Occupational/Physical Therapist Assistant


Fall 2020 Update

Course Delivery Summary:

  • Year 1:Online
  • Year 2: Blended

First year courses are well suited to online learning and will be delivered this way for the fall semester. Second year courses require students to work in labs on campus or in the community, and the practical work period in the OTA/PTA program is critical to career success. This means students should be prepared to visit the Medicine Hat campus and/or a community site each week throughout the program for experiential learning.

Distance learning students who require in-person labs and/or fieldwork during Fall 2020 may experience delays in their program progression.

Prepare to Learn:

  • Your active participation in COVID-19 prevention is important. Please visit the COVID page to learn about your responsibilities, how to access campus, and what to expect.
  • Details about tools and technology requirements, as well as additional course details, will be shared before the end of July.


About the Program

The Occupational Therapist Assistant/Physical Therapist Assistant (OTA/PTA) career is aimed at improving patient/clients’ health, movement, and quality of life. As an OTA/PTA, you will work under the direction of Occupational Therapists (OT) to help clients successfully perform daily activities related to self-care, leisure, and work, school or play. You will also work under the direction of physiotherapists (PT) to help provide treatment to help patients recover from illness or injury to improve patient mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or lessen physical limitations. If you are a compassionate and creative individual who enjoys working with people and being part of the health care and rehabilitation team, this program may be a good fit for you. Working with clients of all ages ranging from infants to seniors with a variety of health conditions, you will learn how to use a variety of interventions to help your clients. The activities could range from games or crafts; group activities; exercise for strength, flexibility, balance and coordination; use of assistive devices, and various electrotherapy and physical modalities. Your clients might have conditions such as back pain, arthritis, heart disease, stroke, cerebral palsy, autism, mental health disorders or dementia among others. An OTA/PTA’s responsibilities also include monitoring and recording client progress, and reporting to the OT or PT.

This program is flexible in that the first 10 courses are common to both the OTA/PTA and SLP Assistant (SLPA) diplomas. This unique approach provides students with an excellent core upon which to build more specific skills depending on their interests. Along with extensive classroom training, students experience practicum training with potential employers in hospitals, private clinics, home care settings, schools, and community programs.

The diploma is offered both on-site (at Medicine Hat College) or via distributed learning. The on-site option is a two-year (five semester) diploma program, whereas the distributed learning (DL) option is completed over a longer period of up to five years. Students may wish to continue on and complete the SLPA diploma after completion of the OTA/PTA diploma. This diploma will also transfer to degree programs.

High School Route

High School diploma with a minimum mark of 60% in each of

  • ELA 30-1
  • Biology 30
  • Two 30-level subjects, one of which must be a 30-level Science, Math 30-1 or Math 30-2.

Mature Student Route

A minimum mark of 60% in:

  • ELA 30-1
  • Biology 30

Transfer Student Route

A minimum mark of 60% or a minimum of C grade in:

  • ELA 30-1 or a post-secondary level equivalent
  • Biology 30, a post-secondary equivalent, or a university level lab science course

English Language Proficiency

Students also need to meet English Language Proficiency at a higher level than the general college. For the International English Language Proficiency System (IELTS) students must have an overall band score for 7.0 with no band score less than 7.0.

Pre-Program Requirements

Once successful in gaining admission and having received the program orientation package, students must:

  • Complete a standardized health form, program of immunization (and chest x-ray as required)
  • Provide a current resume if requested
  • Provide proof of current CPR/AED Certification from one of the following:
    • Heart & Stroke Foundation (BLS - Basic Life Support),
    • Canadian Red Cross (HCP - Health Care Providers),
    • St. John Ambulance (CPR for Health Care Providers)
  • Provide proof of current Standard First Aid Certification
  • Provide a current Police Information Check with Vulnerable Sector Check. (Students are obligated to inform the Program Coordinator immediately of any change in the status of their criminal record.)

Some courses related to this program are found here. Please see the academic calendar or this year's program planning guide for an up-to-date set of courses related to Occupational /Physical Therapist Assistant.

SOCI 2xx (SOCI 203 preferred)

ENGL 1XX or ENGL 2XX (ENGL 252 recommended)*

Graduates of this program will find employment opportunities with:

  • Health Regions/Hospitals 
  • Rehabilitation Centres 
  • Continuing Care Facilities 
  • Schools 
  • Community and Government Health Agencies 
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Program

What is your education going to cost?

Our TUITION and FEES page provides a total cost estimate for your program including books and supplies and related expenses.

Looking for ways to help fund your education?

There are lots of options like student loans, scholarships, bursaries and emergency funding available.
Check out our FINANCIAL AID page for more information.

Many programs offered at Medicine Hat College qualify for transfer credits to other institutions. In some cases, you must transfer to another institution to complete your program and gain your credential.

The ACADEMIC CALENDAR has official information on transfer options for each program.
Please consult the calendar or meet with an academic advisor for more information.

At MHC, we care about students and want to help you succeed.

As a student, there may be times when you require support. Our SERVICES page provides you with links to a number of campus supports including academic success, counselling and care, health and wellness, and many other resources.

Have you always wanted to study abroad?

Enhance your education, share in cultural diversity and embrace new experiences. Visit the INTERNATIONAL MOBILITY PROGRAM section to find out more.

The Occupational/Physical Therapy Assistant program at Medicine Hat College has been accredited by the Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program (OTA & PTA EAP) in collaboration with Physiotherapy Education Accreditation Canada (PEAC) and the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists (CAOT). The status of Accreditation was granted to the program on April 30, 2015 for the period until April 30, 2021.

The OTA & PTA EAP contact information is:  Occupational Therapist Assistant and Physiotherapist Assistant Education Accreditation Program, Suite 26, 509 Commissioners Road West, London, Ontario, N6J 1Y5, (226) 636-0632,

Fieldwork Requirements
  • All program requirements must be completed appropriately and satisfactorily prior to commencing fieldwork.
  • Students who have not successfully met their course and program requirements will not be permitted into the fieldwork courses.
  • Fieldwork arrangements are made by Medicine Hat College with consideration of student preferences; however, students may be required to complete fieldwork at sites other than those requested by students. Once arrangements are confirmed, they are usually not modified.
  • Students should expect to complete at least one fieldwork course/placement outside of Medicine Hat.
  • DL students may also be required to travel outside of their home area in order to complete their fieldwork requirements.
  • Students may anticipate additional costs associated with these placements, e.g., travel, accommodations, etc.
  • At this time, fieldwork placements occur only in Canada.
  • Fieldwork placements are usually full-time placements unless otherwise approved by the coordinator and fieldwork sites.

Continuation Specific to Fieldwork

  • Immunizations required must be up to date prior to program start date, shadowing and fieldwork placement(s).
  • Participation in all activities related to fieldwork is mandatory.
  • Immunizations must be maintained throughout the program.Additional immunizations may be required for fieldwork.
  • Students must successfully complete lab examinations in OCTA 215, OCTA 216, OPTA 212, PHTA 215, and PHTA 216 prior to entering fieldwork.
  • All fieldwork experience must meet attendance and participation requirements as specified.
  • Should a student receive an unsatisfactory evaluation on a fieldwork placement, they will be required to discuss this situation with Medicine Hat College faculty. This evaluation may result in having to repeat the placement.
  • Students that receive an unsatisfactory evaluation in more than one placement, will be required to withdraw from the program.
  • Students may be required to obtain a recent police information check and/or similar checks, at their expense, prior to entry into some fieldwork sites.
  • Should the students performance and/or health be question able in relation to the delivery of safe client care and/or the maintenance of the professional standards of the program,they may be asked to leave the fieldwork site and may not receive credit in the fieldwork course.

Prior Learning

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.

Distributed Learning (DL)

  • If you are enrolled in the distributed learning component you are expected to participate in experiential learning opportunities that are group or individually based. You should be prepared to travel to pre-arranged sites for lab workshops in OPTA 212, OCTA 215, OCTA 216, PHTA 215, and PHTA 216.
  • You must normally complete all courses in each group prior to beginning courses in subsequent groups. Programs completed otherwise will require submission of Prerequisite Waiver forms.
  • Tuition and other fees are charged on a course by course basis; textbooks and supplies are additional.