Objective. This pilot study examined factors that influenced the pursuit of a professional educational degree by certified occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) seeking to become registered occupational therapists (OTRs).
Method. Questionnaires were distributed to 92 COTAs attending a weekend professional occupational therapy education program.
Results. Although the stressors on these students were many, the depth and breadth of motivators, resources, and supports and the availability of weekend classes enabled this group of COTAs to pursue their professional development goal. Enabling the pursuit of professional degrees while working was viewed by the participants as essential to their professional development and career mobility.
Recommendations. Strategies for meeting the diverse needs of COTAs and other nontraditional adult students seeking a professional degree in occupational therapy are identified and need to be supported by educators and practitioners. An increased appreciation of the challenges faced by these students and the development of innovative programming to meet their educational needs will strengthen the profession’s ability to recruit and retain diverse, competent practitioners.