The Occupational Therapy Assistant A.A.S. Degree program is for students who want to help people of all ages to regain, develop, or master everyday living skills for independent, productive, and satisfying lives. This two-year course of study includes academic and fieldwork training to prepare students for a career in Occupational Therapy. Students are trained to work under the supervision of a Registered Occupational Therapist, implementing intervention plans to enable participation in life activities for people of diverse ages, cultures, and abilities.
Learning to interact with healthcare providers and OT clients in a professional and meaningful manner is also emphasized. Program graduates will be eligible to sit for the national board exam for certification through the National Board of Certification for Occupational Therapy.
Skills for the job of Living
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 and ourselves are among the “occupations” of life.
Sometimes physical, emotional, or other challenges prevent people from participating fully in the job of living. Stroke, injury, depression, and developmental disabilities, for example, can make it difficult for people to do everyday tasks or be as active and as independent as they’d like.
Occupational Therapy – a vibrant, growing profession – makes it possible for people to regain independence and to enjoy life to its fullest. By choosing a career in Occupational Therapy, you will make a difference. You will improve the lives of children, young people, and adults alike.
About Occupational Therapy Assistant Practitioners
An Occupational Therapy Assistant works, under the direction of an Occupational Therapist, in hospitals, schools systems, nursing homes, psychiatric programs, rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics and in the community. Occupational Therapy Assistants have been trained to use “occupations” or activities of daily life to help people of all ages participate in their activities of choice to their fullest potential.
Becoming an Occupational Therapy Assistant
The NSCC OTA Program is a two-year course of study. This includes three academic semesters and one semester of full-time internships. Given the necessary skills and knowledge required to become an OTA, applicants must be prepared to make a strong commitment to both academic coursework and internship training. The OTA must be prepared to work with persons of varied ages, cultures and abilities. OTA students will be challenged in both personal and professional ways as they prepare to become Occupational Therapy Assistants. It is important that all applicants recognize the commitment required if accepted into this program and to this profession.
Facts about Occupational Therapy
Nearly one third of people employed in the profession of Occupational Therapy work with children helping them master the "occupations" of childhood-learning, playing and growing. Handwriting problems are a leading reason schoolchildren are referred to Occupational Therapists.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calls Occupational Therapy one of today's fastest growing careers pointing to growing numbers of older adults and young children who need Occupational Therapy services.
Nationwide, there are 324 college or university-based educational programs for Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants.
Occupational Therapists have at least a four-year bachelor's degree and many have masters or doctorate degrees. Occupational Therapy Assistants typically have a two-year associates degree. Beginning in 2007, Occupational Therapists must have at least a master's degree.
Approximately 117,000 Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants are licensed to practice in all states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Florida alone has over 6,000 licensed Occupational Therapy practitioners.
Occupational Therapy services are delivered in a variety of settings such as schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, and mental health clinics.
Conditions benefiting from Occupational Therapy include:
Attention deficit & hyperactivity disorders
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Conditions related to aging
Hip fracture/ replacement
Repetitive motion disorders
Spinal cord injury
Traumatic brain injury
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) was founded in 1917. The historic roots of Occupational Therapy lay in the movement to reform mental health care at the turn of the 20 th century, when it was shown that patients who engaged in "purposeful occupations" such as crafts and practical work experienced a more successful recovery.
The Fund To Promote Awareness of Occupational Therapy was created by AOTA in 2002 as part of a long-term strategy to raise awareness of Occupational Therapy. The Fund is a charitable organization committed to ongoing resource development to support targeted outreach, education, research and professional development opportunities that will increase the public's understanding and utilization of Occupational Therapy services.
Criminal Background Checks
Prospective students will be required to provide a copy of a background check and drug screening. NSCC does not use the background check or drug screening as criteria for admission to the program. Background checks and drug screenings are required by clinical sites as a condition of participation. Students are required to participate in a variety of clinical experiences to successfully complete the program. For questions regarding the background check, please call 615-353-3708.
The role of an Occupational Therapy Assistant is both rewarding and demanding. The following essential functions are required of all students who enroll in the Nashville State Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.
Problem Solving/Critical Thinking
The NSCC Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is accredited by: ACOTE
c/o Accreditation Department
American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200 • Bethesda, MD 20814-3449
Phone: 301-652-2682 • Fax: 301-652-7711 • TDD: 800-377-8555
Email: email@example.com • Website: www.aota.org
Direct link to information about for the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education:
All students graduating from the Nashville State Occupational Therapy Assistant Program are eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Certification Exam. Proof of successful completion of this exam is required for a license to practice as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in the state of Tennessee.
For access to NBCOT examination comparison pass rates from schools across the country, including NSCC OTA students, click here.
For access to NSCC OTA Program NBCOT examination student pass rate information, and to NSCC OTA Program graduation rates, please click here (PDF).
Donna Whitehouse, MHA, OTR, Associate Professor, 615-353-3382
Ms. Whitehouse is the Program Director for the NSCC OTA Program. She is an Assistant Professor, and teaches courses in Occupational Therapy History, Management and Administration skills as well as courses in Challenges to Mental Health and Interventions for Mental Health. Ms Whitehouse joined NSCC in 2002, following several years on faculty at the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis. Her interests are in administration, program development, and Aging in Place.
Bachelor of Science Occupational Therapy, University of Tennessee at Memphis, 1990
Master of Health Administration, University of Missouri-Columbia, 1996
Occupational Therapist, Registered, NBCOT; Current Tennessee license
Diane Gaffney, MBA, OTR, FAOTA, Assistant Professor, 615-353-3383
Ms. Gaffney joined the OTA faculty in 2011. Ms. Gaffney has over thirty years of practice as an Occupational Therapist. She brings to NSCC a wealth of knowledge through in a broad spectrum of her OT practice experience which includes, but is not limited to: pediatrics, adults, management and active involvement in both state and national OT associations. Ms. Gaffney teaches courses in Human Development, Human Movement, Challenges to Physical Health, Interventions and Treatment for Adults and Geriatrics.
Bachelor of Science, Western Michigan University, 1970
Master of Business Administration, Tennessee State University, 1991
NBCOT Certification as Occupational Therapist, Registered
Tennessee Certification in Therapeutic Electrical and Thermal Modalities, 2001
Jenn Myers, BS, COTA, Instructor, 615-353-3582
Ms. Myers is an alumnae of the Nashville State OTA program. She joined the faculty in 2011 as the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and, in addition to her fieldwork responsibilities, teaches courses in Occupations, Documentation and Group Dynamics. Ms. Myers practice experience was focused primarily in the geriatric population.
Associate of Applied Science, Nashville State Community College, 2009
Bachelor of Arts, Columbia College of Chicago, 2000
Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant
Graduates of the program 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). A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination.
After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
Tennessee requires licensure to practice as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. All applicants for Tennessee licensure must pass the NBCOT certification examination, in addition to other requirements. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to attain state licensure.
If students have questions or concerns regarding criminal history and employment eligibility, please contact NBCOT at (301) 990-7979 and the Tennessee Board of Occupational Therapy at (615) 532-3202 or (800) 778-4123.
Employment and Occupational Therapy Assistant Practitioners
An Occupational Therapy Assistant works under the direction of an Occupational Therapist in hospitals, schools systems, nursing homes, psychiatric programs, rehabilitation centers, outpatient clinics and in the community. Occupational Therapy Assistants have been trained to use “occupations” or activities of daily life to help people of all ages participate in their activities of choice to their fullest potential.
NSCC Career Services Office
The Career Services Office provides career and employment information and services to students and graduates. Placement assistance is available to graduates and currently enrolled students seeking full- or part-time work.
Nashville State Community College is an AA/EEO employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities. Full Non-Discrimination Policy