Occupational Therapy License in Nevada
Occupational therapists help people who have conditions that affect their abilities to function and carry out routine day-to-day activities. Occupation does not refer specifically to employment, and clients may be at any stage of life. People who are well into their retirement years may need occupational therapy to maintain independence. Children may need it to develop functional skills. Professionals at My Left Foot Therapy, a highly regarded Las Vegas pediatric practice, find themselves explaining why it is that children require occupational therapy: They have conditions that affect their ability to do tasks like the following: hold a bottle or feed, button clothing, cut with scissors, maintain their balance in playground activities, copy from the board at school, and participate socially. They have sensory issues that affect their tolerance for noise or touch.
Nevada statute defines occupational therapy to including the following services, among others: assisting people in developing their visual motor, sensory integrative and cognitive skills, testing their muscles and range of motion, teaching them exercises or crafts that will develop functional abilities, fostering adaptive and rehabilitative skills, adapting an individual’s environment so he or she can function better, and assessing for prosthetic devices for the upper body. OTs work with a wide variety of populations, including those who have physical disabilities and those who have developmental disabilities that affect their abilities to function in many domains.
The Nevada Occupational Therapy Association publishes professional and student ‘spotlights’ that give a sense of the profession (https://nota.wildapricot.org/page-18076. 2019). One spotlight introduces a student who wants to develop an aquatic occupational therapy program for children; another, a professional who counts among her proudest moments a three-year-old with multiple developmental and life issues who spoke her name as a first word. One student states that she is fascinated by the opportunity to meld research with individual human interests and goals, and by the diverse practice areas, from driver rehabilitation to psychosocial practice.
Southern Nevada has a reported shortage of autism specialists, including occupational therapists (https://news3lv.com/news/local/lack-of-autism-specialists-therapists-impacting-families-in-southern-nevada).
Becoming an Occupational Therapist in Nevada
A prospective occupational therapist will need a master’s or doctoral degree. (Lower level degrees qualify a person to work in the field, but as an occupational therapy assistant.)
State code mandates completion of a program that is accredited by a Board-approved organization; either the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education or its successor. State code also requires at least 24 weeks of fieldwork. ACOTE accreditation standard have a similar mandate: 24 weeks at Level II.
A candidate will take two examinations, a national board exam and a state jurisprudence exam. After passing the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy NBCOT exam, the candidate will achieve certification as an Occupational Therapist Registered.
A licensed Nevada occupational therapist can use the title OT/L or, as long as he or she has maintained certification, the title OTR/L; this stands for Occupational Therapist Registered/ Licensed.
A graduate who is scheduled to take the examination may begin work under a provisional license.
Nevada Occupational Therapy Employers
Common employment settings include nursing facilities, schools, hospitals and medical centers, outpatient clinics, and home health agencies. The following are among the Nevada organizations that utilize occupational therapists:
• Nevada Home Health Providers
• The Valley Health System
• Light Street Special Education Services
• Lake Mead Health and Rehabilitation Center
• Kindred at Home
• Sage Creek Post-Acute
• Select Physical Therapy
• Dignity Health Rehabilitation Hospital
Duties vary by setting. Occupational therapists employed in home health settings typically have a role in evaluating the home as well as the patient. Physical therapy offices sometimes utilizes occupational therapists to provide specialized treatment for the hand, wrist, and arm.
Some occupational therapists find unique niches. One organization that is gaining attention in Northern Nevada uses horses to promote the development of children with autism and other disabilities (https://www.kolotv.com/content/news/Its-life-changing-Douglas-County-mother-thanks-Kids–Horses–513531131.html).
Nevada Occupational Therapist Salary and Career Outlook
Nevada occupational therapists enjoyed a mean salary of $100,970 in 2018; this figure is based on an hourly rate of $48.54. The 10th percentile salary was $60,100; the median, $94,300.; the 90th percentile, an unusually high $162, 250.
The Nevada-Henderson-Paradise metropolitan area topped the national list of highest paying metropolitan areas; OTs here had a mean salary of $108,190, or $52.02 an hour. The reported range was even wider than for the state as a whole, with a 10th percentile salary of $62,390 and a 90th percentile salary of $176,490.
The Nevada OT occupation has been projected to grow by 29.2% across the 2016 to 2026 decade.
Occupational Therapy Schools in Nevada
Touro University-Nevada has transitioned its program from the master’s level to the doctoral level. The Level II internship is followed by a 14-week faculty-led Doctoral Experiential Component. Three statistics are prominently displayed on the Touro University webpage in 2019: the average GPA, the gender balance, and the job placement rate. The average GPA is 3.61, though the school will consider applicants with GPAs of 3.0. The percentage of students who are male, 19%, is above the average in a female-dominated profession. The job placement rate, 100%, speaks for itself.
Student and Professional Resources
Licensing information is available from the Nevada Board of Occupational Therapy (https://www.nvot.org). The Board can be reached by telephone at 775-746-4101 or by email at ‘board at nvot.org’.
The Nevada Occupational Therapy Association is the state professional association.