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Nursing & Health Professions | OTA Student Handbook

Occupational Therapy Assistant 2017-18 Student Handbook



Trinity provides this handbook for Occupational Therapy Assistant degree students as a supplemental compendium of policies stating requirements and conduct expectations for students enrolled in the Occupational Therapy Assistant degree program. The OTA Student Handbook incorporates by reference the policies and conduct expectations for all students at Trinity as stated on Trinity’s website and the Trinity Catalog.

The Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions, the respective Program Directors and OTA faculty have broad authority and responsibility to ensure the fulfillment of academic expectations and requirements for all OTA students.  While this Handbook provides general guidance, the Directors and Dean reserve the right to make decisions in particular cases that are appropriate to the circumstances and facts presented. To that end, students must accept and follow the directions of their instructors in courses, their academic advisors, the Dean, and other legitimate campus authorities.

By enrolling at Trinity, the student inherently accepts the rules of the institution and the directions of the faculty and administrative staff.  This includes accepting academic policies and procedures with regard to course schedules, registration, financial aid, payment arrangements, enrollment in specific courses, following course sequences, prerequisites, and all related academic matters.  The deans of the academic units and the provost have broad final authority to resolve student academic issues.  Insubordination, which is the refusal to follow a legitimate direction, may be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

This Handbook is reviewed each academic year and updated accordingly.  Student and faculty suggestions are valued as part of the regular review process.

The University

Trinity Washington University has a Student Handbook which is a guide for students enrolled in all programs at Trinity. It contains:

  • Major policies
  • Processes and Resources

The Student Handbook is a companion guide to numerous other policy statements and guidelines contained in the Trinity Academic Catalog that contains academic policies of the respective schools, and other policy statements available on Trinity’s website at Trinity reserves the right to amend these policy statements at any time.

The School of Nursing and Health Professions

Trinity’s School of Nursing and Health Professions emphasizes educating culturally competent health care practitioners who value health care delivery resulting from and influenced by a client-centered approach that incorporates technology and evidence-based practice to generate effective client care outcomes. The liberal arts core provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to think critically about how societal and professional conditions can enhance or impede the quality of care delivered, thus affecting client outcomes.

At the core of health professions is the ability to apply evidence-based practice, see the client holistically, provide culturally competent care, understand the roles of various health care providers and effectively communicate succinctly and accurately. We expect collaboration among health care professionals in order to achieve the best outcomes for clients when each health care professional recognizes the strengths and skills their colleagues bring to the team.

Purpose of the Handbook

The OTA Student Handbook is intended to provide students with important information and resources that will help them succeed in their occupational therapy academic program and develop into entry-level practitioners.  The Handbook contains information about the OTA educational program, and the relevant policies, procedures and behavioral standards necessary for successful completion of the OTA program.

Students are expected to:

  • Carefully read the Handbook and use it as a reference while at Trinity
  • Accept and agree to uphold all program and university policies and procedures described in University policies, the OTA Handbook, and the University Catalog.  Students are to follow those policies and procedures during interactions with fellow students, faculty, and other university personnel, and professionals, families and clients in the community.
  • Sign the OTA Handbook acknowledgment form indicating they have read the Handbook, understand the OTA program accreditation status, and agree to meet all program and university policies while at Trinity.  Students should retain a signed copy of the form for their own records and return the original to the OTA Program Director to be placed in the student’s file.

The Program and Accreditation

Program History

The Trinity Occupational Therapy Assistant program accepted its first class of students in fall 2012. The OTA program earned Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) accreditation in December 2013.

The occupational therapy assistant program at Trinity Washington University, Washington, DC, was placed on Probationary Accreditation effective April 1, 2017, for failure to comply with 2011 OTA Standard A.5.6 (certification exam pass rate). The program has been requested to submit a Plan of Correction to return the program to full compliance with the Standard within the mandated time period for correction.

Program Accreditation

The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program holds probationary accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (A.C.O.T.E.) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (A.O.T.A.), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s telephone number is (301) 652-AOTA, and its web address is Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice.

Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or obtain state licensure as a certified occupational therapy assistant regardless of whether the student completes the requirements for a Trinity OTA Associates of Applied Science degree.

Program Description

Trinity offers an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Associate of Applied Science degree. This degree educates students to work under the supervision and in cooperation with an occupational therapist (OT) to help people across the lifespan engage in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities called occupations. Students are prepared to work in various settings that include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, sub-acute facilities, psychiatric and community based programs, schools, nursing homes, private practice and other emerging practice areas.

The OTA program is a 69 credit program offered in a hybrid format where nearly 50% of the OTA coursework is offered online through the Moodle course management platform with the remaining 50% conducted on campus 2-3 days per week for didactic and laboratory courses.  Level I fieldwork (FW) compliments didactic learning in all intervention courses. Face-to-face sessions include lecture, discussion and active learning activities such as experiential and practicum experiences and group activities.  Students will supplement classwork with community based activities or Level I fieldwork (FW) in all intervention courses.  These placements provide opportunities to interact with clients, families and professionals in diverse practice settings as well as observe and practice treatment skills under the direct supervision of an occupational therapist or other professional.

Level II FW is full-time experiential learning that takes place in the last semester of the OTA curriculum.  Student must complete two 8-week Level II rotations in more than one setting.

Satisfactory completion of

Satisfactory completion of all coursework and Level II fieldwork with a 2.5 or higher grade point average is required for students to graduate with the OTA associate degree.

Students enrolled in Trinity’s A.A.S. in OTA program have the option of simultaneously enrolling in a Trinity baccalaureate degree program.

all coursework and Level II fieldwork with a 2.5 or higher grade point average is required for students to graduate with the OTA associate degree.

Students enrolled in Trinity’s A.A.S. in OTA program have the option of simultaneously enrolling in a Trinity baccalaureate degree program.

Program Mission, Vision, and Philosophy

Mission:  Trinity’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program strives to educate students to be competent, ethical, and committed OTA practitioners who promote health and well-being of all people as they engage in everyday activities called occupations.  Through dynamic classroom, clinical and community experiences, OTA students graduate prepared to meet the ever-changing occupational needs of society and address social justice and occupational justice issues locally and globally.

Vision: Within Trinity’s founding traditions, we envision the occupational therapy assistant program as a center where the occupational therapy assistant and the occupational therapist can study the process of adaptation and its effect on occupational performance as it relates to the person’s search for meaning and fulfillment as occupational-beings.

Philosophy: The OTA program’s philosophy reflects occupational therapy fundamental ideals in that it is based on the profession’s belief that humans are complex beings who are continuously engaged in their environment. Learning is an active and social process where learners discover principles, concepts and facts through interactions with each other and with their environment.  The Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (AOTA, 2011) provides the foundation for the Trinity Washington University OTA Program.  The organizing philosophical framework of the OTA curriculum is derived from the belief that engagement in occupations can positively influence the health and well-being of individuals and populations. Through engagement in occupations we can find meaning and balance in our lives.

The OTA Program philosophy is guided by two major areas: occupation and the process of occupational adaptation, and the professional curriculum and teaching-learning style.

Students must be prepared to invest considerable time and effort outside of class, and to participate actively in classroom discussions, assignments, practicums, simulations and clinical placements. Commitment to lifelong learning is needed for occupational therapy practice in current practice settings, and will provide the skills needed to expand occupational therapy into emerging settings and new communities and populations.

The OTA Program philosophy is guided by two major areas: fundamental beliefs about how human beings engage in the process of occupational adaptation, and the interface between professional curriculum and learning-teaching styles.

  • Our Fundamental Beliefs about Human Beings

Humans are complex beings that are constantly interacting with the physical, social, temporal, cultural, psychological, spiritual and virtual environment through their actions. We are active beings who have the ability to adapt, modify and affect the quality of our life by engaging in the things we want and need to do called occupations.  These occupations are the actions that support survival, provide self-actualization, and help us find occupational balance (AOTA, 2007). When a person is faced with an occupational challenge because of impairment, disability or a stressful event, the innate process of human adaptation may become impaired (Schultz, 1992 and Schultz & Schkade, 1992).

Through occupational therapy intervention, the occupational therapy practitioner’s “therapeutic use of self”, management of the environment and use of “occupations as tools” promote the client’s ability to adapt to life’s challenges for successful occupational performance.

  • Our View of Learning

Learning is an active and social process in which learners learn to discover principles, concepts and facts through interactions with each other and with the environment in which they live (Brown 1989; Ackerman 1996).

Trinity acknowledges learners are unique individuals with unique needs and diverse backgrounds while being complex and multidimensional. Using a constructivist viewpoint to guide the learning process, we see the responsibility for learning resides with the learner; motivation for learning strongly depends on the learner’s confidence in his or her potential to learn (Prawat and Floden 1994); and instructors are facilitators that create guidelines and set the stage within the environment for learning.

The faculty of Trinity’s OTA program demonstrate support for students to become effective critical thinkers through the “beyond the comfort zone” academic challenge (Vygotsky 1978) that translate into critical thinking and reasoning skills in the OT practice setting through use of activities as interventions.

Core learning concepts center on sharing individual perspectives of understanding through collaborative elaboration (Meter& Stevens, 2000); knowledge being discovered is an integrated whole and is content dependent; introduction of basic content knowledge should be revisited often and built upon repeatedly (Duffy and Jonassen, 1992); learning is driven by the problem to be solved; experimentation to understand outcomes; researching topics and sharing with the class; use of technology to incorporate multisensory learning; social and communication skills; collaboration and exchange of ideas, and activities are active and student-centered.

Within the learning process, students process content knowledge through the following levels: remember, understand, apply, analyze, create and evaluate (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2000).

Curricular Framework


Curricular Threads

The Trinity OTA program identified three curricular threads that give organization and coherence to the course sequence and that support the mission and vision of the program and the philosophy of the occupational therapy profession.


Occupational performance curriculum thread beginning with activity analysis and progressing in intensity as occupational performance is analyzed through the lifespan. The Occupational Performance curricular thread includes “OTA 130 Analysis and Performance of Occupations Across the Lifespan”, “OTA 140 Occupational Performance I” and “OTA 240 Occupational Performance II”.


Intervention series thread addresses occupational performance, dysfunction, and intervention across the lifespan. The intervention curricular thread includes “OTA 238 Intervention and Tools in Pediatrics”, “OTA 236 Interventions and Tools in Behavioral Health and Psychosocial Rehabilitation”, and “OTA 237 Interventions and Tools in Physical Rehabilitation”.  Each intervention course includes fieldwork I experiences.


This curricular thread addresses the growth of professional behaviors and communication patterns that are needed for entry-level practice. As students progress through the OTA program, they must acquire not only didactic knowledge and skills needed for occupation-based and evidence-based practice, but also the patterns of behavior, communication and collaboration that are essential to being an occupational therapy assistant.  One goal of this thread is to help students develop a professional identity and professional skills needed to practice in diverse settings.  Another goal is to facilitate a commitment to ongoing professional growth and development, life-long learning, and participation in professional organizations.

Student Outcomes

Graduates of all divisions of the School of Nursing and Health Professions will:

  • Demonstrate effective written and oral communication skills.
  • Apply evidence-based practice within a professional context
  • Demonstrate critical thinking as evidenced by delivery of safe, ethical and legal care as a member of an inter-professional health care team
  • Demonstrate leadership in healthcare
  • Successfully attain professional certification and licensure

The objectives of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Trinity Washington University are to prepare students that:

  • Use professional literature to make evidence based practice decisions in collaboration with other healthcare professionals (2011 ACOTE Standards; B.8.3)
  • Demonstrate clinical skills and professional behaviors of an entry level OTA that reflect the standards and ethics of the OT profession
  • Identify, adapt and modify activities and interventions that support the needs and wants of the client in their pursuit to master occupations and their environments.
  • Be able to gather information about patients, populations and organizations and effectively communicate their occupational needs to the OTR, healthcare team, family and/or communit
  • Identify legal and ethical aspects of the OTA’s role in the supervision of healthcare personnel
  • Successfully pass the NBCOT OTA exam

Academic and Conduct Policies Specific to the OTA Program

Occupational Therapy Assistant program’s policies and procedures are consistent within Trinity and the School of Nursing and Health Professions. Students are required to satisfy both the requirements of the OTA program and the policies and procedures of the University to remain in good academic standing.

The requirements reflect the core mission values and vision of Trinity which emphasizes a commitment to education of women (and men), values and integration of liberal learning through professional preparation, and grounding in the mission of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and the Catholic tradition, welcoming persons of all faiths, in order to achieve the larger purposes of learning in the human search for meaning and fulfillment.

Trinity Washington University strictly adheres to ethical, legal, safety and professional behavior standards. Students who compromise this integrity will be suspended from the respective occupational therapy program.

The following documents can be found in the Trinity Student Handbook found at

  • Academic Honesty Policy
  • Harassment Policy
  • Student Code of Responsible Conduct
  • Students with Disabilities
  • Technology and Telecommunications Policy

While the following sections provide general academic guidance, specific rules and expectations for student work in courses and fieldwork settings will appear in each course syllabus.   The Dean, Program Director and faculty reserve the right to expand and change the specific academic guidelines as necessary to maintain compliance with accreditation and licensure rules, as well as the rules and expectations of fieldwork partners.

The Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions, the OTA Program Director, and the faculty have broad authority and responsibility to ensure the fulfillment of academic expectations and requirements for all OTA students respectively.   While this Handbook provides general guidance, the dean and directors reserve the right to make decisions in particular cases that are appropriate to the circumstances and facts presented.


The complete policies and procedures for admission to the Trinity Occupational Therapy Assistant Program appear on Trinity’s website at  General admission criteria include:

  • Completion of all pre-requisite courses with a grade of C or better
  • Two semesters of human anatomy and physiology, including labs
  • English
  •  Math
  • At least on semester of Sociology
  • Psychology: Intro to Psychology, plus a course in child psychology
  • A Medical Terminology course

Proficiency using Microsoft Word, Excel, internet and email is necessary for success in this hybrid program. Experience with an online educational platform such as Blackboard or Moodle is desirable.

Good written and oral English language skills.

At least 10 hours of documented observation with a registered occupational therapist or certified occupational therapy assistant.


Course syllabi provide specific requirements for attendance and obtaining excused absences.  Attendance in OTA class, fieldwork and laboratory experiences is necessary in order to master the body of knowledge needed for safe clinical practice and adequate preparation for licensure.  Therefore, students are expected to attend all course sessions, be punctual, and stay for the duration of the class, Level I and Level II fieldwork and laboratory experiences.

Occasionally, life events occur that prevent a student from attending a singular class.  Faculty will instruct students about notifications for the occasional absence.   However absences for extended periods of time (more than two class sessions) require specific prior permission or written documentation explaining the absence.  Students should recognize that faculty may not be able to accept extended absences and may counsel students to drop or withdraw from classes in cases where absences will compromise their academic performance.

Attendance in lab/class and online is recorded in Moodle. Students who arrive after the designated start time or leave prior to the designated end time will be marked as late.  Three “late” attendance marks equate to one absence.

Absence from more than two classes over the course of a 16-week semester, or more than one class over the course of an 8-week fieldwork term may result in failure of the course. The student will may be asked to drop or withdraw from the class.  Students unable to attend or who are running late to a class are required to notify the instructor of the class 30 minutes prior to the beginning of class via email. Students unable to attend or who are running late for Level I or Level II Fieldwork are required to notify the Fieldwork site supervisor 30 minutes prior to the beginning of the fieldwork start time.

Excused absences may be granted for the: a) death of an immediate family member, which includes a sister, brother, mother, father, or child Jury duty; b) jury duty; c) hospitalization of the student.  To obtain an excused absence, the student must meet with the OTA Program Director to discuss the reason for the absence. Proper documentation must be provided, such as a death certificate, record of hospitalization, or jury duty summons. The OTA Program Director will then notify the faculty member (s) concerned that the student is being granted an excused absence.  Students who are granted an excused absence will still be required to make up the missed clinical or exam within one week following return from the excused absence. Students who require a lengthy excused absence may apply to their professor for an “I” (incomplete) in the course according to Trinity’s established policies.  If the “I” grade is granted, the student must complete the required clinical hours or course work within one month of the end of classes.

The OTA Director/Faculty may issue additional guidelines.  Specific rules for attendance, makeup assignments and other related permissions will be specified in the respective course syllabi.


Students are responsible for submitting assignments on the due date specified in the course syllabus.

In-class Participation
Regular class attendance is expected. If you are unable to attend on-campus class for any reason, the instructor should be notified via email 30 minutes prior to class. Students are expected to obtain information that they miss.

On-line Participation

Students are responsible for logging into each Moodle course at least three times each week. Student participation on the Moodle site will be monitored by administering faculty. Failure to log in at least three times in any given week may result in an unexcused absence.

Course Text and web-based reading assignments are to be completed for successful online participation.


Students are not allowed to use textbook company faculty-only restricted test banks to prepare themselves for exams. Textbook faculty test banks are only for the use of the professors.  Exams are used to evaluate critical thinking of students, not memorization skills of students.  Any student suspected of cheating on tests by obtaining faculty only restricted test banks will be referred to the Dean of NHP for disciplinary action. The OTA program will follow Trinity’s Academic Honest Policy.

Examinations are to be taken only as scheduled on the course syllabus.  The only students allowed to miss an exam and be provided with an excused absence and make-up exam are those who have obtained an excused absence from the Director of their program.

Students are not allowed to look at the exam papers or laptop computers of other students during the administration of an exam. Students are not permitted to take online exams at the same time and/or in the same location as another student except when exams are proctored on campus.

Students or faculty who observe or are aware of any breach of academic honesty on the part of another student are to follow the Trinity Academic Honesty reporting process.

Examinations are to be taken as scheduled, unless an extraordinary circumstance prevents the quiz or examination to be taken. Extraordinary circumstances are defined in the OTA Student Handbook as well as conditions that must be met in order to schedule an alternative date to take a quiz or examination.  In any such event, the faculty member must be notified via email at least 1 hour prior to the quiz or examination.

The director, professor, and student will arrange an alternative date and time for the make-up exam to be proctored if the student has been given an excused absence.

Students given permission to reschedule an exam must make up that exam within one (1) week of the normally scheduled exam time.  Failure to do so may result in forfeiture of those exam points.

Makeup exams will be of a different version from the original exam.

Any unexcused absence from an exam will result in a zero for that exam.

Email and Moodle Communication

The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program uses email and Moodle as the major vehicles for communicating important information to students. Students should check their email account at least once daily and Moodle at least 3 x a week. Faculty and students should make every attempt to respond to email and Moodle communication in a timely manner.

Behavioral Expectations

Professional Behaviors and Care of Others

As a practice profession, occupational therapy places great trust and reliance upon individual responsibility and accountability.  Students are expected to exhibit personal and emotional characteristics consistent with a developing OTA professional role and conduct themselves in a professional manner. These behavioral expectations should be exhibited beginning with the students’ first course at Trinity.   Such expectations are also incorporated by reference into the preface to this Handbook and Trinity’s Code of Conduct for Professional Students.

Reasonable Suspicion Drug and Alcohol Policy

In the University setting, OTA students involved in fieldwork activities must uphold the standards of the occupational therapy profession to ensure safe, effective, and supportive client care.  Because an impaired OTA student may have altered judgment and skills, appropriate management of abuse and addiction is critical for occupational therapy education and practice.

This policy addresses drug and alcohol testing of OTA students involved in fieldwork activities based on reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use.  It is the policy of Trinity Washington University to comply with federal and District laws and regulations detailing the use and detection of drugs and alcohol.  This policy is subject to change at the sole discretion of the University and is meant to supplement other relevant University policies.

If a faculty member has reasonable suspicion that an OTA student is impaired due to drug or alcohol use, that faculty member should consult with the OTA Program Director.   The Director may also consult with other university authorities depending upon the circumstances.  The Director may require the student to take a drug test at the student’s own expense.  Depending upon the results of the test, the Director may recommend additional disciplinary action to the Dean or Provost.  A student’s refusal to take a drug test may incur disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the program.

Students must also know that the fieldwork site may require a drug test at any time.  Students are responsible for complete cooperation with and fulfillment of all requirements of the clinical site supervisors.

Academic Honesty

Trinity expects all students to uphold the highest standards for academic honesty and integrity.  Trinity’s Honor System, dating to the earliest classes to attend Trinity, is a longstanding tradition that embodies the ethical and moral values of the university.  The Trinity Academic Honesty Policy is found at


Cheating will not be tolerated at Trinity. Any form of cheating on examinations, papers or other class work will result in an automatic grade of “zero”.  Disciplinary action will be according to the University’s policy.

Occupational Therapy Assistant students must embrace Trinity’s Honor System and demonstrate the ability to uphold the standard of integrity.

Academic Expectatons

The development and promotion of professional behavior is an integral component of a professional education program.  This behavior includes preparation for, and attendance in classroom, fieldwork, and laboratory experiences; adhering to stated deadlines; and being in class, fieldwork and lab at the designated time for the full duration of the course.

Policies and Procedures for Successful Degree Completion

Course Sequencing

Students must successfully complete all pre-requisite courses prior to advancing to the next course.  Occupational Therapy Assistant course sequencing is designed to ensure that the student moves logically from simple to complex skills and has demonstrated mastery at each step.  The sequence appears in the registration system.  OTA faculty will work with students to plan their programs accordingly.

Grading Scale

All OTA academic courses will use the following grading scale:

A 100-93 A- 92-90
B+ 89-87 B 86-83 B- 82-80
C+ 79-77 C 76-73 C- 72-70
D+ 69-67 D 66-60 F 59 and below

Note: A final grade of “C- ” or below in any course prevents the student from continuing in core OTA courses. The student must repeat the course, achieve a “C” or higher then proceed with core OTA courses. Failure to achieve a passing grade after repeating the course will result in dismissal from the OTA program.

Incomplete work:  Students who are unable to complete the requirements of a course for compelling personal reasons may request a provisional grade of ‘incomplete’ from the course instructor.  The student and faculty member must fill out and sign the Trinity Request for Incomplete form before the end of the final exam period for the semester.  This contract must stipulate when the work is to be completed, and how the final grade will be calculated if different than what is specified on the syllabus.  Students must complete all work specified in the contract within four weeks of the final exam period.  If the missing work is not submitted within this time period, the grade of incomplete will automatically convert to a grade of ‘F’.

Grades for Progression

OTA students must earn a minimum of “C” as a final course grade in all pre-requisite courses.

OTA students must earn a minimum of C (73%) as a final course grade in all occupational therapy assistant (OTA) courses.

An OTA student may fail no more than one occupational therapy assistant course (OTA prefix).  If a student fails an occupational therapy assistant course, the student may repeat the occupational therapy assistant course only once. Students may repeat no more than one occupational therapy assistant course.  Failing a second occupational therapy assistant course will result in dismissal from the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.

Undergraduate students who fail or withdraw from an OTA fieldwork course may repeat it only once.  Students may not repeat more than one OTA fieldwork course.  A second failure will result in dismissal from the OTA Program.

Grade Appeals

Students who have questions about their grades are encouraged to discuss their concerns with course instructors when the issue first arises.  In most cases, prompt attention to concerns helps the student understand where/ why they are having problems, and helps the instructor assist student learning.

Students who would like to discuss a test or assignment grade should contact the course instructor and request a time to meet individually to present their concerns.  Grade changes are made at the discretion of the instructor and their decision is final.

 Students may only appeal a final grade of “C-” or below in an OTA course.  Appeals of “C-” or below grades must be in writing.  Students appealing a grade of “C-”  or below are expected to follow the grade appeal procedure as outlined in the NHP Undergraduate Catalog found at 

Academic Standing

Undergraduate students in the School of Nursing and Health Professions must maintain a 2.5 overall GPA in order to progress in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.  Students may be placed on academic probation if their cumulative GPA falls below 2.5.

Academic probation indicates that the student is no longer in good academic standing and the student’s eligibility to continue studies in OTA is under question.

A student may remain on academic probation for no more than one semester.  Failure to raise the GPA to the minimum standard of 2.5 during a student’s semester on academic probation will result in dismissal from the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program.

A student on academic probation may not register for more than 12 credit hours in a Fall or Spring Semester, or 6 credit hours in the Summer semester.  Students on academic probation in OTA may not take courses in Winter Term or May Term.

Successful academic progression in the OTA program requires a student to:

  • Complete all credits with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5
  • If a student’s cumulative GPA drops below 2.5, he or she will have one semester to increase his or her GPA to 2.5 or above.
  • If a student fails to raise his or her cumulative GPA after one semester, the student will be dismissed from the OTA program
  • Students must hold a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher to attend Level II Fieldwork

Graduation Criteria

Graduation criteria (AAS) Degree

Before graduation, Occupational Therapy Assistant students are required to:

  • Successfully complete, with a grade of “C” or better in the 69 credit hour OTA curriculum courses
  • Earn at least a cumulative 2.5 GPA

Once all academic and institutional requirements for graduation have been satisfied, the student will receive the academic degree of Associates of Applied Science/ Occupational Therapy Assistant. Upon graduation, the student may apply to sit for the National Certification Examination.  Students may also continue study at Trinity to gain the Bachelor’s degree; they can begin practice as an OTA upon licensure and can continue their course of study while practicing.

Please see the Trinity Catalog for further information regarding graduation from Trinity.

OTA Program Dismissal

Students may be dismissed from the Trinity OTA Program for reasons including:

  • Failure to satisfy the academic standards specified in the preceding sections
  • Any violation of Trinity’s policies that specify dismissal, including the Academic Honesty Policy, Student Code of Conduct, and other relevant policies cited at the outset of this document
  • Unsafe, unprofessional or unethical conduct in a fieldwork setting
  • Inability to obtain a fieldwork placement because the fieldwork agency declines to accept the student for placement as a result of the criminal background check or other issues that arise in fulfilling the requirements for fieldwork placement.  Students who cannot obtain fieldwork placements cannot continue in the OTA Program regardless of their grade point averages or performance in didactic courses.

Trinity’s policies on student conduct include appeals procedures for disciplinary dismissals.  Students who face dismissal for failing to meet academic standards will have notice of their academic standing through the publication of the rules for academic progress, including the 2.5 minimum grade point average, and the one-semester academic probation process.

When fieldwork placement agencies refuse to accept a student for placement, the student does not have an appeal right through Trinity.   Trinity has contracts with the agencies that extend the right to the agency to make decisions about fieldwork placements.


Faculty, Course, and Program Evaluation

Programmatic evaluation is one of many professional behaviors expected of occupational therapy professionals.  As such, students are expected to participate in program evaluation activities.  Students’ constructive feedback provides vital information necessary to improve the OTA Program.  During the program, students will be asked to participate in:

  • Course evaluations: completed at the end of every semester for each university course to evaluate the effectiveness of the course in meeting course objectives as well as faculty teaching effectiveness;
  • OTA Level I FW Evaluation: completed at the completion of each Level I FW experience
  • Student’s Evaluation of Fieldwork Experience (SEFWE) : completed at the end of each Level II FW experience

The OTA Program engages in ongoing evaluation as a means by which to monitor its effectiveness in preparing graduates for the occupational therapy profession.  Students participate in exit interviews (completed in the final semester of the OTA program).  OTA graduates and their employers complete one-year and 5 years post- graduation online surveys.

Student Resources

Faculty Advising

Faculty advisement is a support service provided to all students. Students are assigned an OTA academic and faculty advisor upon acceptance into the OTA Program.  The faculty advisor assists students with academic planning and interpretation of academic policies and procedures as well as helping students to explore academic interests, to recognize academic strengths, and to identify resources to address weaknesses related to performance in the OTA program.

  • Incoming OTA students must meet with the OTA faculty advisor in order to enroll in courses.
  • Students are expected to contact their faculty advisor at least once in advance of the registration period for the next semester. Students meet with their faculty advisor 2-3 times per semester to ensure that they are making progress toward the completion of their degree.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to periodically (beginning and end of each semester) review Trinity’s Self -Service system for accuracy of their information. In the event an inaccuracy is found, students are responsible for contacting the appropriate office for resolution.

Course Registration

The required courses for each degree program track are found on the Trinity Website via links to the OTA program.

  • Students must adhere to the program plan approved by their faculty advisor.
  • Students who do not follow the approved academic plan may not be able to complete their program of study by their projected date.
  • Students are responsible for registering for each semester on time, meeting pre-requisites for each course for which they register.
  • OTA courses are offered once during either the fall or spring semester as opposed to both semesters.
  • Fieldwork I experiences occur throughout the 2nd and 3rd semesters.  Fieldwork II involves 16 weeks of full-time clinical practice that occurs in the 4th semester.  Fieldwork experiences require travel within the DC Metropolitan area
  • Students unable to take an OTA course in the semester it is scheduled should consult with their faculty advisor regarding the impact on their academic progression

Trinity Support Services

Trinity OTA students are provided the same access to the support services at Trinity as students in traditional on-campus programs.  OTA students may access their services directly when they are on campus, or via email and phone contact from their homes.  Students may also contact OTA program faculty and staff via phone and email when they are not on campus.

Resources for OTA students at Trinity include the following:

  • Disability Services:
  • Writing Center
  • Wellness Center
  • Trinity Center

Meeting with Faculty

Students who wish to meet with faculty in person may schedule an appointment during the faculty member’s office hours or contact faculty directly via email or phone to request an appointment at a mutually convenient time.

Leave of Absence

Trinity OTA students may be granted a leave of absence for compelling medical or personal reasons that prevent the student from progressing in the program.  Students should discuss their decision to seek a leave of absence with their faculty advisor first so that the faculty advisor is apprised of the situation and can support the student’s decision to the Program Director and faculty.  The student follows this meeting with a formal written request to the Program Director documenting the reasons for seeking a leave of absence.  The Program Director, in consultation with the faculty advisor and other faculty will make a decision on the request within one month of submission.  Students may be granted a leave of absence of one year.

Because courses are sequenced to progressively advance knowledge and clinical skill, students will have to wait until the courses they need are offered again before re-enrolling.  All students, including those who take a break from the program, must complete the program and Level II fieldwork within three years of admission.

Students are to follow the Trinity Leave of Absence Policy found at 


Trinity OTA program is committed to the academic success of all admitted students. While we understand that students may decide to leave a program for multiple reasons, we encourage students who wish to voluntarily withdraw from the program to discuss their decision with their advisor and Program Director first. The purpose of this informal discussion is to make sure students are aware of the ramifications of their decision and to explore possible alternatives before beginning the formal process of withdrawal. To proceed in withdrawing, students should submit a letter to the Program Director stating their wish to withdraw and the reasons for their decision. The process is complete when the student has withdrawn from all courses, and completed the Trinity paperwork.

Academic Program of Study

The student has primary responsibility for ensuring adherence to the prescribed academic plan.  Central to this responsibility is the appropriate use of Self-Service, academic advisement and adherence to registration requirements. Students are expected to know how to use the online registration functionalities to manage their academic program, including accessing the course catalog, schedule of classes and registration processes.

Trinity supports the Moodle platform for web-enhanced or blended courses. Students must be able to effectively use Moodle for their coursework. Selected textbooks have accompanying online or computerized elements. Students are expected to learn how to use these elements and “plug ins”.

Academic Counseling for Students

As noted in the Trinity Academic Catalog, “Trinity is committed to providing all students with a wide array of services and support to help them succeed academically…..” The Academic Support Center is available to all students enrolled in the university and offers a number of programs to assist students with academic difficulties. These services and programs include, but are not limited to study skills, test-taking skills, testing anxiety workshops, student life planning, support services for students with disabilities, and one-on-one tutoring.

Students who are not passing at mid-term of the semester will receive an academic warning from the course instructor and must meet with the instructor teaching the course to develop a remediation plan.

Ethical Standards

Students are responsible for learning about and upholding the ethical standards of Trinity pertaining to research, and of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Code of Ethics for professional and ethical practice.   The OTA program takes ethical responsibilities seriously, and students who violate the ethical standards of Trinity or AOTA are subject to dismissal from the program.

The AOTA Code of Ethics covers occupational therapy students in its definition of  personnel, and lists six ethical principles, each of which have implications for student behavior in the Trinity OTA Program.  Information about the AOTA Code of Ethics is available online at

Blended Learning

The Trinity OTA program is offered through a blended learning model that combines online instruction with weekly face-to-face meetings on campus, and community placements and fieldwork. This blended learning model requires students to complete a substantial portion of their didactic learning off campus through the online ‘Moodle’ educational platform. Although the online requirements for each course may vary, students should be aware that this is a full-time undergraduate program with rigorous standards and expectations. Students should expect to spend 40 hours or more per week completing online coursework, in addition to the hours required to complete the level of assigned readings, assignments and papers that are common to graduate education regardless of program format. Additional information about the educational model for Trinity OTA is listed in this handbook. Specific course requirements and expectations will be clearly identified on the course syllabus.

Course Schedule and Modules:

Classes are held 2-3 days on campus each semester.  To facilitate learning, all OTA courses will use a schedule where content is divided into learning modules.  Course content for each module will be available online to students prior to the weekly class meeting.  Faculty will designate the time students have to complete each module.  Instructors will develop course-specific activities and assignments within each module.  Students are expected to complete all online work before attending class on campus.  In most cases, each class will meet one time during the week but some classes may be split between the two days.  Students can expect to spend a large proportion of their on-campus time in active learning or laboratory activities and should dress accordingly.


Moodle is the educational learning platform used at Trinity.  Each OTA course will have a dedicated MOODLE course site where students may access online materials specific to that

course.  Online materials may include readings, lectures or podcasts, discussions, assignments and quizzes.  Students are expected to complete all online work before coming to class on campus, and to comply with the course requirements and expectations contained in the course syllabus.

Statement about Technology

A blended learning graduate program such as the Trinity OTA program requires considerable computer work and use of online resources.  Students in the OTA program need to be proficient in computer skills and have access to a computer and a reliable internet connection to complete assigned online learning activities outside the classroom.  Students are required to complete a MOODLE course for students prior to entering the program, and to brush up on Microsoft Office tools to prepare for course assignments using Word, Excel and PowerPoint.  Trinity OTA faculty understand that internet connections are sometimes unreliable and that disruption in internet service may prevent students from completing timed activities such as quizzes or discussions.  Students who experience a disruption of internet service that affects their participation in online activities should notify their course instructor of the problem as soon as possible to arrange a strategy to make up missed work.

Social Media Policy

OTA students are to refer to Trinity’s Social Media, Moodle, and Online Communications Policy on the Trinity web site

Student Life at Trinity


Email: Students will be issued university ID and email accounts before their first semester begins and are expected to have activated their accounts by the first day of class.  Students are expected to use their Trinity email for all communications with faculty and Trinity staff.  Use of personal emails to communicate with Trinity faculty is discouraged because these communications are often routed to spam accounts.  Faculty and staff are not responsible for responding to communications from personal accounts unless this arrangement is agreed upon in advance.

Trinity OTA and MOT faculty and staff will try hard to respond to all student email communications within 24 hours of receipt in when emails come from Trinity email accounts.  Students are advised to check their Trinity emails at least once each day while the university is in session, and to respond to faculty and staff emails in a timely fashion.


The online portion of the OTA and MOT courses will be delivered using the MOODLE online learning platform.  Each OTA or MOT course will be assigned a separate site on Moodle that will contain important course documents (syllabus, assignments), and a week-by-week schedule of readings and online assignments (lectures, discussions, quizzes).  Although requirements for individual courses may vary, students are expected to log onto each course site several times during the week, and to complete all assigned readings and online activities before attending class on campus.


SOTA (Student Occupational Therapy Association): The Trinity OTA and MOT programs jointly sponsor the SOTA group.  Students work with the assigned faculty advisor or advisors to establish goals and activities for each academic year.  Student members are responsible for electing officers, establishing and collecting dues (if applicable), fundraising, and dispersing funds.

DCOTA (District of Columbia Occupational Therapy Association): DCOTA provides opportunities for students to advance their learning through continuing education short courses and other educational opportunities.  They also maintain job listings and other opportunities for students and graduates.  Trinity students are encouraged to join DCOTA and participate in the programs offered.  More information can be found at:

AOTA (American Occupational Therapy Association):  The AOTA is the professional organization for occupational therapists, providing resources for OT students as well as occupational therapists.  Students are encouraged to explore resources at the AOTA website, and to consider becoming student members.  AOTA membership is an important part of professional identity and professional responsibility, and AOTA membership dues support and advance the profession of occupational therapy.

Technical Standards

The goal of the School of Nursing and Health Professions is to prepare students to become health care leaders who make a difference in their patients’ lives and in the community. They care for others by integrating the person’s injury or illness within the context of their life situation. The faculty in the School of Nursing and Health Professions has a responsibility to graduate ethical, competent, committed and evidenced-based professionals within their chosen health professions.

The occupational therapy assistant (OTA) is a health professional that promotes health and wellness to those who are at risk for developing an illness, injury, disease, disorder, condition, impairment, disability, activity limitation or participation restriction through therapeutic use of occupations or everyday activities (AOTA, 2002).  Specifically, to help clients adapt to occupational (everyday activity) challenges that they encounter over a life course (Schultz & Schkade, 1992).

The School of Nursing and Health Professions will consider applicants to the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program who possess essential technical physical skills, sensory/ perceptual skills, emotional regulation skills, cognitive skills, communication and social skills. These skills are necessary to ensure patient safety in fieldwork experiences, provide occupation-based as well as evidenced-based intervention and to function in academic as well as clinical/community settings.

Technical skills are defined according to The American Occupational Therapy Association, 2014 Occupational Therapy Practice Framework 3: Domain and Process as well as the U.S. Program of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook. The following standards describe essential technical skills necessary to graduate from Trinity Washington University as prepared OT practitioners.

Standard I /Motor & Praxis: The ability to move and physically and skillfully interact with tasks, objects, contexts and environments. Skill requirements include:

  • Moving to and from various environments and surfaces
  • Sit or Stand for a long period of time
  • Physically interacting with tasks, objects, contexts & environments
  • Coordinate body movements to complete a task
  • Bend
  • Kneel
  • Stoop
  • Reach
  • Balance
    Rotate body
  • Extend body or extremities
  • Lifting and transferring clients or equipment
  • Manipulating common OT tools (power or manual) for evaluation and intervention (bolsters, swings, assistive technology, pillows, mats, plinths)
  • Pushing equipment such as wheelchairs with and without clients
  • Holding, grasping and manipulating objects, equipment or a client’s body or body parts
    Adjusting self to space, person, object
  • Using personal strength to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Using strength of fingers for palpation
  • Push, pull, lift at least 50 pounds
  • Adjust equipment during intervention

Standard II /Sensory-Perceptual: Actions or behaviors used to locate, identify, and respond to sensations experienced through all of the sensory systems.  Skill requirements include:

  •        Locate, identify and respond to sensations
  •        Select, associate, organize, remember sensory events
  •        Position the body during intervention
  •        Visual discrimination of objects in relationship to the task and person
  •        Visually identify or Listen to sounds and vibration through instruments during patient care
  •        Tolerate unusual smells, sounds or temperatures in clinic, home or community settings

Standard III /Emotional regulation: Actions or behaviors used during interactions in everyday activities and interacting with others.
Skill requirements include:

  •        Manage frustration involving clients or tasks
  •        Display appropriate emotions and actions with clients, organizations and populatio

Standard IV/ Cognitive: Actions or behaviors used to plan and manage performance during OT intervention and professional interactions.  Skill requirements include:

  •        Critical thinking to rationalize, reason and behave empathically
  •        Analyzing
  •        Synthesizing
  •        Apply ethics
  •        Multi-task
  •        Calculate
  •        Retain facts from past and present
  •        Use imagination and ingenuity to solve problems
  •        Master abstract ideas
  •        Select necessary supplies or equipment for intervention

Standard V/ Communication and Social Skills: Actions or behaviors used to communicate or interact with others in an interactive environment.  Skill requirements include:

  •        Exchange ideas and perspectives with or from another
  •        Acknowledge another’s perspective during an interchange
  •        Build interprofessional partnerships for collaboration
  •        Understand and communicate effectively with persons from different cultural and social backgrounds
  •        Participate in group discussions
  •        Communicate intelligibly, effectively and timely with clients, caregivers, families and organizations
  •        Observe and understand non-verbal behavior
  •        Demonstrate stable emotions
  •        Work effectively under stressful situations
  •        Tolerate close proximity with clients and co-workers
  •        Demonstrate flexibility
  •        Complete reading and writing assignments
  •        Search virtual and library resources
  •        Willingness to grow as a person and health care provider

As a matter of policy and practice, Trinity’s Disability Student Services (DSS) complies with the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990 and 2008 Amendments). If a student requires accommodations to meet the technical skill standards within the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, it is the student’s responsibility to seek reasonable accommodations through Trinity’s DSS.

Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics




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