Programs & Courses

Occupational/Physical Therapist Assistant

About This Program

Medicine Hat College is redesigning the online display of programs and courses and some content on this page may no longer be accurate. For official program information, please refer to the current academic calendar.

Learn about tuition and fees or download a program planning guide.

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 (fivesemester) 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.

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

High School Route

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

  • ELA 30-1
  • Biology 30
  • Two grade 12 subjects, one of which must be a 30-level science or math (Math 30-1 or Math 30-2)

Mature Student Route

  • ELA 30-1, or or ENGL 1XX and Biology 30 or equivalent are required.  This route is applicable if you do not meet the minimum requirements for admission but possess other post secondary and/or work experiences that create potential for success in the program. This route is available to a limited number of students.

Transfer Student Route

  • If you have previously attended a recognized college or university, you may be accepted on the basis of your college or university level course work. You must have completed at lease 15 credits of coursework with a minimum grade of or GPA of 2.0 out of 4.0.
  • You must have a 60% in ENGL 30-1 or equivalent of a C grade in a university level English course.
  • You must have a 60% in Biology 30 or equivalent of a C grade in a university level lab science course.

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.

Pre-Program Requirements

Once you are successful in gaining admission and have received the program package, you must:

  • Complete a standardized health form, program of immunization (and chest x-ray as required)
  • Provide proof of current CPR Certification at the Basic Rescuer or Basic Cardiac Life Support level [Level C]
  • 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.)

Please note that this program is also available 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
ENGL 1XX or ENGL 2XX* (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

Second Year
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 Preparation for the OTA/PTA
PHTA 217 PTA Therapeutic Processes III

NOTE: * ENGL 125 is offered onsite and by Distributed Learning at Medicine Hat College.  Other English courses not offered by distributed learning at Medicine Hat College but are available by distributed learning format through other post-secondary institutions. Contact Academic Advising for more information.  
+ This course is offered on-site and via distance delivery.

Continuation Requirements

  • You must adhere to the professional commitment as outlined in the Therapist Assistant Programs Student Handbook.  Failure to do so may result in dismissal from the program.
  • You must complete the program within five years of registration in TAPC 110.
  • All OPTA, OCTA, PHTA, TAPC, KNES and IDST 100 courses must be completed with grades of C or better.
  • You must earn a grade of at least C- all other courses.
  • In order to be able to continue in the program, a current and cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 is required at the end of each semester.
  • Attendance in all courses is considered essential.  
  • You will usually be permitted to repeat a particular Therapist Assistant courses (OCTA, OPTA, PHTA, TAPC) only once.
  • Students are normally expected to complete courses in the sequence outlined in the calendar. Courses taken in a sequence other than what is outlined in the calendar [including deferring courses into other terms] may compromise your standing in the program as lab and fieldwork is done in advance of courses starting.

Graduation Requirements

You must successfully complete 20 specific courses and meet attendance, fieldwork and grade requirements as set out in the program policies.

Program Accreditation

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,


Individual courses transfer to other post-secondary institutions as outlined in the Alberta Transfer Guide. 

Athabasca University
Graduates of the Occupational Therapist Assistant/Physical Therapist Assistant diploma are eligible to transfer 60 credits to the Bachelor of Professional Arts (Human Services) degree.

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.

International Transfer

The University of Northampton (UK)
Graduates of the Occupational Therapist Assistant/Physical Therapist Assistant diploma are eligible to apply to the Bachelor of Science (Hons) - Occupational Therapy. For more information please consult with an Academic Advisor.


Fieldwork Requirements
  • All program requirements must be completed appropriately and satisfactorily prior to commencing fieldwork. (TAPC 110, TAPC 111, TAPC 113, OCTA 217, PHTA 217, and OPTA 217).
  • 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 placement out of Medicine Hat (fieldwork courses are OCTA 217, OPTA 217, PHTA 217, TAPC 110).
  • You may anticipate additional costs associated with these placements, e.g., travel, accommodations, etc. 
  • At this time, fieldwork placements occur only in Canada.
  • Fieldwork placements in OCTA 217, OPTA 217, and PHTA 217 are full-time placements unless otherwise approved by the coordinator and fieldwork sites.

Continuation Specific to Fieldwork

  • Immunizations required by the program must be up to date prior to commencing job shadowing and fieldwork placement(s).
  • You 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 requirements as specified.
  • Participation in all activities related to fieldwork is mandatory.
  • Should you receive an unsatisfactory evaluation on a fieldwork placement, you will be required to discuss this situation with the Medicine Hat College faculty.  This evaluation may result in your having to repeat the placement.  If you receive an unsatisfactory evaluation in more than one placement, you will be required to withdraw from the program.
  • You may be required to obtain a recent police information check and/or similar checks, at your expense, prior to entry into some fieldwork sites.  You may wish to discuss this further with the Coordinator.
  • Should your performance and/or health be questionable in relation to the delivery of safe client care and/or the maintenance of the professional standards of the program, you may be asked to leave your fieldwork site and may not receive credit in the fieldwork course.

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.

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.

Scholarship Info

Medicine Hat College distributes over $300,000 in scholarships and bursaries each year. Applying online is easy!

Click Here

Funding Your Education

There are several options to assist you in funding your education at MHC. Find out what option is best for you.

Click Here