Occupational Therapy FAQs


Occupational Therapy FAQs

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Does an occupational therapist need a signed prescription from a physician authorizing OT services in the state of Florida?

In many jurisdictions, the practice of occupational therapy is contingent upon a prescription or referral of a physician, however, the Florida Occupational Therapy Practice Laws and Rules are silent on this issue, and does not state a physician’s prescription is required to provide occupational therapy services. Professional occupational therapy Florida licensees are allowed to practice occupational therapy by providing occupational therapy services.

NOTE: However, there may be (and often are) facilities, companies, insurances, HMO’s, and/or billing requirements that may mandate a physician’s prescription as a requirement for services; such as the Agency for HealthCare Administration’s Facility Regulations, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. Please visit these entities websites and research their individual regulations regarding such:
Florida’s Agency for HealthCare Administration’s Facility Regulations page: https://ahca.myflorida.com/MCHQ/Health_Facility_Regulation/index.shtml;
Medicare: https://www.mymedicare.gov/
Medicaid: https://www.medicaid.gov/

Are there specific crimes in which a person cannot obtain licensure in Florida?

Yes, please visit our website at: http://www.floridahealth.gov/licensing-and-regulation/latest-laws/index.html   NOTE: The information on this page is about felony convictions that prohibit licensure, including controlled substances offenses, welfare, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, etc.

How long do I have after I graduate to take the licensure examination?

There is no time limitation between graduation date and exam date.

Does Florida require passage of a state Exam for Occupational Therapists or Occupational Therapy Assistants licensure?

Florida does not have a state exam, and does not honor other states or country exams for licensure. Licensure in Florida as an OT or an OTA requires the successful passage of the National Board of Certification for Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT) Examination. (www.nbcot.org or 301-990-7979)

I FAILED the exam, what should I do now regarding licensure in Florida?

If you have a current licensure application by examination on file with the Board, your application and fees are valid for one year after the date the Board approved your application. You must re-apply with NBCOT to take the exam, request (and pay) for your scores to be sent to Florida, again. We will process your licensure when we receive your successful scores, if received before your application expires. It is your responsibility to make sure we receive your successful score or your NBCOT Certification number to verify and complete your licensure, prior to your file expiration date.

If you were issued a Temporary Permit you must STOP working immediately and notify the Board, as the Temporary Permit is invalid upon knowledge of your unsuccessful score. The temporary permit will be revoked by the Board upon receipt of your score.

I FAILED the NBCOT Exam 3 times, What kind of education is prescribed by the Florida OT Board?

Applicants with an Exam application on file having taken the exam 3 times without success must complete additional education as prescribed by the Board, pursuant to 468.211(6), F.S. The Florida OT Board recommends that one takes advantage of the following tools from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy in preparing to re-take the examination, as their “prescribed additional education” for those who have failed the exam three times:

I FAILED the NBCOT exam, but have never applied for Florida licensure, May I have a temporary permit?

No. A temporary permit shall not be issued to an applicant for licensure who has previously failed the national board examination and has not subsequently passed the examination. (www.nbcot.org)

I FAILED the exam and I am reapplying to NBCOT to sit for the exam again. Must I request and pay NBCOT to send my scores again to Florida?

Yes. If you do not pay NBCOT to send your scores each time you apply, we will not receive them. If you pay NBCOT to send your scores we will receive them electronically, and complete licensure usually the day scores are released. Please note, you may wait until after you receive your successful exam results and send us your NBCOT Certification number. We will attempt to verify your certification online on NBCOT’s “Verify My credentials” site. If we are able to verify we can process your licensure. Note: Receipt of the scores electronically, is usually a faster process. It is your responsibility to make sure we receive your successful score or your NBCOT Certification number to verify and complete your licensure, prior to your file expiration date.

I FAILED the NBCOT exam, what happens to my Temporary Permit, May I apply for another or an extension?

If you were issued a Temporary Permit and received unsuccessful exam scores, you must STOP working immediately, notify your employer and the Board, as the Temporary Permit is invalid upon knowledge of your unsuccessful score. Please review the language in your temporary permit letter. An applicant can have only one temporary permit and it cannot be extended. The temporary permit will be revoked by the Board upon receipt of your score.

Is there a limit on how many times I can take the Exam?

Applicants approved for licensure, contingent upon passage of the examination, shall have twelve months from the date of approval by the Board to take the examination and submit proof of scores. If an applicant is unable to successfully complete the examination requirement in the 12-month timeframe, the Florida licensure application will expire.  An applicant in this circumstance may follow the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy’s (NBCOT) procedures for re-taking the examination.  Once the examination is passed, the individual may re-apply for Florida licensure under the Endorsement application method. Please visit NBCOT’s frequently asked questions page for more information on its exam re-take procedures. Applicants with an Exam application on file having taken the exam 3 times without success must complete additional education as prescribed by the Board, pursuant to 468.211(6), F.S.  After 5 unsuccessful examination attempts an applicant is not eligible for licensure by applying under the examination method.

If I do not sit for the scheduled exam, what happens to my temporary permit? Will it be extended?

Once approved by the Board, the applicant has twelve months from the date of approval to take the NBCOT examination and submit proof of scores to the Board office. If you re-schedule your exam date with NBCOT, you must notify the Board office in writing. Scores must be requested and received directly from NBCOT. If one does not sit for the examination, or, if scores are not timely submitted, the temporary permit, and application will expire at the end of the twelve-month timeframe and one must immediately cease practice. No extensions are allowed.

Will the Department of Health begin performing background checks pursuant to the passage of HB 7069(2010), Relating to Background Screening?

No. Please visit the Agency for Health Care Administrations (AHCA) Background Screening website to learn more about its background screening requirements. You may also contact the agency at (850) 412-4503 for additional information.

I passed the exam, is my NBCOT Certification sufficient to work in Florida?

No, you must apply for licensure and receive a Florida OT or OTA license to work legally. OTR or COTA Certification alone is not sufficient; it is only a requirement for Florida licensure. Anyone working with only a certification in the state is subject to Unlicensed Practice charges/discipline.

Where can I find a list of accredited OT and OTA programs?

To find a list of all accredited OT and OTA programs you may visit the American Occupational Therapy Association website: at www.AOTA.org. “Find a School” under Education & Careers”. For a list of only Florida OT and OTA programs you may visit the Florida Occupational Therapy Association website at: www.FLOTA.org . and click on “Find a Florida OT School”.

Where can I find specific Guidelines for COTA Supervision?

The Florida Occupational Therapy Practice Act does not address “COTA Supervision” specifically, only the definition of “supervision” is defined by statute. The statute allows and requires the OTR the authority to determine what level of supervision is needed for each individual they agree to supervise, based on the individual’s skills, education, training, etc. Therefore, any services provided by an OTA must be under the supervision of a licensed OT that provides initial direction and follow-up on the implementation of a plan of treatment to provide occupational therapy services. However, some facilities may have requirements based on billing purposes and/or regulations. See below the Florida Statute excerpt with the definition of supervision as defined in the Florida Licensure Practice Act. The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has set forth Guidelines for Supervision, Roles, and Responsibilities for the profession that may be helpful. You may contact AOTA directly at 301-652-2682 or at: www.aota.org

CHAPTER 468, PART III, 468.203 (8) “Supervision” means responsible supervision and control, with the licensed occupational therapist providing both initial direction in developing a plan of treatment and periodic inspection of the actual implementation of the plan. Such plan of treatment shall not be altered by the supervised individual without prior consultation with, and the approval of, the supervising occupational therapist. The supervising occupational therapist need not always be physically present or on the premises when the assistant is performing services; however, except in cases of emergency, supervision shall require the availability of the supervising occupational therapist for consultation with and direction of the supervised individual.