilities, or challenges with independence in daily living activities, cognition, psychosocial function, and/or mobility. The OTA uses normal "occupation" (fun activities, avocational interests, exercise, arts and crafts, self-care tasks and routines, thinking and planning strategies, work tasks, and household and family care) to help people manage their lives with independence, grace, and dignity.

Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant

Young or old, we all have a job to do-the job of living. Learning, growing, playing, working, managing our homes, and caring for our families are among the "occupations" of life.

Unfortunately, physical, emotional, or other challenges often prevent people from fully participating in the job of living. Disease, injury, depression, or developmental problems can make it difficult for people to do everyday tasks or be active and independent.

Occupational therapy-a vibrant, growing profession-makes it possible for people to achieve independence and to enjoy life to its fullest. By choosing a career in occupational therapy, you will make a difference! You will be able to improve the lives of people, from newborns to the elderly. 

Students today can look forward to dynamic careers working in multiple settings with people of all ages. And the employment outlook for occupational therapy assistants is bright! Recent information published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that the job outlook for occupational therapy assistants will improve substantially in the next several years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Specifically, it states that "employment of occupational therapy assistants is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations through 2014," meaning that employment is expected to increase by 27% or more. 

One of the greatest advantages of a career in occupational therapy is the wide variety of opportunities available to occupational therapy graduates. Many practitioners choose to help children thrive in the "occupations" of childhood, which include learning, playing, and growing.  Therapists work in schools with students who have learning disabilities or behavioral problems. Others work with premature newborns at pediatric hospitals or children with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and other disabilities. 

Occupational therapy assistants also work with individuals in their homes, community centers, rehabilitation hospitals, businesses, and nursing homes. In these settings, occupational therapy assistants help people with traumatic injuries, stroke, Alzheimer's disease, or mental health problems, learn to live productive lives through the use of meaningful occupations. 

Those who join the field today may choose other areas of practice that are increasingly important. These new specialties include training workers to use proper ergonomics on the job, helping people with low vision maintain their independence, making buildings and homes more accessible, older driver evaluation and training, and promoting health and wellness. 

Occupational Therapy is a career for individuals who care about people and have a desire to learn, achieve, and contribute their best to society and the profession!

Program Philosophy & Mission

The mission of the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program is to prepare assistants in the field of occupational therapy with the skill base, fund of knowledge, and understanding and demonstration of professional behaviors necessary to succeed in their chosen vocational pathway. This is congruent with the mission of Lake Washington Institute of Technology which is focused on successful workforce education of individuals from diverse backgrounds, giving them the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to successfully compete for jobs and to cope with ever-changing work force requirements; and to provide education that encourages lifelong learning and growth, both on the job and in the home.

The primary objective of this training is to produce clinicians in the field of occupational therapy to plan and implement, in collaboration with occupational therapists, the use of occupation-based, meaningful activities to achieve the desired functional, cognitive and psychosocial patient and client outcomes. 

The OTA Program at LWTech seeks to fulfill the need for qualified Occupational Therapy Assistants in the North Puget Sound, as well as other Pacific Northwest areas. In addition, the program mission includes:

  • Preparing students for successful completion of Levels I and II Fieldwork

  • Preparing graduates to pass the national certification examination and the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT)

  • Developing entry-level skills through effective didactic and laboratory learning experiences

  • Developing professional behaviors including communication skills, good work habits, and  an understanding of health care and community work arenas

  • Preparing students for their profession in accordance with the Standards outlined by The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) and by the Ethics policy documents  published by The American Occupational Therapy Association

  • Developing an appreciation and respect for the inherent worthiness and uniqueness of each student and all future patients or clients, regardless of differences in age, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual preference, or race.

  • Instilling a desire and pursuit of life-long learning to comply with licensure continuing education requirements and to enhance both professional and personal growth

  • Encouraging the active engagement in professional associations, nationally and locally

  • Enabling students to articulate, with simplicity and enthusiasm, the benefits of occupational therapy services and the uniqueness of the profession

  • Integrating campus wide learning outcomes into curriculum requirements 

The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology is guided by the philosophy that individuals, through the lifespan, are shaped and influenced by meaningful occupation, by physical and social environments, and the development of skills and patterns of behavior.

Purposeful activity, or occupation, is the means for persons to engage in meaningful behavior and valued life roles. This view maintains that occupation is an essential aspect of human life and health, and that activity patterns, roles, and environments are definitive, unique, and can be used for healing, maintaining wellness, and establishing a satisfying life.  Individuals form and act out their unique roles through occupation. 

When a person's health and activity patterns are changed due to illness, injury, or an environmental threat, he or she can use occupation as the goal directed use of time, energy, interest, and attention to reclaim the desired function. Occupational Therapy clinicians use purposeful, goal-directed activities to promote the maximum performance to which the individual is capable and to which the individual is intent upon. Occupational therapy practitioners also enable clients to adapt to their environment and unique situations, or to change them in order to reach the maximum desired functional performance in their daily routines. The intrinsic value of daily activities and purposeful occupation cannot be overemphasized. All human occupations have emotional, cognitive, physical, spiritual, and contextual dimensions.  People may be independent and functional in a variety of ways and have the right to choose their activities and the context in which they are performed.

The OTA Program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology will use occupation and purposeful activity as a main tool for the education of students.  OTA students will be introduced to models of occupation at the onset of the curriculum, and will apply the tenets to their own lives as they progress. This, the application of the very concepts and foundations of occupational therapy, will allow them to graduate with a firm understanding of occupation as the foundation of their chosen profession. The education will follow a developmental sequence with an emphasis on volition, habituation and skill development, which occurs in a specific environment. The individual student will receive input, processes it cognitively, neurologically, emotionally, and physically, and then act on the environment in a dynamic open system. The Program is guided by the belief that Occupational Therapy is a true synergy of art and science.

The very essence of everyday life is the elegant and humble focus of occupational therapy. Through the "doing" of activities of daily living, valued projects, desired engagements, and goal-directed behavior, determined by values, interests, and beliefs, held together by habits, roles and personal style, executed with skills and knowledge, our students and their future clients and patients will lead satisfying and meaningful lives.

Admission Requirements

Entry into the program starts with filling out an application for admission to Lake Washington Institute of Technology plus indicating that you wish to be admitted to the OTA program.

Entry into the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program requires filling out the following:

The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is filled on a first-register, first-in system. In order to enroll in the first quarter of the OTA Program, you must have all pre-requisite courses and clinical observations completed. 

The program does have a waitlist.  Student must fulfill the requirements outline in the admissions packet and complete observation hours in order to be added to the OTA waitlist.

Below is a detailed list of all the requirements to enter the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at LWTech as of Fall 2017.

Prerequisites & Co-Requisites

Students must pass each course with a 3.0 (B) or higher before these courses must be completed in order to be added to the waitlist.

  1. ENGL& 101-English Composition I
  2. MEDA 116-Medical Terminology must be a 5 credit course
  3. BIOL& 175-Human Biology with Lab
  4. Math& 146-Introduction to Statistics

Students must pass each co-requisite course and all OTA courses with a 2.0 (C ) or higher to complete the program. We strongly recommend that students complete co-requisites prior to beginning OTA classes.

  1. CMST&220 or 230-Introduction to Public Speaking or Small Group Communication
  2. PSYC& 200-Lifespan Psychology
  • Students may use both BIOL& 241 and 242 in place of BIOL& 175. Both courses must have a grade of 3.0 (B) or higher.
  • Medical Terminology must be 5 or more credits
Required Observations
  • Students must complete observation hours as part of the required admissions packet.
  • 20 hours of observation in two community or health care settings where Occupational Therapists or Occupational Therapy assistants are employed.
  • Forms for the required observations are posted on this website with the current application packet.
Getting on the Waiting List
  1. Student must complete all items in the admissions packet and submit their completed packet to the Enrollment Services office.
  2. OTA faculty will review each student’s admissions materials. Once their review is complete admissions staff will contact the student to set up a time to be added to the OTA waitlist.
Moving from the Waitlist and Starting the Program
  • Enrollment Services will contact students on the OTA waiting list prior to the start of fall registration which begins in May. Enrollment services will contact students via their LWTECH student email.
  • OTA has a fall quarter start only. Space is available for only up to 20 students each fall. The first 20 student son the waitlist will be moved into the first quarter classes.
  • Since fall registration begins early there is a lag of time between moving into the class I May and starting classes in Fall. Students remaining on the waitlist should check both their fall quarter schedule and their fall quarter waitlist for the OTA classes up until fall quarter begins to see if they have moved into the class.

Accreditation

The Occupational Therapy Assistant 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, Maryland 20814-3449. ACOTE’s telephone number, c/o AOTA, is (301) 652-AOTA and the web address is acoteonline.org.

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