More regulatory changes to impact NYS occupational therapists very soon.

This is a follow-up to my entry on 2/16/12: In NYS a single OT can still supervise a million OTAs, for a while at least.

Something will happen on June 13th...

Unless there are some unanticipated changes, new regulations regarding supervision of OTAs will go into effect in NY. Perhaps the largest issue that will impact jobs is the new restriction that reads as follows:

In no event shall the occupational therapist or licensed physician supervise more than five occupational therapy assistants, or its full time equivalent, provided that the total number of occupational therapy assistants being supervised by a single occupational therapist or licensed physician shall not exceed ten.

That means that a couple things might happen on 6/13/12:
  1. A bunch of OTAs will get their walking papers and agencies/schools will hire OTRs instead to avoid being out of compliance with the regs.
  2. A bunch of job postings will appear for OTRs so that agencies around the state will be in compliance with the new regs and OTAs will maintain their employment.

I have some OTR colleagues around the state who I know are supervising more OTAs than the proposed regs will allow. In this economic climate I will not be holding my breath to see agencies bite the bullet and just hire more OTRs.

My advice to OTAs who believe they will be out of compliance with the new regs is to start having conversations now with your supervisors. You don't want to be blindsided in June.

Other significant issues that will occur with these new regs are stricter supervision requirements that will decrease OTR productivity and have an associated impact on the cost of delivering OT services. It is impossible to predict the exact cost impact because of the varied experience of OTAs and the flexibility allowed in the new regs with regard to developing plans. Still, there will be some cost impact. Too bad that NYS is doing their time and motion studies BEFORE the regs go into effect and BEFORE there is any increase in indirect costs associated with stricter supervision requirements.

In NY State when regulations are proposed there needs to be a statement of potential costs associated with regs and a potential job impact statement. This is the best that NY State will offer:

Entities that employ occupational therapy assistants and holders of limited permits might believe that the additional cost associated with compliance will result in the loss of jobs or job opportunities.

If you are an OTA and if you lose your job, you will probably think that is the whitewash of the century. If you are an agency who contracts for OT services and you suddenly find that costs are increasing because of these requirements you also aren't likely to be very happy. Provide your comments here (presumably for 45 days from publication):

Office of the Professions,
Office of the Deputy Commissioner
State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue, 2M
Albany, NY 12234
(518) 474-1941


Very interesting. I am not sure why they are not dictating how often the COTA needs to be supervised. And, no offense, but some OTR's have less pediatric experience than some COTA's so the supervision is quite useless.
Chris said…
I believe that they considered the regs as being 'restrictive enough' and they also leave some room for professionals to handle supervision needs appropriately - particularly in those situations when a COTA is very experienced.

Even experienced COTAs need supervision simply based on differences in job responsibilities and training. Part of the problem is that those job responsibilities were not always adhered to - and that created a situation (in school based practice, at least) where COTAs were thinking they could do the same things that OTRs could do.

That was a mistaken idea. I blame the OTRs for letting it happen.
I do agree with you that experienced COTA's need supervision. I do think thought that a new graduate OTR has a tough time owning that role when a COTA with 10+ years experience has to show them the ropes. I also agree that the OTR should be blamed - they need to work on protecting their training and profession more especially in the schools where money is getting tighter and tighter.

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