OTA program adding evening option in 2015

Beginning in the spring of 2015, an evening option will be added to the Occupational Therapy Assistant program, said Professor Reeca Young, program director.

Called the Flex Trak Entry Option, the three-year program will offer classes in the evening two nights a week for those wanting the flexibility to pursue an Occupational Therapy Assistant degree.

“It’s very competitive to get into the program,” Young said. “There is a need for more OTAs in the market and we were only putting out a class every two years.”

The Flex-Trak program is being offered to students who are unable to attend during the day due to jobs, family obligations or other commitments.

“We had a lot of interest from students who were unable to attend a traditional daytime program … so we wanted to offer a second option.”

The Flex Trak program will offer classes two nights a week and students will finish the program in three years as opposed to the traditional daytime program which is a two-year program.

Flex-Trak students will be required to attend during the day for the last 16 weeks of the program, Young said. That’s when students perform clinical field work which is full time, 40 hours a week.

“Occupational therapy is helping people achieve as much independence as possible, no matter what disability they might have, what challenges they might have, whether it’s cognitive or physical or sensory issues,” Young said.

Some key qualities for those considering the field are compassion, flexibility, being detail oriented, having good interpersonal skills and having a moderate degree of physical strength, she said.

Occupational therapy assistants work in areas such as hospitals, home health care and outpatient clinics.

An OTA graduate will need to take a national certification exam to become a certified OTA, Young said.

OCCC graduates had a 93 percent pass rate in 2013 for the national certification exam, Young said. Pass rates are calculated based on the first time the graduates take the test.

Occupational therapy assistants work under a licensed occupational therapist and can do treatments but not assessments, Young said.

The salary for an OTA can depend on several factors like experience, the employer and the state you live in.  The 2012 median pay for occupational therapy assistants at the national level was $53,240 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

OT Career Path reflected a median pay of $43,390 for Oklahoma. The job outlook for OTAs is positive with a projected growth rate of 41 percent from 2012 to 2022, considerably faster than the average occupation.

OTA was one of the original programs offered to students when OCCC first opened in 1972. At the time the school was called South Oklahoma City Junior College. Young was a graduate of the program and since has earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She said occupational therapy can be a challenging and rewarding field to go into.

The Flex Trak Entry Option will offer 18 slots for the spring semester of 2015.

The application deadline is Friday, Nov. 7.

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