The 2020 motion to Update Policy E.6 Entry-Level Education of Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants

Please see the following for background information:


A new motion has been submitted to AOTA to update Policy E.6 regarding entry level education of occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.  The originator of this motion believes that this update is necessary because in fact the intent of the first motion was changed through wording and that these changes introduced uncertainty in how the AOTA policy can be interpreted.  Details are outlined in the motion below.

Additionally, since the RA voted on and decided the entry level education issue, supporters of the mandatory doctoral entry level have attempted to up-end that decision just six months after the decision was made.  In fact, comments have been made on social media indicating that repeat motions would be filed until there was a mandatory doctoral policy.

Because of a need for clarity in the language of the policy, and because of ongoing threats to offer repeated motions on this issue that has already been decided, the following motion has been submitted to AOTA for consideration at the Spring 2020 Representative Assembly meeting.

This motion might not be necessary if those who seek to alter the entry level to a mandatory doctoral level would cease and desist with their attempts to up-end this decision.  If there is some other mechanism for promoting stability there would probably be broad interest in supporting such an effort.  As stated in the motion, the intention is to promote stability, allow for important debate on this issue if there is a super-majority agreement that it would be important to do so, and to move us all off of this issue so that other important matters can be attended to.

Those of us in the field would much prefer association resources being dedicated to PDPM, PDGM, ACA reform, scope of practice infringement, and other important issues that threaten practice.


I move that the Representative Assembly revise Policy E.6 to read as follows: 


1. The Association requires entry-level education at either the associate or bachelor degree levels for occupational therapy assistants.   

2.The Association requires entry level education at either the master or doctoral degree levels for occupational therapists.   

3. This policy requires a two thirds majority vote of the Representative Assembly to be reconsidered, separate from any other motion or debate on the contents and subject of this policy itself.

  • ·    This motion is relevant in that it clarifies Policy E.6 which establishes the entry level requirements for the occupational therapy profession.  Another clarifying motion on this topic that was submitted in 2019 was modified and adopted by the Representative Assembly with language changes to the original motion that altered the originator’s intent.  Additionally, a motion has already been introduced to the Representative Assembly in Fall 2019 that attempted to up-end the decision making process on this issue, causing instability to the profession.  This motion seeks to remedy these challenges to the 2019 motion’s intent and to promote stability on the issue of entry level degree requirements.  Accordingly, this directly impacts the practice of occupational therapy.
  •       This issue is of national importance.  Clarity in this policy is critical as the current wording of Policy E.6 with the conjunctive ‘or’ establishes that AOTA could support ‘one or the other’ degree levels.  Adding the word ‘either’ further clarifies that AOTA supports both of these levels, which is how the current wording is being operationalized at this moment.  This is critical in that this policy requires even more clarity and specificity as members have been told that ACOTE will use the input of the Representative Assembly as well as AOTA policy to inform their decision making about entry level requirements.  Additionally, adding point 3 promotes stability for the educational community.  The membership has been told by those who support an entry level doctorate, including the authors of the failed motion on this topic in Fall 2019, that there will be repeated motions to up-end the Representative Assembly’s decision making on this issue.  The RA has already dealt with one such motion submitted in the Fall 2019 meeting, just six months after the RA made their decision on this issue.  This motion does not seek to change current policy as much as it seeks to provide clarity in the policy’s language so that it matches current operational interpretation and to promote stability so that the profession has some surety that the entry level requirement will not be repeatedly debated unless there is a broad consensus that it is important to do so.  A super-majority requirement for reconsideration is in line with standard parliamentary procedure to change existing rules and to protect from such whimsical repeated motions that do not serve the national interests of the profession and that in fact threaten members and other stakeholders with unstable entry level degree requirements.  Given the constrictions on rules in the online context of meetings, having such a requirement for super-majority within the policy itself will help to communicate the stability that is required on this point and the need to prevent endless debate on the topic.
  •          This motion relates to a broad range of AOTA members – all are impacted by the entry level requirements into the profession.  In the prior RA meeting in Fall 2019 a motion was defeated that intended to change the entry level requirement; the motion failed by a 55-13 margin, which was significant.  Based on the defeat of this motion by a wide margin it is evident that a broad range of AOTA members want stability in decision making around the entry level and do not want to see repeated motions seeking to up-end the Spring 2019 decision on Policy E.6, absent a significant change where the super-majority would deem it important to revisit this issue.  
  •      Setting the entry level requirements for the profession of occupational therapy is a function of the Representative Assembly and as such is appropriate for consideration by AOTA.
  •      This motion will move the profession forward in a meaningful way with stability in the entry level degree requirements, while still allowing for changes to this policy should there be important external or environmental changes, acknowledged by a super-majority, that can be considered by the Representative Assembly.  If any part of this motion is determined to be procedural (for example a requirement for a super-majority), it should not impact that other part of the motion that calls for clarity around the conjunctive ‘or’ in the existing policy.  This author’s intent is to promote stability, encourage and allow debate on this issue when there is clear consensus that the issue should be revisited, and to serve the best interests of the occupational therapy profession.  If it is determined that the Representative Assembly is not the appropriate place to address all or part of this concern, the originator of this motion calls upon the AOTA Board of Directors to find other appropriate mechanisms to address these relevant issues.


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