Practicing as an occupational therapist

Overview

Graduate occupational therapy degrees granted by Australian universities are recognized by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) and by the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulator Organizations (ACOTRO).

Graduates who have met all requirements, including completion of a minimum number of qualified fieldwork hours (1,000), are eligible to become licensed to practice in Canada after completing the process outlined below.

Steps to Practice

All internationally educated occupational therapists begin their registration process with the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulator Organizations (ACOTRO) before applying to a provincial regulator.

After completing the following steps, internationally educated occupational therapists (IEOT) can become certified to practice as an occupational therapist in Canada.

 Step #1 Complete Education
Complete an undergraduate degree and gain admission to a Master of Occupational Therapy degree or equivalent. Be sure to accumulate 1000+ hours of qualified fieldwork and graduate from your graduate occupational therapy degree in order to meet the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) requirements. If it’s determined that not enough hours were completed, you would undertake a process called the “Academic Equivalency Review.”

Step #2 Apply to ACOTRO’s Substantial Equivalency Assessment System (SEAS)
Apply to the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations (ACOTRO) to have your credentials assessed by their “Substantial Equivalency Assessment System” (SEAS).

The assessment includes four sections:

1. Academic Credential Review (done by a third party) – Credential Evaluation Report obtained via third party World Education Services (WES) at a cost of $200–$300

2. Profession-specific Credential Assessment – Applicants fill out Curriculum and Fieldwork Self-Assessment form allowing ACOTRO to create their PSCA

3. Jurisprudence Admissions Test – An open-book, multiple-choice exam which focuses on the standards of practice and ethics expected of occupational therapists. Applicants may take this test up to two times.

4. Competency Assessment – A day-long (usually six hours) interview similar to an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE)

Step #3 Write National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam (NOTCE)
Once the SEAS has sent your assessment outcome to the province where you want to practice, you can write the CAOT’s National Occupational Therapy Certification Exam (NOTCE).

  • Multiple-choice exam consisting of 40 case studies with 200 related questions, with a passing mark of 70+%
  • Cost of registration: $655+tax
  • Exam sites available in cities across Canada, and a test at an additional site in Canada can be requested if needed at a cost of $400+tax
  • Test results are available via your CAOT account approximately 6 weeks after writing

FAQs

You don’t meet the required OT prerequisites

Most Australian university occupational therapy (OT) programs require a student to have completed specific undergraduate subjects.

1. Apply to the University of Sydney Master of Occupational Therapy program
The Sydney MOT does not require students to have completed prerequisites; however, previous studies in anatomy and physiology will make for a more competitive application.

2. Enroll in the missing prerequisite(s)
Most Australian universities will let students take non-award courses during the application season to make up the prerequisites they are missing. This means you can submit your application with your interim transcript and proof of enrollment into the prerequisite course. Before enrolling in any prerequisite course, we advise checking with either your admissions officer or the university to make sure the course will satisfy the prerequisite.

If you haven’t completed the prerequisite course(s) by the time offers are issued, then universities may issue a conditional offer. Please note that not all universities will issue conditional offers and it may vary for each program. It’s always best to check with your admissions officer to see if your program of interest will give conditional offers.

What is Substantial Equivalency Assessment System?

According to the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations  (ACOTRO), Substantial Equivalency Assessment System (SEAS) is an assessment process to determine the extent to which an internationally educated occupational therapist’s (IEOT’s) educational qualifications and competencies are substantially equivalent to those of a Canadian-educated occupational therapist.

It is the first step for all IEOTs in the Canadian registration process.

SEAS is a multi-stage assessment approach that

  • examines the education that IEOTs originally completed;
  • allows IEOTs to demonstrate what they know and can do; and
  • ensures IEOTs are familiar with the Canadian legislation, ethics and standards of practice that comprise the framework for occupational therapy practice in Canada.

SEAS has four main components:

1. Review of the Academic Credential Assessment (ACA)
2. Curriculum and Fieldwork – Profession-specific Credential Assessment (PSCA) Review
3. Jurisprudence Knowledge Assessment Test (JKAT)
4. Competency Assessment Interview

 

Do I need to re-register as an OT if I move to another province?

According to the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations (ACOTRO), yes. Registration is regulated by province, so every time you move to a new province, you must re-register. Visit the provincial website of the regulatory body with which you wish to register to learn more. Registration can be an expensive process. You may wish to investigate job opportunities in other provinces before submitting your registration documents.

What should I include in my personal statement?

This statement should be no longer than one page and should outline your reasons for applying to study occupational therapy, what you hope to gain from it, and should include a brief statement concerning your suitability for the program.

I have taken a lot of psychology courses, should I send all my course outlines?

You’re welcome to send in as many course outlines you feel are applicable to your occupational therapy program application.

Do I need to send reference letters for OT programs?

Reference letters are not required, although Monash University does require referee contacts for its occupational therapy program.

What is the competitive GPA for occupational therapy programs?

Anything above a 75% cGPA is considered competitive for OzTREKK’s listed occupational therapy programs. If you have lower than a 65% cGPA, we would not recommend applying.

What is the process for OT accreditation in Canada?

The national professional body is the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT) OzTREKK encourages all students to connect with the regulatory body of their province. Generally, students need to accumulate 1,000 hours of fieldwork as a part of their program. Most programs are also generally recognized by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists. If students don’t have the 1,000 hours, they can still apply but will need to go through an additional process called an “Academic Equivalency Review.”

Students must apply to the Association of Canadian Occupational Therapy Regulatory Organizations (ACOTRO) to have their credentials assessed by a process called “Substantial Equivalency Assessment System” (SEAS). The assessment is designed to confirm coursework quality and includes a competency-based assessment to ensure applicants can practice occupational therapy. The assessment includes four sections:

  • Academic Credential Review (done by a third party) – WES does a Credential Evaluation Report
  • Profession-specific Credential Assessment – transcripts and curriculum
  • Jurisprudence Admissions Test – knowledge of the Canadian health care system and other legal aspects of practicing
  • Competency Assessment – a day-long “interview” similar to an objective structured clinical examination (OSCE)

Once complete, SEAS sends a report to the province in which the candidate wants to study and when successful, the student will write the National exam (required in all provinces except Quebec).

The cost is approximately $3,100 (and may vary depending on a student’s situation) + $200 to $300 for the Credential Review. The Ontario registration can take up to 30 days and everything before registering in a province would vary, depending on a student’s preparedness.