University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Blog


So you want to be a licensed OT in the US… →

Sep 27, 2015, by Samar · email · Leave a comment

You are already a practicing occupational therapist with a bachelor’s degree in OT and aspire to get your occupational therapy license to practice OT in the US… But you don’t know where to start!

According to American Association of Occupational Therapy (AOTA), effective July 31, 2013, the minimum criteria established by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) to be eligible for the initial certification examination, which required for practice:

  1. Completion of an Entry-Level Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from a government authorized and/or WFOT approved college or university occupational therapy educational program AND a Post Professional Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy OR
  2. Completion of an Entry-Level Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy from a government authorized and/or WFOT approved college or university occupational therapy educational program

What this means is that you need to first complete a post-professional master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. The one-year post professional’s master program offered by USC is a great option for that. For more information about the program, check out this link . Second, apply for NBCOT’s Occupational Therapy Eligibility Determination (OTED) review. NBCOT will review your credentials for both your bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in OT to determine if you’re eligible to sit for the initial national certification examination. Once you’re determined eligible, you can apply and schedule for the NBCOT exam. Check out these two links on the NBCOT process for international candidates here and the OTED application here.  Make sure you review the OTED resources on the left side of the webpage. After you pass the exam you’re ready for the final step for getting your state license. Depending on which state you plan to practice in, the requirements might be different. For the California Board of Occupational Therapy requirements, check out this link. Other resources that you might find useful to check out is the AOTA website on working and studying in the US and the AOTA’s NBCOT exam prep website

I hope this has been helpful in terms of having all of the information you might need in one place. Last but not least, if you have any more questions, feel free to contact me. I have been through the process recently and would be more than happy to help!


My OTD life so far →

Sep 21, 2015, by Samar · email · Leave a comment

Hello friends,

I can’t believe a month has gone by since the start of school! Today, I wanted to talk to you more on what it means to be an occupational therapy doctorate resident at USC. I am enrolled in OT620 Current Issues in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy for four units and in OT686 residency for six units which equates to 20 hours/week at my residency site. I am definitely doing more than 20 hours/week but I thoroughly enjoy my time there. What’s not to love about practicing occupational therapy in your favorite setting with your favorite population? On top of that, I am practicing with the mentorship and supervision of my clinical preceptor and educator at my residency site and with support from a faculty mentor from the USC Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. The OT620 definitely compliments the residency in a sense that I’m getting weekly peer support from fellow OTD residents and I’m learning more about quality improvement and evidence based practice. In the meantime, my residency plan for the next year is slowly coming to shape. Also, I am deciding what my literature review is going to be about which will inform my evidence based practice. I’m keeping busy and I’m loving it!


New Beginnings →

Sep 7, 2015, by Samar · email · Leave a comment

Hello everyone!

Since my last post, I graduated from the post professional master’s program and I’ve become a licensed and registered therapist in the US! Now, I am enrolled in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program and I’m doing my clinical residency at Therapy West to learn more about Sensory Integration and working with children in both clinic-based and school-based settings.  Words can’t describe how excited and happy I am! I have been planning to come to USC since 2012 when I took the Sensory Integration Perspective Course offered by the USC Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and Western Psychological Services. As I was located in Saudi Arabia at the time, moving to Los Angeles and getting accepted at USC required some logistical and financial planning on my part. However, I feel that it was totally worth it! I’m doing what I love, learning something new every day and I’m one step closer to achieving my goal of being certified in sensory integration.  More than that, I feel like am at the right place to do so at USC. Stay tuned for more updates…


Pause… and Rewind →

May 2, 2014, by Samar · email · Leave a comment

I can’t believe I had my final MA class! It feels like it was only yesterday when I moved to California and started the master’s program at USC. I remember orientation as if it happened yesterday. I vividly remember the feeling I had during that day; a good mix of nervousness, excitement and hopefulness of the all possibilities yet to come. This year has been amazing on so many levels. I’ve started the year in a room full of strangers as my classmates. Now, we are graduating and celebrating our success together as a family.  Moreover, I’ve had the fortune to meet the top leaders in the occupational therapy profession and have embraced my inner geek by taking pictures with each and every one of them: Dr. Florence Clark, Dr. Jane Case-Smith, Dr. Patricia Nagaishi (OTAC president), and Dr. Virginia Stoffel (AOTA president). In 14 days, I plan to add to my picture collection one of me and Dr. Elizabeth Yerxa at the Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Satellite Commencement Ceremony. That day is going to be so surreal! I guess I should stop thinking about graduation and think of the comprehensive exam I am taking on Monday… Wish me luck!


First Blog: OTSC International Forum 2014 →

Apr 14, 2014, by Samar · email · Leave a comment

As the countdown to graduation begins (30 days left!), I am thinking a lot of the great moments I had at USC. Moreover, how I don’t want it all to end. What I love most about USC is how there are always opportunities to learn and to be inspired. Just this past Saturday, I attended the International Forum which was organized by the Occupational Therapy and Science Council (OTSC). The forum took place at the quaint and charming Center for Occupation and Lifestyle Redesign (a gorgeous place to be in on a Saturday morning). Me and my classmates from the MAI program got to present posters on occupational therapy in each of our countries. I also listened in on presentations by Dr. Cermak, Dr. Frank, and the students panel on their international externship experiences. All of these presentations have posed important questions on the role of occupational therapy on an international level. There were probably two themes that stood out for me from the International Forum. One theme that kept coming up across all the different presentations was the importance of being inventive at finding low-cost and sustainable solutions to facilitate occupational participation of the different populations across the world. The second theme was the ability to consider the broader contexts of human existence such as political and cultural contexts and how might these uniquely influence occupational participation. Being an “international” occupational therapist myself, I feel that the topic of global occupational therapy and occupational justice is close to my heart. So, it felt great to have a forum of discussion on this very important topic. On top of that, I got to enjoy a good part of the day socializing with my favorite OT students. Overall, I feel like this event was such a great mix of learning, socializing and having fun.

This is a picture of me and my classmates minus one (we took the picture with her poster instead!)

International Forum Group