Just two years ago, Villa Maria College became the first private institution in Western New York to offer an occupational therapy assistant program. Classes in the new program, which is fully accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association, began in fall 2015. Today, the private Catholic college is pleased to announce that 100 percent of the inaugural class of seven students passed the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy certification exam, and all are now fully employed in the field of occupational therapy.
Occupational therapy assistants help patients develop, recover and improve the skills needed for daily living and working, and are directly involved in providing therapy to patients under the direction of registered occupational therapists. They work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, community health centers and school systems.
"It's extremely gratifying that our first cohort has received a 100 percent passing rate on their national boards and are all employed as OTAs," said Paula Velarde, MA OTR/L, OTA program director. "I'm so proud of the rating and the students for putting in the work to achieve this goal."
According to the United States Department of Labor, occupational therapy is one of the top 20 growing occupations in the nation, with a 28 percent projected growth rate between 2016 and 2026. The median pay nationally for a licensed occupational therapy assistant is $56,070. This translates into additional opportunities for interested students to enter a job market hungry for their skills after graduation, or continue on to graduate studies.
"The OTA program fits in perfectly with Villa's mission and desire to make an impact on the community," said Ryan Hartnett, Ph.D., Villa Maria College assistant vice president for Academic Affairs. "It ties in nicely with related programs we offer, such as physical therapist assistant, psychology and art and music therapy, and there is a high demand to fill these jobs locally."
BestColleges.com recently recognized Villa Maria College's associate degree offerings, including the occupational therapy assistant program, as being among the best two-year programs in New York state.
For more information about visit www.villa.edu/academics/academic-programs/occupational-therapy-assistant.