You’ve decided you are interested in becoming an occupational therapy assistant – congratulations. Now it’s time to think about where you would like to complete your education. You probably wound up here searching online for something like – OTA programs near me. What if I told you that location may not matter. Take for instance St. Catherine’s Online OTA program. It is a great option if you’re looking for flexibility and the freedom to study from any location because you complete 80% of the curriculum online and only 20% in person.
St. Catherine’s Online OTA program is made up of two parts: Online coursework and hands-on learning. As a student in the program, 80% of your time will be dedicated to online coursework and 20% of your time will be dedicated to hands-on learning experiences that include skills labs and fieldwork.
You’ll begin learning OTA concepts by completing various learning modules through an engaging e-Learning platform, called Canvas. “The first thing we see when opening a module are objectives,” says Tiffany Price, a St. Catherine Online OTA student. “Through these objectives, we know what our purpose is, we know by the end of the week what to expect from our lectures.”
The courses you engage with are created to resonate with all types of learning styles. Thanks to the 3D animations, creative design and simulated learning activities, regardless of how you learn best, there will be something for you.
Since this portion of the curriculum lets you complete coursework from any location, you’ll have flexibility and the freedom to create your own schedule. However, you must remember to complete all required coursework by the due date assigned. “The online experience works very well for me,” says Kelly Ummel, a St. Catherine Online OTA student. “You have to be diligent with your schedule so you have time to study.”
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As part of St. Catherine University’s Online OTA program, you’ll gain invaluable hands-on experience through skills labs and fieldwork. Each hands-on learning experience you participate in will be different from the next, however both skills lab and fieldwork work together to help you find success in your OTA education.
Skills lab and fieldwork experience through St. Catherine’s Online OTA program will bring a level of accessibility for you if you live outside of California, Texas, or Virginia, where our hands-on learning happens. As long as you are willing to travel once a month to complete skills lab and Level I Fieldwork, you can complete your online coursework from anywhere. Let’s take a closer look at what skills lab and fieldwork have to offer.
Under the guidance of trusted instructors, skills labs teach you how to safely put concepts you’ve already learned into hands-on practice. Throughout your online OTA education, you will be required to complete a series of 12 skills labs. Together, these labs cover the six core areas of occupational therapy practice, which will help prepare you for the 720 hours of supervised fieldwork experience needed to complete the program. “Everything makes sense when you come to lab,” says Alexander Barone, online OTA student. “If you’re confused about subject matter online, it’s answered in lab.”
St. Catherine’s online OTA skills lab facilities can be found throughout Virginia, California, and Texas. From outpatient clinics to skilled nursing facilities, lab facilities can take place anywhere an OTA would practice. Again, you are not required to live in these states, you just have to be willing to travel to the same site to successfully complete all 12 labs.
Before the start of each lab, you’ll want to bring your lab manual, student planner, any textbooks that correspond to the lab, a laptop, and snacks (labs are usually five hours long). When you first start lab, a lot of information will be presented to you, so it’s important that you are taking notes throughout. This way, you can refer back to pertinent information as needed.
The rehab facility in which lab takes place will provide you with cutting-edge equipment, which you will get to handle as the complexity of the labs advance. “The instructor will bring in items for transferring patients, which is nice because we’ve only ever seen them online,” says Kelly Ummel, Online OTA student.
Fieldwork is an opportunity for you to put what you’ve been learning online into practice – only this time, on real people. “Fieldwork is giving us the practical knowledge; it’s how we apply our reading, text, videos and lectures into practical use,” says Tiffany. In addition to gaining real-life experience, fieldwork will offer you exposure to potential employers. St. Catherine University’s Online OTA program will require you to complete two levels of fieldwork, totaling 720 hours.
Starting in the second half of the second semester, Level I fieldwork will take place in the same weekend as your skills lab, near your lab site in either California, Virginia or Texas. Remember, this doesn’t mean you have to live in one of these states to enroll in the online OTA program. Since the program is 80% online, a handful of student choose to travel to the Level I OTA fieldwork sites and 12 skills labs instead of relocating. In total, Level I Fieldwork will consist of 80 hours.
“Fieldwork I is all about observing. You talk with the instructor and even meet an OTA, so you can pick their brain about employment opportunities.” – Kelly Ummel, Online OTA Student
Beginning during the fourth semester, Level II Fieldwork will be offered across all 50 states. To determine your particular location, you will be paired with a dedicated academic fieldwork coordinator. This individual will work with you to find an OTA fieldwork site that best suits your needs. In total, Level II will consist of two full-time, 8-week rotations.
“Fieldwork II is much more hands-on and interactive with actual clients. You will eventually get a caseload and perform treatments.”
As you can see, with St. Catherine’s Online OTA program, finding an OTA program near you may not be necessary. If you are ready to earn your OTA degree without having to relocate, contact an admissions counselor today.