Frequently asked questions

This form covers questions in addition to what is listed below including admissions information, ways to strengthen your application, ways to acquire volunteer experience, reapplication from year to year, technology requirements, etc.

General questions

What opportunities exist for continued education and/or career advancement?

While not required for practice as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, articulation agreements provide students who have graduated from the Missouri Health Professions Consortium (MHPC) OTA Program the opportunity to complete a Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) degree at MU. Any student who has earned an Associate in Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant from the MHPC OTA Program is guaranteed that MU will accept designated freshman and sophomore elective credits and all general education credits and will apply such to the BHS degree. Graduates of the MHPC OTA Program are NOT guaranteed admission to the University of Missouri’s Master of Occupational Therapy Program, but rather will be evaluated equally to other prospective students as long as they meet the prerequisite requirements for entry into the program. For information regarding prerequisites for application to the MU Master of OT Program please visit: | Return to top

What is occupational therapy?

Occupational therapy focuses on enabling people to engage in meaningful daily life activities. The very word "occupation" - means an activity which "occupies" our time.

  • A child in grade school has the occupation of learning which may be impeded by a developmental delay.
  • An adult may need to learn how to modify the activity of e-mailing after experiencing a traumatic injury which has left her with limited use of her hands.
  • A senior may need occupation-based training in order to continue driving safely in the community after experiencing visual or cognitive impairment.

All of these things are occupations and participating in them is vital to maintaining overall health and wellness.
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What is the difference between an occupational therapist and an occupational therapy assistant?

The delivery of occupational therapy (OT) services should be a shared and collaborative process between occupational therapists (OTs) and occupational therapy assistants (OTAs). In order to do this, OT practitioners must be familiar with state practice acts, regulations and organizational policies. In general, the occupational therapist is responsible and accountable for overseeing service delivery. OTAs work under the supervision and in partnership with OTs. As per the Missouri State Practice Act and Medicare guidelines, OTAs must work under general supervision after the OT conducts the evaluation and establishes the plan of care. After the OT gives initial direction to the OTA, treatments can be carried out by the qualified assistant until time of revision. | Return to top

What is the difference between an occupational therapy assistant and an occupational therapy aide?

An occupational therapy assistant:

  • Is recognized as a healthcare professional, who can provide direct client services in cooperation with an occupational therapist.
  • Is a graduate of an accredited occupational therapy assistant educational program
  • Can bill for occupational therapy services
  • Is eligible to sit for the national certification examination.

Occupational therapy aides:

  • Provide supportive services including transporting patients, assisting with client transfers, and maintenance of clinical space.
  • Are greatly limited in their ability to provide direct client services by the Missouri Occupational Therapy State Practice Act.
  • Usually receive their training on the job.
  • Occupational therapy aide programs are not accredited by ACOTE and certification of aides is not required. | Return to top
As an occupational therapy assistant, what tasks would I be performing during a typical workday?

Occupational therapy assistants may work in a variety of settings and with different client populations. Depending on your employer or the setting in which you work, your tasks may include:

  • Aiding in the growth and development of premature babies.
  • Improving learning environments for school children with physical or mental challenges.
  • Adapting home environments for people dealing with the effects of disabling conditions.
    • Such as immobility, reduced vision, or impaired cognition.
  • Modifying job tasks and settings to prevent future work injuries
  • Implementing treatment strategies to improve mobility, functional independence and safety. | Return to top
The program requires that you have observation or volunteer experience. Who do I contact to set this up?

It is suggested that you contact community facilities that employ occupational therapists and/or occupational therapy assistants. Local agencies may include long term care facilities, hospitals rehabilitation centers, or school systems. You can find contact information on the internet, white pages or in the Yellow Pages under Occupational Therapy or Rehabilitation. Most programs require observation and therefore these requests are made frequently. You will find most facilities accommodating as long as you allow for plenty of time to complete this requirement. Be prepared to discuss your reason for the request, your availability and do not demand a response on a short time frame. | Return to top

Last updated: March 23, 2015
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