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Occupational Therapy Assistant

Welcome to the Occupational Therapy Assistant guide!

If you have questions or comments about this guide, please contact Emily Gilbert, Librarian for the School of Health Sciences, or Anna Phan, Learning Services Coordinator for the School of Health Sciences.

The Discovery All-in-One search draws results from a wide variety of databases at once, and contains journals such as:

  • American Journal of Occupational Therapy
  • Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy International
  • Physical & Occupational Therapy in Pediatrics
  • Physical & Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics
  • and many more!

The video below gives some examples of how to create a search string, but if you run into any problems you can always chat with a librarian or schedule a research appointment to get help.

The library has eBooks on a variety of occupational therapy topics. Some search options include:

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) is the organization that offers certification to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). You can see more information form the NBCOT below:

The links below are available on the internet and are meant to give information for the most common Occupational Therapy tests and assessments: Purpose, Sample Forms, Scoring Data, Test Administration, Reliability, and/or Validity. 

This is for informational purposes only; to actually execute these tests and assessments in practice they would have to be purchased. 

Most Common OT Test and Assessments

Additional OT Tests and Assessments

Flashcards are a fabulous way to test your knowledge and identify where you may need additional practice.  For tips on how to create and effectively use flashcards, watch the quick 10-minute video below.  For resources to create your own flashcards, click here or check out the links below the video.

Mobile Apps

Meet your course creators!

Sandra Rae

Sandra Rae is a Licensed and Registered Occupational Therapist with over 25 years of experience in the areas of Sensory Integration, Pediatrics, Eating Disorders, and Mental Health. She is also certified as a Parent Coach. Sandra strives to be a constant learner and she has a passion for inclusion and helping others feel connected to their communities.  

Sandra has Bachelor of Science degrees in Occupational Therapy and in Therapeutic Recreation. A Master of Science degree in Community Health and is currently working on her doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy.  She speaks across the country on the subjects of Sensory Integration/Autism, Mental Health Issues, and on Eating Disorders.

Sandra currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona and enjoys volunteering for local diversity groups as well as national opportunities with NBCOT and their item development committee.

David M. Merlo

David Merlo’s 36-year journey as educator, practitioner, consultant, and leader, is deeply rooted in the foundations of his occupational therapy education. Having taught over 18 years he taught within the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY, he retired with Emiratis Distinction. He is currently founding director of the  Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Bryant & Stratton College in Rochester, NY.

Dave is board director of Restoration Society, Inc., a person-centered, occupation-based community mental health program based on the Recovery Model. He also serves on committees and boards, locally and nationally, representing occupational therapy and psychiatric rehabilitation among consumers, other disciplines, and organizations - including New York State Occupational Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, and the Consortium of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Educators.

Dave built upon his education in occupational therapy by pursuing advanced studies in assistive technology, psychiatric rehabilitation, and adult education. In addition to his credential of Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA), he is also a Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioner (CPRP).  He shares what he learns by presenting at conferences, meetings, social networks, as well as teaching in the classroom.

One of Dave’s passions involves engagement with other OT practitioners in developing indigenous and sustainable rehabilitation and health services to the country of Haiti through Helping Hands and Beyond, Inc., a charitable organization operated by an occupational therapist. He has made several trips there to conduct mobile health clinics in the mountainous regions, to help build a health clinic and rehabilitation clinic, and to install solar power. More recently, his efforts have been focused on developing interdisciplinary and intercultural service-learning opportunities in Haiti for OT, PT, medical, education, arts, and other disciplines. His dream is to foster ongoing learning and sharing with the OT/PT academic program at Episcopal University of Haiti, the first and only OT/PT school in Haiti.

Luisa Fanara
I am currently a level II Fieldwork student at Jamestown Community College where I am pursuing an Occupational Therapy Assistant degree. Having the opportunity to complete my last fieldwork rotation in higher education/academia has been a privilege. Collaborating with an amazing, talented, and highly knowledgeable team of individuals to develop the OTA program at Rasmussen University has changed my perspective on where I would like to end up professionally. This is a very non-traditional, yet extremely rewarding practice area that I never would have considered as making a career prior to this experience. I feel that I have acquired a very diverse set of skills as well as made several important professional connections. Not only has this experience been educational, but it has been fun and I am coming out of this with a sense of pride and accomplishment. I gained confidence in my abilities to contribute to a team of incredible individuals. I am eager to watch this program blossom and shape it’s students into highly talented and respectable occupational therapy practitioners. During my time here, I have witnessed first-hand the extreme passion, intense thought, and pure dedication going into each component of this program, leaving me confident that each student will be given the education he or she deserves, especially with a team like this one behind you.
Abigail Swidergal

Abi Swidergal, BS, COTA/L, CKTP has worked with a pediatric population since graduation in 2013 in the northern Illinois suburbs, in hippotherapy, schools, outpatient, and Early Intervention. Currently, she is pursuing her Masters in Health Science with an expected graduation of December 2020. Abi is adjunct faculty in two OTA programs and thoroughly enjoyed the curriculum creation process with Rasmussen. Her passion shows in her volunteerism with her state organization, AOTA, and NBCOT. Advocacy for occupational therapy, but specifically for the role of OTAs is a main focus of her efforts to continue to improve the profession.

Madyson Abbey
I have been studying occupational therapy for two years now at Jamestown Community College and I am fulfilling my last fieldwork experience in higher education/academia. This program that I have had the opportunity to contribute to is beyond amazing and the people I have met while working on it has given me lifelong connections. Not only has this been a fun, educational experience for me, but I am so proud and thankful for the sense of accomplishment and confidence I have gained from working on this with so many hardworking individuals. I can't wait to see this program flourish and all of our hard work go towards educating new occupational therapy students.
​Shahana Kanchwala
I completed my Masters in Occupational Therapy in Syracuse, NY and returned to my home town in the Chicagoland area. I then completed my Post-Professional Doctoral Studies online from Boston University with the long-term goal of teaching in an academic setting in mind. I primarily have experience working with pediatrics in an inpatient psychiatric residential treatment setting, as well as in outpatient pediatrics in a clinic setting. One of my favorite concepts about occupational therapy practice in general is our ability to transform a client's mindset,  and how we can instill confidence and promote success just by the way we support and guide them to become functionally independent in what is meaningful to them. I truly believe our practice is the practice of the future and the sky's the limit for future Occupational Therapy Practitioners! 
Krysta M. Rives
I am a 2013 OTA graduate of Jamestown Community College in Jamestown, NY. I have experience in academic education, hand therapy, skilled nursing, home health, and a host of other practice areas that I had the opportunity to explore during my time as a travel therapy practitioner. I went on to earn degrees in Health Management, Business Administration and Adult education. I am also a certified kinesiotape practitioner.

As a first generation college graduate, I strongly believe in supporting my students in achieving their full academic potential. I do this by stepping outside of the traditional teacher role to connect on a more personal level with students so that I can better understand everyone’s unique needs.

I have served on my state board of directors as well as nationally on AOTA committees and various task forces related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Advocacy is a passion of mine so I try to encourage others to find something that sparks their interest and get involved!

Dr. Erin Naggy

Dr. Erin Naggy, OTD, OTR/L has been a practicing occupational therapist since 2001. She has worked primarily in Early Intervention, specializing in sensory interventions, feeding, and behavior interventions. She graduated from Gannon University in December of 2000, completed her Doctorate of Occupational Therapy in 2017. She currently serves as an assistant professor of Occupational Therapy Doctoral students at Slippery Rock University, and as an adjunct professor at Chatham University.


Dr. Anita Abuathareh

Dr. Anita Abuathareh earned a doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy from Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions; and her masters of science degree in Occupational Therapy from Florida International University. Anita has professional experience working in independent care facilities with a focus on children and adults living with cerebral palsy, working in both home health and in skilled nursing facilities as well as in various middle schools and high schools after school programs in her surrounding area. 

Being an Occupational Therapist since 2012, Anita also transitioned to academia to share her love of the profession with others seeking a similar path. Anita says: “What I have learned through life’s adversity, when you stay focused, driven, and passionate, nothing is impossible”. Leaving this belief, Anita strives to adapt new and innovative ways of meeting the dynamic needs of people seeking skilled services from occupational therapists.

Jessica Beasley

My experience draws from my background in special education and ABA, which, in conjunction with a bachelor's degree allowed me to work in the school systems with some amazing COTA/Ls and OTR/Ls. My passion for working with students with autism is what really prompted my interest in learning more about Occupational Therapy. It was really the "unicorn job" I had been looking for in a career. Although the bulk of my career thus far has been spent working in skilled nursing, I hope to venture back into pediatrics or continue my passion for OT as an educator or curriculum design contributor. Having "gotten my feet wet" in the curriculum design and OTA instructor field has opened my eyes to a new passion that I did not know existed; one which combines my passion for both education and occupational therapy. Knowing that I make a difference in shaping future therapists (and potential OTA instructors) is an honor and a privilege.   

Following my career dreams led me to meet my now husband, who was also an employee at San Joaquin Valley College in Fresno, California. We just moved back east to Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania and had a small wedding ceremony on July 17th 2020. 

Christopher Gaskins

Hello! I have over 10 years of experience helping individuals living with neurological conditions. I also have 6 years of experience providing neurorehabilitation for our nation’s military service members. Despite a rise in the prevalence of neurological conditions such a stroke and traumatic brain injury, there is a shortage of neurorehabilitation specialists equipped to serve the community living with neurological conditions and to educate rehabilitation students and professionals who wish to serve this community. I hope to fill this void with a unique approach to rehabilitation education that unites clinical neurorehabilitation practice, evidence-based neuroscience research, creativity, and bold ideas!

I hold a B.S. in Exercise Science from the University of South Carolina and a M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Howard University. Currently, I am also a Neuroscience and Cognitive Science PhD student at the University of Maryland, College Park. I am a member of the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine and Society for Neuroscience. I enjoy listening to music, traveling abroad, cooking, cycling, hiking, and spending time with loved ones.

André Johnson

André Johnson has been an occupational therapy assistant in Florida for ten years. His clinical background starts in his preferred setting of practice: pediatrics (school based & outpatient based) but he additionally has clinical experience in short term rehab, skilled nursing facilities, and some orthopedic experience. He has been in academia for the past six years: first solely as an instructor for three years and for the last three years as an academic fieldwork coordinator and instructor. His belief is every student brings a unique experience and perspective and encourages students to blend that unique piece of themselves into their development as a future occupational therapy practitioner. Mr. Johnson is also heavily involved in the Florida Occupational Therapy Association (FOTA) as the Member Concerns Coordinator and other roles and nationally for the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) on the Commission on Education (COE). Mr. Johnson believes being involved in your professional associations is a necessary requirement for early career transitioning therapists and it is critical to maintain membership throughout their respective professional careers. 

Sarah Tranum

Sarah Tranum has been a proud Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant for more than 20 years.  She is the current Program Director for the Jamestown Community College OTA program in Western NY.  Prior to this position she served as the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator for 17 years. Besides her associate degree in Occupational Therapy, she holds a bachelor's degree in human services, a master's degree in adult education and a post master's certificate in teaching in the virtual classroom.  Her clinical experience includes school based, home health, and community integration for those with traumatic brain injuries. She is passionate about teaching and about the field of OT and takes every opportunity she can to educate people about Occupational Therapy.  She is a leader in her job, where she serves in various roles, including the all-college Faculty Chair and Campus Governance Leader.  Ms. Tranum values civic engagement and volunteers in various capacities. Currently, she is the vice president of the local chapter of AMBUCS, she serves on the advisory board for the county Mental Health Association and served a 4-year term as the OTA representative for the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) Volunteer Leadership Development Committee (VLDC). In 2020 she was awarded the ROH by AOTA.