Continuing education (CE) is an essential part of being an effective and well-rounded occupational therapy practitioner. Each state has unique CE requirements, exemptions, acceptable courses, and a variety of other rules and regulations. States and organizations including the NBCOT® and AOTA express OT continuing education requirements in a few ways. Some places refer to them as continuing competency requirements, others refer specifically to Continuing Education Units (CEUs) as a measurement whereas others designate Professional Development Units (PDUs) or Contact Hours.
In the United States, the license of individual OT practitioners is governed by each state’s regulatory board. It is the responsibility of a state regulatory board to review each applicant’s credentials in an effort to ensure that licenses are only issued and renewed to those who meet the obligations stated in the practice regulations. One way for the OT regulatory board to have some assurance that licensees maintain their professional competence is to implement continuing education requirements for licensure renewal to practice in a particular state. Each OT regulatory board has the autonomy to define acceptable continuing education or professional development activities (PDAs) for earning continuing education units (CEUs).
State Regulatory Requirements: Each state provides OT practitioners a list of courses, events, and other forms of education related-programs which will count toward earning PDUs.
OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY PROFESSION- CONTINUING COMPETENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR EACH STATE
• The NBCOT® certification requires at least 36 Professional Development Units (PDUs) accrued during the 3 year renewal cycle for both Registered Occupational Therapists and Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants.
• One Professional Development Unit (PDU) is earned for each contact hour spent in structured learning. For conversion purposes, one (1) CEU equates to 10 PDUs.
• One CEU is awarded for 10 contact hours of participation in an approved program. The College Board defines a contact hour as “one 60-minute interaction between an instructor and the participant.” One CEU is equal to 10 PDUs, and one PDU is earned for one hour of study. This means that CEUs and PDUs are earned at the same hourly rate. You can quickly convert CEUs to PDUs by multiplying the CEUs by 10. So, if you just finished a course that awarded you 6 CEUs, you could convert those CEUs to 60 PDUs.
• A Professional Development Unit is sixty minutes (or one contact hour) of participation in a profession development activity qualifies for one Professional Development Unit PDU.
• Your renewal period starts the day after your license expires and continues until your license expiration date or the date you sign your renewal form.
• If you earn more than the required number of units during your renewal period, you can carry over up to six of the extra hours into the next renewal period.
• You do not need to send your course completion to the board. You will be required to certify that you completed the required number of units on your renewal form and list the activities on the back of the renewal form. You must maintain copies of course completion certificates and documentation of other activities completed for a period of four (4) years following the renewal period. The Board will conduct periodic random audits. Failure to complete continuing competency requirements or provide documentation during an audit can result in your license being placed on inactive status, a citation and fine, or other disciplinary action.
• Once you pass the NBCOT® exam, you will receive the “R” next to your name. Once you get your license through your state you will receive your “L”. example. Stephanie Shane OTR/L
When to renew your NBCOT® Certification
Certificants who complete all certification renewal requirements by their scheduled renewal date will be granted Active in Good Standing certification status for a three-year period. The certification renewal season occurs between January and March annually, regardless of the month indicated on the certificant’s initial certification document. Certificants who do not submit their certification renewal application by the scheduled renewal date will have their certification status changed to Expired. An individual who has an Expired certification cannot use the OTR or COTA certification marks.