Occupational Therapy License in Nebraska
Nebraska occupational therapists help people function better so that they can be more independent and enjoy a higher quality of life. Children with serious conditions may encounter an occupational therapist very early in life. Other clients won’t need services until much later in life. The precipitating event could be a stroke, a cancer treatment that affects cognitive processes, or the gradual onset of a neurological condition or repetitive stress injury.
The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services states that occupational therapist education emphasizes the effects of illness and injury: social and emotional as well as physiological. DDHS lists the following among the typical OT services:
• Providing customized treatment to help patients carry out activities of daily living
• Assessing and treating functional skills
• Assessing living and working environments to determine where adaptations should be made
• Making recommendations about adaptive equipment
Nebraska Occupational Therapist Work Settings
OTs often focus on either pediatric or adult/ geriatric populations.
Children may receive early intervention services in infancy if they are not developing typically or have been diagnosed with conditions that are expected to hinder their development. Among the reasons children may receive early intervention are Down Syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome, swallowing or feeding issues, and failure to meet expected developmental milestones (https://www.nencap.org/services/early-development-network-edn/states).
There are shifts in the preschool years. Children may receive school-based special education services that include occupational therapy. Some children will need OT in clinic settings. Treatment for children is often play-based. Nebraska Methodist College has rubber flooring, a sensory table and swing, a playhouse, and space for balls and toys in its pediatric teaching clinic. One will find the same type of equipment in pediatric centers out in the “real world”.
Some hospital positions are pediatric-only. Occupational therapists at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center provide therapy to children with varying diagnoses, including neurologic conditions, orthopedic conditions, and developmental delay. They assess things like fine motor skills and activities of daily living. Some Children’s OTs have a role in assessing swallowing function.
OTs also have an important role in post-acute and long-term care facilities, serving primarily older adults. There are a number of businesses operating in Nebraska that provide rehabilitation services to skilled nursing facilities, among them, Aegis Therapies, Jackson Therapy Partners, and Remedy Therapy Services. 2019 found several travel companies, including SYNTERTX Rehabilitation, advertising.
OTs may provide services to adults in hospital settings or home health settings. Home health positions typically include evaluation of the home environment. Some occupational therapists work in outpatient settings shared with physical therapists; they may provide hand therapy
Becoming an Occupational Therapist in Nebraska
OT programs are at the graduate level. (Those that are at lower levels prepare a person for a career as occupational therapy assistant, or OTA.) The American Occupational Therapy Association provides basic information about accredited programs on its website. The accrediting agency, ACOTE, is under the AOTA banner.
Eventually the candidate will take an examination through the National Certification Board for Occupational Therapy. Registration information can be found on the NBCOT website.
Licensure is a separate step. This requires application to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services Licensure Unit. Applicants provide information about education and examination. They must also demonstrate that they are lawful residents who are at least 19 years of age and have acceptable legal and professional backgrounds. Nebraska requires verification of health-related licenses held in other states.
Certification in Physical Agent Modalities
Nebraska requires additional certification for physical agent modalities (superficial thermal, deep thermal, and/ or electrotherapeutic). These are therapies practiced by hand therapists. An OT can qualify in any of several ways, including certification as a hand therapist or training through an approved provider. As of 2019, there is one approved provider listed: Exploring Hand Therapy.
Some OTs will qualify through five years of experience; others will have demonstrated competence during their original training program.
Nebraska Occupational Therapist Salary and Career Outlook
Nebraska occupational therapists earned a mean salary of $76,850 in 2018. Most full-time OTs earned between the 10th percentile figure of $54,650 and the 90th percentile figure of $101830.
Job concentration is average with a location quotient of 1.06. The Nebraska OT profession has been projected to experience 22.8% occupational growth across the 2016 to 2026 decade.
Occupational Therapy Schools in Nebraska
The Creighton University program, nationally ranked at #25, is based in Nebraska but offered at two additional sites, one in Alaska. Creighton University offers its program at the doctoral level — the website proudly proclaims it was the nation’s first entry level OTD program. Creighton has more than 400 clinical sites for student fieldwork placement. The two Level II fieldwork experiences are followed by a 16-week doctoral experience. Optional programs include a three-week clinic in the Dominican Republic and a one-week honors clinic in China.
Nebraska Methodist College offers a two-year Master in Occupational Therapy (MOT) program. It’s the state’s newest program. Statistics indicate it’s off to a good start: 2018 graduation rates and NBCOT certification rate were both100% in 2018. A Nebraska Methodist blog post describes the school’s four ‘environments’ for hands-on training. They go beyond the basics; one is a community garden. Nebraska Methodist, like other schools, has community partnerships to facilitate student fieldwork.
The College of St. Mary has an option for students who know early that they want to be occupational therapists, a five year combined bachelor’s/ master’s program; the foundational bachelor’s degree will be in rehabilitation science.
Student and Professional Resources
Licensing information is available from the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (http://dhhs.ne.gov/licensure/Pages/Occupational-Therapy.aspx). The Office of Rehabilitation can be reached at ‘DHHS.RehabOffice at nebraska.gov’.
The Nebraska Occupational Therapy Association is a membership organization (https://www.notaonline.org). The website is a source of research about new development in the field, including neurological rehabilitation.