OTA Candidacy Release

LAURINBURG, NC April 20, 2022 The St. Andrews Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant (BSOTA) program has been granted Candidacy Status from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)! St. Andrews University, a branch of Webber International University, introduced the intended addition of the OTA Program in its program offerings in 2020. Rachelle Lydell, Director and Assistant Professor for the BSOTA Program and Melissa Gibson, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Professor, have worked tirelessly for programmatic accreditation by designing coursework to meet ACOTE accreditation standards; the granting of Candidacy Status is the first step of the three-step ACOTE accreditation process.


The Occupational Therapy profession was founded during World War I & II. During this time, Occupational Therapists (OT) were known as “Reconstruction Aides” who provided services primarily to soldiers suffering from mental illness (such as PTSD) and physical dysfunction because of the war. Occupational Therapy interventions during this time focused on utilizing arts and crafts; however, when the war was over, OT’s scope of practice shifted towards using activities of daily living as a primary form of treatment to benefit a variety of different conditions. As the demand for skilled OTs continued to grow, the types of treatment interventions and modalities expanded to include physical agent modalities, sensory integration, hippotherapy, and neurodevelopmental approaches. Today, evidence-based practice and research continues to impact and advance the treatment and use of therapeutic modalities so that OT practitioners can work with a variety of unique diagnoses within different and exciting settings.


The BSOTA Program at St. Andrews is making history in OTA education as it is the first of its kind to offer an entry level baccalaureate degree for Occupational Therapy Assistants. The BSOTA curriculum is designed to prepare students with coursework in the arts, humanities, and sciences with occupational therapy assistant professional studies. Students who complete the BSOTA program at St. Andrews will also graduate with a minor in Health Services Administration. The program is designed to be completed over four years and in two phases: Foundational and Professional. In the Foundational phase of the program, students fulfill their general education requirements and prerequisites for the program. Following an application process and acceptance into the Professional phase, students begin OTA didactic coursework and clinical education (fieldwork) as well as courses required for the Health Services Administration minor. With Candidacy Status secured, the first cohort of accepted OTA students will enter the professional phase of the program and the first cohort of freshman pre-OTA students will begin in the Fall Semester of 2022.


Professor Lydell said “I’m excited to guide and educate the next generation of Occupational Therapy Assistants who possess a unique skillset and deep respect for human values. These students will have an incredible opportunity to gain a hands-on experience through student-centered learning and one-on-one mentorship with expert instructors who are also licensed clinicians.  The program will provide students with the highest chance for successful employment as occupational therapy assistants and healthcare providers after graduation. The combination of OTA and Health Services Administration education is one of a kind and truly unique and will prepare students for a broad spectrum of careers in the healthcare field.”


The St. Andrews University (a branch of Webber International University) Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant (BSOTA) Program has been granted licensure approval by the UNC Board of Governors (General Administration) and is seeking accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The accreditation process is used by ACOTE as a mechanism for ensuring the development of quality programs and providing feedback to new and developing programs prior to the admission of the first class of students.  The program has been granted CANDIDACY STATUS as the first step in the three-step accreditation process for new programs which means that, on the basis of the examination of the program’s Candidacy Application Document, ACOTE has determined that the proposed program meets eligibility criteria, demonstrating the ability to meet the applicable ACOTE Accreditation Standards for a Bachelor’s-Degree-Level Educational Program for the Occupational Therapist Assistant, if fully implemented as planned. The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) is located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org for questions about accreditation.


Webber International University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, bachelor, and master degrees. Questions about the accreditation of Webber International University may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (www.sacscoc.org).