Occupational therapy is a health
profession, which utilizes every-day life activities to help people of all ages
prevent, lessen, or overcome disabilities that interfere with their ability to
lead independent and satisfying lives. The occupational therapy assistant,
under the supervision of a registered occupational therapist, works in a
variety of settings, including hospitals, schools, rehabilitation facilities,
mental health settings, and in community-based intervention.
- Full-time (program courses offered one day/week,
supported by online assignments during the week, core educational courses
offered weekdays, evenings, or online).
- Part-time, if core requirements have been met
elsewhere. A maximum of 30 credits of general education coursework may be
transferred from another institution. If all general education coursework is transferred in, it is possible for the student to be part-time (less than 12 credits) during semesters 1 and 3. No prior OTA courses will be
accepted from another institution. OTA does not accept advance placement
or credit for experiential learning.
- Fall and spring start for program courses. For Fall
start, all program courses meet on Fridays, for Spring start, all program
courses meet on Saturdays. Pre-program core requirements/developmental
coursework may begin anytime, fall, spring, or summer semesters.
- Clinical component - Semesters I-III, observations
at clinical sites, four days a semester. Last semester consists of two
eight-week, full-time clinical placements.
Prerequisites for Admission:
- Minimum combined SAT score of 900
- Minimum GPA of 2.5
- Completion of high school level biology course with “C”
- Completed Harcum College Application
- Official high school transcript or GED transcript. This requirement is waived for applicants who have completed a bachelor's degree, unless specifically requested.
- Completion of high school level biology course with "C" or better. A college level course may be substituted for a high school level biology course.
- Minimum combined SAT score of 900 (critical reading and math scores only).
- Minimum GPA of 2.5.
- TOEFL scores are required for students for whom English is a second language. An overall TOEFL score of at least 87 is required for the online test with minimums for the individual sections as follows: Writing - 21, Speaking - 23, Reading - 21, and Listening - 22.
- Official college transcripts, if applicable
- Written essay (“Why I want to enroll in Harcum’s OTA
- Letter of recommendation from an employer, teacher, guidance counselor, etc.
- Recommended: A minimum of ten volunteer hours in an
occupational therapy setting
The priority deadline for the OTA Fall Friday-track program is March 15. The priority deadline for the OTA Spring Saturday-track program is October 15.
Additional Criteria for Accepted Students:
Once students have been accepted
into the program, the following additional criteria must be met before
enrolling in professional coursework:
- All OTA students must take placement exams in English,
Math, and Reading. Any required developmental coursework must be completed
before enrolling in OTA 121.
- All OTA students must provide proof of the following
medical and legal clearances (or of application in progress). Process for submission of these documents will be mailed to students with their admissions packet. All forms are managed electronically via Certified Background (see tuition page for additional fees):
- Child Abuse Clearance
- Criminal Record Check
- FBI Background Check
- Current (not older than one year) physical exam
- Documentation of Measles, Mumps, Rubella, and
- Two-step PPD test (if positive, chest x-ray necessary)
- Hepatitis B series (at least begun with first of three
- Tdap Booster (within the past 10 years)
- Nine panel urine drug screen
- All OTA students are required to have Accident and
Health Insurance throughout their period of enrollment at Harcum.
- Distance learning technology requirements: During the course of study in the OTA program, there are four Professional Seminar classes that are taught in a distance learning format (online) while all other OTA courses are "web enhanced". Likewise, many core/general education courses are offered online. Each student admitted to the program will be required to have regular access to a computer or other device with access to the internet with audio output. Additional information for online learning at Harcum can be found at harcum.edu/onlineed.
Students participate in two levels of fieldwork experiences throughout their enrollment in the OTA program:
Fieldwork Level I
is designed to provide students with
opportunities to collect data by observing, shadowing and interviewing
professionals in the field. The curriculum requires three Fieldwork
Level I experiences; each one is taught as part of an "anchor course" in
each of the first three semesters and reflects that semester's focus:
FW IA General Concepts, FW IB Child/Adolescent Practice, and FW IC
Adult/Geriatric Practice. FW Level I is carried out on four one-day
placements throughout the semester.
Fieldwork Level II
is a hands-on experience, in which fieldwork
students gradually assume the roles and responsibilities of an
entry-level occupational therapy assistant. Fieldwork Level II
experiences consist of two eight-week, full-time (40 hour) placements
and follow the facilities' business hours.
All placements are designed by the Fieldwork Coordinator. Selection
of placements is guided by the goal of giving students the broadest
exposure to the field as possible, including traditional and emerging
Traditional settings include acute care hospitals, rehabilitation
centers, assisted living facilities, schools, mental health facilities,
and other educational/medical facilities. Emerging practice settings are
represented by community-based programs, specialty programs, such as
driver training or hippotherapy. A clinical instructor from the
placement site's staff supervises all fieldwork experiences. Students
are responsible for their own transportation to and from the clinical
Essential Functions are defined as the skills you need to bring into
the program in order to be successful as an OTA student. An inability to
perform any of the functions listed below - even with accommodations -
may indicate that you do not have the prerequisite skills to be
successful in this profession and that occupational therapy assisting
should not be your field of choice. Call the program director if you
Physical Factors: Motor Skills
Standing (with good balance)
- Lifting 100 lbs.
- Carrying 50 lbs.
- Pushing/Pulling 100 lbs.
- Floor sitting
- Grasping (firm/strong)
- Grasping (light)
- Finger dexterity
- Reaching forward
- Reaching overhead
- Coordination of hand, wrist and fingers
- Eye-hand coordination
Physical Factors: Sensory Perceptual
Vision acuity: near/far
- Vision depth perception
- Color vision
- Full field vision
- Spatial perception (ability to "visualize" objects)
- Form perception (ability to perceive and recognize shapes)
- Hear normal conversation
- Hear telephone conversation
- Be comfortable with tactile contact
- Discriminate objects by touch
Physical Factors: Environmental
Ability to do indoor work and outdoor work
- Tolerate exposure to dust, fumes, odors, and toxic or caustic chemicals
- Being around moving machinery, electricity
- Exposure to slippery or uneven surfaces
- Exposure to vibration
- Wearing of protective clothing (mask, silicone gloves)
Reasoning - deal with abstract and concrete
variables, define problems, collect data, establish facts, and draw
- Interpret instructions furnished in oral, written, or schedule form
- Problem solving - deal with unexpected situations
- Carry out written or oral one to two-step instructions
- Ability to remember instructions and carry out tasks over time
- Ability to generalize instructions from one situation to another
- Mathematics - add, subtract, multiply, and divide whole numbers and fractions, calculate time, make simple measurements
- Reading - comprehend manuals, instructions for maintenance of
equipment, safety rules and procedures, medical and educational charts
- Clerical reading - perceive pertinent detail, proofread words and numbers, observe differences in copy
- Writing - prepare reports using prescribed format, make entries into medical and educational charts
- Writing - conform to all rules of punctuation, spelling, grammar, and style
- Work pace - ability to maintain a work pace appropriate to a given workload, including regular attendance at the site
- Computer Skills - send and receive email, perform a basic web
search, participate in online course work. All OTA students must have
regular access to a computer with Internet connection.
Social-Emotional and Communication Factors
Social Skills - ability to engage in a face-to-face verbal conversation, making eye-contact and using appropriate body language
- Dependability - effective time management, follow-through on commitments and responsibilities
- Professional Presentation - presenting oneself in a manner
(dress, body language, verbal style) that is accepted by peers, clients,
- Initiative - self-starting projects, tasks, and communication, searching out answers
- Empathy - being sensitive, responding to the feelings and behaviors of others
- Cooperation - working effectively with other individuals
- Organization - prioritizing needs, tasks, responsibilities, maintaining effective work space
- Supervision - ability to give and receive constructive feedback and to modify behavior accordingly
- English Language Proficiency - ability to understand spoken and
written English, express self clearly in English, and be easily
understood when using the English language.
The occupational therapy assistant program is fully
accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational
Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200 Bethesda, MD 20814-3449, phone: 301-652-2682, www.acoteonline.org.