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NBCOT: Setting and Maintaining the Standard for Excellence in Continuing Competency

This is an exciting time of change in occupational therapy, and as the field advances, the value of the OTR® and COTA® credentials has become increasingly

Paul Grace, MS, CAE, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
Paul Grace, MS, CAE, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy

more important. We’ve seen an explosion in knowledge about effective interventions for autism and traumatic brain injuries and experienced incredible advances in the rehabilitation of military veterans, to name just a few examples of major change in our field. As practitioners, it’s not enough to just “keep up” with the research and new developments; rather, it’s incumbent upon us to assess where we stand and take measures to stay at the top of our game in practice. Doing this benefits our clients and improves people’s lives.

True practice competency is a continual process, not just an exercise that occurs every three years with certification renewal. And real practice excellence—one that inspires confidence among clients, employers, and the general public — is maintaining the OTR and COTA credential. We know YOU recognize the value of the credential as well. In fact, more than 90 percent of this year’s renewal class — almost 39,000 certificants — have already completed the renewal process for this year. We typically expect to reach that high percentage towards the end of the year, so hitting that number this early proves just how important the credential is.

NBCOT is here to serve as a guide on your life-long career journey, providing you with the tools and resources you need to achieve professional goals and to remain current and stay certified. And, we want to enhance our relationship with you. We want you to stay with us, even after you’ve become certified or renewed your certification. We want you to connect more to us, communicate with us, and use us as a continual resource throughout your professional development.

With that continual relationship in mind, we are thrilled to launch the NBCOT Navigator™, our new suite of online competency development tools that can augment and support your professional development efforts. NBCOT Navigator is an evidence-based virtual platform that mimics real life practice and case scenarios to help you assess your competency across all areas of occupational therapy including home health, health and wellness, skilled nursing, administration management, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, orthopedics, work and industry, education and research, pediatrics and school systems, and mental health. This tool suite is provided at no cost to all active OTR and COTA professionals, as an added value to your certification.

Continuing education courses alone don’t provide the participant enough feedback on strengths or weaknesses, which is why we saw such a need for a tool like Navigator. These interactive tools complement your current professional development plan, but also provide customized information on how to make improvements or chart your course to move into new practice areas with some level of success. As you progress through the tool suite, you have the opportunity to earn up to 18 professional development units toward your next certification renewal.

We also see employers benefitting greatly from NBCOT Navigator because your staff will have the opportunity—at any time—to measure themselves and test their competency against contemporary practice standards. Encouraging use of Navigator is something you can do at your convenience and that doesn’t take you or your staff away from the work environment or away from their clients.

I encourage you to check out NBCOT Navigator—it’s located within the MyNBCOT portal at www.nbcot.org. And don’t just visit once. As with all of our resources, NBCOT Navigator is meant to help you throughout the course of your career.

Continuing competency in occupational therapy isn’t a sprint—it’s a marathon. And NBCOT is here for you through that journey. Whether you’re a student getting ready for your first exam, you’re going through your sixth certification renewal, or you’re an OTR or COTA who needs to reach back into the toolbox to refine some skills, NBCOT is here to help elevate you to the top of your game.

• Contributed by Paul Grace


About Paul Grace

Paul Grace, MS, CAE, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, a position he has held since 2001. Paul is an innovative leader in the realm of personnel certification and accreditation, and has more than two decades of

experience in this field. Paul has served as Chair of the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and two terms as President of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). ICE is a Washington, DC based global organization that is the leader in credentialing focused standards, professional education, and advocacy. In 2002, he was awarded ICE’s Leadership Award. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Citizen Advocacy Center’s Ben Shimberg Public Service Award. In 2014, he was awarded ICE’s Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals whose vision, efforts, commitment, and contributions have advanced the credentialing industry. Paul was awarded his undergraduate and graduate degrees from West Virginia University. He is also a Certified Association Executive (CAE) by the American Society of Association Executives.

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