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OTA granted 'developing program status'

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The Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program at Arkansas Tech University-Ozark Campus has been granted developing program status by the Accreditation Council for Occupation Therapy Education of the American Occupation Therapy Association.

Arkansas Tech-Ozark’s OTA program, which is housed in Morton Hall in Russellville and set to launch in the spring 2012 semester, will offer an Associate of Applied Science designed to prepare successful graduates entry level employment in the field of occupational therapy.

OTA Director Adrienne Shelton said the program adds another important facet to Arkansas Tech-Ozark’s Allied Health Department, and it will attract students wishing to be in a “highly respected and highly marketable profession.”

“There is a critical shortage of occupational therapy professionals in the state of Arkansas, and especially the western half of the state,” Shelton said.

Bruce Sikes, chief academic officer for Arkansas Tech-Ozark, said, “This program is a great example of the way the Ozark Campus responds to the needs of the health care community.”

The OTA program is still applying for full accreditation, but with developing program status it can begin accepting its first round of students. Shelton said she expects to have 60-100 applicants, and will be able to accept 20 students into the program.

Shelton also said she expects the program to complete the accreditation process over the next 18 months. When full accreditation is given, OTA graduates are then eligible to take the National Certification Examination to become a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA).

COTAs, under the supervision of an occupational therapist, provide rehabilitative services to individuals with mental, physical, emotional or developmental disabilities. The COTA’s purpose is to improve a client’s quality of life and enhance his ability to perform daily activities.

COTAs provide clients with adaptive skills that enable them to reenter the workforce, instruct clients in compensating for a loss of motor skill function and plan activities that increase in the independence of the physically and/or developmentally disabled.

Prior to admission, students must complete 28 hours of prerequisites, which includes general education and medical courses.

“The therapy community is very enthusiastic about this program, and is supporting the new OTA program by hosting students in fieldwork sites, volunteering to mentor faculty and students and offering to guest lecture in the program,” Shelton said.

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Photo: Adrienne Shelton, director of the Arkansas Tech-Ozark Occupational Therapy Assistant program, which is housed in Morton Hall in Russellville and is set to launch in the spring 2012 semester.

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