Occupational Therapy Degrees Through Military Education Benefits
By Ashley Boyce, an allied health world staff writer
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How to use my GI Bill to advance my Occupational Therapy trainingGI Bill benefits are used to advance education in order to gain higher levels of certification upon completion of military service for those who wish to remain in this field when returning to the civilian work force. The AOTA Specialty Certifications and Board Certifications provided through The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), inc. (www.aota.org) are available to former military service men and women with no out-of-pocket expense through the use of their GI Bill. Active duty military personnel can also attend occupational therapy schools independent of their military obligations using military education benefits. Active duty personnel are eligible for these benefits after two years of service.
It is very important to note that after completing military service in any capacity, the world is yours. Your military experience does not in any way have to be related to this field in order to take occupational therapy courses through the Montgomery GI Bill upon completion of your military service.
Having prior experience working as a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA) in the military lends itself perfectly to satisfying the eligibility requirements for Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapist Assistants who wish to pursue AOTA Specialty and Board Certifications. Eligibility requirements satisfied by military occupational therapy experience include:
- Holding a technical degree in occupational therapy
- Holding current certification through the AOTA
- Having no fewer than 2,000 hours of experience in occupational therapy or as an assistant to an occupational therapist
There are several advanced Board and Specialty Certifications that can be pursued by taking occupational therapy courses through the Montgomery GI Bill after completing military service. These specialties are as follows:
AOTA Board Certifications:
- Gerontology Board Certification: This certification program is designed to address the specific needs of adults in the latter part of their lives dealing with neuromuscular limitations.
- Mental Health Board Certification: This program teaches students about the relationship between mental health and physical mobility. Its focus is on reducing the risk of trauma caused by adverse psychosocial conditions.
- Pediatric Board Certification: This program prepares students with a focus on how to facilitate physical and mental engagement in the context of healthy adaptive childhood development.
- Physical Rehabilitation Board Certification: This advanced board program addresses the ways in which to cater to individuals with physical rehabilitative needs in a way that fosters a healthy lifestyle.
AOTA Specialty Certifications:
- Specialty Certification in Driving and Community Mobility: This specialty program trains occupational therapists in how to evaluate and facilitate independent driving and mobility taking into account the potential for environmental and circumstantial challenges.
- Specialty Certification in Environmental Modification: This program deals with the need to make environmental accommodations for those with neuromuscular disorders. This would include instruction on how to make kitchen, bathroom, and household appliances more accommodating through custom modifications.
- Specialty Certification in Feeding, Eating, and Swallowing: In this program students will learn how to facilitate safe eating such that clients can meet their own nutritional and psychosocial needs.
- Specialty Certification in Low Vision: This program involves learning to help clients make use of their remaining vision in a way that optimizes their quality of life and ability to perform routine tasks.
For information on the specific competencies, criteria, and desired client outcomes required of each of these AOTA Board and Specialty Certificates visit www.oata.org.
The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), Inc (www.nbcot.org) is another highly respected occupational therapy professional association and certifying agency. The NBCOT grants the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) credential to military service men and women who choose to use their GI Bill for additional occupational therapy training. The NBCOT recognizes eight specialties referred to as Practice Areas of Emphasis:
- Administration and Management
- Work and Industry
- Mental Health
- Education and Research