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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 20-1451



[ 49 PA. CODE CH. 42 ]

Educational Programs

[50 Pa.B. 5848]
[Saturday, October 24, 2020]

 The State Board of Occupational Therapy Education and Licensure (Board) proposes to amend §§ 42.1 and 42.13 (relating to definitions; and application for licensure) to read as set forth in Annex A.

Effective Date

 This proposed rulemaking will be effective upon final-form publication in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Statutory Authority

 Section 5(b) of the Occupational Therapy Practice Act (act) (63 P.S. § 1505(b)) authorizes the Board to ''adopt rules and regulations not inconsistent with law as it deems necessary for the performance of its duties and the proper administration of this law.'' Section 8(2) of the act (63 P.S. § 1508(2)) sets forth the requirements for licensure, which include completion of ''the academic requirements of an approved educational program in occupational therapy recognized by the board with the advice and consultation of recognized national accrediting agencies and professional organizations including the American Occupational Therapy Association. . .''

Background and Need for the Amendments

 Under the Board's existing regulations at § 42.13(a)(2), an applicant must meet ''the academic requirements of an educational program in occupational therapy approved by the Board, or an equivalent program as defined in § 42.1.'' Regarding educational programs, the Board's existing regulations do not specify which programs are ''approved by the Board.'' In the United States, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) is the only accreditation agency that accredits occupational therapy programs, and thus, ACOTE approved educational programs are the only programs approved by the Board. Significantly, the Board's proposed regulations serve to codify the Board's current practices and procedures and do not change the Board's current educational program standards. In drafting this proposed rulemaking, as required by section 8(2) of the act, the Board consulted with the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) through the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA) as well as the only national accrediting agency that currently accredits occupational therapy programs, ACOTE.

 In accordance with the requirements of Executive Order 1996-1 (4 Pa. Code §§ 1.371—1.382) (amended February 6, 1996), the Board sent an exposure draft of this proposed rulemaking to interested parties, including AOTA, POTA, ACOTE and the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). AOTA, POTA, ACOTE and NBCOT all support the proposed regulations. Specifically, AOTA, which is the national professional association representing the interests of more than 213,000 occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants and students of occupational therapy, including approximately 3,900 members in this Commonwealth stated that ''AOTA supports the Board's proposed amendments which would repeal the definition of 'Equivalent Program' in § 42.1 and insert in § 42.13 a requirement that an applicant for licensure as an OT or OTA successfully complete an education programs for OTs or OTAs that is accredited by. . .ACOTE, recognized by the Board, or accredited by an accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. We fully support this revision to the Board's regulations as it will not require the Board to change its regulations if the entry level degree for OTs or OTAs changes in the future and it makes the licensing requirements clear for individuals seeking licensure in the state.'' POTA commented, ''[t]hat this is forward thinking and allows the licensure board some options to determine which programs that they want to recognize, within the parameters of a nationally accredited program.''

 The Board spent significant time discussing this proposed rulemaking during six public board meetings, with representatives from NBCOT, POTA and occupational therapy programs from two educational institutions in this Commonwealth attending one or more meetings.

Description of the Proposed Amendments

 The Board proposes to amend § 42.1 by deleting the definition of ''equivalent programs.'' As more fully discussed as follows, the Board's proposed amendments are more specific than the existing regulations because the amendments set forth the educational programs recognized by the Board. Because the Board proposes to delete the reference to ''equivalent programs'' in § 42.13(a)(2), and this term is not used anywhere else in the regulations, there is no reason to provide a definition for this term.

 The Board proposes to amend § 42.13(a)(2) by requiring applicants to successfully complete an educational program that is either accredited by ACOTE or another national programmatic accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education and approved by the Board. Currently, and historically, there has been only one accreditation agency for educational programs in occupational therapy—ACOTE. Thus, the Board has historically approved educational programs that are ACOTE accredited. Although the Board is not aware of any other national accrediting agencies that accredit occupational therapy programs, the Board proposes a provision that would allow the Board to review and consider other national accrediting agencies in the event other agencies begin accrediting occupational therapy programs. The Board also proposes amendments to § 42.13(a)(3) to clarify the existing fieldwork experience requirements to reflect the proposed amendments made in paragraph (2).

 The proposed amendments are consistent with the Board's current practice and procedures and do not change the Board's existing educational program requirements, but rather, serve to clarify and codify those requirements.

Fiscal Impact and Paperwork Requirements

 The Board does not anticipate any fiscal impact or paperwork requirements relating to these amendments because applicants are already required to meet these requirements.

Sunset Date

 The Board continuously monitors the cost effectiveness of the Board's regulations. Therefore, no sunset date has been assigned.

Regulatory Review

 Under section 5(a) of the Regulatory Review Act (71 P.S. § 745.5(a)), on October 8, 2020, the Board submitted a copy of this proposed rulemaking and a copy of a Regulatory Analysis Form to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) and to the Chairpersons of the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee and the House Professional Licensure Committee. A copy of this material is available to the public upon request.

 Under section 5(g) of the Regulatory Review Act, IRRC may convey any comments, recommendations or objections to the proposed rulemaking within 30 days of the close of the public comment period. The comments, recommendations or objections shall specify the regulatory review criteria which have not been met. The Regulatory Review Act specifies detailed procedures for review, prior to final publication of the rulemaking, by the Board, the General Assembly and the Governor of comments, recommendations or objections raised.

Public Comment

 Interested persons are invited to submit written comments, recommendations or objections regarding this proposed rulemaking to the Regulatory Counsel, State Board of Occupational Therapy Education and Licensure, P.O. Box 69523, Harrisburg, PA 17106-5923 or within 30 days following publication of this proposed rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Reference No. 16A-6712 (Educational Programs) when submitting comments.


Fiscal Note: 16A-6712. No fiscal impact; (8) recommends adoption.

Annex A






§ 42.1. Definitions.

*  *  *  *  *

Commissioner—The Commissioner of Professional and Occupational Affairs.

[Equivalent program—A masters or certificate program in occupational therapy approved by the Board.]

Licensee—An individual who has been licensed under the act as an occupational therapist or an occupational therapy assistant.

*  *  *  *  *


§ 42.13. Application for licensure.

 (a) To apply for licensure, an applicant shall pay the required fee and submit evidence satisfactory to the Board, on forms provided by the Board, that the applicant meets the following criteria:

 (1) Is of good moral character.

 (2) [Has met the academic requirements of an educational program in occupational therapy approved by the Board, or an equivalent program as defined in § 42.1 (relating to definitions).] Has successfully completed an educational program for occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants that is either:

(i) Accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) or predecessor organizations.

(ii) Approved by the Board and accredited by a national programmatic accrediting agency recognized by the United States Department of Education.

 (3) Has successfully completed a period of supervised fieldwork experience [at a recognized educational institute or a training program approved by the educational institution where the academic requirements were met] as a part of an accredited educational program as required by paragraph (2) as follows:

 (i) For an occupational therapist, a minimum of 6 months of supervised fieldwork.

 (ii) For an occupational therapy assistant, a minimum of 2 months of supervised fieldwork.

 (4) Has passed the licensure examination or has qualified for a waiver of the licensure examination under § 42.12 (relating to waiver of licensure examination).

*  *  *  *  *

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 20-1451. Filed for public inspection October 23, 2020, 9:00 a.m.]

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