Currency refers to the required practice hours in a given period of time and is considered one indicator of an occupational therapist’s continued competence.
As of October 2, 2017, occupational therapists are now required to have 600 practice hours within the scope of practice of the profession in the 3 years immediately preceding the date of application for initial registration, renewal or reinstatement. The option of 1,000 hours in the past 5 years is no longer adequate. This change brings our requirement in line with most other occupational therapy regulatory colleges in Canada. Please note this is not required if an individual has graduated from an occupational therapy education program or completed a re-entry program within the past 18 months.
What Does this Mean for Registration Renewal Applications?
When renewing your registration, which is due on June 30, 2021 you must indicate that you have practised at least 600 hours since July 1, 2018. This may include clinical and/or non-clinical work as outlined in the Essential Competencies.
Most occupational therapists will not be affected by this change, for example:
- If you work full-time, you will have accumulated at least 1,800 hours in the last year (based on 37.5 hours/week for 48 weeks/year).
- If you work part-time in a half-time (.5) position, you will have accumulated at least 900 hours in the last year (based on 18.75 hours/week for 48 weeks/year).
- If you work part-time and less than half-time but worked steadily in the past 3 years, you may also meet the requirement over 3 years (e.g., 6 hours/week for 48 weeks/year for 3 years is 864 hours).
Note: The calculations above are based on four weeks of holiday per year (the minimum required for employment standards, plus statutory holidays). If you receive more or less vacation, please adjust accordingly.
Occupational therapists at greatest risk of not meeting the currency requirements include individuals:
- who work in casual positions where hours fluctuate;
- who took practice leaves in the past 3 years; and/or
- who changed their registration status to non-practising or cancelled their registration for any time period during the past three years.
If you are unsure, review your work hours since July 1, 2018. Hours accumulate based on the registration year that runs from July 1 to June 30.
What if I Don’t Have 600 Practice Hours in the Past 3 Years?
The Registration Committee will consider hours you spent in other activities that support your continuing competence and the delivery of safe, ethical, and effective care. These activities may include participation in volunteer work and continuing professional development (both formal and informal study) from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021. However, these hours cannot exceed 25%, i.e., 150 hours, of the 600 required hours, and cannot have been accumulated while your registration status was non-practising or cancelled, or while you were participating in a re-entry program.
To apply for consideration, you will complete the Currency Hours Review Form. On this form you will be asked for your:
- Identifying information (full name, registration number);
- Registration status for each of the past three years (full, provisional, temporary, non-practising, and/or cancelled);
- Accumulated practice hours for each of the past 3 years, in the following 4 categories:
- paid work
- formal study
- informal study
- volunteer work
Note: Verification of these activities may be requested.
What is Considered Formal Study?
Formal Study is a period of structured study that is provided by a person or organization. This can include e-learning, or any other type of course or program that is relevant to your practice and occupational therapy. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Post-graduate education resulting in a recognized degree from an accredited program, e.g. Graduate certificate, Masters or PhD;
- Advanced certification from recognized institutions, e.g. sensory integration, hand therapy;
- Modules, courses or elements currently included in programs run by educational institutions; and
- Programs offered by regulatory organizations.
What is Considered Informal Study?
Informal Study is a period of study you structure yourself. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Review of COTBC webinars, podcasts;
- Completion of learning modules;
- Review of COTBC Practice Standards/Guidelines and Advisory Statements;
- Critical appraisal of articles in practice publications, blogs, and scholarly journals;
- Participation in journal clubs; and/or
- Participation in study groups, practice networks, etc.
What is Considered Volunteer Work?
Volunteer Hours are considered when the work falls within the definition of the practice of occupational therapy as outlined in the governing legislation (Occupational Therapists Regulation). Depending on the occupational therapist’s role this work may include clinical or nonclinical work.
The Occupational Therapists Regulation presents the scope of practice as “A registrant may assess occupational performance and modify human and environmental conditions to maintain, restore or enhance occupational performance and health.” The regulation also defines occupational performance as “the ability to choose, organize and effectively and safely perform everyday activities necessary for self-care and participation in educational, leisure, home management and work activities.” OTs engaged in volunteer work as occupational therapists who wish to have these hours considered towards currency requirements must ensure that they abide by the formal structured components of occupational therapy practice (College Practice Standards and Guidelines).
If you feel, even with these additional activities, you will not meet the 600 hour requirement, you may apply for provisional registration for the purpose of completing a re-entry program. See Returning to Practice for further information on re-entry.
If you have any questions, please email our registration associate at firstname.lastname@example.org.