Members of Jackson State Community College’s Occupational Therapy Assistant class of 2020 earned a 100 percent pass rate on their national credentialing examination, despite challenges and barriers created by COVID-19.
The exam is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy. It is taken after graduation and required for certification, licensure, and employment. This is the second year in a row the program had a 100 percent pass rate.
As cases of the coronavirus in the United States increased in mid-March and the pandemic began to sweep across the country, students were pulled from their fieldwork experiences.
“They had to wait two months before they could resume their fieldwork, and some students had to complete their requirements at alternative health care locations,” said Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Director Dr. Julie Bezold. “But they persevered through several virtual study groups and encouragement from their classmates, and today, each of them is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.”
Students also missed major milestone events, such as the OTA pinning ceremony and an in-person commencement. Like other health science programs, students waited to take their boards until testing sites could reopen.
Occupational therapy assistants work with occupational therapists to help patients at all stages of life develop or improve the skills needed to participate in everyday activities to enjoy independent and productive lives. Their patients are often living with an injury, illness, or disability.
The two-year program at Jackson State combines academic and fieldwork training to prepare students for a career in occupational therapy. The program was developed to help fill a shortage in the region, as many medical facilities have difficulty finding occupational therapy assistants to hire.