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Okanagan College Therapist Assistant Program receives national accreditation
Okanagan College Media Release

The quality and reputation of the Okanagan College Therapist Assistant (TA) program has been recognized nationallyJoel Helland Feb 2014 through recent accreditation by the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program (OTA & PTA EAP). Therapist assistants are trained to work in the rehabilitation field alongside occupational therapists and physiotherapists.

“It took two years to go through the process,” said program instructor Siri Marken, who guided the department through accreditation. “It was definitely a lot of work but there are so many positives.

“It shone a light on the program and increased the level of understanding of what we do. The College gets nationwide recognition, students have a more valuable credential, and employers have reason for even greater confidence in our practicum students and graduates, knowing we adhere to national competencies.”

The Okanagan College Therapist Assistant program was the first of its kind in Canada when it launched as a one-year certificate in 1990, transforming into a two-year diploma in 2005. It was one of the first programs to pursue and achieve accreditation, joining only five other institutions to have successfully completed the process.  

Each year, a full intake of 36 students begins studies at the College’s Kelowna campus. Graduates have historically achieved excellent employment rates. Unique to the Therapist Assistant program at Okanagan College is the inclusion of Recreation Therapy courses.

Joel Helland, a 2013 program graduate, participated in the accreditation process, which involved an in-depth self-study of the program, its faculty and the institution as a whole. Helland worked in the Okanagan for a summer before choosing to continue his studies in a degree program in Calgary, where his diploma was accepted as the first two years of degree-level studies.

“I was honoured to be chosen to take part in the accreditation,” said Helland. “Being a graduate of a nationally recognized program is essential in today’s workforce and economy. It shows the program meets industry standards and it gives graduates the opportunity to work across Canada. 

“My experience in the program was fantastic, with top-notch instructors who have genuine interest in the rehabilitation field. I can’t say enough positive remarks about my experience with each of them.”

Maintaining accreditation status requires annual update reports and a full self-study report and on-site review every six years.