Occupational Therapy Assistant A.A.S.
A work of heart.
Help people of all ages to regain, develop, or master everyday living skills for independent, productive, and satisfying lives with the two-year Occupational Therapy Assistant A.A.S. Degree program. The program’s academic and fieldwork training prepare you for a career in occupational therapy. Receive the training 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.
Learn to interact with healthcare providers and OT clients in a professional and meaningful manner. Graduates are eligible to sit for the national board exam for certification through the National Board of Certification for Occupational Therapy.
The deadline to apply for the Fall 2022 cohort has passed. Applications for Fall 2023 will open on December 1, 2022.
If you have additional questions regarding the application, selection, and admission process for the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program at Nashville State Community College, please send an email to OTA@nscc.edu and put OTA Application and Admission in the subject line.
W-35, Weld Building, Main Campus
615-353-3708 | Fax: 615-353-3608
Piper Sesnan, OTD, OTR
OTA Program Director
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.
NBCOT examination comparison pass rates from schools across the country (including NSCC OTA students).
The NSCC Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is accredited by: ACOTE
ACOTE c/o AOTA
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200
North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929
Phone: 301-652-AOTA or 301-652-2682 or 301-652-6611
ACOTE® accredited occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational programs satisfy the states’ educational requirements in all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Students graduating from an ACOTE® accredited occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational program are eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification exam and apply for licensure in all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. For more information regarding state qualifications and licensure requirements, please refer to the AOTA State Licensure webpage.
OTA Program Admission Requirements for Incoming Class of Fall 2023
The NSCC OTA program admits one class of 30 students per academic year. The application cycle for fall admissions for each academic year will occur from January 1 to April 1. A student may apply to the NSCC OTA program during the application cycle only.
The following criteria must be met:
- Complete admission requirements to Nashville State Community College
- Complete online application to NSCC OTA program.
- Applicants must have an overall inclusive combined GPA of 2.0 or higher to apply to the NSCC OTA Program. NSCC defines overall inclusive GPA as GPA based on all classes taken at NSCC and transferred undergraduate courses including learning support classes.
- Applicants are required to attend an information session before applying to the NSCC OTA Program. The date of the information session attended will be a requirement on the application.
Pre-requisite Course Requirements
Applicants must complete five required General Education courses with a grade of "C" or better.
- BIOL 2010 Anatomy and Physiology I (within 5 years of applying to the program)
*If an applicant is accepted into the OTA program, BIOL 2010 must be completed before entering the OTA program in Fall 2022. If a student is accepted into the program, but unable to complete Anatomy and Physiology before entering the Fall 2022 semester, they will lose their seat in the program and will need to reapply for admission next year. The student is not guaranteed program admission upon reapplication.
- ENGL 1010 English Composition I
- PSYC 1030 Intro to Psychology
- Humanities Elective
- COMM 2025 Fundamentals of Communication or COMM 2045 Public Speaking or PSYC 2130 Lifespan Development Psychology
**Medical Terminology is no longer required in the OTA curriculum.
In accordance with our mission as a Tennessee Community College, Nashville State does not award priority or preferential status based on where a student completed General Education coursework. All transferring institutions are treated equally.
- As applicable, an ESOL student must complete all coursework as recommended by the Michigan Test prior to acceptance into the NSCC OTA program. Students who waive ESOL recommended coursework are ineligible for the NSCC OTA Program.
- Per guidelines of the TN Department of Health Related Boards and the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), applicants need to review the "Questions of Moral Character" and the information provided regarding NBCOT exam eligibility and Tennessee Licensure eligibility. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. This information can be found on the OTA Program Application and at www.nbcot.com and tn.gov/heatlh/article/OT-about.
- CPR certification, criminal background checks, and drug screens are NOT required for program application. If selected to participate in the program, you will be provided with additional information for CPR certification, background checks, drug screens, and the timeline for completion.
ESOL and Learning Support Course Requirements
The Program requires that students be proficient in the use of as well as have ready access to a personal computer and dependable internet and/or identify alternative computer resources, such as the computer labs at NSCC. Students should be prepared to access and submit documents through Desire2Learn (D2L), use PowerPoint, and be proficient with email. The Program utilizes an online testing format.
- Information about accessing NSOnline
- If an applicant is not familiar with online testing, course delivery, email, online assignment submissions, etc. The OTA Program recommends completing the NSCC Online Orientation.
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.
Graduates of our program must successfully complete the NBCOT Examination before they are eligible for licensure in the State of Tennessee. All OTA licensure applicants must have a criminal background check completed before licensure will be granted. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. If students have questions or concerns regarding criminal history and employment eligibility, please contact NBCOT at 301-990-7979 (www.nbcot.org) and the Tennessee Board of Occupational Therapy at 615-532-3202 or 800-778-4123.
Functional Requirements for Program Participation
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.
- Independently move from room to room and maneuver in small spaces.
- Participate in transfers of patients (children to adults) from a variety of heights and surfaces.
- Guard and assist patients with functional mobility.
- Be able to physically manage self so as not to be a danger to others.
- Trunk control adequate for independent balance and function.
- No muscle spasms that consistently affect movement or stability.
- Manipulation skills adequate to make notations, participate in clinic maintenance, adjust equipment, assist in patient/client movement, etc.
- Perform CPR.
- Travel to and from academic and clinical sites.
- Physically participate in active, 8-10 hour school/work days, consistently.
- Use verbal, non-verbal, and written communication to effectively explain and/or demonstrate tasks and techniques to others.
- Communicate effectively in English with patients, families, and other healthcare providers, both verbally and in written form.
- Effectively adapt communication for the intended audience.
- Speak with enough volume to be reasonably heard by the intended audience.
- Perceive, understand, and appropriately act on non-verbal communication, such as changes in mood, activity, facial expressions, and postures.
- Assume the role of an effective member of a healthcare team.
- Function effectively under supervision, including collaboration as well as effectively receiving and providing feedback.
- Interact and establish rapport with individuals and groups from a variety of social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.
Problem Solving/Critical Thinking
- Function effectively under stress
- Respond appropriately to emergencies.
- Use sound judgment to adhere to infection control and safety procedures.
- Demonstrate problem-solving skills that reflect consideration of multiple forms of information: written, verbal, observation, etc. Must be able to reason, measure, calculate, prioritize, and synthesize information.
- Address problems or questions to the appropriate person at the appropriate time.
- Consistently follow policies and procedures required by clinical and academic settings, governmental regulations, and requirements of reimbursement sources.
- Demonstrate the capacity to consistently, effectively, and efficiently plan, organize, and perform job duties within limited time frames according to the current industry standards.
- Read and understand information from textbooks, online resources, and other materials.
- Synthesize information effectively to be able to demonstrate knowledge and skills through written work, tests, and demonstrated performance. Students should be able to synthesize information from a variety of formats. These formats include but are not limited to text, lecture, video/computer, and demonstration.
- Data collection from a variety of sources and interpretation of materials that include, but are not limited to text, notes, online resources, observation, and clinical records.
- Pay attention, without prompting, to teachers, guest speakers, and other classmates during verbal presentations.
- Effectively use a computer and computer programs. These include, but are not limited to email, PowerPoint, search engines, up/downloading of documents, youtube, and other online resource sites.
- Visually observe with enough acuity (in a variety of lighting conditions) to participate in lab activities, lectures, and clinical experiences.
- Read small print information—such as that can be found on medical equipment.
- Hear sufficiently to perceive the normal tone of voice to follow directions, participate in conversations, answer phones and intercoms.
- Assess and treat all assigned clients, including palpation of the client.
- Monitor vital signs.
- Auditory, visual, and tactile abilities are sufficient to assess patient status and perform treatments.
- Perform responsibilities while in close proximity or in physical contact with others.
- Emotional health and stability sufficient to complete complex patient care responsibilities within an allotted time.
- Flexibility to function and remain calm under stressful conditions, including emergency situations, taxing academic, and clinical workloads.
- Consistently demonstrate compassion, empathy, tact, honesty, responsibility, integrity, and strong work ethic.
- Follow safety precautions.
- Perform tasks and interventions within competency level and seek assistance and training when additional knowledge or competency skills are required.
- Actively seek and participate in continuing professional education opportunities in order to maintain and improve knowledge and competence.
- Utilize evidence and OT theories, models, and frames of reference to provide the most effective interventions for clients and patients.
- Independently track and complete multiple tasks, meeting deadlines and priorities as set by self and others.
- Effectively interact with diverse populations and personalities.
- Document and report activities accurately according to the requirements of the setting as well as external regulations, policies or procedures, and professional ethics.
Admission and Selection Process Changes Effective for Incoming Class of Fall 2024.
- All pre-requisite courses must be completed by the beginning of the first fall semester of the program.
- If a student is accepted into the program, but is unable to complete the required pre-requisite courses before entering the fall 2024 semester, they will lose their seat in the program and will need to reapply for admission next year. The student is not guaranteed program admission upon reapplication.
Selection Process and Interview Information
OTA Program Application Process and Interview Selection for Incoming Class of Fall 2023
- All applicants that meet the admission requirements will receive an interview.
- Applicants will receive points on courses that have been completed or are in progress.
- Applications will be scored based on the following rubric:
Nashville State OTA Program Application Scoring Rubric to Receive Interview
|Category||Criteria||Max Points||Earned Points|
|Grade Point Average||Grade Point Average (GPA) based on all classes taken at NSCC and transferred undergraduate courses including learning support classes.|
(ex. GPA of 3.8 x 10 = 38 points)
|Pre-requisite course completion at the time of application submission. Courses must have a grade of "C" or better.||• Completed: 5 points|
• In progress: 3 points
• Not taken: 0 points
|Total 65 points|
- Applicants will be notified via the email address provided on the application regarding interview selection. Applicants that receive an interview will be assigned an interview time slot.
- If you have a change in your email address, please send the updated information, including your first and last name to email@example.com.
Nashville State OTA Program Information Regarding Interviews
- Only students who are interviewed will be considered for admission.
- Applicants are evaluated on professional appearance, creativity and problem solving, maturity, role as a group member, relating to others, communication skills, and responses to interviewer questions.
- In addition to the interview, all applicants are required to prepare a writing sample on-site. Students will be given 15 minutes to complete the writing sample.
- Scoring for Interview:
- Interview: 45 points
- Writing Sample: 5 points
- Total: 50 points
- Scores will be ranked from highest to lowest and applicants with the top 30 scores will be selected from program admission.
- The total composition admission for program selection consists of scores from the:
- Writing Sample
- General Education Course Completion
Note: The Program Faculty reserve the right to require an additional, personal interview with an applicant if the interview process does not provide the interviewers with sufficient information to rate the student.
Occupational Therapy A.A.S. Degree
Program of Study
Nashville State Community College's Occupational Therapy Assistant program is a Full-Time intensive commitment with multiple courses every semester including didactic, clinical, and simulation. The academic and fieldwork training prepare you for a career in occupational therapy.
The curriculum is set forth by the Nashville State Department of Healthcare Professions and maintains compliance with the TN Board of Regents, Nashville State Community College, and the Accreditation Council for Occupational 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 (NBCOT). Proof of successful completion of this exam is required for a license to practice as an Occupational Therapy Assistant in the state of Tennessee.
Information regarding obtaining a license in the state of Tennessee or information regarding the TN Board of Occupational Therapy can be found on the TN.gov website.
For information regarding qualifications and licensure requirements in all states, refer to the AOTA State Licensure website.
Cost of Program
In an attempt to keep expenses at a reasonable cost to the student, the faculty at NSCC research the OTA budget annually. Per this goal, estimated expenses vary at an approximate 2-year expenditure of $10,000 for all tuition and fees and additional expenses.
Additional Expenses include but are not limited to:
- Textbooks and Lab Materials (approximately $500 a semester)
- Fieldwork Attire
- Criminal Background & Drug Screen
- Liability Insurance
- CPR Certification Course
- Physical Exam
- Travel to Clinical Sites
Updated information regarding current tuition and fees may be found here. For financial aid information, please contact our financial aid office.
OTA Frequently Asked Questions
Separate OTA program application required.
Learn about the separate OTA program application and selection process below and by clicking Requirements to the right.
When will OTA program applications be available?
Applications will be available and accepted from January 1- April 1. Applications must be postmarked by April 1st. The application procedures are clearly outlined in the application packet, including selection criteria, notifications, etc. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
How many students are selected for the program?
30 seats are available for incoming students.
How many people apply?
Over the past several years the OTA program has received over 200 applications for each application period.
Are volunteer hours required?
No, volunteer hours are not required.
What courses do I need to take in order to be able to apply?
Course information is outlined in detail on our program advising sheet.
What about Learning Support coursework or English as a Second Language?
Download PDF of ESOL and Learning Support Requirements for OTA Program Application
Must I complete all General Education coursework before I apply to the OTA Program?
No. However, if you require Learning Support coursework (new NSCC students are notified via the Admissions office), those courses must be completed prior to application.
Points are awarded during the application review process for any required General Education course that is completed or in progress (proof via transcript required at time of application).
How long is the Program?
The NSCC OTA Program is two years in length (fall and spring semesters only), regardless of the prior completion of general education coursework. Students will spend three semesters in campus-based OTA coursework and one semester in internships.
I’ve already completed a degree (at any level). Will it still take two years?
Are evening classes available? Where can I take the classes?
All OTA classes are day classes on the Nashville State Main Campus, there are no evening or weekend options available. While some of our courses are offered online, students can expect to spend 2–4 days a week on campus the first three semesters (schedule varies by semester) and must complete two eight-week internships (full time, days only) the last semester in the program.
How much does it cost to go through the OTA Program?
Updated information regarding current tuition and fees may be found here. For financial aid information, please contact our financial aid office. Students can expect to spend approximately $500 per semester for books and supporting materials.
What skills do I need to be successful in the OTA Program and as an OTA?
The skills necessary to practice as an Occupational Therapy Assistant will be learned through the OTA Curriculum. However, there are certain skills and abilities that are required of all students who enroll in the OTA Program. View OTA Functional Requirements.
Call 615-353-3383 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Graduates of the program are 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.
Occupational Therapy Assistant Employment
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.
- Employment and Salary Statistics
- Bureau of Labor Statistics for Occupational Therapy Assistants - Visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics for more information on employment for Occupational Therapy Assistants, the nature of the work, job outlook, wages, related occupations and more.
- Business Insider Occupational Therapist - Best Jobs in Healthcare
- U.S. News Best Healthcare Jobs - Occupational Therapist
- Future Job Outlook for Occupational Therapists
- American Occupational Therapy Association - Workforce Trends in Occupational Therapy
OTA Program Student Handbook/Policies and Procedures
Policies and Procedures
Chapter I – Introduction
Chapter II – OTA Program and Student Objectives
Chapter III – OTA Curriculum
Chapter IV – OTA Program and NSCC Policies
- Classroom Dress and Behavior Policy
- Professional Behavior Requirements
- Use of Cell Phones
- OTA Course Policies
- OTA Program Probation
- OTA Program Retention
- OTA Program Retention - Approved 3-year Students
- Transferring from another OTA Program
- Withdrawal from OTA Program
- OTA Program Readmission Policy
- OTA Program Advising
- Health and Liability Insurance
- OTA Program Dues and Fees
- Grievance and Appeal Procedure
- Prior Work Experience
Chapter V – General Information
- OTA Student Organization
- OTA Advisory Council
- Student Disability Services
- NSCC Library and Learning Center
Chapter VI – Resources
- AOTA Assembly of Student Delegates
- Preparing for Graduation
- NSCC Career Services
- Lifelong Learning
- OTA Program Evaluation
- SQ3R Study Method
- Test Taking Hints
Chapter VII – Appendix
OTA Fieldwork Information and Manual
OTA Fieldwork Manual
Chapter I – Introduction
- Mission Statement
- General Program Objectives
- Philosophy and Purpose of the Program
- Curriculum Design
- Fieldwork within the Curriculum
- Level I and Level II Fieldwork Placement Policy
- Communication During Fieldwork Experience
- Special Consideration Request
- Fieldwork Cancellations
- Fieldwork Sites and Supervisors
- Academic Fieldwork Coordinator Roles and Responsibilities
- Student Responsibilities During Fieldwork
- Dress Code
Chapter II – Level I Fieldwork
- Level I Fieldwork Objectives
- General NSCC OTA Program Level I Fieldwork Purpose
- Level I Fieldwork
- Level I Fieldwork Grading Policies
- Level I Fieldwork Site Evaluation
- Student Evaluation of Fieldwork Site
Chapter III – Level II Fieldwork
- Level II Fieldwork
- Level II Fieldwork Supervision
- Level II Fieldwork Grading Policies
- Level II Fieldwork Site Evaluation
- Professional Behaviors Expectations
- Level II Fieldwork Termination
- Tips for a Successful Fieldwork Experience
Chapter IV – Additional Resources
Chapter V – Appendix
- Curriculum Course Sequence
- Course Descriptions
- Level I Objectives
- Level I Fieldwork Site Evaluation
- Level I Fieldwork Site Evaluation 2
- Student Evaluation of Level I Fieldwork
- Level II Fieldwork Objectives
- Student Evaluation of Level II Fieldwork
- What Happens If...
OTA Fieldwork Resources
Information for First Year OTA Students
Second Year Students
Information for Second Year OTA Students
Faculty Contact Information
Room W-70, Weld Building, White Bridge Campus
Cynthia Waller, PhD, RN, MSN
Dean of Healthcare Professions / Interim Director of Nursing
Piper Sesnan, OTD, OTR
Assistant Professor/Program Director
Cindy Morgan, OTR
Assistant Professor, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator
Donna Whitehouse, MHA, OTR
Secretary III, Healthcare Professions
Clinical Placement & Enrollment Coordinator, Healthcare Professions