ON CAMPUS: College introduces new program

BELLEVILLE – Loyalist College’s new two-year Ontario College Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant (OTA/PTA) diploma program is designed to prepare students for a rewarding career helping people of all ages and abilities improve their quality of life.


At Loyalist’s open house on Saturday, April 28, speak with faculty and explore the future OTA/PTA lab space. Learn about some of the industry equipment used by experts and take a tour through the inter-professional simulation centre in the college’s newly renovated health and wellness wing. Using bathroom and kitchen facilities within the learning spaces, students will gain hands-on experience mimicking occupational therapy within a home setting.


“There are also more than 500 hours of clinical placement built into the program,” said Alicia Mutton, Loyalist OTA/PTA faculty. “It starts in the second semester of the first year. Students will complete placements with physiotherapists and occupational therapists, which gives them exposure to both work environments. In addition to placements, nearly 10 courses have a lab component. Experiential learning is at this program’s core.”


Whether learning in class with registered occupational therapists and physiotherapists or working with professionals in the field, OTA/PTA students gain confidence and experience. The implementation and evaluation of safe and effective occupational and physical treatment modalities prepares students to work with individuals of all ages and with a variety of physical, social or cognitive exceptionalities, within a lab setting.


“The courses are specific to both occupational therapy and physiotherapy fields,” said Mutton. “There are also courses which look at communication and client counselling skills, and another which pertains to mental health.”


OTA/PTA students will share some courses with Loyalist’s Fitness and Health Promotion program. Learning the mechanics of exercise establishes a sound understanding of musculoskeletal anatomy and safe and effective movement patterns. Through the Inclusive Programming course, students will operate the college’s Move for Inclusion community program. The inaugural five-week initiative began in February 2018, and provided an opportunity for children and youth with a variety of physical or intellectual exceptionalities to try adaptive sports and interactive crafts.


“We provided opportunities for adaptive basketball, soccer, bowling and obstacle courses,” said Mutton. “The program also included a variety of creative activities tailored to the needs of each participant. The feedback was extremely positive from the parents, children and our student coaches.”


Each Move for Inclusion participant is matched with a coach who provides support and encouragement throughout the program. Coaches are also comprised of second-year Recreation and Sport Services and Fitness and Health Promotion students.


In addition to diploma-to-diploma options, Loyalist offers diploma-to-degree pathways for OTA/PTA graduates, including advanced entry into the University of Ontario Institute of Technology’s Kinesiology and Bachelor of Allied Health Science degree programs.


“There are also several advanced entry pathways into the OTA/PTA program,” said Mutton. “If you have a Kinesiology degree and are interested in getting hands-on experience in a physiotherapy or occupational therapy setting, you can complete a bridge semester and go directly into the second year of the program. This allows students to graduate with a diploma in addition to their degree in only one additional year. Advanced entry students still complete over 500 clinical placement hours, which are extremely beneficial for making connections in the workforce.”


This OTA/PTA program was developed to meet the growing needs of the occupational therapy and physiotherapy treatments in the community Loyalist serves. It teaches students to become providers of care within the scope of their practice, while developing problem-solving, critical decision-making and collaboration skills that will inform care excellence.


To begin your journey in Loyalist’s Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant program, visit the College’s Open House on Saturday, April 28, from 10 am to 1 pm or visit loyalistcollege.com.



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