Feb 02, 2023  
2014-2015 Catalog 
2014-2015 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy Assistant, A.A.A.S.

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(Students should initially enroll in Code 328.)

GRCC Program:

Associate of Applied Arts and Sciences

Occupational therapy assistants work under the supervision of registered occupational therapists to help rehabilitate patients who are physically or mentally disabled. They help develop and implement programs of educational, vocational and recreational activities that strengthen patients’ muscle power, increase motion and coordination, and develop self sufficiency in overcoming disabilities.

Students interested in the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program are advised to take preparatory courses in biological and behavioral sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, and psychology. All applicants will be asked to take English and math placement tests, since good reading, writing, and math skills are essential for success as an occupational therapy assistant.

Occupational Therapy is a profession in which members are required to give care to others.

The Occupational Therapy Assistant student will need to develop the skills necessary to relate to others verbally and in writing. The student will be required to use written documentation skills to communicate with other professionals.

In the field of Occupational Therapy, therapists need to demonstrate the characteristics of self-awareness, self acceptance, awareness of others and the ability to communicate that awareness. Therapists need to cope effectively with the emotional demands of the environment and to interact effectively with a variety of people. A therapist must be capable of subordinating personal feelings and must possess sufficient emotional stamina to deal with patients who will depend on him/her for emotional and psychological support during therapy.

The student must demonstrate fundamentals of practice by adhering to the Occupational Therapy code of ethics, safety regulations, use sound judgment in regards to safety of self and others.

 Essential Abilities

The Grand Rapids Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant program faculty has specified essential abilities and technical standards critical to the success of students in any GRCC Occupational Therapy Assistantprogram. Students must demonstrate these essential abilities to succeed in their program of study. Qualified applicants are expected to meet all admission criteria and matriculating students are expected to meet all progression criteria, as well as these essential abilities and technical standards with or without reasonable accommodations. 

1.      Essential judgment skills to include: ability to identify, assess, and comprehend conditions, issues and surrounding situations for the purpose of problem solving as an occupational therapy assistant and coming to appropriate conclusions and/or course of actions.

2.      Essential physical/neurological functions to include: Students will be required to perform certain physical functions in order to successfully complete the Occupational Therapy Assistant program. These functions will be performed throughout the coursework and/or clinical experience. These functions are not conditions for admission to the program; they are listed for the purpose of alerting the prospective student to the physical and emotional functions required as an occupational therapy assistant. Ability to use the senses of seeing, hearing, touch, and smell to make correct judgments regarding occupational therapy and meet physical expectations to perform required interventions for the purpose of demonstrating competence to safely engage in practice.

The physical functions include:

  • Physical Strength – A therapist will assist in transferring patients to or from wheelchairs, floors, mats, toilets, cars, beds, bathtubs, and showers. Other transfers may be required. These patients may be paralyzed or have some degree of incapacity such as poor balance, strength, coordination and endurance. The therapist may also have to move equipment, patients in wheelchairs, woodworking tools and craft equipment.
  • Mobility – In the course of performing duties in occupational therapy, a therapist will be expected to stand, lift, reach, bend, stretch, provide support and stability, and perform activities on a floor mat. Sufficient independent mobility within the architectural environment is necessary. A therapist must move quickly in an emergency, may have to quickly move patients, and may also perform treatment in a standing position over a long period of time.
  • Hearing – A therapist must have the ability to hear faint sounds from a distance of 4 feet – approximately the distance between a patient seated in a wheelchair and a person in a standing position next to the wheelchair. A therapist must also be able to hear sounds such as those emitted by a handsaw, electric drill, motorized wheelchair, and blood pressure (using a stethoscope).
  • Visual Discrimination – A therapist must have sufficient vision to be able to differentiate movements, to read marking on instruments and measuring devices, and to read newspaper small print.
  • Coordination – Sufficient motor skills, eye-hand coordination skills, manipulative skills and sensory function in one upper extremity are needed by a therapist to assist with therapeutic activities. Many other therapeutic activities require dexterity, manipulation, strength, and body flexibility to perform.
  • Manual Dexterity – A therapist must have sufficient fine motor skills to manipulate objects and people safely. Manual dexterity to fabricate splints, to assist a patient in the completion of therapeutic projects/activities, and to demonstrate fine motor movements is also required.

Behaviors that demonstrate essential neurological and physical functions include, but are not limited to observation, listening, understanding relationships, writing, and psychomotor abilities consistent with course and program expectations. The occupational therapy assistant student will need to develop the skills necessary to relate to others and to demonstrate the characteristics of self-awareness, self-acceptance, awareness of others and the ability to communicate that awareness.

3.      Essential communication skills to include: ability to communicate effectively with fellow students, faculty, patients, and all members of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program. Skills include verbal, written, and nonverbal abilities as well as information technology skills consistent with effective communication.

4.      Essential emotional coping skills: ability to manage potential stressors that accompany tasks necessary to safely engage in the practice of occupational therapy as determined by professional standards of practice. Therapists need to cope effectively with the emotional demands of the environment and to interact effectively with a variety of people. A therapist must be capable of subordinating personal feelings and possess sufficient emotional stamina to deal with patients who will depend on him/her for emotional and psychological support during therapy.

  •  Communication Skills – A therapist must be able to communicate orally and in writing. For example, a therapist must be able to read and give directions and instructions and to record health data regarding patients.

 5.      Essential intellectual/conceptual skills to include: ability to measure, calculate, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate to engage competently in the safe practice of occupational therapy.


6.      Other essential behavioral attributes: ability to engage in activities consistent with safe practice without demonstrated behaviors of addiction to, abuse of, or dependence on alcohol or other drugs that may impair behavior or judgment. The student must demonstrate responsibility and accountability for actions as a student in the occupational therapy assistant program and as a developing professional in the fieldconsistent with accepted standards of practice.

Grand Rapids Community College strives to be more than ADA compliant. We strive to be accessible and welcoming to all students of all abilities. After reviewing the Essential Abilities/Technical Standards for this program; your responsibilities as a student entail determining if you can complete all associated coursework either:

A.     With Accommodation. I am otherwise qualified to meet the same academic standards as any other student entering the program. However, based on a medically documented condition or diagnosis, I would qualify for reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990). I will meet with Disability Support Services on campus to arrange those accommodations in an interactive process with the department of occupational therapy.

B.     Without Accommodation. I am able to complete the program without need for reasonable accommodation or modification. In the event my medical documentation reveals otherwise or a condition manifests that would necessitate an accommodation; it is my responsibility to inform a responsible authority figure within the department of occupational therapy and work with Disability Support Services to see if a reasonable accommodation or modification can be made.

If you have a medically documented condition or diagnosis, please contact the Occupational Therapy Assistant program office, or contact Disability Support Services (DSS) at disability@grcc.edu or by phone at 616.234.4140 to arrange accommodations through our interactive process.


Students are admitted to the program once a year, in the Fall semester.

Pre-Program Requirements

In order to be eligible for admission into the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program, a student must:

  1. Be a high school graduate or have passed the high school equivalency GED (General Educational Development) Test.
  2. Have a high school GPA of at least 2.5.
  3. Score at least 40 on the algebra or 65 on the arithmetic portion of the Accuplacer placement test.
  4. Score at least 74 on the reading portion of the Accuplacer placement test.
  5. Have completed a one-semester course of high school computers, focusing on computer literacy, Internet skills, retrieval and management of information with a grade of at least a “C.”.
  6. Submit and release findings of fingerprinting, criminal background check, to the OTA department at GRCC.
  7. Successful completion of BI 121  and BI 122  within two attempts with a grade of “C-” or better.
  8. Successful completion of   with a grade of C or better within 2 attempts.

Program Requirements:

To be eligible for graduation, an OTA student must earn a minimum of “C” (2.0) in each of the required OTA courses and a minimum cumulative GPA of “C” in the prescribed OTA curriculum.   

The student must earn a grade of “C” or better in  EN 100 /EN 101 EN 102  and GH 120 .

The OTA program prepares assistants for entry into the profession and meets the educational standards for program accreditation. The 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 20814-3449. The phone number is (301) 652-AOTA.  www.acoteonline.org Graduates of the program will be able to sit for the national certification examination for the Occupational Therapy Assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or state registration. For further information on limitations, you can contact NBCOT at 800 S. Frederick Ave., Suite 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150; (301) 990-7979. After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).

The State of Michigan requires licensure for therapists to practice.

There are several professional-level education programs directed toward providing specific career advancement for certified occupational therapy assistants. To become a registered occupational therapist, a post baccalaureate degree will be required. Assistants may apply to other professional programs, but their previous training does not automatically include a transfer of credits or eligibility.

Students in the OTA program should be prepared to pay for their own textbooks, liability insurance, name tags, OTA examination fee, supplies, transportation and parking. These costs can add about $1,000 a year to the usual tuition and fees.

OTA courses must be taken in the sequence that follows:

Pre-Program Requirements

Total Credits: 11

First Year

First Semester

Total Credits: 17

Second Semester

Total Credits: 16

Summer (Required)

Total Credits: 4

Second Year

Third Semester

Total Credits: 11

Fourth Semester

Total Credits: 12

Total Credits: 71

* CH = Contact hours: The number of class hours of attendance required per week.

** Only these courses may be taken prior to formal admission into the Occupational Therapy Assistant program. BI 121  and BI 122  must be completed within eight years prior to OT 214 .

*** Students are encouraged to complete all non-OT classes before Fieldwork 2, OT 230 /OT 235 . OT 230  requires 16 weeks of full-time (40 hours/week) fieldwork. Level 2 Fieldwork must be completed within 20 months of the didactic course work for an OTA program.

**** WE 156  is not required if a student can document current CPR/BLS for the Professional Rescuer certification prior to the third semester. However, one WE course is required to graduate from GRCC.

Note: Students must register by August 1 for OT 220  and by December 1 for OT 230  to be placed in fieldwork assignments. If not registered by these dates, students will not be assigned the fieldwork placements necessary to complete their program. They will have to wait until the next course availability.

Transfer Opportunities:

The Transfer Guide for many bachelor’s degree majors offered at Michigan colleges and universities is available at the Counseling and Career Center and online at www.grcc.edu.

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