The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 26: Professions and Occupations

Chapter 71: OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS AND OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY ASSISTANTS

§ 3351. Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1) "Occupational therapist" means a person who is licensed to practice occupational therapy under this chapter.

(2) "Occupational therapy assistant" means a person who is licensed to assist in the practice of occupational therapy under the supervision of an occupational therapist.

(3) "Director" means the director of the office of professional regulation.

(4) "Disciplinary action" includes any action taken by the director or by an administrative law officer established by 3 V.S.A. § 129(j) against an occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistant, or applicant premised on a finding that the occupational therapist, occupational therapy assistant, or applicant has engaged in unprofessional conduct. The term includes all sanctions of any kind, refusing to grant or renew licensure, suspending or revoking licensure, and issuing warnings.

(5) "Occupational therapy practice" means the therapeutic use of purposeful and meaningful occupations (goal-directed activities) to evaluate and treat individuals who have a disease or disorder, impairment, activity limitation, or participation restriction which interferes with their ability to function independently in daily life roles, and to promote health and wellness. Occupational therapy intervention may include:

(A) remediation or restoration of performance abilities that are limited due to impairment in biological, physiological, psychological, or neurological processes;

(B) adaptation of task, process, or the environment, or the teaching of compensatory techniques, in order to enhance performance;

(C) disability prevention methods and techniques which facilitate the development of safe application of performance skills;

(D) health promotion strategies and practices which enhance performance abilities.

(6) "Occupational therapy services" include, but are not limited to:

(A) evaluating, developing, improving, sustaining, or restoring skills in activities of daily living, work or productive activities, including instrumental activities of daily living, and play and leisure activities;

(B) evaluating, developing, remediating, or restoring sensorimotor, cognitive, or psychosocial components of performance;

(C) designing, fabricating, applying, or training in the use of assistive technology or orthotic devices, and training in the use of prosthetic devices;

(D) adaptation of environments and processes, including the application of ergonomic principles, to enhance performance and safety in daily life roles;

(E) application of physical agent modalities as an adjunct to or in preparation for engagement in occupations;

(F) evaluating and providing intervention in collaboration with the client, family, caregiver, or others;

(G) educating the client, family, caregiver, or others in carrying out appropriate nonskilled interventions;

(H) consulting with groups, programs, organizations, or communities to provide population-based services. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 1997, No. 40, § 49(a); amended 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 33, eff. June 27, 2002.)

§ 3352. Prohibition; offenses

(a) No person shall practice or attempt to practice occupational therapy or hold himself or herself out as being able to do so in this state without first having obtained a license.

(b) No person shall use in connection with the person's name any letters, words, or insignia indicating or implying that the person is an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant unless licensed in accordance with this chapter.

(c) A person who violates this section shall be subject to the penalties provided in 3 V.S.A. § 127(c). (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 34, eff. June 27, 2002; 2007, No. 29, § 50.)

§ 3353. Director of the office of professional regulation; duties

(a) The director shall:

(1) provide general information to applicants for licensure as occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants;

(2) administer fees collected under this chapter;

(3) explain appeal procedures to occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and applicants, and complaint procedures to the public;

(4) receive applications for licensure, license applicants under this chapter, renew licenses, and revoke, suspend, reinstate, or condition licenses as ordered by an administrative law officer; and

(5) refer all disciplinary matters to an administrative law officer.

(b) The director of the office of professional regulation, with the advice of the advisor appointees, may adopt rules necessary to perform the duties provided under this chapter. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 1997, No. 40, § 49(a); 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 35, eff. June 27, 2002.)

§ 3354. Advisor appointees

(a) The secretary shall appoint two occupational therapists or an occupational therapist and an occupational therapy assistant to serve as advisors in matters relating to occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants. They shall be appointed as set forth in 3 V.S.A. § 129b and serve at the pleasure of the secretary. One of the initial appointments shall be for less than a three-year term.

(b) Appointees shall have at least three years of experience as an occupational therapist during the period immediately preceding appointment and shall be actively practicing occupational therapy in Vermont and remain in good standing during incumbency.

(c) The director shall seek the advice of the occupational therapists appointed under this section in carrying out the provisions of this chapter. These members shall be entitled to compensation and necessary expenses in the amount provided in 32 V.S.A. § 1010 for attendance at any meeting called by the director for this purpose. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 2007, No. 29, § 51.)

§ 3355. Eligibility

(a) To be eligible for licensure as an occupational therapist, an applicant:

(1) shall have successfully completed the academic requirements of an educational program for occupational therapists accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association's Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) or its predecessor or successor organizations;

(2) shall have successfully completed a period of supervised fieldwork experience required by the recognized educational institution where the applicant met the requirements set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection; and

(3) shall pass an examination as provided in section 3357 of this title.

(b) To be eligible for licensure as an occupational therapy assistant, an applicant:

(1) shall have successfully completed the academic requirements of an educational program for occupational therapy assistants accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association's Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) or its predecessor or successor organizations;

(2) shall have successfully completed a period of supervised fieldwork experience required by the recognized educational institution where the applicant met the requirements set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection; and

(3) shall pass an examination as provided in section 3357 of this title.

(c) Occupational therapist applicants must complete a minimum of 24 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience or satisfy any generally-recognized past standards that identified minimum fieldwork requirements at the time of graduation.

(d) Occupational therapy assistant applicants must complete a minimum of 16 weeks of supervised fieldwork experience or satisfy any generally-recognized past standards that identified minimum fieldwork requirements at the time of graduation. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 36, eff. June 27, 2002.)

§ 3356. Application

To apply for licensure as an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant, a person shall apply to the director on a form furnished by the director. The application shall be accompanied by payment of the specified fee and evidence of eligibility as requested by the director. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 37, eff. June 27, 2002.)

§ 3357. Examination

(a) Written examinations shall be conducted under this chapter by a nationally recognized credentialing body approved by the director. Examinations shall be conducted at least twice a year, except that examinations need not be conducted when no one has applied to be examined.

(b) Examinations administered and the procedures of administration shall be fair and reasonable and shall be designed and implemented to ensure that all applicants are granted licensure if they demonstrate that they possess the minimal occupational qualifications which are necessary for the protection of the public health, safety, and welfare. The examination shall not be designed or implemented for the purpose of limiting the number of licensees. The director, with the advice of the advisor appointees, shall establish, by rule, fixed criteria for passing the examination that shall apply to all persons taking the examination.

(c) The director shall administer a written examination on the basic and clinical sciences relating to occupational therapy techniques and methods. Before selecting the examination, the director shall consult the advisor appointees.

(d) The director may authorize the use of independent testing services or others to assist in the administration of written examinations. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 38, eff. June 27, 2002.)

§ 3358. Licensure without examination; waiver of educational requirement

(a) The director may waive the examination requirement if the applicant is an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant regulated under the laws of another state, the District of Columbia, or territory of the United States, who is in good standing to practice occupational therapy in that state or territory, and, in the opinion of the director, the standards and qualifications required for regulation of occupational therapy in that state or territory are currently at least equal to those required by this chapter. The director may not waive any required period of supervised experience.

(b) The director may waive the examination requirement if the applicant is certified prior to July 1, 1993 as a registered occupational therapist (OTR) or certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA), if, in the opinion of the director, the standards and qualifications for such certification are at least equal to those required by this chapter.

(c) The director may waive the educational requirement for licensure as an occupational therapist, if the applicant is recognized as a certified occupational therapist after having qualified for and passed an occupational therapist examination, and the director determines that the examination so taken meets the requirements of section 3357 of this chapter. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 39, eff. June 27, 2002.)

§ 3358a. Temporary licensure without examination

(a) A temporary license without examination for practice under the direction of an occupational therapist licensed in Vermont may be issued to a person who applies for the first time to practice occupational therapy in this state as an occupational therapist or as an occupational therapy assistant under section 3355 of this title and meets all other qualifications of that section.

(b) A temporary license may be issued only for the purpose of allowing a qualified applicant to practice as an occupational therapist or as an occupational therapy assistant until:

(1) the applicant takes the next examination provided by the director of the office of professional regulation under section 3357 of this title, and a determination is made of the applicant's qualifications to practice in this state; or

(2) the necessary data for licensure without examination under section 3358 of this title is collected and ruled on by the director of the office of professional regulation.

(c) Temporary licenses shall be issued on payment of the specified fee for a fixed period of time to be determined by the director of the office of professional regulation, and shall not be renewed except by the director of the office of professional regulation, subject to proof of an exceptional cause shown by the applicant. (Added 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 40, eff. June 27, 2002.)

§ 3359. Renewals

(a) Licenses shall be renewed every two years upon payment of the required fee, provided the person applying for renewal completes at least 20 hours of continuing competence requirements, approved by the director, during the preceding two-year period. The director, with the advice of the advisor appointees, shall establish, by rule, guidelines and criteria for continuing competence credit. The director may waive the continuing competence requirement for the initial licensure period.

(b) Biennially, the director shall forward a renewal form to each licensee. Upon receipt of the completed form and the renewal fee, the director shall issue a new license.

(c) Any application for renewal of a license which has expired shall be accompanied by the renewal fee and late fee. A person shall not be required to pay renewal fees for years during which the license was lapsed.

(d) The director may, after notice and opportunity for reinstatement hearing, revoke a person's right to renew licensure if the license has lapsed for five or more years. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 41, eff. June 27, 2002.)

§ 3360. Repealed. 1997, No. 59, § 65(6), eff. June 30, 1997.

§ 3361. Unprofessional conduct

(a) A person licensed under this chapter or a person applying for a license shall not engage in unprofessional conduct.

(b) Unprofessional conduct means the following conduct and conduct set forth in 3 V.S.A. § 129a:

(1) Misrepresentation or concealment of a material fact to obtain, renew, or reinstate a license under this chapter.

(2) Suspension or revocation of a license, certificate, or registration to practice occupational therapy in another jurisdiction on one or more of the grounds specified in this section.

(3) Willful disregard of a subpoena or notice of the office of professional regulation.

(4) Failure to keep written occupational therapy records justifying a course of treatment for a patient, including patient histories, examination results, and test results.

(5) Performing professional services which have not been authorized by the patient or his or her legal representative.

(6) Performing any procedure or prescribing any therapy which, by the prevailing standards of occupational therapy practice, would constitute experimentation on a human subject without first obtaining full, informed, and written consent.

(7) In the course of practice, gross failure to use and exercise on a particular occasion or the failure to use and exercise on repeated occasions, that degree of care, skill, and proficiency which is commonly exercised by the ordinary skillful, careful, and prudent occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant engaged in similar practice under the same or similar conditions, whether or not actual injury to a patient has occurred and whether or not committed within or without the state.

(8) Delegating professional responsibilities to a person who the certificate holder knows, or has reason to know, is not qualified by training, experience, or certification to perform them.

(9) Conduct which evidences unfitness to practice.

(10) Addiction to narcotics, habitual drunkenness, or rendering professional services to a patient if the occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

(11) Sexual harassment of a patient.

(12) Engaging in a sexual act as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3251 with a patient under the care of the person licensed under this chapter.

(c) In connection with a disciplinary action, the office of professional regulation may refuse to accept the return of a license tendered by the subject of a disciplinary investigation.

(d) The burden of proof in a disciplinary action shall be on the state to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the person has engaged in unprofessional conduct.

(e) After hearing and upon a finding of unprofessional conduct, or upon approval of a negotiated agreement, an administrative law officer may take disciplinary action against the occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant, or applicant. That action may include any of the following conditions or restrictions which may be in addition to or in lieu of suspension:

(1) A requirement that the person submit to care or counseling.

(2) A restriction that a licensee practice only under supervision of a named individual or an individual with specified credentials.

(3) A requirement that an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant participate in continuing education as directed by the administrative law officer, in order to overcome specified deficiencies.

(4) A requirement that the licensee's scope of practice be restricted to a specified extent.

(f) The administrative law officer may reinstate a revoked license on terms and conditions he or she deems proper. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1; amended 1997, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 56; 2001, No. 151 (Adj. Sess.), § 42, eff. June 27, 2002.)

§ 3362. Professional designation

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the use and incorporation into the title of an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant of a professional designation organization. (Added 1993, No. 102, § 1.)