If you are a compassionate and creative individual who is looking for a rewarding opportunity to help people, then a career as an Occupational/Physical Therapist Assistant may be just what you’re looking for. With this combined diploma, you may work as an Occupational Therapist Assistant (OTA), or a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA).
Under the supervision and guidance of an Occupational Therapist (OT), an Occupational Therapist Assistant implements treatment plans designed for people with physical, mental, emotional or developmental challenges.
As a Physical Therapist Assistant, you will work under the direction of a Physical Therapist to implement treatment programs to promote health, prevent or recover from injury, reduce pain, or develop strength and mobility to improve quality of life.
The ultimate goal as an Occupational Therapist Assistant (OTA) is to improve clients’ quality of life and ability to successfully perform daily activities related to self care, leisure, and work, school or play. You will work with clients ranging from infants to seniors with such conditions as cerebral palsy, autism, spinal cord injury, arthritis, schizophrenia, and dementia. You will learn how to use games or crafts as a treatment plan with a child with fine motor challenges to learn how to hold a pencil, use scissors or fasten buttons. You may teach a client recovering from a stroke how to safely use a wheelchair, dress and cook with the use of one arm. For someone with depression, you may use group activities to promote social interactions. An OTA’s responsibilities also include monitoring and recording client progress, and reporting to the OT.
Physical Therapist Assistants (PTAs) help provide treatment that improves patient mobility, relieves pain, and prevents or lessens physical limitations of clients. You will help people of all ages recovering from injury or illness - individuals with conditions such as lower-back pain, arthritis, heart disease, fractures, head injuries, and cerebral palsy. As a PTA, you will work with people individually or in groups as an important part of the rehabilitation team. Your interventions will help people improve strength, flexibility, balance, and coordination through exercise, or improve mobility through the use of ambulation aids. Your duties might also involve the application of therapeutic modalities such as heat and cold, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound. You will recognize the response of your interventions and report and record them to the supervising Physical Therapist.
This combined diploma program is offered both on-site (at MHC) or via distributed learning (where some courses are taken online and some via traditional paper correspondence - see Distributed Learning tab below.) The on-site option is a two-year (four-semester) diploma program, where the distributed learning option is completed over a longer period. In both options, the first nine courses are common to two different diplomas: Occupational/Physical Therapist Assistant and Speech-Language Pathologist Assistant. This unique approach provides you with an excellent core upon which to build more specific skills depending on your interests. You may wish to continue on and complete the Speech-Language Pathologist Assistant diploma. Your diploma will also transfer to degree programs.
Along with extensive classroom training, you will experience practicum training with potential employers in hospitals, health units, private clinics, home care settings, schools, and community programs.
Our program was the first program in Western Canada to offer formal educational preparation for Occupational Therapist Assistants, Physical Therapist Assistants and Speech-Language Pathologist Assistants, and is considered to be a leader and innovator in the field. Our faculty members continually partner with various provincial/national educators and professional groups in an effort to clarify and standardize the role of support personnel in rehabilitation service delivery. This kind of dedication, combined with a great curriculum and fieldwork opportunities, will provide you with the background needed for a promising future.
Graduates of this program will find employment opportunities with:
High School diploma with a minimum mark of 60% in each of
Academic Transition Plan (ATP)
If you do not possess all of the admission requirements, the Academic Transition Plan (ATP) may provide conditional acceptance to this program, provided space is available. ATP is individualized to meet your needs.
Once you are successful in gaining admission and have received the program package, you must:
Please note that this program is also availabe via Distributed Learning (DL)
First Year/Group 1 DL
IDST 100 Introductory Communications for Helping Professionals
KNES 261 Human Anatomy+
PSYC 205* Principles of Psychology
TAPC 110 Introduction to Health Care and Rehabilitation
Junior ENGL* (ENGL 252 recommended)
Winter / Group 2 DL
KNES 265 Functional Anatomy
Junior SOCI* (SOCI 203 recommended)
TAPC 111 Rehabilitation Process
TAPC 112 Human Disorders & (Dis)Abilities
TAPC 113 Growth and Development for Rehabilitation Service Providers
Spring / Group 3 DL
OPTA 212 Principles and Techniques of Client Contact
Fall / Group 4 DL
OCTA 215 Therapeutic Processes I
OCTA 216 Therapeutic Processes II
PHTA 215 PTA Therapeutic Processes I
PHTA 216 PTA Therapeutic Processes II
TAPC 210 Professional Integration for the Therapist Assistant
Winter / Group 5 DL
OCTA 217 OTA Therapeutic Processes III
OPTA 217 OTA/PTA Therapeutic Processes IV
OPTA 218 Career Prepration for the OTA/PTA
PHTA 217 PTA Therapeutic Processes III
NOTE: * University transfer courses not offered by distributed learning at Medicine Hat College. They are available by distributed learning through other post-secondary institutions. Contact the coordinator for more information.
+ This course is offered on-site and via eCampusAlberta
You must successfully complete 20 specific courses and meet attendance, fieldwork and grade requirements as set out in the program policies.
Individual courses transfer to other post-secondary institutions as outlined in the Alberta Transfer Guide.
This diploma transfers to Athabasca University's Bachelor of Professional Arts (Human Services) degree. For more information consult the Athabasca University's section in the MHC Calendar or contact the Athabasca University Liaison Advisor at Medicine Hat College at 403.504.2209.
University of Calgary
Graduates are eligible to apply to the two year post diploma BCR program (Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation).
Thompson Rivers University
You are eligible to receive advance credit towards the Bachelor of Health Science or the Bachelor of General Studies.
Continuation Specific to Fieldwork
If you have been employed in the field prior to entering this program, you may be eligible for prior learning assessment. Please contact the Coordinator for further information.
Medicine Hat College distributes over $300,000 in scholarships and bursaries each year. Applying online is easy!
There are several options to assist you in funding your education at MHC. Find out what option is best for you.
MHC has a walk in clinic on the Medicine Hat campus? More...
Both of the programs I completed - Massage Therapy and Physical Therapist Assistant - made me a well-rounded therapist. MHC gave me a wonderful experience which helped me to become a successful spa owner.
Maps Phone Directory News & Events