Therapist Assistant Diploma
Help improve people’s quality of life through rehabilitation programs supervised by Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Recreation Therapists. Learn how to set up body movement programs, explain treatment techniques and implement therapeutic leisure activities.
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- Full program offered
- Partial program offered
- International students eligible
Tuition and fees
2023-24: $9,280.40 (total for the two year program)
Fees include all mandatory fees: Activity fee, Health & Dental, Student Association fee, Education Technology fee, Development fee.
This program is student loan eligible. View Financial Aid & Awards
All amounts are approximate and are subject to change.
The Therapist Assistant Diploma will prepare the graduate to work as an Assistant to Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Recreational Therapists. It is a two-year diploma of full-time study including four semesters of coursework plus 18 weeks of practical experience in clinical settings.
Principles, theory and practice will be taught at the Assistant level in the disciplines of Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Recreation Therapy. Students will obtain an academic and practical foundation in the areas of health and rehabilitation science, and will take introductory-level university courses in English, Biology and Psychology. The Therapist Assistant Diploma curriculum is reflective of the growing and evolving scope of practice for Therapist Assistants. It has been developed in consultation with therapists, therapist assistants, and employers province-wide and is informed by national trends and provincial trends and competencies.
National Accreditation: The Therapist Assistant Diploma program is nationally accredited by the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program, c/o Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada, Suite 26, 509 Commissioners Road West, London, Ontario, N6J 1Y5, (250) 494-0677, www.otapta.ca.
Therapist Assistants work in a variety of settings from hospital practice to home and community care, long-term care and private practice where supervision from Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists and/or Recreation Therapists is provided.
Practical experiences are an integral part of the Therapist Assistant program. Practicum sites may be in hospitals, multi-level care facilities, community or private agencies and government institutions. Locations are throughout, and often outside, the Okanagan Valley. Students should be prepared to leave the Okanagan Valley for practica. While every effort will be made to accommodate student's preferences for locations of clinical experiences, Okanagan College reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of any placement. All agencies and institutions serving as practicum sites must be approved by Okanagan College. Okanagan College reserves the right to change a student's practicum placement. The student has the right to be informed, in writing, of reasons for doing so.
Student Transportation and Accommodation: Students must arrange their own transportation to and from practicum sites. In most cases, a drivers license and access to a reliable vehicle is required. Travel and accommodation expenses are the student's responsibility.
Graduates will be prepared to work at as entry-level Assistants in the three disciplines of Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and Recreation Therapy in a wide variety of healthcare settings throughout B.C. and Canada. There are job opportunities in a wide variety of health care settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centres, multi-level care facilities, community care, community mental health, child development centres, and private practice.
The role of the Therapist Assistant includes the implementation of rehabilitation programs, under the supervision of a therapist, to maintain and enhance functional abilities, independence and quality of life.
When working with clients some examples of duties include:
- Physiotherapist Assistants: joint range of motion, muscle stretching and strengthening, balance and mobility training, and application of thermal modalities such as heat and ice.
- Occupational Therapist Assistant: the use of activities and treatment techniques to develop motor, sensory, cognitive, perceptual and psychosocial skills needed to function as independently as possible.
- Recreational Therapist Assistant: planning and implementation of leisure activity programs to promote physical, social, mental and spiritual well-being.
Assistants are expected to perform support-related duties such as equipment cleaning and maintenance, inventory management, and clerical duties.
Therapist Assistants are expected to demonstrate:
- Effective oral and written communication skills
- Professional behaviours and attitudes reflecting knowledge of the scope of practice and responsibilities
- The ability to listen, comprehend and act, and to show good clinical judgement
- The capacity to critically evaluate one's own skills and abilities, and identify learning needs
- An ability to work with people affected by disability, injury, illness or the affects of aging.
Therapist Assistant students graduate with a broad clinical experience and are flexible members of the interdisciplinary health care team.
Four semesters, plus 18 weeks fieldwork; two-year diploma
Textbooks and Supplies
In addition to tuition fees, expect to spend approximately $2,000 for textbooks, a transfer belt, supplies for some assignments, a supportive pair of shoes and two Therapist Assistant golf-shirts (information on purchasing these items will be provided by instructors during the first week of classes). Students are responsible for their own transportation to visit practice settings and for travel to practica and preceptorships.
What is the Therapist Assistant Diploma (TAD) Program?
The Therapist Assistant Diploma (TAD) program at Okanagan College is accredited by the OTA/PTA Education Accreditation Program (https://www.otapta.ca/english/index.php). This 2-year diploma program provides students with the knowledge and practical skills training to assist Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists and Recreation Therapists. The Assistant, working under the supervision of a therapist, implements the rehabilitation programs with the goals of maintaining and enhancing functional abilities, independence, and quality of life of the clients.
Still not sure what a TA is? Check out these helpful videos:
- CAOT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh3Ou5q8XTI
- Okanagan College: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3YxeqxxfN8&t=1s
How long is the program?
The program is a two-year diploma. It is comprised of four full-time semesters plus 18 weeks of supervised clinical experience. The courses run from September to June for both years.
Where is the program held?
All classes are at the Kelowna campus.
How is the Okanagan College (OC) program different from other programs in the province?
The OC program is the only program in BC that has the three disciplines of Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, and Recreation Therapy.
What are the Career opportunities with this diploma?
The demand for Therapist Assistants has continually grown and expanded. In addition to positions advertised as “Therapist Assistant”, other jobs titles you may qualify for include:
- Rehabilitation Assistant
- Occupational Therapist Assistant
- Physiotherapist Assistant
- Recreation Therapist Assistant/Worker
- Activity Worker/Aide
- Community Activity Worker
- Adult Day Service Worker
- Life Skills Worker
- Peer Support Worker
- Community Support Worker
- Mental Health Support Worker
- AND MORE!
You will find these employment possibilities in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, residential care facilities, community agencies and private practices. Here are some examples of places you can search for jobs:
- Health Authorities
- Interior Health: https://jobs.interiorhealth.ca/
- Fraser Health: https://careers.fraserhealth.ca/
- Northern Health: https://careers.northernhealth.ca/
- Vancouver Island Health: https://www.islandhealth.ca/careers
- Vancouver Coastal Health: https://careers.vch.ca/
- First Nations Health Authority: https://www.fnha.ca/about/work-with-us
- Provincial Health Services Authority: http://www.phsa.ca/careers
- Professional Associations
- Job Search Websites (try searching the job titles listed above)
What are the wages for Therapist Assistants?
The typical hourly wage in BC is approximately $30 per hour. This varies depending on workplace (see links above)
What are the laddering and career path opportunities with this diploma?
The OC TAD program can transfer into a Bachelor of Health Science at Thomson Rivers University (https://www.tru.ca/distance/programs/bachelor-health-science.html) or a Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation at the University of Calgary (https://www.ucalgary.ca/future-students/undergraduate/explore-programs/community-rehabilitation). This means that your two-year diploma would count as the first two years of either of these degrees.
This program can also be a pathway to a degree in Recreation Therapy, or to a Master’s in Occupational or Physical Therapy, via one of the Bachelor’s routes listed above
Can graduates work in other provinces?
Yes, graduates may find employment across Canada.
How many students are accepted into the program each year?
Enrollment is limited to 40 seats in first year. Admission is first come, first served for those who meet the requirements found on the TAD website: https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/therapist-assistant-diploma
Are there additional costs other than tuition?
Yes, there are additional costs, such as books, supplies, travel and accommodation for placements, etc.
Are there clinical placements in the program?
Yes. In your first year, you will spend 3 weeks in a recreation therapy assistant practicum, and 5 weeks in an Occupational and/or Physical Therapy Assistant (OTA/PTA) practicum at a clinical site. In your second year, you will have two 5-week preceptorships in OTA and PTA. These clinical experiences have the same hours as a regular job, but they are a mandatory part of the program and are educational, unpaid, opportunities. Depending on the student, and the circumstances, these opportunities are offered locally, throughout BC and sometimes in other provinces. You can expect to travel for at least one placement during the program.
Can I work part time and go to school?
Some students may have no problem working part time while going to school, while others may struggle. The TAD program does have a heavy course load and requires approximately 2 – 3 hours of homework per night.
Can I take the TAD program on a part-time basis?
The second year of our program is generally full time, but the first year can be more flexible. If you are considering a lighter courseload, we recommend one of these pathways for your first year:
- Take only the academic courses, BIO 131 & 133, Psychology 111 & 121, 3 credits of English
- Take the RTAC program first, and then complete the other courses for the TAD program
- Take the RTAC program and all, or some, of the academic courses
If you would like to discuss these, or other, options, consult the program Chairperson.Can I take the TAD program online?
At this time, there is no online option for courses. All classes and labs require in-person attendance. There may be an opportunity to take some of your academic courses online. Consult Okangan College for this.
What is the difference between RTAC and TAD
RTA, PTA, OTA
Length of Program
Types of Program
Required to have:
Required to have:
Hours in Class
Up to 30 hours per week
Approx. 11 hours per week
Hours in Placements
36 hours per week
36 hours per week
Number of Placements
1st year: 2 placements (8 weeks)
2nd year: 2 placements (10 weeks)
2 placements (8 weeks)
Yes (by OTA/PTA EAP)
Can I do the TAD program after completing the RTAC program?
Yes, and we encourage you to take this pathway! If you wish to pursue this pathway, you must apply to the TAD program and meet the entrance requirements.
What is the tuition cost for the TAD program?
This information may be found on the Okanagan College Tuition Fees page: https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/registrars-office/tuition-and-fees
Who might be interested in the Therapist Assistant Diploma Program?
Individuals with an interest in rehabilitation and working in health care and community settings should consider the Therapist Assistant Program. Being able to relate, interact and communicate with people of all ages is a valued asset.
|Kelowna||Sep. 04, 2024|
Academic Admission Requirements
- Applicants may meet the academic admission requirements for the Therapist Assistant Diploma by completing either Option One or Option Two listed below:
- Option One
- B.C. secondary school graduation, or equivalent, or 19 years of age and out of secondary school for at least one year as of the first day of classes.
- English 12 with minimum 60% or alternatives.
- Chemistry 11 or an equivalent Advanced Level ABE Chemistry course
- At least one of the following: Biology 12, Anatomy and Physiology 12, or BIOL 122 or BIOL 124 or an equivalent Provincial Level ABE Biology course. (Biology 12 or BIOL 122 is strongly recommended.)
- Option Two
One of ENGL 100, 150, 151, or 153 or equivalent
BIOL 131 and 133 or equivalent.
PSYC 111 and 121 or equivalent.
- Option One
Other Admission Requirements
- Current certification in Red Cross Standard First Aid or St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid. Current certification in CPR Level C.
Results of tuberculin testing done no more than six months before the date of application with evidence of appropriate follow up if the test was positive.
A criminal record check clearance from the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General's Criminal Records Review Office. Okanagan College's admission offices will provide applicants with instructions and forms for applicants to submit to the Solicitor General's Office and a deadline for the College to receive the clearance letter. Applicants should only initiate their criminal record check when instructed by Admissions. Failure to provide a clearance letter by the deadline will result in a cancellation of the applicant's admission application.
Applicants are strongly advised to ensure that their immunizations are current and to be immunized for Hepatitis B.
Failure to submit all required documentation by a specified deadline may result in denial of admission.
Program pre-practice requirements
- Successful completion of all the B.C. Provincial Violence Prevention Curriculum (PVPC) including the 8-hour in-person classroom course.
There may be additional fees associated with other admission and program pre-practice requirements. These requirements are usually completed outside of regular class time. Students are responsible for submitting appropriate documentation by the due dates provided. The admissions office and/or department chair will provide further instructions. Students may proceed into clinical practice education experiences only after successful completion of ALL the program pre-practice requirements.
Note To All Applicants:
- The Therapist Assistant diploma has a demanding course load.
- Applicants are advised to consider taking one or more of the following courses before beginning the program: BIOL 131 and 133 (strongly recommended), PSYC 111 and 121, one of ENGL 100, 150, 151, or 153
- Applicants are strongly advised to have at least a beginner's level of competency with computers and word processing before entering the Therapist Assistant Diploma.
- Students must obtain a minimum grade of 50 in English, Biology and Psychology, a pass in Therapist practica and preceptorships, and a minimum grade of 70 in each other THER course. Normally, students must complete the program within four years of initial entry.
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