General Program Information:

The Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program at South College is a two-year program leading to an Associate of Science degree.  It offers didactic and lab instruction, experiential learning, and fieldwork placements that allows the student to observe and practice with certified healthcare clinicians.  The curriculum is based on a developmental approach that progresses from basic to complex learning and ends with an application of information in the clinical setting.  The OTA program is ultimately designed to provide the opportunity for individuals to enter the workforce as competent entry-level occupational therapy assistants.

Program Emphasis:

The major curriculum threads of the OTA program are interconnected throughout the different levels of coursework and are presented with increasing complexity. The threads reflect the essential skills and qualities necessary to be successful as an occupational therapy assistant. The threads for the OTA program at the Knoxville campus include the following:

  • Professionalism– the act of demonstrating appropriate behaviors of conduct representing the occupational therapy profession effectively while promoting the growth and development of the profession.
  • Clinical Reasoning– knowing how to learn, reason, think creatively, generate, and evaluate ideas by making decisions and solving problems through reasonable, reflective thinking.
  • Interpersonal Skills– the ability to interact effectively with patients, families, colleagues, other health care professionals, and the community in a culturally aware manner.
  • Lifelong Learning– the ability to self-direct learning to include the identification of needs and sources of learning; and to continually seek and apply new knowledge, behaviors, and skills related to the profession.
Program Goals:

The following goals are reflective and supportive of the mission of the OTA program and the College:

  1. Provide a comprehensive and challenging curriculum that prepares students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary to function as an entry-level occupational therapy assistant in current and emerging practice;
  2. Graduate OTAs who reflect a commitment to the profession’s core values and ethics, lifelong learning, and evidence based practice;
  3. Create a learning atmosphere that is safe and fosters personal and professional growth;
  4. Provide opportunities for students to develop clinical reasoning through experiential learning and exposure to a variety of professional experiences through partnerships within the occupational therapy community; and
  5. Foster development of the students’ interpersonal and collaborative skills to meet the complex challenges in providing quality client-centered care.
Student Learning Outcomes:

The South College OTA program seeks to develop Occupational Therapy Assistants (OTAs) who possess the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for competent entry-level practice. Upon completion of the program, the graduate should be able to:

  1. Effectively communicate orally and in writing to meet demands and requirements of the profession.
  2. Utilize effective interpersonal skills with clients, families, and interdisciplinary team members.
  3. Review and incorporate evidence based material to deliver best practice.
  4. Exhibit conduct that reflects practice standards that are legal and ethical and integrate Principles of Occupational Therapy Ethics, as defined by the AOTA.
  5. Consistently demonstrate principles and techniques to ensure safety of the patient, oneself, and others.
  6. Employ the occupational therapy process for service delivery and differentiate the roles of occupational therapy practitioners.
  7. Respect client diversity, values, and individual preferences during service delivery.
  8. Analyze activity demands, performance skills, performance patterns, and client factors, within the context of occupational performance.
  9. Demonstrate competence in administration of selected assessments relevant to the role of an occupational therapy assistant.
  10. Select, prioritize, and sequence occupations, purposeful activity, and treatment techniques relevant to the goals and interests of individuals served in occupational therapy settings
  11. Demonstrate competence in instruction, adapting, and grading of activities and techniques, and modifying environments to meet the needs of clients in their sociocultural context.
  12. Demonstrate clinical reasoning by prioritizing holistic needs of clients and engaging in creative problem solving.
  13. Utilize and teach compensatory strategies when desired life tasks cannot be performed.
  14. Assume roles of leadership and management of occupational therapy services relevant to the role of an entry-level occupational therapy assistant.
  15. Understand federal and state regulations and their effect on delivery of occupational therapy and other health services.
  16. Demonstrate an awareness of professional and social responsibility, and advocacy including participation in national and state professional organizations, and community service organizations.
  17. Explore and utilize community resources to promote occupational function of clients in least restrictive environments.
Occupation Therapy Certification and Licensure

After satisfying all programmatic and institutional requirements, students will be awarded an Occupational Therapy Assistant – Associate of Science Degree.  Graduates with a U.S. Accredited degree in occupational therapy 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:  After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).  In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT certification examination.  Note:  A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT Certification examination or attain state licensure.