Program-Specific Info / Q's What they DON'T tell you in OT school but you need to know

BowlofSunshine

7+ Year Member
Jun 2, 2010
58
116
Status
Let me preface this post by saying that I absolutely LOVE OT as a profession and could not have chosen a better field. Let me also preface by noting that my journey may not be the same but it might be similar and you might find yourself relating before, during or even after.

Also note that every profession has its ups and downs, naturally, but since this IS the OT forum, I thought I'd at least provide a perspective from someone who has gone on the journey for those who are aspiring to be part of the profession.

A lot of people want to hear most of the good, but never the bad and/or realistic side of the journey.

So here goes. This thread, while informative, is pretty long, so I will break it up for those with ADD/ADHD, LOL ;)

DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!

I cannot stress this enough. For those of you reading this and are looking for guidance on HOW and WHERE to get started, go to the AOTA website right now and check out the schools with OT programs. The website is pretty good on updating current, in development, and applicant programs.

Note: I am in the process of creating a spreadsheet of ALL the schools and pertinent information needed to make a decision as to which school to apply, as not all schools are not the same. I will post when the spreadsheet is completed. This information will be helpful as one of the biggest frustrations I had when applying was that there were so many variances with each school/program. (E.G. Pre-reqs, GPA reqs, GRE/GMAT reqs, costs, curriculum, research vs. clinical based, etc) These variances can be very costly if you are not careful. So don't go into decision making lightly. Remember, this is an investment in your life that you are making.

After undergrad, I shadowed an OT at a rehabilitation facility for a couple of weeks. After that experience, I knew that it was what I wanted to do. So, I started doing some research on OT schools listed on the the AOTA website and compiled a list of possible schools I wanted to attend. The list included if GRE/GMAT required, location, cost, curriculum, admission requirements, diversity, etc.

From there, the list help me narrow down my choices. While I was doing this, I was also working full time because I needed to, but I knew that I was not going to be my job forever.

I also came here to the Student Doctor Forums, which has forums for pretty much most of the healthcare fields and the people are helpful in answering your questions. That site helped me because there were other people out there just like me who had the same questions about OT school. However, I noticed that there were many threads that asked the same questions.

Once I got my target schools compiled, I worked on my essay. Make sure you get someone to proofread ALL information before submission.

One costly mistake I did make was taking prerequisites required for just one school, with no guarantee of getting in that school. I had most of my pre-reqs from undergrad, but some of the schools required additional pre-reqs.

Why is the process so costly? I applied to 6-7 different school, all of which had different admissions criteria. I got accepted into all except for one, which waitlisted me and surprisingly my undergrad school. Funny, lol I didn't let that deter me though.

I sent my acceptance letter to one of the schools, because I heard they had a great OT program, but then I was told at the last minute I had to take one class prior to starting. That pre-req class was added at the last minute. I was mad because there was no way for me to take the class AND start the program, so ultimately, I had to withdraw my acceptance. :( I was told I would have to reapply for the following year so I declined.

I also applied and got into a school in Dobbs Ferry, NY, but I HATED how their program is structured. While it is a GREAT program for a 9-5er, their pre-reqs are ridiculous and unnecessary. You can to their site and download their curriculum to see what I am talking about. I declined their acceptance. It is a great program though for someone who wants to work full time because it is a weekend (all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday) program and I believe they go by the quarter semester, like they switch classes every 12 weeks or so. Plus, it is in the Big Apple, so it was close to everything if you like the excitement of NYC and its surrounding buroughs.

One of the other schools to which I applied was ridiculous in price, I thought and is located in a seedy part of town. Some of my classmates in my program transferred from that program into my program mainly because they did not like the curriculum.

I ultimately went to and graduated from my program, which is at a SMALL college so you really get to know your professors and classmates. It is so small, we had to do out gross anatomy class at another school, which I totally missed applying to that school and wished I had, because they had a more clinical based program. My school did not required the GRE or GMAT, tuition is reasonable for a grad program and it is a two year program. Those were my deciding factors. My only issue with this school though is that it is more a research based program, which I don't believe helps you in the field unless you want to do research. I know most programs require you to do a Capstone project or a thesis, but the professor heading up the research class was way too excited over the research paper and the assignments associated with it that were completely unnecessary and unhelpful. I HATED that class. I really wish I had gotten more clinical/hands on experience at the school and that lack of experience showed in my Level II fieldwork, although I still passed.

The classes are as hard as expected though and you have to put in the work. Overall, and not to discourage you from applying because I'm talking about just my school, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have waited out to go to another school. I would definitely recommend going elsewhere over my school.

That said, remember my experience may be totally different from yours.

That dreadful OTCAS

Some of the changes that have been made since I started applying to OT school, which I think might adversely affect OT potentials are the implementation of the OTCAS, which is the central processing for most OT schools. Some schools are not participating, but I imagine they will jump onboard soon enough.

Differences in admission criteria

Another issue I have is the different requirements from each program and not a set of standard requirements. Like, during my research on schools, I went to the website of a school in GA and learned that they require an art class as a prerequisite. (side eye) The chair of the OT program recommended a pottery class for fine and gross motor work. I gave her the EXTREME side eye on the phone. Other schools require physics, chemistry, biology, gross anatomy prior to starting, etc. Some schools just require basic social sciences like psych, sociology, English, etc.


Continued on next post....
 
Last edited:
OP
BowlofSunshine

BowlofSunshine

7+ Year Member
Jun 2, 2010
58
116
Status
Don't fret over admissions stats

Ok, your undergrad GPA is 3.94, you were president of the Student PE Club, Treasurer of the Botany Club, volunteered at the convalescent center 3x/week, already shadowed for 100 hours at a Rehab facility and you attend church every Sunday. While that is great and kudos for your charitable efforts, some schools don't have a rhyme or reason when it comes to accepting students. A couple of my classmates had <3.0 GPA and were somehow accepted into the program o_O while others with a GPA very close to a 4.0 were outright rejected or waitlisted. This is not to scare you or discourage you, but just know that your GPA is not the Holy Grail that will guarantee you admissions. You need to be strong in other areas and convince the school that you can be an asset to the field. A 3.94 GPA is not always the best indicator of that.

Your undergrad program is not always going to guarantee admissions either. While having a background in something like Kinesiology, Ex. Science, Health, etc., may be helpful in some of your OT classes, OT programs will accept you with a non health background. Some of my classmates were Psych, Business, Fine Arts, Dance, Marketing, etc. but they each contribute in their own way.

Also, look at the curriculum. What do the classes entail? Are you doing more research than clinical classes? If so, be weary. This is a clinical field, in which research, although required, is secondary to practice. Some people graduate, practice for a year or two and then go on to get their doctorate to do research and never practice again, like my professor (giving her the side eye, lol). While others like me say, "I never want to work in SPSS again in life" :bang:

The Financial Plan - OT school is not cheap

After you do your research, decide which schools you want to apply to. If you are a student fresh out of undergrad, kudos to you!!!! If you have no bills, outside of say a cell phone bill, car payment/insurance/ one credit card, keep it that way until after you have finished school and have secured a job in the field. If you are a career switcher, older student, basically have been out of undergrad for a number of years, but have "grown folks bills", get your finances and home life in order. Pay off as much of your bills as you can and save as much money as you can, whether you are single or married. If you don't make a financial plan, your finances will be strained and/or take a hit. You can't completely live off of loan refunds, if you choose to do so.

You will LIVE and BREATHE OT school

No one tells you that working a job AND going to school is smart because it is not, unless you attend part time. Even then, assignments, group work, fieldwork, etc. will consume your life. For me, there was no expectation that the program was going to be easy, however, your life will be consumed by the program. You will live and breath OT school for the next 2-3 years. OT school IS stressful and you will become frustrated, stressed, demotivated, etc. quite often. Use those negative feelings as a motivator to do your best and get the heck out of there. The assignments may seem impossible and you will be like "But what does this have to do with OT?" but there is some relevance in even the most trivial assignment. However, don't expect to live as a freshman in undergrad and do well. You MUST be focused and determined in OT school if you want to do well. There is no other way around it. OT school is TOUGH yet doable. I mean, after all, you did make it through four long years in undergrad right?

Continued on next post....
 
Last edited:
OP
BowlofSunshine

BowlofSunshine

7+ Year Member
Jun 2, 2010
58
116
Status
Fieldwork- Levels I & II

Let me preface this by stating that your experience might be different and that's ok.

You are required to complete two levels of fieldwork (FW). Level I FW (LIFW) is pretty much shadowing in each area of learning (Pediatrics, Mental Health, Geriatrics, Physical Dysfunction). This fieldwork is pretty much coordinated by the school and thus you might not have much of a choice about WHERE you will go, unless they provide that option. Some of your LIFW might be longer than others (the whole semester, one week, one month, etc) It depends. Make it worthwhile, take notes, ask questions, show interest. You will be graded on it.

Level II FW (LIIFW) is on a whole different level and to survive it, copious amounts of alcohol consumption might be required. <~~~ Ok, I don't recommend alcohol abuse, but it helped me get through it. It was either a glass of wine each night to relieve my anxiety each night or quite and, well, quitting wasn't an option. LIIFW is pretty much taking the training wheels off the bike, except imagine you're riding naked and you're in front of a crowd of millions. :wacky::scared: LIIFW has been, hands down, THE most stressful time in my life and I have been through some traumatic things in my life. I deal with stress pretty well, but I ended up having a couple of panic attacks during that 24 weeks. My doctor said I could either take valium or red wine to help with my anxiety. I, of course chose the wine. It wasn't conventional, but it worked.

Now, you might be lucky and get an amazing Clinical Instructor (CI). Please thank the FW gawds for bestowing upon you a great CI. However, if you have the misfortune of getting a CI from hell, be sure to document what is going wrong, areas of improvement, and be sure to stay in contact with the FW coordinator at your school and contact them at the first sign of a problem. Your FW coordinator is your advocate and while some students have failed because of their own doing (Being late, not doing what is required, not meeting CI expectations as a student OT, etc) sometimes it actually IS the CI themselves that can make your life during LIIFW a living hell. However, considering how much money you are paying to get hands on learning as an OT, you better make sure you CYA and if you are having problems with your CI, don't lay down quietly. It could possibly mean you fail and have to repeat and pay more money for another dreadful 12 weeks in FW. We don't want that, do we?

LIIFW is the opportunity for you to showcase what you have learned, to learn more, and get invaluable hands on experience. Use that time to your advantage.

Remember when I mentioned about working? Well, good luck working a job AND completing LIIFW. Not saying it's impossible, it will just further add to your stress levels and that is why I recommended getting your finances in order before even applying to OT school.

Continued on next post.....
 
Last edited:
OP
BowlofSunshine

BowlofSunshine

7+ Year Member
Jun 2, 2010
58
116
Status
The NBCOT

Ok, this post might be a bit slanted because I think the >>>NBCOT<<< is a bunch of crock. You've been warned.

In the 1990s, AOTA split from the certifying body for OTs and the NBCOT was formed. Their reasoning was to protect the public from incompetent OTs in practice and thus required all OTs/COTAs to be certified (registered) hence where the "R" and "C" designation came from for OTR and COTA, respectively. The NBCOT has trademarked the OTR and COTA designation and if you are working in the field as either without having the proper certification but using their designation (basically paying the org "dues" every year/every other year to keep the certification and designation), you can and will be penalized.

While I don't disagree with ensuring competency in the field and having a "regulatory" org oversee this, I do not agree with how the agency has capitalized on it.

The NBCOT is the org that also administers the exam in which ALL OTs and OTAs MUST take and pass in order to practice. The exam is $500 :bullcrap:to take, whether you pass the first time or don't. Additionally, you have to pay $40 for them to send you a score report to your respective state(s) where you want to practice. You must also pay additional money for a temp license while studying for the actual exam and it is more money if you mail in the paperwork to sit for the exam instead of online.

Moreover, their study guides and practice tests SUCK MONKEY A$$!!!! :annoyed: How are you going to be the certifying body for the profession and offering the worst of ALL the study guides available? To add insult to injury, you have to pay for different practice tests AND they don't provide the rationales/feedback on the practice tests. It's like $45-$60 per test. :wtf:

And you know WHY they do it? Because OT, as a profession, has done nothing to call them out on the nickel and diming of OTs. It doesn't cost $500 to come up with an exam, which are comprised of questions submitted by OTs. :lame:

To add, there are other study guides out there, such as TherapyEd, 45 Days and counting, Castle, etc. They are all pretty good study guides and offer a solid foundation and give a good glimpse into what the actual NBCOT exam is like.

I highly recommend taking the TherapyEd prep course. (I'm not a spokesperson for them, just someone who found the course helpful) It really helped that the person who wrote the book (Rita) taught the course I attended. However, you might not but that is ok as the class is taught throughout the country.

Give yourself time to study. At the bare minimum, 6 weeks. You might need a little less time or you might need more time. Just don't rush. Also, do as many practice exams as you can so you can get in the mode of "WHY?" and fine tune your clinical reasoning, which you don't really get in the academic portion of OT school, unfortunately.

Also, check out the forum over at Indeed on >>>passing the NBCOT exam<<<. This forum was a god send while I was studying and they are many helpful OTs willing to help you on your journey.

The exam is tough, but doable. It is comprised of 200 questions, of which 30 are "tested" and "ungraded" questions, which basically mean NBCOT is testing the reliability and validity of those questions to determine the likelihood of it being on a newly designed exam.

And remember, you just paid $500, so that in itself should also be a motivator to pass. (Just keeping it real).

With that said, you've passed. Now what?
Congratulations!!!! :clap: You got through with what you thought were the absolute brutal moments in your life. Enjoy your career in a respected profession and not having to worry about job security. You WILL have jobs calling you like bill collectors and that it is a GREAT thing!!! Now, you can live life, stress free, if you so choose, and remember you are basically your own boss. That is a great thing, right?

Just remember...
Take your time to do your research, be patient, don't be discouraged, don't give up, be willing to relocate if possible, to reach your goal.

Although in hindsight I wished I had gone to another school, I made lifetime friends in my classmates, got to see a new part of the US that I had never been to and was able to prove to myself that I can start and complete something when I am focused.

Best wishes to you in your journey to becoming part of a wonderful profession!!!!! :)
 
Last edited:
Jan 2, 2012
71
8
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
I ultimately went to and graduated from my program, which is at a SMALL college so you really get to know your professors and classmates. It is so small, we had to do out gross anatomy class at another school, which I totally missed applying to that school and wished I had, because they had a more clinical based program. My school did not required the GRE or GMAT, tuition is reasonable for a grad program and it is a two year program. Those were my deciding factors. My only issue with this school though is that it is more a research based program, which I don't believe helps you in the field unless you want to do research. I know most programs require you to do a Capstone project or a thesis, but the professor heading up the research class was way too excited over the research paper and the assignments associated with it that were completely unnecessary and unhelpful. I HATED that class. I really wish I had gotten more clinical/hands on experience at the school and that lack of experience showed in my Level II fieldwork, although I still passed.


Bowl of Sunshine….thanks for all the tips!
Just curious…which school did you attend and which school had the nice anatomy class? If you do not want to mention, would you mind messaging me?
 
Jan 2, 2012
71
8
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
Somehow my response looks like it was part of your quote, BowlofSunshine.

I meant to say:

Bowl of Sunshine….thanks for all the tips!
Just curious…which school did you attend and which school had the nice anatomy class? If you do not want to mention, would you mind messaging me?
 
  • Like
Reactions: BowlofSunshine
Jan 16, 2013
53
10
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
Fieldwork- Levels I & II

Let me preface this by stating that your experience might be different and that's ok.

You are required to complete two levels of fieldwork (FW). Level I FW (LIFW) is pretty much shadowing in each area of learning (Pediatrics, Mental Health, Geriatrics, Physical Dysfunction). This fieldwork is pretty much coordinated by the school and thus you might not have much of a choice about WHERE you will go, unless they provide that option. Some of your LIFW might be longer than others (the whole semester, one week, one month, etc) It depends. Make it worthwhile, take notes, ask questions, show interest. You will be graded on it.

Level II FW (LIIFW) is on a whole different level and to survive it, copious amounts of alcohol consumption might be required. <~~~ Ok, I don't recommend alcohol abuse, but it helped me get through it. It was either a glass of wine each night to relieve my anxiety each night or quite and, well, quitting wasn't an option. LIIFW is pretty much taking the training wheels off the bike, except imagine you're riding naked and you're in front of a crowd of millions. :wacky::scared: LIIFW has been, hands down, THE most stressful time in my life and I have been through some traumatic things in my life. I deal with stress pretty well, but I ended up having a couple of panic attacks during that 24 weeks. My doctor said I could either take valium or red wine to help with my anxiety. I, of course chose the wine. It wasn't conventional, but it worked.

Now, you might be lucky and get an amazing Clinical Instructor (CI). Please thank the FW gawds for bestowing upon you a great CI. However, if you have the misfortune of getting a CI from hell, be sure to document what is going wrong, areas of improvement, and be sure to stay in contact with the FW coordinator at your school and contact them at the first sign of a problem. Your FW coordinator is your advocate and while some students have failed because of their own doing (Being late, not doing what is required, not meeting CI expectations as a student OT, etc) sometimes it actually IS the CI themselves that can make your life during LIIFW a living hell. However, considering how much money you are paying to get hands on learning as an OT, you better make sure you CYA and if you are having problems with your CI, don't lay down quietly. It could possibly mean you fail and have to repeat and pay more money for another dreadful 12 weeks in FW. We don't want that, do we?

LIIFW is the opportunity for you to showcase what you have learned, to learn more, and get invaluable hands on experience. Use that time to your advantage.

Remember when I mentioned about working? Well, good luck working a job AND completing LIIFW. Not saying it's impossible, it will just further add to your stress levels and that is why I recommended getting your finances in order before even applying to OT school.

Continued on next post.....
 
Jan 16, 2013
53
10
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
What issues did you have with your CI? What in particular made LLIIFW so bad?
 

Sharps

10+ Year Member
Sep 1, 2007
115
3
Status
Attending Physician
My wife was an OT and now is a harried mom holding down the fort at home. She was frustrated that PT could do modalities at the VA but OT couldn't. PT tends to be able to do more than OT so they look down their noses at you. Kind of funny as my wife had scores to get into a top med school but chose to go into OT because she liked it.
 
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Reactions: lucys1024
Jan 27, 2014
4
1
Status
DPT / OTD
The NBCOT

Ok, this post might be a bit slanted because I think the >>>NBCOT<<< is a bunch of crock. You've been warned.

In the 1990s, AOTA split from the certifying body for OTs and the NBCOT was formed. Their reasoning was to protect the public from incompetent OTs in practice and thus required all OTs/COTAs to be certified (registered) hence where the "R" and "C" designation came from for OTR and COTA, respectively. The NBCOT has trademarked the OTR and COTA designation and if you are working in the field as either without having the proper certification but using their designation (basically paying the org "dues" every year/every other year to keep the certification and designation), you can and will be penalized.

While I don't disagree with ensuring competency in the field and having a "regulatory" org oversee this, I do not agree with how the agency has capitalized on it.

The NBCOT is the org that also administers the exam in which ALL OTs and OTAs MUST take and pass in order to practice. The exam is $500 :bullcrap:to take, whether you pass the first time or don't. Additionally, you have to pay $40 for them to send you a score report to your respective state(s) where you want to practice. You must also pay additional money for a temp license while studying for the actual exam and it is more money if you mail in the paperwork to sit for the exam instead of online.

Moreover, their study guides and practice tests SUCK MONKEY A$$!!!! :annoyed: How are you going to be the certifying body for the profession and offering the worst of ALL the study guides available? To add insult to injury, you have to pay for different practice tests AND they don't provide the rationales/feedback on the practice tests. It's like $45-$60 per test. :wtf:

And you know WHY they do it? Because OT, as a profession, has done nothing to call them out on the nickel and diming of OTs. It doesn't cost $500 to come up with an exam, which are comprised of questions submitted by OTs. :lame:

To add, there are other study guides out there, such as TherapyEd, 45 Days and counting, Castle, etc. They are all pretty good study guides and offer a solid foundation and give a good glimpse into what the actual NBCOT exam is like.

I highly recommend taking the TherapyEd prep course. (I'm not a spokesperson for them, just someone who found the course helpful) It really helped that the person who wrote the book (Rita) taught the course I attended. However, you might not but that is ok as the class is taught throughout the country.

Give yourself time to study. At the bare minimum, 6 weeks. You might need a little less time or you might need more time. Just don't rush. Also, do as many practice exams as you can so you can get in the mode of "WHY?" and fine tune your clinical reasoning, which you don't really get in the academic portion of OT school, unfortunately.

Also, check out the forum over at Indeed on >>>passing the NBCOT exam<<<. This forum was a god send while I was studying and they are many helpful OTs willing to help you on your journey.

The exam is tough, but doable. It is comprised of 200 questions, of which 30 are "tested" and "ungraded" questions, which basically mean NBCOT is testing the reliability and validity of those questions to determine the likelihood of it being on a newly designed exam.

And remember, you just paid $500, so that in itself should also be a motivator to pass. (Just keeping it real).

With that said, you've passed. Now what?
Congratulations!!!! :clap: You got through with what you thought were the absolute brutal moments in your life. Enjoy your career in a respected profession and not having to worry about job security. You WILL have jobs calling you like bill collectors and that it is a GREAT thing!!! Now, you can live life, stress free, if you so choose, and remember you are basically your own boss. That is a great thing, right?

Just remember...
Take your time to do your research, be patient, don't be discouraged, don't give up, be willing to relocate if possible, to reach your goal.

Although in hindsight I wished I had gone to another school, I made lifetime friends in my classmates, got to see a new part of the US that I had never been to and was able to prove to myself that I can start and complete something when I am focused.

Best wishes to you in your journey to becoming part of a wonderful profession!!!!! :)
The NBCOT

Ok, this post might be a bit slanted because I think the >>>NBCOT<<< is a bunch of crock. You've been warned.

In the 1990s, AOTA split from the certifying body for OTs and the NBCOT was formed. Their reasoning was to protect the public from incompetent OTs in practice and thus required all OTs/COTAs to be certified (registered) hence where the "R" and "C" designation came from for OTR and COTA, respectively. The NBCOT has trademarked the OTR and COTA designation and if you are working in the field as either without having the proper certification but using their designation (basically paying the org "dues" every year/every other year to keep the certification and designation), you can and will be penalized.

While I don't disagree with ensuring competency in the field and having a "regulatory" org oversee this, I do not agree with how the agency has capitalized on it.

The NBCOT is the org that also administers the exam in which ALL OTs and OTAs MUST take and pass in order to practice. The exam is $500 :bullcrap:to take, whether you pass the first time or don't. Additionally, you have to pay $40 for them to send you a score report to your respective state(s) where you want to practice. You must also pay additional money for a temp license while studying for the actual exam and it is more money if you mail in the paperwork to sit for the exam instead of online.

Moreover, their study guides and practice tests SUCK MONKEY A$$!!!! :annoyed: How are you going to be the certifying body for the profession and offering the worst of ALL the study guides available? To add insult to injury, you have to pay for different practice tests AND they don't provide the rationales/feedback on the practice tests. It's like $45-$60 per test. :wtf:

And you know WHY they do it? Because OT, as a profession, has done nothing to call them out on the nickel and diming of OTs. It doesn't cost $500 to come up with an exam, which are comprised of questions submitted by OTs. :lame:

To add, there are other study guides out there, such as TherapyEd, 45 Days and counting, Castle, etc. They are all pretty good study guides and offer a solid foundation and give a good glimpse into what the actual NBCOT exam is like.

I highly recommend taking the TherapyEd prep course. (I'm not a spokesperson for them, just someone who found the course helpful) It really helped that the person who wrote the book (Rita) taught the course I attended. However, you might not but that is ok as the class is taught throughout the country.

Give yourself time to study. At the bare minimum, 6 weeks. You might need a little less time or you might need more time. Just don't rush. Also, do as many practice exams as you can so you can get in the mode of "WHY?" and fine tune your clinical reasoning, which you don't really get in the academic portion of OT school, unfortunately.

Also, check out the forum over at Indeed on >>>passing the NBCOT exam<<<. This forum was a god send while I was studying and they are many helpful OTs willing to help you on your journey.

The exam is tough, but doable. It is comprised of 200 questions, of which 30 are "tested" and "ungraded" questions, which basically mean NBCOT is testing the reliability and validity of those questions to determine the likelihood of it being on a newly designed exam.

And remember, you just paid $500, so that in itself should also be a motivator to pass. (Just keeping it real).

With that said, you've passed. Now what?
Congratulations!!!! :clap: You got through with what you thought were the absolute brutal moments in your life. Enjoy your career in a respected profession and not having to worry about job security. You WILL have jobs calling you like bill collectors and that it is a GREAT thing!!! Now, you can live life, stress free, if you so choose, and remember you are basically your own boss. That is a great thing, right?

Just remember...
Take your time to do your research, be patient, don't be discouraged, don't give up, be willing to relocate if possible, to reach your goal.

Although in hindsight I wished I had gone to another school, I made lifetime friends in my classmates, got to see a new part of the US that I had never been to and was able to prove to myself that I can start and complete something when I am focused.

Best wishes to you in your journey to becoming part of a wonderful profession!!!!! :)
 
Jan 27, 2014
4
1
Status
DPT / OTD
I'm currently majoring in CD. I work with Children, but I've been doing my research on OT's and have become in love with the field. My problem is this... Do I complete my BA in child Development or do I put my BA on hold to start COTA school? I've read it's les expensive in tuition and I'd be able to get a job that pay okay. I know the journey to becoming an OT vs.OTA is longer, but I have a family now and feel the need to secure a career sooner then later. I was a Assistant Director, but I wanted to further my career and help children in different areas. This field fit for me. Could you give any advice on my situation?
 
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Reactions: mgeagle
Aug 11, 2013
140
54
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
I'm currently majoring in CD. I work with Children, but I've been doing my research on OT's and have become in love with the field. My problem is this... Do I complete my BA in child Development or do I put my BA on hold to start COTA school? I've read it's les expensive in tuition and I'd be able to get a job that pay okay. I know the journey to becoming an OT vs.OTA is longer, but I have a family now and feel the need to secure a career sooner then later. I was a Assistant Director, but I wanted to further my career and help children in different areas. This field fit for me. Could you give any advice on my situation?
Ok this will be very long but please read:"Some may disagree but seriously look into the COTA route if it does not work out. This was my back up plan because I wanted to be in the realm of the occupational therapy world while being into a position to advance when ready and still be getting paid. This a rare treat in the professional world that people underestimate. Hypothetically speaking, say you were applying to a graduate/professional psychology program to be psychologist because that field is the field you are drawn, if you don't get accepted that's it....... No such thing as 2 year schooling to become a certified psychology assistant so back to the drawing board of reapplying with no guarantee that you will get current exposure to the field of your choice while getting paid for it unless you score an aide/assistant job at a clinic by your current merit or a nice TA position for psychology classes. If planned right you can get into a COTA program within the spring/summer semesters so as you would be going through the OT applying process you can build up your back up plan so that you roll right into COTA school the following fall if it came to that. You can finish a COTA program in 18 months, pass your board exam, and start enjoying the OT field. I volunteered with several COTAs who LOVED their job, they do pretty much everything an OT does except they can't do Evaluations and their notes and what not have to be checked out and cleared by an OT. COTAs can get around 50k starting off (and good ones can get decent raises over time) which is pretty good considering that your schooling is much less than that (I saw programs that were just 15k total for tuition and fees), and that you just had to be in school for 18 months which beats the curve of most people who have a bachelors who are making nowhere near that unfortunately. One COTA told me that if she were to get accepted into an OT school that her company would pay for her schooling and she mentioned that this is starting to become a more common practice for companies who have good COTAs that are wanting to advance themselves professionally. I met a GREAT OT who had went the route of OTA to OT and bragged about how the OTA experienced gave a her a good handle on the tricks of the trade in terms of OT and it helped her be a more confident and efficient as an OT when she finally became one and not to mention it made her OT schooling easier because she understood quite a bit of the OT field from her OTA experience." "..........if you are in a smaller state such as one in the midwest or what not then yes OTA jobs are very limited and can be difficult to find, in bigger states (and by bigger I mean population), such as Texas, Florida, California there are some OTA jobs to go around if you thoroughly look. If you don't mind working in SNFs then it becomes a little easier to find a job because there are several that NEED them. The SNF I was at had the OTAs swamped in work and they appreciated my aid. One of the OTAs told me and showed me that she still from time to time gets letters from companies all over the place looking for OTAs. The main issue is hours..... The ones I volunteered with were in a good spot and got to be full-time but from what I was told its becoming more and more common to see OTAs given only part-time hours so you may want to consider PRN for a couple spots so you can make a decent living. If you go OTA and eventually aspire to be OT I believe it can be safe option if you put a lot into it, the ones I volunteered with had been at it for years so they were getting paid on the higher end of an OTAs earning potential. You may have to consider relocating however to find work which is also becoming common for OTAs, at the end of day certain companies (such as SNFs) sometimes can't afford to have a bunch of OTs and still have a boatload for them to do so having an OTA can be beneficial for everyone and save money..........."
 
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Jan 27, 2014
4
1
Status
DPT / OTD
Ok this will be very long but please read:"Some may disagree but seriously look into the COTA route if it does not work out. This was my back up plan because I wanted to be in the realm of the occupational therapy world while being into a position to advance when ready and still be getting paid. This a rare treat in the professional world that people underestimate. Hypothetically speaking, say you were applying to a graduate/professional psychology program to be psychologist because that field is the field you are drawn, if you don't get accepted that's it....... No such thing as 2 year schooling to become a certified psychology assistant so back to the drawing board of reapplying with no guarantee that you will get current exposure to the field of your choice while getting paid for it unless you score an aide/assistant job at a clinic by your current merit or a nice TA position for psychology classes. If planned right you can get into a COTA program within the spring/summer semesters so as you would be going through the OT applying process you can build up your back up plan so that you roll right into COTA school the following fall if it came to that. You can finish a COTA program in 18 months, pass your board exam, and start enjoying the OT field. I volunteered with several COTAs who LOVED their job, they do pretty much everything an OT does except they can't do Evaluations and their notes and what not have to be checked out and cleared by an OT. COTAs can get around 50k starting off (and good ones can get decent raises over time) which is pretty good considering that your schooling is much less than that (I saw programs that were just 15k total for tuition and fees), and that you just had to be in school for 18 months which beats the curve of most people who have a bachelors who are making nowhere near that unfortunately. One COTA told me that if she were to get accepted into an OT school that her company would pay for her schooling and she mentioned that this is starting to become a more common practice for companies who have good COTAs that are wanting to advance themselves professionally. I met a GREAT OT who had went the route of OTA to OT and bragged about how the OTA experienced gave a her a good handle on the tricks of the trade in terms of OT and it helped her be a more confident and efficient as an OT when she finally became one and not to mention it made her OT schooling easier because she understood quite a bit of the OT field from her OTA experience." "..........if you are in a smaller state such as one in the midwest or what not then yes OTA jobs are very limited and can be difficult to find, in bigger states (and by bigger I mean population), such as Texas, Florida, California there are some OTA jobs to go around if you thoroughly look. If you don't mind working in SNFs then it becomes a little easier to find a job because there are several that NEED them. The SNF I was at had the OTAs swamped in work and they appreciated my aid. One of the OTAs told me and showed me that she still from time to time gets letters from companies all over the place looking for OTAs. The main issue is hours..... The ones I volunteered with were in a good spot and got to be full-time but from what I was told its becoming more and more common to see OTAs given only part-time hours so you may want to consider PRN for a couple spots so you can make a decent living. If you go OTA and eventually aspire to be OT I believe it can be safe option if you put a lot into it, the ones I volunteered with had been at it for years so they were getting paid on the higher end of an OTAs earning potential. You may have to consider relocating however to find work which is also becoming common for OTAs, at the end of day certain companies (such as SNFs) sometimes can't afford to have a bunch of OTs and still have a boatload for them to do so having an OTA can be beneficial for everyone and save money..........."

Thank you for your advice! I'm in CA. I'm going to start researching OT's. There is not a lot of COTA programs in LA,CA, but there starting a lot of programs.
 
Dec 23, 2013
98
13
Portland, Oregon
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
I'm currently majoring in CD. I work with Children, but I've been doing my research on OT's and have become in love with the field. My problem is this... Do I complete my BA in child Development or do I put my BA on hold to start COTA school? I've read it's les expensive in tuition and I'd be able to get a job that pay okay. I know the journey to becoming an OT vs.OTA is longer, but I have a family now and feel the need to secure a career sooner then later. I was a Assistant Director, but I wanted to further my career and help children in different areas. This field fit for me. Could you give any advice on my situation?
Ok, I did want to weigh in. I was an HD major focus children. IF... I could do it over then the second I knew I wanted to be an OT I would have been taking prereqs outside of my major before I got my BS. But I would have finished my BS. Instead, for some reason, I knew I wanted to be an OT but I got my BS then I am currently taking a yr to do science A&P. I also have a family and I went back and forth between COTA, OT. I know my personality and I know that COTA was not for me. I like to be a leader and be in control. I would like to assess the person and follow through in ALL the steps. Plus I will make more and it would have been a 2 year program/ MOT are also 2 years. I have observation hours with two COTA and one basically was a under paid nurse and would do daily bathing and then do hand exercises and then the other was pretty cool but I know it is rare... she was under the OTR in school setting and checked up in the classrooms. I just felt that there was more options in OT, and the pay off would be greater.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mrs.NDG
Jan 27, 2014
4
1
Status
DPT / OTD
Thank you! That makes a lot of sense. I'd like to complete an OTA program for the experience and higher pay. I could work in the field, earn experience and earn a little more then what I'd earn in the CD field. However taking prereq's outside of my major would be knocking out 10 pins with one bowling ball. lol!
 
Sep 16, 2012
28
1
Status
Rehab Sci Student
In undergrad one TA told us that in graduate school there is no mercy when turning in lab assignments etc. on time. Either you do it or don't, nobody is there to hold your hand. At that moment that's all I really needed to know.
 
Jun 11, 2011
31
7
Status
You will LIVE and BREATHE OT school

No one tells you that working a job AND going to school is smart because it is not, unless you attend part time. Even then, assignments, group work, fieldwork, etc. will consume your life. For me, there was no expectation that the program was going to be easy, however, your life will be consumed by the program. You will live and breath OT school for the next 2-3 years. OT school IS stressful and you will become frustrated, stressed, demotivated, etc. quite often. Use those negative feelings as a motivator to do your best and get the heck out of there. The assignments may seem impossible and you will be like "But what does this have to do with OT?" but there is some relevance in even the most trivial assignment. However, don't expect to live as a freshman in undergrad and do well. You MUST be focused and determined in OT school if you want to do well. There is no other way around it. OT school is TOUGH yet doable. I mean, after all, you did make it through four long years in undergrad right?

Continued on next post....
This cannot be stressed enough. OT school has a lot of readings and a lot of processing of material. You'll have to sometimes close you book and notes and let stuff just sink in. I have learned to do this and it helps. Don't just learn the material, meaning don't learn to answer "what" questions (what does this assessment do?), but rather ask yourself/study with "how" questions ("how does the cognitive behavioral FOR relate to behaviorism and their approaches to...."). This kind of studying takes you from regurgitating information to applying and integrating it into your working knowledge.
 
Sep 23, 2012
136
4
Irvine, CA
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
Ok this will be very long but please read:"Some may disagree but seriously look into the COTA route if it does not work out. This was my back up plan because I wanted to be in the realm of the occupational therapy world while being into a position to advance when ready and still be getting paid. This a rare treat in the professional world that people underestimate. Hypothetically speaking, say you were applying to a graduate/professional psychology program to be psychologist because that field is the field you are drawn, if you don't get accepted that's it....... No such thing as 2 year schooling to become a certified psychology assistant so back to the drawing board of reapplying with no guarantee that you will get current exposure to the field of your choice while getting paid for it unless you score an aide/assistant job at a clinic by your current merit or a nice TA position for psychology classes. If planned right you can get into a COTA program within the spring/summer semesters so as you would be going through the OT applying process you can build up your back up plan so that you roll right into COTA school the following fall if it came to that. You can finish a COTA program in 18 months, pass your board exam, and start enjoying the OT field. I volunteered with several COTAs who LOVED their job, they do pretty much everything an OT does except they can't do Evaluations and their notes and what not have to be checked out and cleared by an OT. COTAs can get around 50k starting off (and good ones can get decent raises over time) which is pretty good considering that your schooling is much less than that (I saw programs that were just 15k total for tuition and fees), and that you just had to be in school for 18 months which beats the curve of most people who have a bachelors who are making nowhere near that unfortunately. One COTA told me that if she were to get accepted into an OT school that her company would pay for her schooling and she mentioned that this is starting to become a more common practice for companies who have good COTAs that are wanting to advance themselves professionally. I met a GREAT OT who had went the route of OTA to OT and bragged about how the OTA experienced gave a her a good handle on the tricks of the trade in terms of OT and it helped her be a more confident and efficient as an OT when she finally became one and not to mention it made her OT schooling easier because she understood quite a bit of the OT field from her OTA experience." "..........if you are in a smaller state such as one in the midwest or what not then yes OTA jobs are very limited and can be difficult to find, in bigger states (and by bigger I mean population), such as Texas, Florida, California there are some OTA jobs to go around if you thoroughly look. If you don't mind working in SNFs then it becomes a little easier to find a job because there are several that NEED them. The SNF I was at had the OTAs swamped in work and they appreciated my aid. One of the OTAs told me and showed me that she still from time to time gets letters from companies all over the place looking for OTAs. The main issue is hours..... The ones I volunteered with were in a good spot and got to be full-time but from what I was told its becoming more and more common to see OTAs given only part-time hours so you may want to consider PRN for a couple spots so you can make a decent living. If you go OTA and eventually aspire to be OT I believe it can be safe option if you put a lot into it, the ones I volunteered with had been at it for years so they were getting paid on the higher end of an OTAs earning potential. You may have to consider relocating however to find work which is also becoming common for OTAs, at the end of day certain companies (such as SNFs) sometimes can't afford to have a bunch of OTs and still have a boatload for them to do so having an OTA can be beneficial for everyone and save money..........."




which one has 18 months OTA program? all the ones in CA is 2 years...
 
  • Like
Reactions: mgeagle
Aug 11, 2013
140
54
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
I am not familiar with the Cali programs but the ones I have seen a few that are 18 month and are not in Cali, such as Anamarc collge, in El Paso Texas and Bethesda Maryland, the vast majority of OTA programs are two years though I just threw in the 18 month option in my post because it is a chance it can be done although a very slim one lol.
 
Sep 23, 2012
136
4
Irvine, CA
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
I am not familiar with the Cali programs but the ones I have seen a few that are 18 month and are not in Cali, such as Anamarc collge, in El Paso Texas and Bethesda Maryland, the vast majority of OTA programs are two years though I just threw in the 18 month option in my post because it is a chance it can be done although a very slim one lol.

thanx for sharing the 18 month program. but i don't think i can relocate that far. lol. at least not at the moment.
 
Jun 6, 2014
2
0
Status
Non-Student
The NBCOT

Ok, this post might be a bit slanted because I think the >>>NBCOT<<< is a bunch of crock. You've been warned.

In the 1990s, AOTA split from the certifying body for OTs and the NBCOT was formed. Their reasoning was to protect the public from incompetent OTs in practice and thus required all OTs/COTAs to be certified (registered) hence where the "R" and "C" designation came from for OTR and COTA, respectively. The NBCOT has trademarked the OTR and COTA designation and if you are working in the field as either without having the proper certification but using their designation (basically paying the org "dues" every year/every other year to keep the certification and designation), you can and will be penalized.

While I don't disagree with ensuring competency in the field and having a "regulatory" org oversee this, I do not agree with how the agency has capitalized on it.

The NBCOT is the org that also administers the exam in which ALL OTs and OTAs MUST take and pass in order to practice. The exam is $500 :bullcrap:to take, whether you pass the first time or don't. Additionally, you have to pay $40 for them to send you a score report to your respective state(s) where you want to practice. You must also pay additional money for a temp license while studying for the actual exam and it is more money if you mail in the paperwork to sit for the exam instead of online.

Moreover, their study guides and practice tests SUCK MONKEY A$$!!!! :annoyed: How are you going to be the certifying body for the profession and offering the worst of ALL the study guides available? To add insult to injury, you have to pay for different practice tests AND they don't provide the rationales/feedback on the practice tests. It's like $45-$60 per test. :wtf:

And you know WHY they do it? Because OT, as a profession, has done nothing to call them out on the nickel and diming of OTs. It doesn't cost $500 to come up with an exam, which are comprised of questions submitted by OTs. :lame:

To add, there are other study guides out there, such as TherapyEd, 45 Days and counting, Castle, etc. They are all pretty good study guides and offer a solid foundation and give a good glimpse into what the actual NBCOT exam is like.

I highly recommend taking the TherapyEd prep course. (I'm not a spokesperson for them, just someone who found the course helpful) It really helped that the person who wrote the book (Rita) taught the course I attended. However, you might not but that is ok as the class is taught throughout the country.

Give yourself time to study. At the bare minimum, 6 weeks. You might need a little less time or you might need more time. Just don't rush. Also, do as many practice exams as you can so you can get in the mode of "WHY?" and fine tune your clinical reasoning, which you don't really get in the academic portion of OT school, unfortunately.

Also, check out the forum over at Indeed on >>>passing the NBCOT exam<<<. This forum was a god send while I was studying and they are many helpful OTs willing to help you on your journey.

The exam is tough, but doable. It is comprised of 200 questions, of which 30 are "tested" and "ungraded" questions, which basically mean NBCOT is testing the reliability and validity of those questions to determine the likelihood of it being on a newly designed exam.

And remember, you just paid $500, so that in itself should also be a motivator to pass. (Just keeping it real).

With that said, you've passed. Now what?
Congratulations!!!! :clap: You got through with what you thought were the absolute brutal moments in your life. Enjoy your career in a respected profession and not having to worry about job security. You WILL have jobs calling you like bill collectors and that it is a GREAT thing!!! Now, you can live life, stress free, if you so choose, and remember you are basically your own boss. That is a great thing, right?

Just remember...
Take your time to do your research, be patient, don't be discouraged, don't give up, be willing to relocate if possible, to reach your goal.

Although in hindsight I wished I had gone to another school, I made lifetime friends in my classmates, got to see a new part of the US that I had never been to and was able to prove to myself that I can start and complete something when I am focused.

Best wishes to you in your journey to becoming part of a wonderful profession!!!!! :)
The NBCOT

Ok, this post might be a bit slanted because I think the >>>NBCOT<<< is a bunch of crock. You've been warned.

In the 1990s, AOTA split from the certifying body for OTs and the NBCOT was formed. Their reasoning was to protect the public from incompetent OTs in practice and thus required all OTs/COTAs to be certified (registered) hence where the "R" and "C" designation came from for OTR and COTA, respectively. The NBCOT has trademarked the OTR and COTA designation and if you are working in the field as either without having the proper certification but using their designation (basically paying the org "dues" every year/every other year to keep the certification and designation), you can and will be penalized.

While I don't disagree with ensuring competency in the field and having a "regulatory" org oversee this, I do not agree with how the agency has capitalized on it.

The NBCOT is the org that also administers the exam in which ALL OTs and OTAs MUST take and pass in order to practice. The exam is $500 :bullcrap:to take, whether you pass the first time or don't. Additionally, you have to pay $40 for them to send you a score report to your respective state(s) where you want to practice. You must also pay additional money for a temp license while studying for the actual exam and it is more money if you mail in the paperwork to sit for the exam instead of online.

Moreover, their study guides and practice tests SUCK MONKEY A$$!!!! :annoyed: How are you going to be the certifying body for the profession and offering the worst of ALL the study guides available? To add insult to injury, you have to pay for different practice tests AND they don't provide the rationales/feedback on the practice tests. It's like $45-$60 per test. :wtf:

And you know WHY they do it? Because OT, as a profession, has done nothing to call them out on the nickel and diming of OTs. It doesn't cost $500 to come up with an exam, which are comprised of questions submitted by OTs. :lame:

To add, there are other study guides out there, such as TherapyEd, 45 Days and counting, Castle, etc. They are all pretty good study guides and offer a solid foundation and give a good glimpse into what the actual NBCOT exam is like.

I highly recommend taking the TherapyEd prep course. (I'm not a spokesperson for them, just someone who found the course helpful) It really helped that the person who wrote the book (Rita) taught the course I attended. However, you might not but that is ok as the class is taught throughout the country.

Give yourself time to study. At the bare minimum, 6 weeks. You might need a little less time or you might need more time. Just don't rush. Also, do as many practice exams as you can so you can get in the mode of "WHY?" and fine tune your clinical reasoning, which you don't really get in the academic portion of OT school, unfortunately.

Also, check out the forum over at Indeed on >>>passing the NBCOT exam<<<. This forum was a god send while I was studying and they are many helpful OTs willing to help you on your journey.

The exam is tough, but doable. It is comprised of 200 questions, of which 30 are "tested" and "ungraded" questions, which basically mean NBCOT is testing the reliability and validity of those questions to determine the likelihood of it being on a newly designed exam.

And remember, you just paid $500, so that in itself should also be a motivator to pass. (Just keeping it real).

With that said, you've passed. Now what?
Congratulations!!!! :clap: You got through with what you thought were the absolute brutal moments in your life. Enjoy your career in a respected profession and not having to worry about job security. You WILL have jobs calling you like bill collectors and that it is a GREAT thing!!! Now, you can live life, stress free, if you so choose, and remember you are basically your own boss. That is a great thing, right?

Just remember...
Take your time to do your research, be patient, don't be discouraged, don't give up, be willing to relocate if possible, to reach your goal.

Although in hindsight I wished I had gone to another school, I made lifetime friends in my classmates, got to see a new part of the US that I had never been to and was able to prove to myself that I can start and complete something when I am focused.

Best wishes to you in your journey to becoming part of a wonderful profession!!!!! :)
 
Jun 6, 2014
2
0
Status
Non-Student
I successfully completed nursing school a very long time ago but worked in the profession only briefly. Early on in my studies, I realized I really didn't like nursing, but felt pressure to continue what I started & hoped I might change/grow to like it eventually. That never happened & instead I took a VERY long break from work (14 years) to be a stay at home mom. Now, I want to go back to school for a different career and OT sounds better suited for my personality.

You said the field work/clinical rotations were very stressful, but I'm thinking I might be ok since I survived 6 semesters of clinical rotations in a BSN program, even though they were an absolute horror for me and I didn't even like what I was doing. I'd like to know your thoughts on this too....

I was a lot younger then...now I'm in my early 40's. Yet, despite this I feel that my educational background, along with what I've gained through my life-experience (which includes raising my own children, working with children as a Sunday school teacher, volunteering as a teacher's assistant in the classrooms where my kids went to school) will be something for me to draw from even though it's not directly related to the field of OT. Back in my undergrad days, I really didn't know what I was particularly good at & what my passion was, but I've realized over the years I'm a very detail-oriented person, extremely thorough, get a thrill from making a difference in people's lives, and seem to thrive when I'm working closely with people one on one. Also, the more I research I'm starting to think this is what I was really meant to do instead of what I studied the first time around.

Thanks for sharing your experiences in detail and including so much useful information. It was very helpful!
 
OP
BowlofSunshine

BowlofSunshine

7+ Year Member
Jun 2, 2010
58
116
Status
I successfully completed nursing school a very long time ago but worked in the profession only briefly. Early on in my studies, I realized I really didn't like nursing, but felt pressure to continue what I started & hoped I might change/grow to like it eventually. That never happened & instead I took a VERY long break from work (14 years) to be a stay at home mom. Now, I want to go back to school for a different career and OT sounds better suited for my personality.

You said the field work/clinical rotations were very stressful, but I'm thinking I might be ok since I survived 6 semesters of clinical rotations in a BSN program, even though they were an absolute horror for me and I didn't even like what I was doing. I'd like to know your thoughts on this too....

I was a lot younger then...now I'm in my early 40's. Yet, despite this I feel that my educational background, along with what I've gained through my life-experience (which includes raising my own children, working with children as a Sunday school teacher, volunteering as a teacher's assistant in the classrooms where my kids went to school) will be something for me to draw from even though it's not directly related to the field of OT. Back in my undergrad days, I really didn't know what I was particularly good at & what my passion was, but I've realized over the years I'm a very detail-oriented person, extremely thorough, get a thrill from making a difference in people's lives, and seem to thrive when I'm working closely with people one on one. Also, the more I research I'm starting to think this is what I was really meant to do instead of what I studied the first time around.

Thanks for sharing your experiences in detail and including so much useful information. It was very helpful!
Hello!

Since you are a career switcher, you might not have any issues, if you have a good support system (family and friends). If you have attend a full time program, much of your time will be consumed by everything OT.

Fieldwork was very stressful for me. I got through it, but there were many nights I came home crying because I was stressed, dealing with a crappy CI and she often made me feel like I was not going to pass. That is a very stressful feeling, especially after having paid $XXXXX.00 + on your education.

If you have been through rotations as a nursing student, I imagine you at least will know how to handle the stress that comes with it. You also come with a nursing background, so in many areas you will be stronger in application and reasoning. Use that knowledge to your advantage and it will make your life as an OTS much easier.

Best to you in your program!!!
 

ProspectiveHealer

2+ Year Member
Oct 19, 2014
18
1
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Hi @BowlofSunshine, I was wondering if you had any progress on the OT school spreadsheet? I have collected information on specific schools that I am interested in and would love to share that information with you if it is helpful. Thanks!
 
Nov 29, 2014
1
0
Status
Pre-Rehab Sci [General]
Great post - thank you so much.
Appreciate the Spreadsheet if it is ready - even if it is partially ready.
 

Osillyphilly

2+ Year Member
Nov 20, 2014
124
48
California
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
Let me preface this post by saying that I absolutely LOVE OT as a profession and could not have chosen a better field. Let me also preface by noting that my journey may not be the same but it might be similar and you might find yourself relating before, during or even after.

Also note that every profession has its ups and downs, naturally, but since this IS the OT forum, I thought I'd at least provide a perspective from someone who has gone on the journey for those who are aspiring to be part of the profession.

A lot of people want to hear most of the good, but never the bad and/or realistic side of the journey.

So here goes. This thread, while informative, is pretty long, so I will break it up for those with ADD/ADHD, LOL ;)

DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!

I cannot stress this enough. For those of you reading this and are looking for guidance on HOW and WHERE to get started, go to the AOTA website right now and check out the schools with OT programs. The website is pretty good on updating current, in development, and applicant programs.

Note: I am in the process of creating a spreadsheet of ALL the schools and pertinent information needed to make a decision as to which school to apply, as not all schools are not the same. I will post when the spreadsheet is completed. This information will be helpful as one of the biggest frustrations I had when applying was that there were so many variances with each school/program. (E.G. Pre-reqs, GPA reqs, GRE/GMAT reqs, costs, curriculum, research vs. clinical based, etc) These variances can be very costly if you are not careful. So don't go into decision making lightly. Remember, this is an investment in your life that you are making.

After undergrad, I shadowed an OT at a rehabilitation facility for a couple of weeks. After that experience, I knew that it was what I wanted to do. So, I started doing some research on OT schools listed on the the AOTA website and compiled a list of possible schools I wanted to attend. The list included if GRE/GMAT required, location, cost, curriculum, admission requirements, diversity, etc.

From there, the list help me narrow down my choices. While I was doing this, I was also working full time because I needed to, but I knew that I was not going to be my job forever.

I also came here to the Student Doctor Forums, which has forums for pretty much most of the healthcare fields and the people are helpful in answering your questions. That site helped me because there were other people out there just like me who had the same questions about OT school. However, I noticed that there were many threads that asked the same questions.

Once I got my target schools compiled, I worked on my essay. Make sure you get someone to proofread ALL information before submission.

One costly mistake I did make was taking prerequisites required for just one school, with no guarantee of getting in that school. I had most of my pre-reqs from undergrad, but some of the schools required additional pre-reqs.

Why is the process so costly? I applied to 6-7 different school, all of which had different admissions criteria. I got accepted into all except for one, which waitlisted me and surprisingly my undergrad school. Funny, lol I didn't let that deter me though.

I sent my acceptance letter to one of the schools, because I heard they had a great OT program, but then I was told at the last minute I had to take one class prior to starting. That pre-req class was added at the last minute. I was mad because there was no way for me to take the class AND start the program, so ultimately, I had to withdraw my acceptance. :( I was told I would have to reapply for the following year so I declined.

I also applied and got into a school in Dobbs Ferry, NY, but I HATED how their program is structured. While it is a GREAT program for a 9-5er, their pre-reqs are ridiculous and unnecessary. You can to their site and download their curriculum to see what I am talking about. I declined their acceptance. It is a great program though for someone who wants to work full time because it is a weekend (all day Friday, Saturday, Sunday) program and I believe they go by the quarter semester, like they switch classes every 12 weeks or so. Plus, it is in the Big Apple, so it was close to everything if you like the excitement of NYC and its surrounding buroughs.

One of the other schools to which I applied was ridiculous in price, I thought and is located in a seedy part of town. Some of my classmates in my program transferred from that program into my program mainly because they did not like the curriculum.

I ultimately went to and graduated from my program, which is at a SMALL college so you really get to know your professors and classmates. It is so small, we had to do out gross anatomy class at another school, which I totally missed applying to that school and wished I had, because they had a more clinical based program. My school did not required the GRE or GMAT, tuition is reasonable for a grad program and it is a two year program. Those were my deciding factors. My only issue with this school though is that it is more a research based program, which I don't believe helps you in the field unless you want to do research. I know most programs require you to do a Capstone project or a thesis, but the professor heading up the research class was way too excited over the research paper and the assignments associated with it that were completely unnecessary and unhelpful. I HATED that class. I really wish I had gotten more clinical/hands on experience at the school and that lack of experience showed in my Level II fieldwork, although I still passed.

The classes are as hard as expected though and you have to put in the work. Overall, and not to discourage you from applying because I'm talking about just my school, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have waited out to go to another school. I would definitely recommend going elsewhere over my school.

That said, remember my experience may be totally different from yours.

That dreadful OTCAS

Some of the changes that have been made since I started applying to OT school, which I think might adversely affect OT potentials are the implementation of the OTCAS, which is the central processing for most OT schools. Some schools are not participating, but I imagine they will jump onboard soon enough.

Differences in admission criteria

Another issue I have is the different requirements from each program and not a set of standard requirements. Like, during my research on schools, I went to the website of a school in GA and learned that they require an art class as a prerequisite. (side eye) The chair of the OT program recommended a pottery class for fine and gross motor work. I gave her the EXTREME side eye on the phone. Other schools require physics, chemistry, biology, gross anatomy prior to starting, etc. Some schools just require basic social sciences like psych, sociology, English, etc.


Continued on next post....
 

Osillyphilly

2+ Year Member
Nov 20, 2014
124
48
California
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
BowlofSunshine,

I was wondering if you can tell me which school you attended. May you please PM me, from your description I have a feeling that might be one of the schools I applied for. Thanks.
 

MT2bNOT

MOT, OTR/L
Apr 23, 2014
18
7
Status
Occupational Therapist
Hey! I completely agree with you- every program is very different. I will say that I'm satisfied with my experience at SMU it is A CLINICAL PROGRAM for sure and the schedule is manageable. Visit my thread for any Q&A's you have and about SMU if you're considering it and I hope I can help.

The program will be an OTD in 2016.

I do agree with you though every program is so different...I know that most in CA are more research based...
 

MT2bNOT

MOT, OTR/L
Apr 23, 2014
18
7
Status
Occupational Therapist
If anyone is interested in info about CA schools I'm in my last semester at SMU and hopefully can answer some q's!
 
Jan 23, 2015
13
8
Status
Occupational Therapy Student
Is there anyone here currently a student at SUNY Downstate and willing to provide some info/advice as to the best way to prepare for the program?

Things like: concepts we should review before the start of school, tuition, school resources, etc

This also goes out to any OT student that may help. Just trying to stay ahead. Thanks.
 
Feb 4, 2015
36
35
Maryland
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
@maaz1 I found this document on Bay Path's website. It goes over what material from prereqs should be reviewed for their program, but I imagine all are similar. Hope this helps!
 

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Jan 23, 2015
13
8
Status
Occupational Therapy Student
I just want to say, I had no trouble balancing OT School, a full time job, and a very active social life. It was no more rigorous for me than undergrad. Some of my classmates disagree but don't be scared off. It takes focus but I would def not say it consumed my life
Did you attend OT school full time? An interesting input nonetheless, I never heard of someone doing both and having no trouble balancing all 3.
 
Oct 14, 2014
37
4
Status
Occupational Therapy Student
Don't expect to get much sleep or eat regular healthy meals. Take anything professors say about being "student-centered" or supportive with a grain of salt. Find out which people in the class are the sort that prepare well in advance, and hook up with them for online flashcards or study groups. Try to stay ahead from the beginning of the semester.
 
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Osillyphilly

2+ Year Member
Nov 20, 2014
124
48
California
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
The NBCOT

Ok, this post might be a bit slanted because I think the >>>NBCOT<<< is a bunch of crock. You've been warned.

In the 1990s, AOTA split from the certifying body for OTs and the NBCOT was formed. Their reasoning was to protect the public from incompetent OTs in practice and thus required all OTs/COTAs to be certified (registered) hence where the "R" and "C" designation came from for OTR and COTA, respectively. The NBCOT has trademarked the OTR and COTA designation and if you are working in the field as either without having the proper certification but using their designation (basically paying the org "dues" every year/every other year to keep the certification and designation), you can and will be penalized.

While I don't disagree with ensuring competency in the field and having a "regulatory" org oversee this, I do not agree with how the agency has capitalized on it.

The NBCOT is the org that also administers the exam in which ALL OTs and OTAs MUST take and pass in order to practice. The exam is $500 :bullcrap:to take, whether you pass the first time or don't. Additionally, you have to pay $40 for them to send you a score report to your respective state(s) where you want to practice. You must also pay additional money for a temp license while studying for the actual exam and it is more money if you mail in the paperwork to sit for the exam instead of online.

Moreover, their study guides and practice tests SUCK MONKEY A$$!!!! :annoyed: How are you going to be the certifying body for the profession and offering the worst of ALL the study guides available? To add insult to injury, you have to pay for different practice tests AND they don't provide the rationales/feedback on the practice tests. It's like $45-$60 per test. :wtf:

And you know WHY they do it? Because OT, as a profession, has done nothing to call them out on the nickel and diming of OTs. It doesn't cost $500 to come up with an exam, which are comprised of questions submitted by OTs. :lame:

To add, there are other study guides out there, such as TherapyEd, 45 Days and counting, Castle, etc. They are all pretty good study guides and offer a solid foundation and give a good glimpse into what the actual NBCOT exam is like.

I highly recommend taking the TherapyEd prep course. (I'm not a spokesperson for them, just someone who found the course helpful) It really helped that the person who wrote the book (Rita) taught the course I attended. However, you might not but that is ok as the class is taught throughout the country.

Give yourself time to study. At the bare minimum, 6 weeks. You might need a little less time or you might need more time. Just don't rush. Also, do as many practice exams as you can so you can get in the mode of "WHY?" and fine tune your clinical reasoning, which you don't really get in the academic portion of OT school, unfortunately.

Also, check out the forum over at Indeed on >>>passing the NBCOT exam<<<. This forum was a god send while I was studying and they are many helpful OTs willing to help you on your journey.

The exam is tough, but doable. It is comprised of 200 questions, of which 30 are "tested" and "ungraded" questions, which basically mean NBCOT is testing the reliability and validity of those questions to determine the likelihood of it being on a newly designed exam.

And remember, you just paid $500, so that in itself should also be a motivator to pass. (Just keeping it real).

With that said, you've passed. Now what?
Congratulations!!!! :clap: You got through with what you thought were the absolute brutal moments in your life. Enjoy your career in a respected profession and not having to worry about job security. You WILL have jobs calling you like bill collectors and that it is a GREAT thing!!! Now, you can live life, stress free, if you so choose, and remember you are basically your own boss. That is a great thing, right?

Just remember...
Take your time to do your research, be patient, don't be discouraged, don't give up, be willing to relocate if possible, to reach your goal.

Although in hindsight I wished I had gone to another school, I made lifetime friends in my classmates, got to see a new part of the US that I had never been to and was able to prove to myself that I can start and complete something when I am focused.

Best wishes to you in your journey to becoming part of a wonderful profession!!!!! :)
Hey BowlofSunshine, you mine PMing me about the school you attended. It sounds a lot like one of the school I applied to. Thanks.
 
Apr 21, 2015
1
0
Status
Psychology Student, Pre-Occupational Therapy
Hey. I would really love to see a Spreadsheet, too. Whenever it's available, please give us a shout!!
 

beestrng

7+ Year Member
Dec 10, 2010
660
161
Don't fret over admissions stats

Ok, your undergrad GPA is 3.94, you were president of the Student PE Club, Treasurer of the Botany Club, volunteered at the convalescent center 3x/week, already shadowed for 100 hours at a Rehab facility and you attend church every Sunday. While that is great and kudos for your charitable efforts, some schools don't have a rhyme or reason when it comes to accepting students. A couple of my classmates had <3.0 GPA and were somehow accepted into the program o_O while others with a GPA very close to a 4.0 were outright rejected or waitlisted. This is not to scare you or discourage you, but just know that your GPA is not the Holy Grail that will guarantee you admissions. You need to be strong in other areas and convince the school that you can be an asset to the field. A 3.94 GPA is not always the best indicator of that.

Your undergrad program is not always going to guarantee admissions either. While having a background in something like Kinesiology, Ex. Science, Health, etc., may be helpful in some of your OT classes, OT programs will accept you with a non health background. Some of my classmates were Psych, Business, Fine Arts, Dance, Marketing, etc. but they each contribute in their own way.

Also, look at the curriculum. What do the classes entail? Are you doing more research than clinical classes? If so, be weary. This is a clinical field, in which research, although required, is secondary to practice. Some people graduate, practice for a year or two and then go on to get their doctorate to do research and never practice again, like my professor (giving her the side eye, lol). While others like me say, "I never want to work in SPSS again in life" :bang:

The Financial Plan - OT school is not cheap

After you do your research, decide which schools you want to apply to. If you are a student fresh out of undergrad, kudos to you!!!! If you have no bills, outside of say a cell phone bill, car payment/insurance/ one credit card, keep it that way until after you have finished school and have secured a job in the field. If you are a career switcher, older student, basically have been out of undergrad for a number of years, but have "grown folks bills", get your finances and home life in order. Pay off as much of your bills as you can and save as much money as you can, whether you are single or married. If you don't make a financial plan, your finances will be strained and/or take a hit. You can't completely live off of loan refunds, if you choose to do so.

You will LIVE and BREATHE OT school

No one tells you that working a job AND going to school is smart because it is not, unless you attend part time. Even then, assignments, group work, fieldwork, etc. will consume your life. For me, there was no expectation that the program was going to be easy, however, your life will be consumed by the program. You will live and breath OT school for the next 2-3 years. OT school IS stressful and you will become frustrated, stressed, demotivated, etc. quite often. Use those negative feelings as a motivator to do your best and get the heck out of there. The assignments may seem impossible and you will be like "But what does this have to do with OT?" but there is some relevance in even the most trivial assignment. However, don't expect to live as a freshman in undergrad and do well. You MUST be focused and determined in OT school if you want to do well. There is no other way around it. OT school is TOUGH yet doable. I mean, after all, you did make it through four long years in undergrad right?

Continued on next post....
Just wanted to bump this thread for all the newly admitted OTs. I read this when he/she posted it. Very good points.
 
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lmcjose

2+ Year Member
Apr 30, 2016
17
0
Do anyone know if it matters which OT school you went to in terms of if the school/institution as a whole is NON-regionally accredited? I understand that the OT program itself must be accredited by ACOTE in order for its students to take the NBCOT. However I was wondering if anyone knew if there would be consequences in receiving a Masters OT degree from a NON-regionally accredited school when looking for employment?
 

beestrng

7+ Year Member
Dec 10, 2010
660
161
idk. I would ask AOTA.

Or better yet ask the state licensing board of the state you want to live in.
 
Sep 16, 2016
8
5
Hello BowlOfSunshine!
Thanks so much for the advice. I'm currently in the application process now & this genuine advice was very helpful. Would you mind PM me the school you went to & the one that had the good anatomy class.
 
Last edited:
Oct 30, 2016
2
0
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy Student
The NBCOT

Ok, this post might be a bit slanted because I think the >>>NBCOT<<< is a bunch of crock. You've been warned.

In the 1990s, AOTA split from the certifying body for OTs and the NBCOT was formed. Their reasoning was to protect the public from incompetent OTs in practice and thus required all OTs/COTAs to be certified (registered) hence where the "R" and "C" designation came from for OTR and COTA, respectively. The NBCOT has trademarked the OTR and COTA designation and if you are working in the field as either without having the proper certification but using their designation (basically paying the org "dues" every year/every other year to keep the certification and designation), you can and will be penalized.

While I don't disagree with ensuring competency in the field and having a "regulatory" org oversee this, I do not agree with how the agency has capitalized on it.

The NBCOT is the org that also administers the exam in which ALL OTs and OTAs MUST take and pass in order to practice. The exam is $500 :bullcrap:to take, whether you pass the first time or don't. Additionally, you have to pay $40 for them to send you a score report to your respective state(s) where you want to practice. You must also pay additional money for a temp license while studying for the actual exam and it is more money if you mail in the paperwork to sit for the exam instead of online.

Moreover, their study guides and practice tests SUCK MONKEY A$$!!!! :annoyed: How are you going to be the certifying body for the profession and offering the worst of ALL the study guides available? To add insult to injury, you have to pay for different practice tests AND they don't provide the rationales/feedback on the practice tests. It's like $45-$60 per test. :wtf:

And you know WHY they do it? Because OT, as a profession, has done nothing to call them out on the nickel and diming of OTs. It doesn't cost $500 to come up with an exam, which are comprised of questions submitted by OTs. :lame:

To add, there are other study guides out there, such as TherapyEd, 45 Days and counting, Castle, etc. They are all pretty good study guides and offer a solid foundation and give a good glimpse into what the actual NBCOT exam is like.

I highly recommend taking the TherapyEd prep course. (I'm not a spokesperson for them, just someone who found the course helpful) It really helped that the person who wrote the book (Rita) taught the course I attended. However, you might not but that is ok as the class is taught throughout the country.

Give yourself time to study. At the bare minimum, 6 weeks. You might need a little less time or you might need more time. Just don't rush. Also, do as many practice exams as you can so you can get in the mode of "WHY?" and fine tune your clinical reasoning, which you don't really get in the academic portion of OT school, unfortunately.

Also, check out the forum over at Indeed on >>>passing the NBCOT exam<<<. This forum was a god send while I was studying and they are many helpful OTs willing to help you on your journey.

The exam is tough, but doable. It is comprised of 200 questions, of which 30 are "tested" and "ungraded" questions, which basically mean NBCOT is testing the reliability and validity of those questions to determine the likelihood of it being on a newly designed exam.

And remember, you just paid $500, so that in itself should also be a motivator to pass. (Just keeping it real).

With that said, you've passed. Now what?
Congratulations!!!! :clap: You got through with what you thought were the absolute brutal moments in your life. Enjoy your career in a respected profession and not having to worry about job security. You WILL have jobs calling you like bill collectors and that it is a GREAT thing!!! Now, you can live life, stress free, if you so choose, and remember you are basically your own boss. That is a great thing, right?

Just remember...
Take your time to do your research, be patient, don't be discouraged, don't give up, be willing to relocate if possible, to reach your goal.

Although in hindsight I wished I had gone to another school, I made lifetime friends in my classmates, got to see a new part of the US that I had never been to and was able to prove to myself that I can start and complete something when I am focused.

Best wishes to you in your journey to becoming part of a wonderful profession!!!!! :)
 
Oct 30, 2016
2
0
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy, Occupational Therapy Student
Thank you BowlofSunshine for your sound and honest advice. I am in the process of obtaining my Bachelor's and have found myself asking questions that pertain to just about every pro and con you listed at least twice a day. I am now in the process of trying to find the best place(s) to complete my observation hours. Anyone in this forum with any insight on places to volunteer in Florida or Georgia. Your guidance will be greatly appreciated. I pray you all grow and flourish in all your endeavors. Looking forward to learning from and connecting with some of you.
 

Hopeandfaith22

2+ Year Member
Mar 20, 2015
101
41
Status
Occupational Therapy Student
Thank you BowlofSunshine for your sound and honest advice. I am in the process of obtaining my Bachelor's and have found myself asking questions that pertain to just about every pro and con you listed at least twice a day. I am now in the process of trying to find the best place(s) to complete my observation hours. Anyone in this forum with any insight on places to volunteer in Florida or Georgia. Your guidance will be greatly appreciated. I pray you all grow and flourish in all your endeavors. Looking forward to learning from and connecting with some of you.
I observed at Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow in Atlanta! You should contact them.
 
Nov 18, 2016
3
0
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
This was seriously so useful! Thank you so much! I would love to see the spreadsheet!
A lot of schools have different pre-reqs and it's honesty so overwhelming.. are there any schools that have similar pre-reqs?
 
Last edited:
O

occupational therapy

This was seriously so useful! Thank you so much! I would love to see the spreadsheet!
A lot of schools have different pre-reqs and it's honesty so overwhelming.. are there any schools that have similar pre-reqs?
most of the schools i applied to require the same ones: anatomy and phys 1&2, developmental psych, lifespan psych, and stats. some also require sociology, but thats less common
 
Nov 18, 2016
3
0
Status
Pre-Occupational Therapy
most of the schools i applied to require the same ones: anatomy and phys 1&2, developmental psych, lifespan psych, and stats. some also require sociology, but thats less common
Can I ask what schools you applied too? Also, what stats class did you take? Is elementary stats okay? Thank you so much!