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Navigator FAQs

General Questions

What is the NBCOT Navigator?

The NBCOT Navigator® is a suite of online tools designed to help certificants assess their competency across all areas of occupational therapy. Certificants can complete these tools, which are based on current practice and evidence-based literature, to earn competency assessment units (CAUs) toward their NBCOT certification renewal.

Why the need for a tool like NBCOT Navigator?

NBCOT recognizes that certificants face ongoing pressures of accountability and advances in practice, which in turn necessitates the ongoing need for skill development and demonstrated continuing competence throughout a certificant's career.

The Navigator is not a source of continuing education content. Rather, the Navigator provides opportunities for certificants to engage in a self-directed process of competency assessment, including critical reflection, validation of current practice, and interpretation and consideration of new avenues of professional knowledge. After completing some of the tools in the Navigator, certificants are encouraged to develop an action plan.

How did NBCOT come up with the platform/overall idea for this tool?

In 2012, NBCOT completed a certification renewal practice analysis in response to two Institute of Medicine (IOM) reports: Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality (2003) and Redesigning Continuing Education in the Health Professions (2010). The practice analysis identified practice competencies or domains relevant to contemporary occupational therapy practice that align with IOM’s recommendations and supported the creation of an online competency assessment platform.

In 2019, the Ongoing Professional Practice Analysis (OPPA) was completed as part of NBCOT’s ongoing review of its certification renewal program. The OPPA updates the 2012 practice analysis and provides evidence that links current occupational therapy practice to NBCOT’s certification renewal program requirements in a manner consistent with best practice and accreditation standards.

How does the NBCOT Navigator work?

NBCOT Navigator uses an interactive virtual platform featuring games, quizzes, and case simulations to help OTRs and COTAs assess competency across all areas of occupational therapy.

A certificant can begin the NBCOT Navigator by completing the self-reflection questionnaire, which provides a customized list of recommendations for tools to better help a user reach their continuing competency goals. Users then verify practice strengths by completing case simulations, matching games, and mini practice quizzes that result in customized feedback with recommendations for follow-up reading.

How is the Navigator different from certification renewal or other existing professional assessments?

The value of the OTR and COTA credentials has become increasingly important. True practice competency is a continual process throughout a certificant's career.

The NBCOT Navigator is a competency assessment platform and not a source of continuing education. The Navigator assists certificants in developing an action plan based on the self-reflection and the performance feedback provided when completing a competency assessment tool. In this way, the NBCOT Navigator complements certificants’ professional development plans.

OTRs and COTAs can earn competency assessment units (CAUs) toward their next renewal cycle. Earned CAUs can be applied toward partial fulfillment of state licensure renewal requirements in states that accept CAUs.

Has the product been tested?

Yes. Prior to its launch, NBCOT conducted beta-testing on the Navigator with hundreds of certificants and employers. Testing feedback was used to optimize the tool suite, providing the best user experience for OTRs and COTAs. User feedback on the final product has been positive, underscoring the need for practical, convenient continuing competency resources across all practice areas and skill levels.

Is NBCOT the first certification board to use virtual/gaming technology for assessment?

Yes, NBCOT is the first certification board to use this kind of technology to provide an evidence-based competency assessment platform for occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. It is important to note that while the Navigator is built on an interactive gaming platform, a user does not need to be a "gamer" to easily interact with and use the tool suite. This platform applies to all OTRs and COTAs.

A virtual experience does not replace real patient interaction. How will this tool really be effective in helping OTs with their job?

NBCOT Navigator is one tool in the OT's professional development toolbox, and it is incumbent upon the practitioner to keep going back to that toolbox to continually refine their skills and abilities. NBCOT Navigator is an interactive platform featuring case simulations, mini practice quizzes, and mini games for OTRs and COTAs to assess competency across all areas of occupational therapy. Navigator content is based on evidence-based literature and presents a range of clinical reasoning challenges. True practice competency is a continual process throughout the certificant's career.

What is the cost of using the NBCOT Navigator?

The NBCOT Navigator is available to all active OTRs and COTAs at no additional cost.

Logistical Questions

How do I access NBCOT Navigator?

You can access NBCOT Navigator through your MyNBCOT account. Only current OTRs and COTAs have access to this free resource. Log in to access.

Will NBCOT Navigator be available in app form for mobile and/or tablet viewing?

In 2020, NBCOT will release a Navigator app through the App Store and Google Play.

I click on "Earn CAU" and nothing happens. Why won't the tool start?

You will need to ensure you disable your pop-up window. The tools will open in a new window once you click on "Earn CAU." The tools work best in Chrome, Edge, or Firefox on a PC, and when using a Mac, it works best with Firefox. Internet Explorer is not recommended or supported for use with the Navigator. You may want to switch the browser you are using to access the tools if you experience issues. Before you begin any tools, it is recommended that you use the "Test My System" functionality available in the Navigator section of your MyNBCOT account.

Can I start a tool, stop it, then return to complete it later?

No. Once you start a tool, you need to complete it in one sitting.

How long does it take to complete a tool?

It varies. Some tools are designed to be very quick and easy to complete, like the OT Knowledge Library and mini practice quizzes. Others, like the case simulations and PICO tools, may take up to 30 minutes or longer to complete.

Is there a help line or an online tutorial for Navigator support?

An overview of Navigator, including a video tutorial, is available at If you have any questions or need troubleshooting help, please email

Are there online tutorials for ProQuest and RefWorks?

Online tutorials for ProQuest and RefWorks can be found by accessing the programs through your MyNBCOT account. Both services offer help and support once you are logged in to their systems.

How frequently will the Navigator be updated and maintained?

NBCOT has a working group of OTRs who are continually developing new tools and reviewing and enhancing current content. New tools will be added to the Navigator on a continual basis.

Does NBCOT monitor my progress on the Navigator?

No. Your Navigator competency assessment results are confidential.

How is confidentiality managed on the Navigator? Can anyone else access my results?

Results are confidential. It is entirely at your discretion if you choose to share your results from the Navigator tools with your employer or any other third party.

How can I access the articles provided in the Navigator's recommended reading list?

Recommended reading and supplemental reading lists are presented on the score page when a tool has been completed. You can select to have the lists sent to your email account.

All recommended articles are automatically added to your personal reading list. Click on the "Read Now" button of the article you would like to read, and it will automatically open in ProQuest. ProQuest is accessible at no cost to OTRs and COTAs through their MyNBCOT account. If the reference listed is a book, you will not be able to view the information through your MyNBCOT account, but you can search for the book online.

Does the system save where you are within a tool if you close out of the browser before you finish?

No. Each tool must be completed in its entirety before logging off. Each quiz generally takes 20-30 minutes to complete, each module of the OT Knowledge Library takes approximately 10-15 minutes, and the longest case simulations take approximately 30-45 minutes to complete.

Will the tools time out if I stop during play?

Yes. It is recommended that you complete a Navigator tool in full after you begin.

Who Can Use the Navigator? 

Is the Navigator only available to currently certified OTRs and COTAs? Can students and expired certificants access the Navigator?

The Navigator is only available to currently certified OTRs and COTAs. For students, we offer study tools, which are housed in the NBCOT Aspire® suite.

Does the Navigator support the professional development of educators?

If the educators are certified OTRs or COTAs, they have access to the Navigator tools. Educators interested in tools for students can check out the Aspire suite.

How can employers access the Navigator?

The Navigator is available to current OTRs and COTAs. At this time, non-OTR and -COTA employers cannot access the tool suite directly, but NBCOT will offer a demo and information for any employers or supervisors who are interested in learning more. For more information, contact

Will employers get value from NBCOT Navigator?

Yes. We designed NBCOT Navigator with certificants and employers in mind. While employers cannot directly access the tool suite at this time, they can direct their OTR and COTA staff to the Navigator so they can engage in self-reflection and test their competency against contemporary practice standards. Encouraging use of the Navigator is a great way for employers to participate in the competency assessment process without taking their staff away from the work environment or their clients. If supervisors and managers have an OTR or COTA credential, they can access the tools through their own MyNBCOT account for their own continued competency needs.

PDU Questions

How many PDUs can be earned through the Navigator?

A total of 36 units must be accrued during one renewal cycle. You can earn up to 36 competency assessment units (CAUs) toward your certification renewal through the Navigator. NBCOT also offers a number of other ways for certificants to earn units, which are highlighted in the Certification Renewal Activities Chart.

How many times may I take the quizzes or complete the case simulations?

To view the units that you can earn and the maximum attempts for each tool, please review the chart here.

How can I keep track of the units earned through the Navigator?

Units earned through the Navigator are automatically tracked for you in the Renewal Log in your MyNBCOT account. You can also view your progress on your Navigator Dashboard, located under the Navigator tab on MyNBCOT.

Will the competency assessment units (CAUs) earned through the Navigator be accepted for state license renewal?

View the states that currently accept the Navigator for state licensure renewal here.

We anticipate this number to grow quickly as more states add the Navigator to their regulations or take it to their board for a vote.

If my state does not recognize the Navigator, will my competency assessment units (CAUs) not count?

If your state does not accept units earned through Navigator, you can still use them toward your renewal requirements with NBCOT. Contact your state to encourage acceptance of the Navigator. State contact information is available once you log in to your MyNBCOT account.

Will the Navigator alert me when I have obtained the maximum number of usable competency assessment units (CAUs) per renewal period?

You will not earn additional CAUs after you have completed the maximum number allowed per tool. You can view your progress in your MyNBCOT account under Navigator. Your Navigator tools and CAU count will reset after your next renewal, and you can view these activities under the Navigator History tab in your MyNBCOT account.

Content Questions

What does PICO stand for?

PICO is an acronym for a strategy to assist certificants in completing evidence-based literature searches. PICO stands for Patient/Problem, Intervention, Comparison, Outcome.

What is a practice assessment?

The practice assessment tools are multiple-choice assessments in a focused area of practice. They provide opportunities that enable certificants to demonstrate their knowledge and identify new areas of learning and professional growth.

Are there different activities for OTRs and COTAs?

Yes. As you complete the optional self-reflection at the beginning of the Navigator, tool recommendations specific to your certification and practice areas or interests will be presented to you. Under the Activities section, you can also use the filters to select tools of your choice. You can select to filter by activity type, practice type, or view all of the tools available.

Does the Navigator cover all conditions in occupational therapy, including specialty areas?

All content available on the Navigator is driven by the results from NBCOT's Ongoing Professional Practice Analysis (OPPA). This study, completed with thousands of NBCOT certificants, gathered data on certificants' current practice areas. The menu of practice area topics continues to expand every year.

Are the Navigator tools focused by practice area?

Yes. The Navigator can be used across a wide range of practice areas, including acute care, administration and/or management, developmental disability, geriatrics/productive aging, home health, health and wellness, mental health, OT education and/or research, orthopedics, pediatrics (clinic-based, early intervention), pediatrics (school system), rehabilitation (inpatient), rehabilitation (outpatient), skilled nursing, and work and industry.

Where can I find a list of descriptions and assessment objectives for each Navigator tool?

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