Disclaimer: Practice guidelines provide licensees with general guidance to promote good practice. Law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and what may constitute professional misconduct.
For Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants
Most New York State licensed and registered occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants (licensees) must complete 36 hours of continuing competency learning activities during every 3-year registration cycle.
- At least 24 hours of the continuing competency learning activities must focus on professional subjects (subjects that contribute to competent occupational therapy practice.)
- The remaining 12 hours can focus on one or more related subjects (legal, ethical, regulatory, health care, reimbursement, supervision, business practices, professional conduct and other topics that relate to the occupational therapy professions or contribute to the health and welfare of the public.)
Note: You must be licensed and registered by the State Education Department to practice occupational therapy in New York. Your professional license is valid for life. However, registrations are valid for 3 years. In most cases, the State Education Department will reissue your registration only if you have completed 36 hours of continuing competency learning activities.
Continuing Competency Learning Activities
Licensees may engage in the following learning activities to meet New York State’s continuing competency requirement.
- Formal Academic Study, Continuing Education Courses, and/or Workshops
- Definition: Courses, workshops, seminars or employee in-service training programs offered by an approved continuing education sponsor, and credit-bearing academic study offered by an accredited college or university, and self-study. Self-study is structured study based on audio, audio-visual, written, on-line and other media offered by an approved sponsor. No more than 24 hours of the continuing competency requirement may be completed through self-study.
- Limitations: A minimum of 50 minutes of non-credit-bearing formal continuing education courses/workshops shall equal 1 continuing competency hour.
- For activities that carry continuing education units (CEUs): 0.1 CEU = 1 continuing competency hour.
- For credit-bearing university or college courses: 1 semester-hour of credit = 15 continuing competency hours, and 1 quarter-hour of credit = 10 continuing competency hours.
- Independent Study
- Definition: Self-initiated, goal-driven individualized professional study that is based on reading and research and may include supervision of students engaged in occupational therapy education program sponsored fieldwork.
- Verification: Licensee must create a narrative account of what he or she learned from the independent study and an overall written evaluation of the learning activity.
- Limitations: 3 hours of independent study = 1 continuing competency hour. No more than 12 continuing competency hours may be completed through independent study.
- Definition: Experience-based learning through a one-on-one mentorship, during which both the mentor and the learner may earn continuing competency hours. The mentorship shall provide a minimum of 15 hours of direct contact between the mentor and the learner.
- Verification: A record of the name of the mentor and learner, the mentorship goals, the mentor’s teaching plan and evaluation of the learner, and the learner’s narrative account of what was learned along with an evaluation of the mentorship should be retained by both the mentor and the learner.
- The mentor must be licensed as an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant, and have at least 5 years of post-licensure experience in the subject of the mentorship.
- The learner must be licensed as an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant.
- Each mentoring relationship may earn a maximum of 10 continuing competency hours.
- No more than 18 continuing competency hours can be completed through mentorship.
- 5 hours of mentoring shall equal one continuing competency hour.
- Publication of a field related article or textbook
- Definition: Authorship of an article published in a peer-reviewed journal, professional article in a non-peer-reviewed journal, or textbook related to occupational therapy.
- Verification: A copy of the published article or textbook.
- A maximum of 10 continuing competency hours can be earned for work as primary or co-author for an article published in a peer-reviewed journal or a textbook related to occupational therapy.
- A maximum of 5 continuing competency hours can be earned for work as primary or co-author for a professional article in a non-peer-reviewed journal related to occupational therapy.
- No more than 18 continuing competency hours may be completed through aforementioned publications.
- Related Activities
- A maximum of 10 continuing competency hours can be earned as primary or co-primary investigator in research activities.
- A maximum of 5 continuing competency hours can be earned for developing instructional materials, including but not limited to training manuals, multimedia or software programs, the subject of which shall be a professional subject.
- A maximum of 5 continuing competency hours can be earned for the peer review of an article in a journal or textbook.
- Participation in a Professional Presentation
- Definition: A presentation by the licensee at a professional conference sponsored by an approved organization that has an established record of sponsoring conferences for a profession licensed in Occupational Therapy.
- Limitations: A maximum of 5 continuing competency hours can be earned through professional presentation.
- Participation in a Professional Association and/or Practice Committee
- Definition: Chairing a professional practice committee of an international, national, state or local professional association that has an established record of providing support and guidance for the practice of occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants.
- Limitations: A maximum of 5 continuing competency hours can be earned by a licensee serving as chair for a professional association or practice committee. Said chairpersonship must be for a duration of at least 1 year within the registration period.
- Participation in a Professional Study Group
- Definition: The professional study group shall be composed of 3 or more licensed occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants. The study group must have written goals for what it expects to accomplish along with a written study plan to meet these goals. The study group shall evaluate the learning activity in writing when the group has met its study goals. The study group shall maintain attendance records and meeting notes for what transpired at each meeting of the study group.
- Verification: Records including a list of participants, an attendance record, group goals, study plan, notes of meetings, and the evaluation of the learning activity must be retained by all participants.
- Limitations: 2 hours of participation in a study group = 1 continuing competency hour. No more than 18 continuing competency hours can be completed through participation in a study group.
Exceptions to the Continuing Competency Requirement
All licensees must meet the New York State continuing competency learning requirements during each 3-year registration period, unless they qualify for an “Exemption” or an “Adjustment” or for a “Conditional Registration”, as described below.
- Licensees are exempt from the continuing competency requirements during their first 3-year registration period after being licensed in New York State. However, if a licensee had been licensed as an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant in another state before being licensed in New York State, the licensee must meet the continuing competency requirement when they reregister in New York during the first 3-year registration period.
- Licensees who have allowed their registrations to lapse and are no longer practicing occupational therapy in New York State are exempt until they resume practice in New York State.
The State Education Department may grant an adjustment to the continuing competency requirement for licensees who can show “good cause” for their non-compliance. This includes:
- Poor health (certified by a physician);
- A specific physical or mental disability (certified by an appropriate health care professional);
- Extended active duty with the Armed Forces of the United States;
- Other good cause to be determined by the Department.
The State Education Department may issue a conditional registration (valid for only 1 year) to a licensee who admits to noncompliance with the continuing competency learning requirements. To be granted a conditional registration, the licensee must agree to:
- complete the continuing competency hours lacking from the previous registration period during the 1 year conditional registration period; and
- complete the regular continuing competency hours (12 hours) during the conditional registration period; and,
- pay a fee that is the same as and in addition to, any applicable fee for the triennial registration required by section 7904 of the Education Law (occupational therapists) or required by Part 76.7 of the Commissioner's Regulations (occupational therapy assistants). In addition, the licensee must pay the $45 (occupational therapists) or $25 (occupational therapy assistants) mandatory continuing education fee.
At the end of the conditional registration year, the licensee provides proof of compliance and pays the full triennial registration fee for the remaining 2 years of the registration period.
Please Note: The State Education Department cannot issue a conditional registration for more than 1 year or renew a conditional registration.
Lapses in Registration to Practice Occupational Therapy
A licensee is not required to renew his or her registration every 3 years if he or she no longer practices occupational therapy in New York State. If the licensee plans to reactivate his or her New York registration after a lapse in registration to practice in New York State, the licensee must complete continuing competency learning activities, as described below.
- If the licensee was licensed to practice occupational therapy in another state or jurisdiction during the lapse in practice in New York State, the licensee must complete 36 hours of continuing competency learning activities to renew his or her registration.
- If the licensee was not licensed in another state or jurisdiction, the licensee must complete continuing competency learning activities at the rate of 1 hour per month for each month in which the licensee was not authorized to practice occupational therapy up to an additional 36 continuing competency hours.
Note: The required continuing competency hours must be completed within the 3-year period immediately prior to the new registration period, except that at least 12 hours must be completed within 12 months prior to the new registration period.
Record Keeping and Reporting
Each licensee must maintain the following records for at least 6 years after completing a continuing competency learning activity.
- A learning plan for continuing competency that shall record current and anticipated goals.
- A comprehensive list of completed learning activities, which includes:
- The sponsor's name, and any identifying number as applicable,
- A written verification of attendance, if attendance is applicable,
- The date and location of the learning activity,
- The number of continuing competency hours completed,
- Any additional recordkeeping requirements as applicable to other learning activities such as: independent study, mentorship, publication, presentation, or professional study group.
Please Note: The licensee is legally required to provide copies of such records to the State Education Department upon request.
Licensees are not required to submit continuing competency records when they renew their registration to practice occupational therapy. However, the registration renewal application includes a question regarding whether you have satisfactorily completed the required 36 hours of continuing competency learning activities.
- If you have completed 36 hours of approved learning continuing competency activities, you answer "yes".
- If you cannot or did not meet this requirement, you must answer "no". To continue to practice, you must qualify for an “Exemption” or an “Adjustment” or for a “Conditional Registration” as described in the previous section.
Organizations permitted by New York Law to offer Occupational Therapy Continuing Competency Courses (CE) to Licensees
New York State Law allows the following organizations to offer CE to licensees.
A sponsor of coursework or training that is approved by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), or the New York State Occupational Therapy Association (NYSOTA), or the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET), or the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), or an equivalent organization as determined by the State Education Department.
Postsecondary institutions, provided that such approval is limited only to the offering of courses in programs that are registered by the State Education Department, or in equivalent programs that are accredited by an acceptable accrediting agency.
Postsecondary institutions, or a consortium of such institutions, that offer programs that are registered as leading to either licensure in occupational therapy or authorization to practice as an occupational therapy assistant, or equivalent professional education programs accredited by an acceptable accrediting agency, for credit and noncredit offerings.
An organization that is approved by the State Education Department to offer CE to licensees, as described in the next section.
State Education Department Approved Sponsors of Occupational Therapy Continuing Competency Coursework (CE)
This section describes process for applying for State Education Department approval as a CE sponsor. Sponsors approvals are valid for 3 years and can be renewed.
An organization must submit the CE Sponsorship Approval Application, Form 1-SB OT along with supporting materials described below. The organization must enclose a check for $900 payable to the “NYS Department of Education”. The supporting documentation must verify that the organization:
- Will offer courses of study in one or more professional subjects,
- Is an organized educational entity or an entity with expertise in the professional area being taught, (i.e. a postsecondary degree-granting institution, occupational therapy association, hospital or health maintenance organization, public school, or other acceptable organization as determined by the State Education Department)
- Provides instructors who are qualified to teach the courses which will be offered, (i.e. faculty of an accredited occupational therapy or an occupational therapy assistant program, instructors specially qualified as authorities in the health sciences, or other acceptable course instructors as determined by the Department in consultation with the State Board for Occupational Therapy,
- Has and can clearly describe a method of assessing the learning of participants, and
- Will maintain records for at least 6 years from the date of coursework completion including:
- The name and curriculum vitae of the faculty,
- A record of attendance for all participating licensed occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants,
- A course outline detailing the instruction curriculum,
- Date and location of the course, and
- The number of hours for completion of the course.
After a review of the application, the State Education Department notifies the organization of its determination regarding approval as a sponsor of CE.
An approved sponsor must comply with the Section 76.10 of the Commissioner’s regulations. The State Education Department may conduct audits, site visits or request information from an approved CE sponsor to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. The approved CE sponsor must cooperate fully with the State Education Department in permitting such site visits and in providing such information. If the State Education Department determines that an approved sponsor is not meeting the standards as indicated, it may result in the denial or termination of the approved status of the sponsor.
Please Note: If an approved CE sponsor discontinues operation, the sponsor’s governing body must notify the State Education Department and transfer CE related records as directed by the State Education Department.