NEW JERSEY REGISTER
VOLUME 33, NUMBER 15
MONDAY, AUGUST 6, 2001
RULE PROPOSAL
LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY
DIVISION OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ADVISORY COUNCIL
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST; OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANT
LICENSING PROCEDURE: OCCUPATIONAL THERAPIST; OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANT; TEMPORARY LICENSE

Additions are indicated by <<+ Text +>>; deletions by <<- Text ->>.
Changes in tables are made but not highlighted.


Proposed Amendments: N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1, 3.1, 3.2 and 4.1

Authorized By: Mark S. Herr, Director, Division of Consumer Affairs.

Authority: N.J.S.A. 45:9-37.51 et seq., specifically 45:9-37.75.

Proposal Number: PRN 2001-302.

Submit comments by September 5, 2001 to:

Laura Anderson, Executive Director
Occupational Therapy Advisory Council
124 Halsey Street
PO Box 45037
Newark, New Jersey 07101

The agency proposal follows:

Summary

Pursuant to the Occupational Therapy Licensing Act, P.L. 1993, c.85, N.J.S.A. 45:9-37.51 et seq., specifically 45:9-37.75 (the Act), the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs (the Director), in consultation with the Occupational Therapy Advisory Council (the Council), proposes to amend N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1, concerning the eligibility requirements for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants, and N.J.A.C. 13:44K-3.1, 3.2 and 4.1, concerning the licensure procedures for occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and temporary licensees, respectively.

N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1(a)3 currently provides that to be eligible for licensure as an occupational therapist, an applicant must have completed the academic requirements of an educational program in occupational therapy accredited by a nationally recognized agency. The Director proposes that N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1(a)3 be amended to provide that an applicant for licensure as an occupational therapist must have completed a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in occupational therapy from an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Higher Education. An applicant who has completed a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in any field other than occupational therapy must also have fulfilled the academic requirements of an educational program in occupational therapy which has been accredited by a nationally recognized agency.

The Director also proposes to amend subsection (b) of N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1, which currently provides that an applicant for a license as an occupational therapy assistant must have completed the academic requirements of an occupational therapy assistant program. The Director proposes that subsection (b) be amended to provide that an applicant for an occupational therapy assistant's license must have completed the requirements for an associate's degree or its equivalent in occupational therapy from an accredited college or university. If an applicant has completed the requirements for an associate's degree or its equivalent in any field other than occupational therapy, the applicant must have also satisfied the academic requirements of an occupational therapy assistant program accredited by a nationally recognized agency.

The Director proposes these amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1 in order to ensure that applicants for licensure have an appropriate level of education. The Director believes that the proposed amendments are necessary in order to promote the health, welfare and safety of individuals seeking occupational therapy services in New Jersey by ensuring that only the most qualified applicants are granted licensure. The Director also proposes technical amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1 for clarification purposes.

In addition, the Director proposes amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44K-3.1, 3.2 and 4.1, in order to clarify what information must be submitted by applicants for an occupational therapist license, an occupational therapy assistant license, and a temporary license. N.J.A.C. 13:44K-3.1 and 4.1(a) are amended to provide that the application for an occupational therapist license or a temporary occupational therapist license must contain documentation of the applicant's education, which must be submitted directly to the Council by the college, university or educational program in occupational therapy attended by the applicant. In addition, a completed application must contain documentation verifying that the applicant has completed at least 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience, for a minimum of 720 hours. The 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience must have been completed within 24 months of the applicant's completion of his or her academic requirements. The Director believes that such a requirement is necessary in order to ensure that the fieldwork component of the applicant's training is obtained within a reasonable amount of time following the completion of the academic requirements. Such a requirement will help to ensure that the knowledge obtained by the applicant in the didactic phase of his or her training does not become stale.

N.J.A.C. 13:44K-3.2 and 4.1(b) are proposed to be amended to provide that all applicants for occupational therapy assistant licenses, or temporary occupational therapy assistant licenses, must submit documentation of their having met the academic requirements, as well as evidence of having satisfied at least 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience, with a minimum of 360 hours. The proposed amendment requires that the 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience must have been completed by the applicant within 12 months of completing his or her academic requirements.

In addition, N.J.A.C. 13:44K-3.1, 3.2 and 4.1 are proposed to be amended to provide that all applicants must submit a letter from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, verifying that the applicant has successfully completed the requisite certification examination, or in the case of applicants for temporary licensure, verifying that the applicant is eligible to take the examination. Applicants must also submit two certificates of good moral character and a form from every state in which the applicant is now or has ever been licensed to practice occupational therapy. In addition, the applicant must provide verification that the applicant's license in each state is in good standing. The verification of state licensure must be forwarded to the Council directly by the state in which the license is or was held. All occupational therapy assistant applicants and all applicants for temporary licensure must also submit a verification of supervision form from all their current employers. All applicants must submit a form verifying a change of name, if applicable, as well as the application fee set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:44K-11.1, and a recent, passport style photo of the applicant.

The Director believes that the proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44K-3.1, 3.2 and 4.1 will clarify for applicants the information that must be submitted to the Council. The Director believes that the information required to be submitted by applicants is necessary to ensure that an appropriate decision regarding each applicant's request for licensure can be made by the Council.

Social Impact

The Director believes that the proposed amendments will have an impact upon individuals applying for licensure as occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants, and those individuals applying for temporary licensure, to the extent that applicants for permanent or temporary licensure as occupational therapists must have completed a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, and applicants for permanent or temporary licensure as occupational therapy assistants must have completed an associates degree or its equivalent. The proposed amendments will have an impact upon applicants who do not satisfy these educational requirements because such applicants will be ineligible for licensure. The Director also believes that the proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44K-3.1, 3.2 and 4.1, will have an impact upon applicants for permanent and temporary licensure by clarifying for all applicants what documentation must be submitted to the Council with a completed application.

Economic Impact

The Director believes that the proposed amendments may have an economic impact upon applicants for licensure, to the extent that such individuals will incur administrative costs associated with submitting the documentation required for a completed application. The Director believes that such costs will be minimal. In addition, the proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1, which will require applicants for an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant license to have completed a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, or an associate's degree or its equivalent, respectively, may have an economic impact upon some applicants, to the extent that such applicants may not have the requisite educational background to qualify for licensure. The Director, however, believes that any economic impact that may result from the proposed amendments will be outweighed by the benefit to the general public in ensuring that only the most qualified applicants are granted a license to engage in occupational therapy services.

Federal Standards Statement

A Federal standards analysis is not required because the proposed amendments are governed by N.J.S.A. 45:9-37.51 et seq., and are not subject to any Federal standards or requirements.

Jobs Impact

The proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1 may have an impact upon the number of applicants who will qualify for a license to engage in the practice of occupational therapy. The proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1, which will require applicants for an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant license to have completed a bachelor's degree or its equivalent, or an associate's degree or its equivalent, respectively, may effect the number of persons qualified to apply for licensure, to the extent that some applicants will not meet these educational requirements. The Director believes that any impact upon the number of jobs in the State that may result from the proposed amendments will be minimal, and that such impact is outweighed by the health and safety benefit to consumers associated with ensuring that only the most qualified individuals are granted a license to provide occupational therapy services.

Agriculture Industry Impact

The Director does not believe that the proposed amendments will have any impact on the agriculture industry of the State.

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

 The Regulatory Flexibility Act (the Act), N.J.S.A. 52:14B-16 et seq., requires the Director to give a description of the types and an estimate of the number of small businesses to which the proposed amendments will apply. There are approximately 1,450 individuals expected to initially apply for licensure. If such individuals are deemed "small businesses," within the meaning of the Act, then the following analysis applies. The Act requires the Director to set forth the reporting, recordkeeping and other compliance requirements of the proposed amendments, including the kinds of professional services likely to be needed to comply with these requirements. The Act further requires the Director to estimate the initial and annual compliance costs of the proposed amendments, to outline the manner in which it has designed the proposed amendments to minimize any adverse economic impact upon small businesses, and to set forth whether the proposed amendments establish differing compliance requirements for small businesses.

The proposed amendments do not impose any reporting or recordkeeping requirements upon applicants for licensure. The proposed amendments, however, do impose various compliance requirements upon such individuals. N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1(a) requires an applicant for licensure as an occupational therapist to be at least 18 years of age and to be of good moral character. An applicant must also have obtained a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in occupational therapy, or if the applicant has a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in any other field, he or she must also have completed the academic requirements of an educational program in occupational therapy. N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1(a) also requires an applicant for an occupational therapy license to have completed 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience and have successfully completed the certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

Subsection (b) of N.J.A.C. 13:44K-2.1 requires an applicant for licensure as an occupational therapy assistant to be at least 18 years of age and to be of good moral character. An applicant must also have successfully completed an associate's degree or its equivalent in occupational therapy, or if the applicant has completed an associate's degree or its equivalent in any another field, he or she must also have satisfied the academic requirements of an occupational therapy assistant program. Applicants for an occupational therapy assistant's license must have completed at least 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience and must have successfully completed the certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.

N.J.A.C. 13:44K-3.1, 3.2 and 4.1 require applicants for an occupational therapist license, an occupational therapist assistant's license, and a temporary license, to submit to the Board documentation of the applicant's education, including official transcripts, and documentation indicating that the applicant has completed the required fieldwork experience. An applicant must also submit letters from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, indicating that the applicant has passed the National Board's certification examination, or in the case of an applicant for a temporary license, that the applicant is eligible to take the examination. All applicants must also submit two certificates of good moral character and a verification from any state in which the applicant has ever been licensed to engage in the practice of occupational therapy. Applicants for licensure as an occupational therapy assistant or for temporary licensure must also submit verification of supervision from all their current employers. If any of the documentation submitted by the applicant refers to the applicant by a different name, the applicant must also submit a certified verification of name change. All applicants must also submit an application fee and a photo of the applicant, certified by a Notary Public and signed by the applicant.

No additional professional services will be needed to comply with the proposed amendments. The costs of compliance with the proposed amendments are discussed in the Economic Impact statement above. The Director believes that the proposed amendments should be uniformly applied to all applicants for licensure in the field of occupational therapy in order to ensure the public's health, safety and welfare in the provision of occupational therapy services, and, therefore, no differing compliance requirements for any licensees are provided based on the size of the business.

 Full text of the proposal follows:

<< NJ ADC 13:44K-2.1>>

13:44K-2.1 Eligibility requirements; occupational therapist; occupational therapy assistant

(a) To be eligible for licensure as an occupational therapist, an applicant shall <<-fulfill the following requirements->>:

1. Be at least 18 years of age;

2. Be of good moral character;

3. <<-Present evidence to the Director of having->> <<+Have+>> successfully completed:

<<+i. A bachelor's degree or its equivalent in occupational therapy from an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Higher Education or its successor; or+>>

<<+ii. A bachelor's degree or its equivalent in any field other than occupational therapy from an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Higher Education or its successor and have fulfilled+>> the academic requirements of an educational program in occupational therapy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, the World Federation of Occupational Therapy, or other nationally recognized <<-programmatic agency;

4. <<-Submit to the Director evidence of having->> <<+Have+<< successfully completed at least 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience approved by the educational institution at which the applicant completed the occupational therapy education program <<-as evidenced->> in accordance with (a)3<<+i and ii+<< above; and

5. <<-Successfully->> <<+Have successfully+>> complete<<+d+>> the certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), or its predecessors<<-, to determine the applicant's competence to practice occupational therapy->>.

(b) To be eligible for licensure as an occupational therapy assistant, an applicant shall <<-fulfill the following requirements->>:

1. Be at least 18 years of age;

2. Be of good moral character;

3. <<-Present evidence to the Director of having->> <<+Have+>> successfully completed<<+:+>>

<<+i. An associate's degree or its equivalent in occupational therapy from an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Higher Education or its successor; or+>>

<<+ii. An associate's degree or its equivalent in any field other than occupational therapy from an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Higher Education or its successor and have fulfilled+>> the academic requirements of an educational program for occupational therapy assistant accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, the World Federation of Occupational Therapy, or other nationally recognized <<-programmatic->> agency;

4. <<-Submit to the Director evidence of having->> <<+Have+>> successfully completed at least 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience approved by the educational institution at which the applicant completed the occupational therapy education program as evidenced in accordance with (b)3<<+i and ii+>> above; and

5. <<-Successfully->> <<+Have successfully+>> complete<<+d+>> the certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), or its predecessors<<-, to determine the applicant's competence to practice occupational therapy->>.

<< NJ ADC 13:44K-3.1 >>

13:44K-3.1 Licensing procedure: occupational therapist

(a) An applicant for licensure as an occupational therapist shall submit the following to the Council:

1. A completed application form which contains <<-information concerning the applicant's educational and experiential background;->> <<+the following:+>>

<<+i. Documentation of the applicant's education, including official transcripts, which indicate that the applicant received a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Higher Education or its successor, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the college or university;+>>

<<+ii. If the applicant has received a bachelor'sdegree or its equivalent in any field other than occupational therapy, documentation of the applicant's education, including official transcripts, which indicate that the applicant has completed the academic requirements of an educational program in occupational therapy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, the World Federation of Occupational Therapy, or other nationally recognized agency, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the educational program;+>>

<<+iii. Documentation which indicates that the applicant has successfully completed at least 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience, with a minimum of 720 hours, approved by the educational institution at which the applicant completed the occupational therapy education program in accordance with (a)1i or ii above, which shall be submitted to the Council directly by the educational institution. The applicant shall have completed the 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience within 24 months of completing the academic requirements of the educational institution. Documentation of the supervised fieldwork experience shall contain, at a minimum, the number of hours per week the applicant worked and the location where the supervised fieldwork was conducted;+>>

<<+iv. A "Verification of Certification" letter from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) indicating that the candidate has successfully completed the certification examination for occupational therapists;+>>

<<+v. Two completed "Certificates of Good Moral Character";+>>

<<+vi. A "Verification of State License" form from any state in which the applicant is now or has ever been licensed to practice as an occupational therapist which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the state in which the license is or was held; and+>>

<<+vii. A certified verification of name change, if applicable;+>>

2. The application fee set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:44K-11.1; and

3. <<-A "Letter of Verification" from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) indicating that the candidate has successfully completed the certification examination for occupational therapists.->> <<+A two inch by two inch, recent head and shoulder photo of the applicant, certified by a Notary Public, and signed by the applicant.+>>

<< NJ ADC 13:44K-3.2 >>

13:44K-3.2 Licensing procedure: occupational therapy assistant

(a) An applicant for licensure as an occupational therapy assistant shall submit the following to the Council:

1. A completed application form which contains <<-information concerning the applicant's educational and experiential background;->> <<+the following:+>>

<<+i. Documentation of the applicant's education, including official transcripts, which indicate that the applicant received an associate's degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Higher Education or its successor, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the college or university;+>>

<<+ii. If the applicant has received an associate's degree or its equivalent in any field other than occupational therapy, documentation, including official transcripts, which indicate that the applicant has completed the academic requirements of an educational program for occupational therapy assistants accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, the World Federation of Occupational Therapy, or other nationally recognized agency, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the educational program;+>>

<<+iii. Documentation which indicates that applicant has successfully completed at least 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience, with a minimum of 360 hours, approved by the educational institution at which the applicant completed the occupational therapy education program in accordance with (a)1ii above, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the educational institution. The applicant shall have completed the 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience within 12 months of completing the academic requirements of the educational institution. Documentation of the supervised fieldwork experience shall contain, at a minimum, the number of hours per week the applicant worked and the location where the supervised fieldwork was conducted;+>>

<<+iv. A "Verification of Certification" letter from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) indicating that the applicant has successfully completed the certification examination for occupational therapy assistants;+>>

<<+v. Two completed "Certificates of Good Moral Character";+>>

<<+vi. A "Verification of State License" form from any state in which the applicant is now or has ever been licensed to practice as an occupational therapy assistant which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the state in which the license is or was held;+>>

<<+vii. A "Verification of Supervision" form from all current employers; and+>>

<<+viii. A certified verification of name change, if applicable;+>>

2. The application fee set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:44K-11.1; and

3. <<-A "Letter of Verification" from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) indicating that the candidate has successfully completed the certification examination for occupational therapists assistants.->> <<+One two inch by two inch, recent head and shoulder photo of the applicant, certified by a Notary Public, and signed by the applicant.+>>

<< NJ ADC 13:44K-4.1 >>

13:44K-4.1 Temporary license

(a) A temporary license shall be available to an applicant for examination as an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant with his or her initial application for examination. The holder of a temporary license may practice only under the direct supervision of a licensed occupational therapist.

(b) An applicant for temporary licensure <<+as an occupational therapist+>> shall submit the following to the Council:

1. A completed application form which contains <<-information concerning the applicant's educational and experiential background;->> <<+the following:+>>

<<+i. Documentation of the applicant's education, including official transcripts, which indicate that the applicant received a bachelor's degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Higher Education or its successor, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the college or university;+>>

<<+ii. If the applicant has received a bachelor's degree or its equivalent in any field other than occupational therapy, documentation, including official transcripts, which indicate that the applicant has completed the academic requirements of an educational program in occupational therapy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, the World Federation of Occupational Therapy, or other nationally recognized agency, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the educational program;+>>

<<+iii. Documentation which indicates that the applicant has successfully completed at least 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience, with a minimum of 720 hours, approved by the educational institution at which the applicant completed the occupational therapy education program in accordance with (b)1i or ii above, which shall be submitted to the Council directly by the educational institution. The applicant shall have completed the 24 weeks of supervised f ieldwork experience within 24 months of completing the academic requirements of the educational institution. Documentation of the supervised fieldwork experience shall contain, at a minimum, the number of hours per week the applicant worked and the location where the supervised fieldwork was conducted;+>>

<<+iv. A "Confirmation of Examination Registration and Eligibility to Examine Notice," sent to the Council directly by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) indicating that the applicant is eligible to sit for his or her initial examination for licensure;+>>

<<+v. Two completed "Certificates of Good Moral Character";+>>

<<+vi. A "Verification of State License" form from any state in which the applicant is now or has ever been licensed to practice as an occupational therapist which shall be forwarded to the Council by the state in which the license is or was held;+>>

<<+vii. A "Verification of Supervision" form from all current employers; and+>>

<<+viii. A certified verification of name change, if applicable;+>>

2. The application fee set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:44K-11.1; and

3. <<-A completed "Request for Confirmation of Examination Registration and Eligibility to Examine Notice," sent to the Council directly by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) indicating that the candidate is eligible to sit for his or her initial examination for licensure.->> <<+One two inch by two inch, recent head and shoulder photo of the applicant, certified by a Notary Public, and signed by the applicant.+>>

<<+(c) An applicant for temporary licensure as an occupational therapy assistant shall submit the following to the Council:+>>

<<+1. A completed application form which contains the following:+>>

<<+i. Documentation of the applicant's education, including official transcripts, which indicate that the applicant received an associate's degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university approved by the Commission on Higher Education or its successor, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the college or university;+>>

<<+ii. If the applicant has received an associate's degree or its equivalent in any field other than occupational therapy, documentation, including official transcripts, which indicate that the applicant has completed the academic requirements of an educational program in occupational therapy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, the World Federation of Occupational Therapy, or other nationally recognized agency, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the educational program;+>>

<<+iii. Documentation which indicates that the applicant has successfully completed at least 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience, with a minimum of 360 hours, approved by the educational institution at which the applicant completed the occupational therapy education program in accordance with (c)1ii above, which shall be forwarded to the Council directly by the educational institution. The applicant shall have completed the 12 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience within 12 months of completing the academic requirements of the educational institution. Documentation of the supervised fieldwork experience shall contain, at a minimum, the number of hours per week the applicant worked and the location where the supervised fieldwork was conducted;+>>

<<+iv. A "Confirmation of Examination Registration and Eligibility to Examine Notice," sent to the Council directly by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) indicating that the candidate is eligible to sit for his or her initial examination for licensure;+>>

<<+v. Two completed "Certificates of Good Moral Character";+>>

<<+vi. A "Verification of State License" form from any state in which the applicant is now or has ever been licensed to practice as an occupational therapist which shall be forwarded to the Council by the state in which the license is or was held;+>>

<<+vii. A "Verification of Supervision" form from all current employers; and+>>

<<+viii. A certified verification of name change, if applicable;+>>

<<+2. The application fee set forth in N.J.A.C. 13:44K-11.1; and+>>

<<+3. One two inch by two inch, recent head and shoulder photo of the applicant, certified by a Notary Public, and signed by the applicant.+>>


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Posted August 6, 2001