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Important Information about NBCOT Test Administrations

COVID Increases and Test Administrations

November 18, 2020

Due to the alarming increase in COVID cases in recent weeks and data that indicates it will continue to rise until a vaccine is released and administered, many jurisdictions are already enacting restrictive social distancing or business occupancy guidelines. These measures may result in changes to the operating status of local Prometric testing centers. If this occurs, candidates may expect cancellations of existing appointments or challenges in finding a convenient exam appointment.

Prometric has implemented enhanced operational policies designed to mitigate the risk of transmission of the virus in the test center environment. Despite these measures, there may be instances where an individual appears at a testing center who subsequently tests positive for the virus. In these situations, Prometric will follow its defined safety plan that may include temporarily closing the testing center to perform extensive cleaning procedures. Candidates should anticipate potential appointment cancellations in such cases. If a candidate’s exam is canceled by Prometric, rescheduling fees will not apply.

Finally, as we head into winter, severe weather conditions may impact the ability of a center to open and deliver exams as scheduled. Site closures are listed on the Prometric website.

NBCOT will continue to waive the fee to reissue ATT letters at this time. ATT letters will remain valid for 180 days and exam applications will be valid for six months.*

If you experience multiple cancellations and continue to have difficulty rescheduling, please email NBCOT at credentialingservices@nbcot.org. While we are not able to schedule appointments for you, a member of our staff will contact Prometric to make them aware of the scheduling challenges and advocate on your behalf. Please remember that scheduling and availability continue to evolve. You will receive a reply from NBCOT within two business days after receiving your request.

It is important to review the social distancing policies that are in place, which you will be expected to comply with when you arrive for your exam administration appointment. Remember that you must bring your own face mask/covering to your appointment or you will not be allowed to test. Masks with exhale/one-way valves or masks with wearable technology are prohibited in test centers.

The NBCOT OTR® and COTA® examinations have been evaluated as an essential service and the delivery of our exams will continue at both full and limited occupancy test centers as well as sites deemed for essential administrations only.

Please stay safe and wear a mask.

Paul Grace, MS, CAE
President/CEO
NBCOT

*These are temporary measures intended to assist students who are applying and scheduling to take their exam during the COVID-19 pandemic. NBCOT will continue to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on students’ ability to sit for their certification exam and will determine how long the change in the policies will remain in place and whether any adjustments to the changes are required going forward.


Changes to the Requirements to Reinstate an Expired Certification

The NBCOT Board of Directors voted to amend the current policy on reinstating an expired certification. The updated reinstatement policy will become effective January 1, 2021, for all certificants who have not renewed their OTR or COTA certification and for all individuals who have not maintained current certification. For more information, please go to www.nbcot.org/certificants/certification#reinstatement.


Verification of Your Certification Now Available at No Additional Charge

OTR and COTA certification matters and providing verification of that to state boards, employers, agencies, or clients is now available to all current certificants at no additional charge.

Certificants can easily order a verification of certification by logging into their MyNBCOT account and clicking on the Services tab. Select the option to send to a state or other entity and follow the steps to check out at no cost.

Orders sent to states will now be delivered through secure electronic transfer, reducing the time it takes for your state board to receive your verification information.

Individuals also have the option to verify certification through our free online credential verification tool, which provides details on certification, such as the initial date and current status. You can find this tool at www.nbcot.org on the top left-hand side under "Verify an OTR® or COTA®."


NBCOT Introduces Two New Awards for Certificants

June 18, 2020

Two new awards were created to recognize OTRs and COTAs who excel in their daily practice and make positive contributions to the occupational therapy community.

The NBCOT Innovation Award is for OTRs or COTAs who demonstrate the delivery of evidence-based, effective, and innovative programs or inventions that enhance the quality of life for a person or persons.

The NBCOT Impact Award is for certificants who demonstrate exceptional professional commitment through dedication, hard work, and outstanding OT skills to improve their clients’ overall life satisfaction.

The awards will be presented annually in the spring and fall. Along with the award, recipients will receive a featured spotlight in an NBCOT publication, a press release, and the NBCOT certification renewal fee free of charge*.

Interested in nominating yourself or know someone you would like to nominate for the Innovation Award or Impact Award? Find all the details at www.nbcot.org/awards.


*Award recipient must meet all certification renewal requirements and apply the promo code toward the subsequent certification renewal cycle.


NBCOT Launches Navigator App

June 10, 2020

The NBCOT Navigator® app is now available on Apple and Samsung tablets.

Since 2015, NBCOT has launched over 100 tools in the Navigator for OTR and COTA certificants to use, at no additional cost, to support their ongoing practice development by providing customized feedback on current practice skills along with access to evidence-based resources. Certificants have earned over 100,000 competency assessment units (CAUs) toward renewal and state licensure. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia recognize the Navigator as an option toward state licensure renewal.

With the app, certificants can access the Navigator from anywhere, even without an internet connection. The checkout feature allows a certificant to download tools directly to their tablet. Tools that are completed while offline will update the next time the device is connected to the internet and earned CAUs will automatically sync with the certificant’s MyNBCOT account.

The Navigator has received three major awards. In 2018, NBCOT received the first-ever ICE Innovator Award. This award recognized NBCOT for creating an innovative approach to a product that transformed and achieved a new level of success in a unique and innovative way. In 2016, the Navigator earned two awards: the Judges’ Choice Award for Most Innovative New Product Demonstration by the Association of Test Publishers and the Silver Award at the Serious Play Conference.

NBCOT is committed to the continued growth of the Navigator, with four new case simulations scheduled to launch in 2021.

OTR and COTA certificants can download the new Navigator app today on the App Store or Google Play.


NBCOT Statement Denouncing Racism

June 3, 2020

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) condemns racism, violence, and police brutality, and we are against all forms of discrimination, injustice, and inequality.

We stand with Black communities, including our colleagues, board members, OTR and COTA certificants, and students. We will be supporting organizations that are working to improve equality for all people of color. We know that one of the most important things we can do is continue to listen and learn from people of color in our occupational therapy community but that this alone is not enough. At this pivotal moment, we urge our community to join us in standing up and speaking out against racism and injustice of any kind.

Paul Grace, MS, CAE – President/CEO

Dee Berline, MBA, C/NDT, OTR/L – Chairperson of the Board

Board Members:

Joanne Foss, PhD, OTR/L

Ann Glore, COTA/L, CLT

Sheila Baxter, BG (Retired)

Amy Blue, PhD

Cesar Cespedes, OTR, MS

Brittany Curtis, OTD, OTR/L

Kate DeCleene Huber, OTD, MS, OTR

Mack Hill, MA

Mashelle Painter, MEd, COTA/L

Kelly Richardson, COTA/L

Rafael Salazar II, OTR/L

Mary Smith, Ed.D, OTR/L

Rae Ann Smith, OTD, OTR/L

Dennis Tobin, MBA, MEd, OTR

George Tomlin, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Karl Yordy, MPA


Update on Exam Scheduling

May 27, 2020

On June 1, Prometric will resume testing for all client programs, both essential and non-essential, wherever possible. The open site list has been updated to indicate sites that are available for essential-only programs and for all programs. Prometric continues to update the list daily and we encourage you to check it frequently.

Recently, Prometric posted a letter to candidates online that outlines the steps they are taking to ensure faster service, when to expect emails regarding impacted appointments, and guidance on how to reach out for support when needed.

Late last week Prometric displaced appointments running from June 1-15 due to capacity restrictions and sites that are still closed. Future cancellations are expected to occur as required by social distancing guidelines and governmental ordinances. If you have experienced multiple cancellations and are still having difficulty rescheduling, please email NBCOT at credentialingservices@nbcot.org. While we are not able to schedule appointments for you, a member of our staff will contact Prometric to make them aware of the scheduling challenges and advocate on your behalf. Please remember that scheduling and availability continue to evolve. You will receive a reply from NBCOT within two business days after receiving your request.

It is important to review the social distancing policies that are in place, which you will be expected to comply with when you arrive for your exam administration appointment. Remember that you must bring your own face mask/covering to your appointment or you will not be allowed to test.

We recommend that you continue to check for appointments on Prometric’s website as they continue to open centers and add more hours and days to their operations.


NBCOT Update on Test Administrations

May 12, 2020

Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, NBCOT has been exploring additional solutions to assist candidates to test as soon as possible. After exhausting all possible strategies for putting a new partnership in place, we were unable to find a solution that could meet technological requirements while allowing us to deliver our exams in a fair manner within a reasonable time frame. While we are disappointed by this outcome, we are encouraged by the positive reports we sent earlier today from Prometric about increased test center openings and expanded testing hours. We sincerely appreciate your patience and support during this challenging time, and we look forward to welcoming many more OTR and COTA certificants in the days to come.


Update on Exam Scheduling & Multiple Cancellations by Prometric

May 11, 2020

Testing resumed on May 1 at Prometric test centers where it has been deemed safe to open per government guidelines. NBCOT examinations have been evaluated as essential, which means that our candidates are among the people who have priority for securing appointments through the month of May.

You may still be experiencing delays in testing due to:

  • Candidate volume – candidates from 154 other essential certifying/licensing entities are also currently scheduling appointments at Prometric test centers.
  • Social distancing – state and local regulations regarding social distancing have resulted in a 50% reduction in seating capacity at test centers.
  • Varied "open for business" timeline across states – state regulations impact when centers are permitted to open.

Prometric reported that over 300,000 testing appointments worldwide were canceled in the early days of COVID-19. If you have experienced multiple cancellations and are still having difficulty rescheduling, please email NBCOT at credentialingservices@nbcot.org. While we are not able to schedule appointments for you, a member of our staff will contact Prometric to make them aware of the scheduling challenges and advocate on your behalf. Please remember that scheduling and availability continue to evolve. You will receive a reply from NBCOT within 2 business days after receiving your request.

We are encouraged by the following recent developments:

  • In the past two weeks, 146,250 testing hours have been added to Prometric's global network.
  • 316 testing centers are anticipated to be open globally by the end of this month.
  • Our first scoring day since March was last week, and we are proud to welcome 62 new OTRs and 18 new COTAs.
  • There are currently more than 1,300 students scheduled to test in May and June.

Prometric continues to update their list of sites that are open as states have begun to ease restrictions. We encourage candidates to check the Prometric site often since more seats will become available as Prometric adds more test center hours and dates.


NBCOT Public Response to Requests for Test Administration Modifications

April 23, 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, NBCOT’s test administration partner, Prometric, has temporarily closed its test centers. NBCOT examinations have been evaluated as essential, which means that our candidates can resume testing on May 1. We are aware that this initial suspension of testing resulted in students experiencing delays in taking the certification exams and, due to adherence to social distancing guidelines, there will likely be continued delays after test centers reopen. We understand and empathize with the stress, anxiety, and financial hardship that this situation is causing new graduates. Since the outset of the pandemic, we have been actively investigating every available option for assisting candidates to test in a timely manner.

Some of the solutions we have been exploring include delivering the NBCOT national certification exams online via remote proctoring, administering the certification exams at university testing centers, and administering paper-based versions of the exams in large-scale administrations around the country. Below, we outline some of the key challenges and considerations that make each of these potential options for delivery difficult. We will also share information about a solution we are actively pursuing that we hope will allow candidates to test more quickly.

Why Can’t NBCOT Administer the Certification Exams via Remote Proctoring, at University Test Centers, or via Paper Format?

Clinical Simulation Test (CST) Items

One of the primary barriers to administering the NBCOT certification exams in different settings is the clinical simulation test (CST) items used on the NBCOT OTR® Certification Examination. These items require specialized software to display and administer them properly. The remote proctoring organizations we have spoken with do not have the capability to deliver CST items, nor would university testing centers. CST items are also not amenable to paper-based delivery. NBCOT has considered whether it would be possible to develop a version of the OTR exam without CST problems. However, our policies and procedures require that all new versions of an exam undergo extensive reviews by committees of subject matter experts to ensure that they are valid and fair, among other criteria. Because NBCOT is accredited by third-party accreditation agencies, we are not in a position to quickly change our policies and procedures to circumvent key steps in our exam development process.

Exam Security

Exam security is the cornerstone of any high-stakes certification program, and as such, it is one of NBCOT’s foremost concerns. Several of the options we have explored pose exam security risks. For instance, remote proctors, like many other employees during this time, are largely working from their own homes and using their own equipment to proctor exams. This type of proctoring may be appropriate for lower stakes exams but does not offer sufficient security for high-stakes exams like the NBCOT national certification exams, which state boards rely on to provide accurate information with which to make licensure decisions. Additionally, there are many critical security concerns associated with storing, mailing, and administering paper versions of exams.

COVID-19 and Logistical Challenges

Ordinances from local, state, and federal governments and recommendations from the CDC present unique challenges for implementing new test administration solutions during this pandemic. With mass gatherings restricted across the nation, large facilities that could be used for exam administration closing or being reserved for emergency use, and travel being restricted, planning a large-scale administration of the certification exams is not feasible.

Fairness and Bias

Any solution that NBCOT implements to remove barriers to testing must be available and accessible to all candidates. There are always fairness and bias concerns associated with any test administration method that significantly reduces standardization in the testing process. For example, with respect to remote proctoring, not all candidates have access to high-speed internet, a computer that meets the technology requirements for remote proctoring, or a quiet, private space in their home in which to take the test. Similarly, not all university testing centers are open currently or have plans to open in the near future. In addition, over 200 candidates with disabilities who have been approved to test with accommodations—as well as many others who have yet to apply or are awaiting approval—would not be fairly and equitably treated by the introduction of remote proctoring or a paper-based administration, as many of these candidates could not be accommodated under these methods of test administration, particularly those requiring the use of specialized technology.

Scoring

NBCOT has an established scoring process whereby scoring files are securely transferred from NBCOT’s testing partner on a prescribed schedule. These files must include very specific content and need to be formatted in a particular way to be compatible with our established scoring system. For any new exam delivery option, we must consider the ability to securely transfer the necessary score data in the correct format to enable us to accurately score the exams and complete all of our exam security and quality assurance processes.

What Is NBCOT Doing to Help Candidates Test More Quickly?

NBCOT is committed to finding a solution to assist candidates affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to test as soon as possible. In addition to the seats available with our current test delivery vendor, we are actively pursuing other options for supplementing our seat capacity. We are working as swiftly as possible to implement this solution, which will increase the number of appointments available to candidates while also ensuring the capacity to administer CST items, deliver required scoring files, offer testing accommodations to candidates with disabilities, and ensure exam security. The challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic are trying for our entire community, and much remains unknown about the coming weeks and months. We sincerely appreciate your patience and support as we continue our work to find a solution for administering our exams in a fair, standardized, and secure manner that does not compromise the health and safety of our candidates.


Mail Sent to NBCOT

April 23, 2020

NBCOT is periodically receiving mail that arrives at our office from the United States Postal Service (USPS).

We are NOT able to accept deliveries from FedEx, UPS, or any other delivery service at this time.

If you are sending anything to NBCOT, please only use USPS at this time. You may wish to use USPS Priority Mail as it allows for tracking and confirmation that we received your letter/package. More information can be found here.

Please note that there are still delays in the processing of services that we receive in the mail. A list of these services can be found here: www.nbcot.org/News#covidupdate2.

If you have questions, the best way to communicate with us is via email at info@nbcot.org or through our social accounts.


NBCOT Testing to Resume on May 1

April 22, 2020

NBCOT has today received additional information from our testing contractor, Prometric. In accordance with the local and federal governance and advice from the CDC and WHO surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Prometric is scheduled to resume testing for essential services programs in U.S. and Canada test centers effective May 1. Test center openings are contingent upon each state’s current situation. The NBCOT OTR® and COTA® examinations have been evaluated as an essential service and the delivery of our exams will resume on May 1.

It is important to understand that several processes will be adopted when testing resumes for the foreseeable future:

  • Reducing testing capacity by at least 50% to allow for social distancing in the test center.
  • Requiring all candidates to bring and wear a face mask/covering while at the test center. If you do not bring your own mask, you will not be allowed to test.
  • Any additional local or government social distancing guidelines will apply as well.

If you are sick/have been sick within the past two weeks, have recently traveled, or have recently been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, we strongly urge that you stay home to help ensure the safety of Prometric employees and other test-takers, and recommend that you reschedule your exam at www.prometric.com.

We appreciate your support as we work with our partners to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of our candidates.

If you have any questions, please email info@nbcot.org.


Interim Degree Verification Policy Announcement

April 20, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges to our entire community. With university campuses across the country remaining closed, NBCOT is aware that many students are experiencing delays in receiving their official final transcript, which may in turn lead to delays in sitting for the certification exam. While NBCOT’s Academic Credential Verification Form (ACVF) policy remains on hold and under review during the COVID-19 crisis, we have introduced an interim policy to allow students who have completed all degree and graduation requirements to sit for their certification exam prior to receiving their official final transcript.

Under NBCOT’s Interim Degree Verification policy, students enrolled in an ACOTE-accredited occupational therapy education program may request that their university or college registrar submit an Interim Degree Verification Form (IDVF) on their behalf if they have successfully completed all degree and graduation requirements, including occupational therapy education and Level I and Level II Fieldwork, and are scheduled to graduate with an associate, baccalaureate, entry-level master’s, or entry-level doctoral degree. Students enrolled in a doctoral experiential component (i.e., doctoral capstone) may request that their university/college registrar submit an IDVF on their behalf if they have successfully completed all other degree and graduation requirements. Please note that the student’s pass/fail status will not be released until NBCOT has received an official final transcript from the university/college from which the student graduated that confirms their DEGREE DATE and DEGREE TITLE.

The Interim Degree Verification policy is a temporary measure intended to assist students who are delayed in graduating or receiving their official final transcript due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NBCOT will continue to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on students’ ability to sit for their certification exam and will determine how long the policy will remain in place and whether any adjustments to the interim policy are required going forward. At this time, NBCOT is continuing to review the ACVF policy, and will determine if and when that policy will be reinstated and whether any changes are required prior to reinstatement.

More information about the Interim Degree Verification policy, including the steps required for submitting the IDVF, can be found by here.


NBCOT’s Testing Contractor Extends Test Center Closures

April 14, 2020

Over the past several weeks, Prometric has closely monitored the ever-changing events associated with the spread of the COVID-19 virus impacting their testing operations based on ordinances from local, state, and federal governments, as well as recommendations from the CDC and WHO.

Based on current information and after careful consideration, Prometric has decided to extend the closure of test centers in the U.S. and Canada until May 1, 2020.

Some displaced test takers may have received an email notification from Prometric that their appointment has been canceled. If you have already rescheduled for a date of May 1 or later, no additional action is needed.

NBCOT will continue to work with all candidates who are impacted by test center closures. Candidates with exams scheduled between April 16-30, 2020, will be issued a new 90-day ATT letter at no charge to allow for future scheduling. You do not have to request a new ATT letter. It will be emailed to you and will be available in your MyNBCOT portal by the end of this week. After receiving your new ATT letter, you may schedule your exam as instructed in the letter. Scheduling online is highly recommended.

In response to this extended closure, we have also added additional scoring days through August. Review the latest scoring calendar online.

For more information on Prometric’s COVID-19 response and actions, please visit www.prometric.com/corona-virus-update. Please contact us at info@nbcot.org if you need further assistance or if you do not receive your ATT letter as expected.

We appreciate your support as we work with our partners to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of our candidates.


Update on NBCOT Operations Amid COVID-19

March 26, 2020

NBCOT continues to monitor the coronavirus situation. The state of Maryland is currently on orders from the governor for all non-essential businesses to remain closed. Public schools anticipate at least another four weeks before students can go back to school. Considering this information, NBCOT’s operations will continue to be maintained through remote work only. All online products and services continue to operate with no interruptions.

All mail and deliveries to our office in Gaithersburg, MD, ceased on March 13. Candidates and certificants should anticipate significant delays to any paper-based services. The services impacted are listed at the end of this message.

We are in constant communication with our testing contractor, Prometric, regarding the recent closure of all testing sites until at least April 16. All candidates who are impacted by test center closures will be issued a new 90-day ATT letter at no charge to allow for future scheduling. You will receive additional information regarding this process as soon as it is available. More information can be found online. We have added additional scoring days to April, May, and June.

Due to the challenges this pandemic continues to present, NBCOT has suspended the processing and acceptance of the Academic Credential Verification Form (ACVF) until further notice. Official final transcripts must be received by NBCOT for exam applications to be processed. More information can be found online.

For certificants due to renew their national certification in 2020, NBCOT extended the renewal deadline until May 31, 2020. More information can be found online. Certificates will not be mailed until we resume normal business operations. If you or your employer needs to verify your certification status, visit www.nbcot.org and click on the “Verify an OTR® or COTA®” button on the top left-hand side.

The best way to continue to communicate with us is via email at info@nbcot.org or through our social channels listed below. Our phone systems will only be taking messages, and we will make every effort to provide callbacks in a timely manner, but please note there may be a delay in our response.

Thank you for your continued patience during this time.


Paper-based services that are currently delayed until our office resumes normal operations:

For exam candidates

  • Paper exam applications – please apply online
  • Transcripts received via mail – NBCOT will accept transcripts electronically that are transferred using a secure and verifiable transcript service or clearinghouse. The documents should be sent to transcripts@nbcot.org.
  • ACVF – The policy will be revisited when normal operations resume.
  • Company Eligibility Confirmations

For certificants

  • Paper renewal applications – you can renew online in less than 5 minutes through your MyNBCOT account
  • Reinstatement applications
  • Verification of Certification letters – certification status can also be verified online at www.nbcot.org
  • Renewal audit
  • Mailing of initial and renewal certificates
  • State reactivation exam applications
  • Visa Credential Verification Certificate (internationally educated OTRs)
  • Credential Evaluation Letter (internationally educated OTRs)

Important Information Regarding the Academic Credential Verification Form (ACVF)

March 19, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose new and unexpected challenges to all members of our community. NBCOT is aware that many students are dealing with the cancellation of fieldwork sites due to social distancing measures, and we empathize with the difficulty this situation poses. While we appreciate the desire to find solutions for students whose graduation timelines may be adversely affected, we are troubled by comments suggesting that the Academic Credential Verification Form (ACVF) may be used to allow students to test before they have completed their fieldwork and/or degree requirements.

NBCOT has been examining the ACVF policy since the fall of 2019 in collaboration with program directors from across the country. Through our ongoing research, we have documented several instances of misuse of the form, including the form being submitted before students have completed Level II Fieldwork or other graduation requirements.

Based on careful consideration of all available information on the potential for misuse of the ACVF, we are suspending the processing and acceptance of the ACVF until further notice. We sincerely regret any inconvenience that this decision may have. Once the COVID-19 situation has settled, NBCOT will revisit the use of the ACVF, which may include changes to the current policy.

This suspension applies to candidates whose ACVF has not yet been approved by their program director. Candidates whose ACVF has already been approved by their program director are covered by the policy that was in place at the time of their approval. Under that policy, candidates who test on an ACVF will receive their exam results only after NBCOT has processed and approved the candidate’s official final transcript confirming the degree title and conferral date.

We believe this decision is necessary to mitigate the risk posed by students being allowed to test prior to having met the established entry-level requirements. State boards rely on NBCOT to provide accurate information with which to make licensure decisions, and the public, including employers, relies on us to verify that all certified occupational therapy professionals have met the published requirements for entry-level practice. We appreciate your understanding and patience during this challenging time.


NBCOT’s Testing Contractor Closes Test Centers for 30 Days

March 17, 2020

NBCOT received information today that our testing contractor, Prometric, is closing all testing centers in the United States and Canada per recent federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At this time, Prometric is stating the closures will last 30 days, but reopening of test centers will be dependent on circumstances that are changing daily.

Prometric operations teams are actively reaching out to individuals with testing appointments today and throughout the closure period. Prometric will be taking measures to reschedule impacted appointments to new dates after the planned reopening and will be communicating that information to impacted individuals. Prometric will work closely with test takers to find new appointment dates and times that work for their schedules. You will receive email instructions from Prometric on how to reschedule your appointment. Please do not call Prometric to reschedule your exam prior to receiving this email.

For more information on Prometric’s COVID-19 response and actions, please visit www.prometric.com/corona-virus-update. The website will be updated when new information is available.

NBCOT will work with all candidates who are impacted by the test center closures. These candidates will be issued a new 90-day ATT letter at no charge to allow for future scheduling. We appreciate your patience as we work through this process.

If you have any questions, please email info@nbcot.org.


Renewal Extension

March 17, 2020

Dear Certificant,

There is nothing more important to us than the health and well-being of our certificants. We have been carefully monitoring the COVID-19 situation and the associated impact this is having on conferences and continuing education events. We understand that as a result of these extraordinary times, it may not be possible for you to accrue all your units by the March 31 renewal deadline.

Important Update

NBCOT will extend the renewal deadline for 2020 until May 31.

  • All certificants due to renew in 2020 will retain their active OTR® or COTA® certification until May 31, 2020.
  • This gives you two additional months to obtain the units required for certification renewal.
  • If you do not renew by May 31, 2020, your certification status will change to Expired on June 1.
  • If you renew your certification after May 31, 2020, you will be charged the late fee.

The Certification Renewal Activities Chart lists the 32 ways you can accrue units—many are free and accessible from the comfort of your home. The NBCOT Navigator®, for example, can be accessed directly from your MyNBCOT account, where you will find over 100 tools to earn units to support your continuing competency needs. You can earn a total of 14 units from the Navigator to apply toward the renewal requirement. The Navigator is provided to all OTR and COTA certificants for free, and 41 states plus the District of Columbia recognize it as an option to satisfy, in part, that state’s requirements toward licensure renewal.

If you have any questions regarding your certification renewal, please email recert@nbcot.org.

Warm regards,

Paul Grace, MS, CAE
President/CEO


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update and NBCOT Operations

March 13, 2020

NBCOT has been closely monitoring the evolution of the coronavirus situation and evaluating information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and local and state health departments in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. On Thursday, March 12, the governor of Maryland declared a state of emergency, closed all public schools for two weeks beginning on March 16, and urged residents to social distance and work remotely to help stop the spread of the virus.

At this time, for the safety of our employees and the public, NBCOT’s operations have moved to remote work only. Candidates and certificants will experience delays in the processing of several services. Mail and deliveries to our office in Gaithersburg, MD, will not be processed during this time. All online products and services will continue with no expected interruptions.

For exam candidates, we recommend sending transcripts electronically if possible, as we will not have access to mail during this time. Please apply for the exam online through your MyNBCOT account, as paper exam applications will also be delayed. We understand the impact this may have on candidates preparing to take the national certification exam, and we are committed to maintaining the operations of our programs, products, and services as smoothly and efficiently as we can.

Prometric, our test administration vendor, is evaluating test center closures on a case-by-case basis with a close eye on specific government actions, including closing local offices, public spaces, and university campuses, along with building closures where test centers are located. All test center closures will be posted as decisions are made at www.prometric.com/closures. NBCOT will work with candidates impacted by closures due to the virus and any candidates who need to reschedule due to a positive test for the virus.

For certificants, the following processes will be affected due to mail and special delivery delays to our office:

  • Paper renewal applications – you can renew online in less than 5 minutes through your MyNBCOT account
  • Reinstatement applications
  • Verification of Certification letters – certification status can also be verified online at www.nbcot.org
  • Company Eligibility Confirmations
  • Renewal audit
  • Mailing of initial and renewal certificates
  • State reactivation exam applications
  • Visa Credential Verification Certificate (internationally educated OTRs)
  • Credential Evaluation Letter (internationally educated OTRs)

NBCOT will waive the certification renewal late fee until May 31, 2020.

The best way to communicate with us is via email at info@nbcot.org. Our phone systems will only be taking messages and we will make every effort to provide callbacks in a timely manner, but please note there may be a delay in our response.

We are constantly evaluating the situation and will provide updates as the situation evolves.


AOTA/NBCOT Occupational Licensure Compact Initiative Progress:
Initial OT Compact Legislation Drafted

March 10, 2020

On February 25 and 26, 2020, the Council of State Governments (CSG) convened the Occupational Therapy Drafting Team at the Hall of the States in Washington, DC. This group is charged with developing language for the new model interstate licensure compact for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. The meeting started with a review of the occupational therapy compact process as well as the obligations of the Drafting Team. The Team then addressed numerous topics including necessary compact definitions, state participation requirements, compact privileges, consideration of special provisions, and effects of adverse actions. As a projected outcome, CSG then developed initial draft legislation for the group to review.

The Drafting Team is expected to complete a draft compact this spring, which will be reviewed by the Occupational Therapy Advisory Group for comment. From there the draft will be distributed to stakeholders for comment in the summer of 2020.

The goal is to work with stakeholders to come to a consensus and finalize the occupational therapy compact legislation by early fall 2020. The process will then include efforts to work with state occupational therapy associations and state regulatory boards/agencies to introduce the licensure compact legislation in multiple states during the 2021 state legislative sessions.

Check AOTA’s website for more information on the interstate professional licensing compact, including background, the general timeline, and what it would mean for occupational therapy practitioners.

Check NBCOT's website for updates on the interstate OT licensure compact.

OT Compact Drafting Team, 10 people total
Members of CSG’s Occupational Therapy Interstate Compact Advisory Group

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Chuck Willmarth, CAE
Vice President of State Affairs and Health Policy
cwillmarth@aota.org

AOTA, American Occupational Therapy Association 

Shaun Conway, OTR
Senior Director, External & Regulatory Affairs
sconway@nbcot.org

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update and NBCOT Exams

March 3, 2020

NBCOT is closely monitoring the evolution of the coronavirus situation and at the present time, NBCOT’s operations remain unaffected by the COVID-19 outbreak. We are constantly evaluating the situation and will provide updates as the situation evolves.

If the Washington, DC, metro area is affected by mandatory quarantine, candidates may experience delays in the processing of their exam applications. We recommend sending transcripts electronically if possible, as we will not have access to mail during that time. We understand the impact this may have on candidates preparing to take the national certification exam, and we are committed to maintaining the operations of our products and services as smoothly and efficiently as we can.

Prometric, our test administration vendor, is evaluating test center closures on a case-by-case basis with a close eye on specific government actions, including closing local offices, public spaces, and university campuses, along with building closures where test centers are located. All test center closures will be posted as decisions are made at www.prometric.com/closures. NBCOT will work with candidates impacted by closures due to the virus and any candidates who need to reschedule due to a positive test for the virus.

Resource Links

World Health Organization (WHO) – Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases Map

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – COVID-19 Situation Summary


President/CEO Paul Grace Announces Retirement from NBCOT

February 26, 2020

Paul Grace, the long-time president/CEO of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT®), has informed the board of directors of his retirement. Paul has served as the organization’s president and chief executive officer for 19 years. He will continue in this role until a successor is selected by the board of directors and will stay on as a consultant for the organization.

“Paul has been the architect of remarkable advancements that have transpired across the organization over the last two decades,” said Dee Berline, chairperson of NBCOT’s board of directors. “He has been instrumental in strengthening the governance of NBCOT’s board, including emphasizing the role of public board members in approving NBCOT’s certification-related policies. Paul’s vision of a dynamic continuing competency platform resulted in the development of the NBCOT Navigator®, which has won three industry awards to date, and has provided certificants with access to a comprehensive suite of competency assessment tools. On behalf of the entire board, we thank Paul for his outstanding leadership and dedication and wish him all the very best as he pursues the exciting opportunities that lie ahead in the next chapters of his life.”

Under Paul Grace’s guidance and leadership, NBCOT achieved many major milestones:

  • Transitioning from paper-based test administrations offered only a few times a year to on-demand computer-based testing that expanded global access to the NBCOT certification exams.
  • Introducing a professional development requirement for OTR and COTA certification renewal. For the past 18 years, NBCOT’s voluntary certification renewal rates have been over 90%.
  • Attaining accreditation from the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which NBCOT has maintained for 14 and 17 years, respectively. NBCOT was the first health-related certification organization to attain both prestigious accreditations.
  • Achieving approval from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for NBCOT to implement a credential validation process for internationally educated occupational therapists wanting to practice in the United States.
  • Gaining an industry wide reputation for developing innovative products and services for certificants and exam candidates. NBCOT also worked to provide streamlined systems for all services to the OT state regulatory community.
  • Becoming a major benefactor to the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) to support new occupational therapy research.

In addition to leading the NBCOT organization, Paul has provided his professional expertise to the credentialing industry through service and leadership positions, particularly with the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) and the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). Paul served two terms as the president of ICE. He also served as a commissioner and chair of the NCCA. In 2012 he was awarded the Citizen Advocacy Center's Ben Shimberg Public Service Award.

“As an organization, we accomplished a great deal to advance our mission over the past 19 years,” said Paul Grace. “The three constants that have contributed to our success have been an engaged and dedicated board of directors; exceptional OTR and COTA volunteers; and a talented, passionate, and professional staff. NBCOT is well-positioned to continue to be a significant contributor and leader to advancing the public’s reliance on occupational therapy services provided by nationally certified occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants.”

JDG Associates has been contracted by the board of directors to manage the search process for the next president/CEO.

About NBCOT

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT®) is a national not-for-profit organization that provides certification for occupational therapy professionals. NBCOT develops, administers, and continually reviews its certification process based on current and valid standards that provide reliable indicators of competence of occupational therapy practice. Above all else, our mission is to serve the public interest. Initial certification from NBCOT is a requirement for licensure in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. NBCOT also works with state regulators and employers to provide information on credentials, professional conduct, and regulatory issues. NBCOT's certification programs have received and maintained accreditation from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).


AOTA/NBCOT Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact Initiative Update

January 31, 2020

We are pleased to share this update from Dan Logsdon from the National Center for Interstate Compacts regarding progress that is being made on the joint AOTA/NBCOT Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact Initiative.

The Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact initiative is steadily moving forward to create an occupational licensure compact for the OT profession with support from AOTA and NBCOT. The Advisory Group for the project held its initial meeting during the last week of October 2019 in Washington, DC. Since that initial meeting, the Advisory Group has convened by phone to develop recommendations for the project Drafting Team, which will meet in late February to begin drafting the text of the compact.

The Drafting Team is expected to complete a draft compact in early May. That document will then go back to the Advisory Group for comment before being distributed to stakeholders for comment in the summer of 2020.

The project team is determined to have a draft ready for consideration by state legislatures in 2021.

Dan Logsdon
Director, National Center for Interstate Compacts
The Council of State Governments

National Center for Interstate Compacts, The Council of State Governments 

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Chuck Willmarth, CAE
Vice President of State Affairs and Health Policy
cwillmarth@aota.org

AOTA, American Occupational Therapy Association 

Shaun Conway, OTR
Senior Director, External & Regulatory Affairs
sconway@nbcot.org

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AOTA/NBCOT Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact Initiative Moves Forward

CSG Convenes Occupational Therapy Compact Advisory Group in Washington

By Chuck Willmarth, CAE; and Shaun Conway, OTR

November 11, 2019

The Council of State of Governments (CSG) convened the first meeting of the Occupational Therapy Interstate Licensure Compact Advisory Group from October 29 to 30 at the Hall of the States in Washington, DC. The role of the advisory group is to engage in a thoughtful dialogue regarding the needs of occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, students, state licensure boards, and other stakeholders as those needs pertain to the development of an interstate licensure compact.

OT Interstate Compact Advisory Group, 17 people total
Members of CSG’s Occupational Therapy Interstate Compact Advisory Group

The 2-day meeting began with a briefing by CSG staff members to provide the background and history of interstate compacts, and was followed by a review of existing compacts in medicine, nursing, physical therapy, and other health professions. Staff briefed the advisory group on the findings of their research into the state regulation of occupational therapy. A key finding is that the core licensure requirements for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants are consistent across jurisdictions. Specifically, all states require OTs and OTAs to graduate from accredited programs, complete supervised fieldwork requirements and pass the entry-level certification exam administered by NBCOT®. The group identified some variations in state requirements; for example, at least 12 states require a state jurisprudence exam (usually an open-book test regarding the state’s occupational therapy statutes and regulations).

While no final decisions were made, the group came to consensus on a number of key points:

  • The licensure compact will be referred to as the “Occupational Therapy Compact” or “OT Compact” for short.
  • Licensed occupational therapists and licensed occupational therapy assistants, in good standing, will be eligible to participate in the compact.
  • The home state license authorizes practitioner participation in the compact.
  • The “mutual recognition model” was recommended by the Advisory Group. This means practitioners must have a home state license and then will apply for privileges to practice in other states.
  • A mininmum of 10 states will be needed to activate the Compact Commission (a quasi-governmental organization that will implement the compact).
  • Practitioners with an encumbered license will not be able access compact privileges.
  • Participating states must implement FBI fingerprint-based criminal background checks.

While the Compact Advisory Group addressed a number of key issues, more work is left to be done. CSG has scheduled calls for November and December to continue the dialogue. The group is expected to meet with the administers of the Physical Therapy Compact and the Nurse Licensure Compact to obtain information about how states have implemented these compacts and the related costs. The group will continue to meet over the next 3 to 6 months. It is expected that the Drafting Team will meet in January or February 2020 to begin drafting the licensure compact langauge. CSG is developing a communications and stakeholder feedback plan to ensure that the profession and all stakeholders have the opportunity to provide input.

Chuck Willmarth, CAE, is AOTA’s Vice President of State Affairs and Health Policy.

AOTA, American Occupational Therapy Association 

Shaun Conway, OTR, is Senior Director, External & Regulatory Affairs at NBCOT.

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