Lone Star College-Tomball Thriving with the Nation’s Only Occupational Therapy Practitioner Re-entry Program

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A Texas-based college has an 8-week online program that's specifically designed for an occupational therapy practitioner (occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant) whose license has lapsed beyond two years and have a desire to renew their license and rejoin the profession.

When Dianna "Dee Dee" Simpson graduated from Texas Tech University and received her occupational therapy assistant license in 1989, her plan was to have a long career and live happily ever after, but when she had her first child in 1994, and then her second child in 1996, she had a big decision to make.

“My husband was in the Air Force, so he was home one month and literally out of the country the next month, which was tough,” said Simpson. “I had to decide whether to remain in the occupational therapy field or stay at home to care for my children instead of letting someone else do it. My husband and I decided that one of us needed to stay home and raise the kids. I have four children, all two years apart. Ultimately, I decided to leave the field, and after a certain amount of time out of the field, my licensed expired.”

Simpson, 54, was 26 years old at the time. However, after 20 years of not being in the field, Simpson wanted to re-enter as an occupational therapist.

“I checked on re-entering the field in 2005, but it required retaking the certification exam,” Simpson recalled. “I didn’t think that I would pass it, because I had been out of the field for so long, so I didn’t pursue it further. However, a few years later, I was browsing the Internet and I discovered that the state of Texas changed their laws and Lone Star College-Tomball had an eight-week online program that allows people in my situation to re-enter the field by completing course work.”

Stephanie Johnston, fieldwork coordinator and professor for the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, and Dr. Terra Ruppert jointly created the occupational therapy (OT) and occupational therapy assistant (OTA) reentry program through Corporate College for OTs and OTAs who have let their license lapse and now want to return to the profession of OT.

“This has been a highly successful re-entry program and it is the only OT/OTA re-entry program in the United States,” Johnston pointed out. “This program meets the requirements for a professional re-entry program as defined by both the American Occupational Therapy Association and The Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners and is designed to refresh your knowledge in your area of practice interest as well as explore current trends in the profession.”

The program, according to Johnston, is specifically designed for an occupational therapy practitioner (occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant) whose license has lapsed beyond two years and have a desire to renew their license and rejoin the profession. The course of study covers eight weeks of online instruction, which includes one course in a preferred practice area and one management course followed by four weeks of supervised clinical practice.

Simpson was impressed with what she read about the program. She decided to give it a try. She enrolled into the program and completed LSC-Tomball’s Occupational Therapy Practitioner Re-entry program in the fall of 2016.

“It is one of the best decisions I have ever made,” said Simpson. “Now I’m back in the field and enjoying it.”

Participants who successfully complete both the online and clinical coursework receive a Certificate of Completion, which satisfies the requirements for re-licensure in the state of Texas. Residents of other states simply verify their state requirements for re-entry. The program is offered each fall and spring semester coinciding with each semester start date for LSC-Tomball. For Spring 2018, registration is due by January 5.

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Jennifer Richardson
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