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A Year in Review From NBCOT CEO Paul Grace

Highlights from 2023 include our commitment to creating accessible products for everyone, outreach at the state level, NBCOT's initiative to promote the profession through the Why Choose OT campaign, testing vendor change, and initiatives coming up in the new year.

As the year draws to a close, I find myself reflecting on the dedication and innovation that have been the hallmarks of our journey over the past 12 months. As we look back, we are also laying the groundwork for an exciting future ahead.

Earlier this year, we launched the Why Choose OT initiative, which was brought forth by our board of directors as a critical need for occupational therapy. We created social media accounts and a website that will continue to grow. We have also gathered OT stories and testimonials from OT students and practitioners. We attended conferences to spread the word about occupational therapy, and we are working on creating resources that anyone can use to promote occupational therapy. Help us spread the word by sharing and utilizing the content.

In support of our commitment to creating products that are accessible to everyone, all the NBCOT Aspire® Study Tools were completely redesigned this year. This includes the StudyPack, study guide, practice tests, Knowledge Match, flashcards, and entry-level self-assessment. We also released a new tool within the StudyPack, My Study Plan, for students to structure their studying to help set them up for success. We are in the process of transitioning our Navigator case simulations to an accessible user interface with an updated look and feel. We launched new microcredentials that provide certificants with recognition of their focused knowledge in specific practice areas. We recently released a facilitator guide for JEDI Reflection Points, which provides suggestions on how to use the JEDI tool with groups in varied work, educational, or community settings.

Early this year, we convened a group of certified occupational therapy professionals to participate in our Item Bias and Fairness Meeting. The primary purpose of this meeting was to review our certification exams and study tool items to ensure that they are unbiased and fair for all test takers, regardless of their background. These reviews led to important conversations that enabled us to hear different perspectives and ultimately to enhance the fairness and accessibility of our certification exams. 

Beginning in January 2024, our certification exams will be administered at Pearson VUE test centers across the U.S. We decided to make this switch due to the more robust accommodations platform Pearson VUE offers to support the testing accommodation needs of our exam candidates. Information about the upcoming changes is available online.

Over 218,000 OT practitioners maintain their national board credentials through certification renewal, indicating a commitment to the highest standards of professional competency, public safety, and conduct standards. Twelve states also accept current NBCOT certification as an option for fulfilling state licensure renewal requirements: Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina (NBCOT certification is a requirement for licensure), South Dakota, and Vermont.

We have once again celebrated an exceptional group of Impact and Innovation Award winners this year. Their outstanding submissions, reflecting innovative and impactful OT practices, continually inspire the board of directors, NBCOT staff, and myself. These remarkable examples showcase excellence not only within the U.S. but across the globe. As we gear up for the next award season opening in February 2024, I enthusiastically encourage you to consider applying or nominating a deserving OT colleague.

Our External & Regulatory Affairs team delivered 57 virtual presentations, guiding thousands of students on exam preparation and entering the professional world. Alongside our dedicated ambassadors, we attended 44 state association conferences and actively participated in 46 state licensure board meetings. Our ambassador program, empowering OTR and COTA certificants to represent NBCOT at important events, continues to thrive. If you are interested in becoming an NBCOT ambassador, you can apply, and we will contact you when the current ambassadors' terms end.

The OT Licensure Compact is looking for a vendor to develop the Compact data system along with the Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact and the Counseling Compact commissions. NBCOT’s board recently approved the additional funding required to support the development. You can find more information about the Compact and the states that have passed legislation at

A special acknowledgment goes out to NBCOT’s subject matter consultants (SMCs), esteemed board members, and dedicated volunteers whose invaluable contributions drive our certification programs forward. If you are passionate about giving back to the profession and supporting NBCOT's mission of serving the public interest, explore the diverse volunteer opportunities available on our website. Additionally, stay tuned for a call for candidates in early 2024 seeking an OTR position on the board of directors.

I am proud to say we continue to maintain accreditations with the International Accreditation Service and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies. Adhering to these rigorous standards is a testament to our commitment to providing gold-standard certification programs.

We are excited for 2024 and the many initiatives we are working on. We will roll out exam readiness workshops to help students prepare for our high-stakes exams; initial and renewal certificates will move to a digital format for electronic and secure access; we will release additional microcredentials as well as a new tool to assist certificants and students with evidence-based practice; and we will continue to promote occupational therapy through the Why Choose OT initiative.

On behalf of the board of directors, NBCOT staff, and our dedicated volunteers, I extend our heartfelt gratitude for your unwavering support of NBCOT. May the upcoming year bring you and your loved ones an abundance of health, happiness, and boundless opportunities.

Stay safe.

Paul Grace's signed signature

Paul Grace