Question: I am an occupational therapist who has moved into a new role. The job title is not occupational therapist. How do I know if I am practising occupational therapy?

Answer: Occupational therapy practice is diverse and not defined by your role, job title, or practice setting. You can be practising occupational therapy without being employed as, or having the job title, “occupational therapist”.

You have the autonomy and accountability to determine if you are practising within the occupational therapy scope of practice. The College has developed these reflective questions to help in your reasoning:

Demonstrating Credibility and Accountability

  • Are you telling the public that you are an occupational therapist? For example, do you use the title OT Reg (Ont.), as a way of demonstrating your credibility, accountability and knowledge to the public?
  • Based on your role, title, and how you present yourself, would the public expect you to use your occupational therapy knowledge or skill in your interactions with them? For example, an occupational therapist in the role of a program or clinic manager would be expected to use relevant knowledge, skill, and judgment in their day-to-day responsibilities and may regularly present themselves as a manager and occupational therapist to clients and colleagues. Is being a regulated health professional a requirement of the role? For example, a case manager responsible for working with both clients and providers to coordinate health services. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are practising occupational therapy and must register with the College.

  • Is being a regulated health professional a requirement of the role? For example, a case manager who provides coordinated care but not clinical services to clients.
If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are practising occupational therapy and must register with the College.

Professional Knowledge and Experience

  • Do you use occupational therapy skills, knowledge, judgement, and experience to make decisions in your role or apply occupational therapy theory, models and frameworks to your work and do these inform decision-making? For example, an occupational therapist who is a professor in an occupational therapy or health-related program will draw on their occupational therapy knowledge, skills and judgment when teaching students and supporting them to learn about their professional responsibilities.
  • Do you get client consent, assess function, plan programs or treatment and keep records pertaining to the people you are interacting with or trying to help? For example, an occupational therapist employed by a community college or university as an accommodation coordinator would be using their occupational therapy knowledge and experience when determining appropriate accommodations for students. They would perform an assessment, keep records, etc. Another example may be an occupational therapist who is providing life or executive coaching as part of preventative healthcare while using their occupational therapy knowledge and experience to improve client outcomes.
  • Do people you work with seek your input or knowledge specifically as an occupational therapist?
  • Do you collect, store, or use the personal health information of others and serve as a record agent or custodian?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are likely practising occupational therapy.

Client and System Impact

  • Do you have an impact on client care? For example, overseeing the practice of other occupational therapists who provide client services; holding a leadership role, working in healthcare risk management or information technology; or working in collaboration with other healthcare professionals to support client services all have an impact on client care.
  • Do you have an impact on healthcare systems? Does your role impact policy, technology, resources, or knowledge that contribute to the healthcare system? For example, and occupational therapist who is planning, implementing, and evaluating provincial health services will have an impact at the system level.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are likely practising occupational therapy. After reflecting on the above questions, if you decide you are practising occupational therapy, you must:

  • Uphold the College’s Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics and Competencies
  • Complete your annual Quality Assurance requirements
  • Comply with the reporting requirements, including ensuring you update any changes to your personal or work information in your College profile
  • Hold professional liability insurance that meets the requirement of the College’s bylaws
  • Declare your practice hours at annual renewal each year
If you decide you are not practising occupational therapy, please consider the following:

  • You will not be able to use the hours obtained through this role toward the currency requirement
  • You may choose to resign your registration
  • You cannot use the title ‘occupational therapist’, or hold yourself out as someone who is an occupational therapist once you resign your registration
If you are still unsure whether you are practising occupational therapy, please review the Essential Competencies of Practice For Occupational Therapists in Canada or contact our practice team at practice@coto.org.

If you have questions about resigning or maintaining currency hours, please contact registration@coto.org.


*This content is adapted, with permission, from the College of Nurses of Ontario; the original work is available on cno.org



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