Update on continuing competency requirements for occupational therapists in New York State

Over two years ago I wrote this article about continuing competency regulations for occupational therapists in New York State. Based on a review of the status of proposed regulations for continuing comptency as reported by the New York State Assembly website - there has been no action on this bill and it seems to be 'stuck' in the Higher Education Committee.

The idea behind this proposed legislation would be to improve consumer protection by mandating that occupational therapy practitioners in New York State participate in some mandatory continuing education. As of right now, the therapist who is treating YOU in New York State may have graduated thirty years ago and never taken a continuing education course.

Interestingly, a law requiring physical therapy continuing education in New York State was signed by Governor Patterson only a month ago. Since that time I have scoured the Internet and NYSOTA website for word on the OT continuing education bill and have not found anything.

It is unfortunate that the OT bill could not have been combined with the physical therapy bill for continuing education. I am not sure if there were reasons why this could not happen - I have forwarded the question to NYSOTA and if they respond I will post the information here.

For now consumers of occupational therapy services are not as protected in New York State as they should be. The lack of consistency of continuing competency requirements on a state by state basis in the United States underscores the importance of the NBCOT model as a national standard for continuing competency.

Consumers and practitioners both need to lobby their State Senators and Legislators so that these bills can be moved out of committee and to the floor for voting.

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