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Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants work with people experiencing different medical conditions or disabilities to develop, improve or restore functional daily living skills.
For millions of people, the service of occupational therapy is a lifeline. People of all ages receive it to help them participate in the activities of their daily life. Sometimes people need occupational therapy to do things we take for granted, like getting dressed, being productive at school or work, eating unassisted, even socializing.
Occupational therapists do this by helping people surmount their disabilities or medical conditions to do everyday things. The nature of the therapy depends on the individual and their environment; occupational therapists consider the whole person when developing a therapy plan. Occupational therapists collaborate with physicians and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive approach.
Occupational therapy has its roots, a century ago, in helping war veterans return to life at home. These days, occupational therapists work in rehabilitation hospitals and on the front lines of combat. Some occupational therapy programs help soldiers recognize and relieve stress. In addition, occupational therapy helps soldiers learn to care for themselves after an injury, including helping them use artificial limbs.
Effective January 1, 2006, all California-licensed occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants renewing a license or certificate in active status must certify that they completed the required number professional development units (PDU) through participation in professional development activities.
The Board transitioned from an annual to a biennial renewal. As of January 2009, all renewing practitioners will need to complete 24 PDUs. The PDUs must be earned during the renewal period. Your renewal period begins the day after your license expires and ends on your expiration date. For example, if your license expires on October 31, 2009, your PDUs must have been completed during the period November 1, 2007 – October 31, 2009.
If you have any questions or are unclear as to how many PDUs are need, please contact the Board.
You do not need to submit documentation of your PDUs with your renewal form, however, you are required to maintain documentation for a period of four (4) years following the renewal period. You must submit the evidence of completion if you are audited by the Board. Failure to provide records documenting completion of the continued competency requirements is grounds for citation and fine or disciplinary action.
A list of activities that qualify can be found in the CCR Section 4161.
One half (1/2) of the required number of PDUs must be directly related to the delivery of occupational therapy services. The remaining units can be in other areas related to your practice. The Board does not require that you take courses from approved providers. You are also allowed to take online or home study courses, as long as a course completion certificate is provided.
If you earn more than the required number of PDUs within your renewal period, a maximum of six (6) PDUs may be carried to the next renewal period.
Exemptions from the continued competency requirements can be found in the CCR Section 4163.
Continuing Competency Frequently Asked Questions
Q. When do the continuing competency requirements go into effect?
A. January 1, 2006.
Q. What is a Professional Development Unit?
A. Sixty minutes (or one contact hour) of participation in a profession development activity qualifies for one Professional Development Unit PDU.
Q. How many PDUs do I need?
A. You are required to complete 24 PDUs, which may be earned any time during your renewal period.
Q. When is my “renewal period?”
A. Your renewal period starts the day after your license expires and continues until your license expiration date or the date you sign your renewal form.
Q. Do I have to take a Board-approved course?
A. No. The Board does not approve courses for continuing competency. Twelve of the 24 units must be directly related to the delivery of OT services. The remaining units may include, but are not limited to, occupation based theory assessment/interview techniques, intervention strategies, and community/environment as related to your practice. All activities must be objectively measurable in terms of hours involved.
Q. Are continuing education courses the only way I can earn PDUs?
A. No. There are a variety of ways you can earn PDUs. They include involvement in a structured special interest or study group; structured mentoring; supervising the fieldwork of Level II students; publication of an article in a professional publication; publication of a chapter in a textbook; and making a first time presentation at a seminar, workshop or conference. Section 4161(c) of Title 16, California Code of Regulations (CCR) outlines how many units can be earned through these activities.
Q. Can I take courses on the internet?
A. Yes. Internet, DVD and video courses are acceptable as long as you receive a certificate of completion from the provider.
Q. Can I earn PDUs by reading books or articles?
A. You cannot count reading unless it is objectively measurable in terms of the hours involved (Title 16 CCR section 4161(b)(3)). If you read an article in a professional journal and receive credits and a certificate of completion, you may count those units; reading on your own will not be accepted.
Q. Can I carry over units into my next renewal period?
A. If you earn more than the required number of units during your renewal period, you can carry over six of the extra hours into the next renewal period.
Q. Can I use the same units that I use for my NBCOT certification?
A. Yes. If you maintain certification with NBCOT you can use the same units you completed for NBCOT to renew your license as long as those units were earned within your renewal period and meet the requirements outlined in Title 16 CCR, Sections 4161(b) and (c).
Q. Can I use the same units that I earned for my advanced practice certification?
Q. Do I have to send my course completion certificates to the Board?
A. No. You will be required certify that you completed the required number of units on your renewal form and list the activities on the back of the renewal form. You must maintain copies of course completion certificates and documentation of other activities completed for a period of four (4) years following the renewal period. The Board will conduct periodic random audits. Failure to complete continuing competency requirements or provide documentation during an audit can result in your license being placed on inactive status, a citation and fine, or other disciplinary action.
Q. My license is inactive. Do I need to earn PDUs?
A. No. Inactive licenses are exempt from continuing competency requirements. At the time that you decide to reactive your license, you will need to complete the required number of PDUs for a single renewal period.
Q. Do I need to earn PDUs for my advanced practice certification?
A. No. Advanced practice certifications do not require renewal and, therefore, do not have continuing competency requirements.
Professional Development Resources is an AOTA approved provider of continuing education (#3159). The assignment of AOTA CEUs does not imply endorsement of specific course content, products, or clinical procedures by AOTA.