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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.


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

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Please let us know if you have any questions.

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

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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
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.

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

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